Pixel-art Community Challenge at Threadless!


Crowdsourcing tee-shirt design website Threadless is hosting a Pixel-art community challenge!
We can't miss this, right! Deadline is September 7th!

Attention: this is not an official Threadless challenge!
What is a community challenge? It's a community activity set up by a group of users, without endorsement from Threadless staff. This means there is no official winner or prize. Any design submitted in the challenge will be eligible for printing, just like any other submitted design. There is no guarantee any design will print! The competition is tough!

More information on the design and submission process at Threadless will be posted in comments ;)


Make sure to see Munupix's post below for info, details, help, FAQ!

Posted by Manupix @ 8/9/2012 16:27  |    6


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Manupix (Level 11 Godfather) @ 8/12/2012 07:00

Thanks whoever is updating the post! I'm done now ;)

Edit: looks like I have some formatting to check too!

Edit 2: now that it's all there, it's pretty much tl:dr right!

I do encourage anyone wishing to enter to read through the whole thing, I know first hand how disconcerting the experience of submitting to Threadless can be ;)

Manupix (Level 11 Godfather) @ 8/12/2012 06:58

Step 6: done? Be sure to save that, ahem, hi-resolution art somewhere in the usual pixel-friendly format, it's not what you're submitting.
Now's the time to work on those presentation files!
You'll have to show a placement mockup of your design, but it doesn't have to be on one of the official templates. What's required is some kind of placement info, a quick pencil sketch can do the trick but I'd recommend to work carefully on your submission presentation image(s) as it's what voters will see.
Make sure your design is shown at its best advantage. Display it as close-up as possible if it has lots of detail. The placement template doesn't need to be full-size, it's usually best to move it into a corner. Look at lots of submitted designs to get ideas of what's nice and what's meh, be creative!

WARNING: the following info might be wrong by the time you submit!
Threadless is launching a brand new website version on September 1st! Submission requirements will be totally different!

You've seen it all on the submission page already: you need to make ONE image with the design and placement info, that must be exactly 640 px wide and at most 800 px tall, under 250 kB, in either jpeg, gif or png formats; and ONE thumbail that must be exactly 100x70 px, gif only, 10 kB max. If you use Adobe Flash, you can also make an optional swf presentation with the same restrictions as the main presentation image. Some Flash templates are available in various forum posts, do a forum search for these. Even if you make a swf the still jpeg/gif/png is required! (for mobile device users)

Include the challenge logo (courtesy yours truly ;) in the presentation file! You'll find it on the challenge page; smaller versions somewhere down the thread.

The thumbnail is rather small and will appear in your designer profile forever. It's nicer to crop a significant part of the design than to resize the whole thing. Some funny peeps even choose a totally unrelated image. That can be fun but confusing.
Choose a smart title for your design (unwritten rule: no more than 50 characters! Longer titles will be mercilessly amputated). Write a clever description. Check those out very carefully before submitting because once you press that Submit button, you cannot edit anything anymore, neither images nor text!

Step 7: Ready? Upload all those brilliant pieces of raw creativity and press Save & Preview! You get one last chance to check the images (but not the text), then it's in for good! Just sit back and relax, you've done it!

Manupix (Level 11 Godfather) @ 8/12/2012 06:58

Step 8: You'll shortly receive an e-mail confirmation, your design will be visible in your profile to you only until it's been accepted.
After one or two workdays you'll be notified of either acceptance (Woohoo!) or rejection (;_;).
Don't take rejection too badly, remember it happens all the time! It doesn't necessarily mean your design is bad, it does mean that they're confident they'd never print it. There are so many awesome designs that never print just because they print 5 a week!
The reasons will be stated in that e-mail but they're rather generic.
If there is a factual reason such as missing placement info, incorrect file, etc, correct it and resubmit. If the reason is the usually vague 'needs more work', I'd rather recommend giving it some careful thought and apply that to the next design rather than keep on with the same one. But it's all up to you!

