Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Help me out here, faithful readers. I submitted this t-shirt design to, and they denied it, saying it needed some work before it was up to their standards.

I was a little surprised by this-- not because I think I'm a flawless talent. Far from it. I was surprised because this robot image is one of the most popular on my Flickr page, with almost 1,800 views. Almost every day someone adds it to their group or asks if they can use it in some publication. That's why I decided to submit it as a t-shirt design. There must be something about it that the public likes.

I'm honestly not sure what to do to make it more palatable to Threadless. They didn't offer any advice, which wasn't very helpful. If anyone out there has any ideas, I'm all ears.

Truthfully I'm not quite sure what Threadless considers to be a good design. There's some amazing art on display there, but there's also some that, well, to put it nicely, baffles me. Some of the designs are so... unusual that I'm not quite sure what I'm looking at. Maybe I'm getting too old to understand that special Threadless vibe.

Anyway, feel free to suggest changes.


  1. This is not going to be any help to you at all but, THEY ARE NUTS! He's awesome and I'd love to see him on a T-shirt. I mean, I really don't see what you could do to make it better.

  2. Thanks, Dawn.

    I'm not hurt or outraged about it; I get ideas rejected all the time at work, so I'm used to it. I just wish that when they say it's not good enough, they'd say why or what they're looking for. You know, constructive criticism. They probably get thousands of submissions every day though, so they probably don't have time.

    I've noticed there's an inordinate number of unicorn tees on their site. Maybe if I stuck a unicorn horn on his head?

  3. Bob, i really like this design. What is not too like about robots! The couple things I would suggest are:

    -The big yellow square that boxes him in would have to be a solid print which is very uncomfortable to wear. I had a tshirt that had a huge screen print block on it, and I sweated like crazy because my skin couldn't breathe.

    - Add some clever text. Text is "in" try coming up with a clever saying and use a "cool" font. You are good at both those things.

    - Make it relevant to something that is cool and hip right now, nintendo, ipods, music, technology in general, tv show etc...

    thats my 2 cents

    Also from what i have heard threadless is very very picky, and kinda "clicky".

  4. Thanks, Brad! That's a good point about the square. Maybe if it was just the circle behind him.

    They do seem to like concepts.

    I've heard others say they had to submit numerous ideas before one finally got picked. I guess I need to keep trying.

  5. I think it's a wonderful design. Threadless tends to be too hip for their own good. True there are some nice t-shirts that win, but some of them, I agree, I scratch my head and say "Really, you picked that one". It's like an online version of Urban Outfitters; t-shirts that say "Virginia is For Lovers" is not postmodern, it's not interesting, it's just plain stupid, but some hipster out there will buy it. Anyhow, I'd buy your design...

  6. Thanks, Scott. I haven't had time to decide what to do about this shirt idea. Maybe I'll look around for another shirt site and submit it to them.

  7. I know they have some exceptions, but for the most part, they are 8-color max vector images. They used to be only up to 4 colors. So it might be that. There's also the fact that it's kind of just the graphic plopped on the shirt. It's an awesome graphic and surely a fantastic print, don't get me wrong. But the t-shirt medium is not part of the design. They're also big fans of asymmetrical placement. So those are some things to think about.


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