Step 9: congrats, your design is up for scoring! After acceptance, you must now post it to the challenge forum. Just post a link there. Threadless provides a cool way to do this.
On your design page, look for this: Click here to see some ultra-fancy banner options, ready for use on your blog! Do click, then copy the embed code and post it on any Threadless forum page, you'll have a nice clickthrough thumbnail (and get to not look like too much of a n00b ;)

Last point of importance: promotion.
Threadless invites you to promote your design. I'd personally advise caution! It's true that among the hundreds of designs in the running at any time, it's hard to feel visible. What is useful: if you have a blog or tumblr or facebook with a sizable amount of dedicated followers, do post a link there. Also posting ONE self-promotion 'blog' on the Threadless forums is ok, just make sure you don't bump it too frequently. This website has a low tolerance for spamming! As it will be posted on the challenge thread, it will have that visibility anyway.

You will notice at some point that spam is rampant in the Critique section. Rejection e-mails will direct you there too. My advice is: go there at your own risk. That obscure part of Threadless is nothing like our own critique forum here, it's for the most part shameless vote bitching, and the average level of both designs and advice is lamentable. Nuff said.

Whatever way you choose to promote, there is one big no-no: do not ever promote your stuff in other people's submitted designs, or in other people's forum threads unless they explicitly invite you to (there are some such 'blogs').

Actually this sounds obvious, right? We don't want any of this here either! Well you'll be amazed at the constant need to remind offenders, I guess that's what the smell of money does to people!

Step 10: voting's over so what now?
Not much actually. Rejoice or lament about your score, it's not what decides what gets printed (well not only). Ultimately it's up to Threadless staff to decide. You'll be notified if you're among the lucky few (that's when you send that hi-res final art), you won't if you're not. There is no set delay for decision, most of the time printed artists are notified within the month but some designs have been printed after years of sitting around.
By submitting you waive your rights for apparel prints for 90 days (forever in case of print). Other uses are ok. After those 90 days you are free to submit the same design to other tee-shirt sites if you feel like it. But you could still get that e-mail after 90 days!

So just don't sit around and wait for it, chances are slim anyway!

If you enjoyed the e>*** Message truncated (4000 chars max) ***

Manupix (Level 11 Godfather) @ 8/12/2012 06:57

Step 4: before you start designing, it's a wise move to check the submission page info. Do click on all the links and download the templates, read the READ ME! files in that folder you just downloaded!

Step 5: got that concept ready? Pixel away!

Generally designs must be 8 colors or less, continuous tone images are also accepted (make sure to specify that it would have to be printed with the simulated process in your submission description); however since the point here is pixel art, we should all be able to work within that 8 color limit, right? Also think of using the tee color as a background 9th color! See the available tee-shirt colors here.

Remember that pixel-art on a printed medium isn't looked at the same way as on a monitor, and should be created with that in mind. There is no optimal 200% zoom!

Manupix (Level 11 Godfather) @ 8/12/2012 06:54

How to submit?

Step 1: register to Threadless if you don't already have an account. Then sign in to the challenge by posting on the challenge thread.

Step 2: take time to get familiar with the site! It can be pretty disconcerting at first but it could be a great experience.
Take a good look at what gets printed, score submitted designs, browse the forum.
This thread is a great place to start.
Check the FAQ too.

Step 3: take even more time to think up your design! Don't just paste your best pixel-art on a tee mock-up, try to come up with a specific concept that you'd actually think people might want to wear on their chests for $$.
You'll notice concept is the magic word over there. Whether it's a clever pun, a subtle pop culture mash-up or some kind of visual storytelling, if you don't have it you have little chance. Of course flawless execution is very helpful too!

Designs have to be approved before they come up for voting. Then when they do they can be dropped early if they score poorly. Approval is not that easy to get. Several hundred designs are submitted each day, only about 100 get up for voting, and an average of ONE will get printed someday!

Be aware that Threadless has not printed many pixel designs yet, they (staff and users) will not be familiar with the subtleties of your favorite art form. Again, this is not an official challenge!


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