Should You Open A Threadless Artist Shop

Photo Courtesy of: Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Some of the internet’s most beloved artists use Threadless Artist shop to sell their work; artists like Nathan Pyle, Hillary White, Brian Cook, and Seamus Wray. Some artists swear by it while others choose to avoid it. With all these differing opinions, is Threadless artist shop the right choice for monetizing your designs?

The History of Threadless

When Threadless first launched in 2000, it was a screen-printing business with designs based on crowdsourced artwork. It followed a simple formula: artists could submit their work to Threadless, Threadless would publish those designs to their growing community who’d vote, only 1% of all submissions were made into t-shirts. By the end of 2009, Threadless was making millions from this formula while only employing 20 people. However, the winners of these competitions were making literal pennies in comparison. Early winners (winners before 2009) only made $750 in prize money and $250 in merchandise, whereas later winners made $2,500 in cash and merchandise.
Threadless would initially own the copyright of the work, therefore artists didn’t make any royalties from the sale of the t-shirts.
Threadless’ performance began to decline following these revelations.

However, in 2015 after years of dismal performance, Threadless launched Threadless artist shop, a way for artists to take home most of the proceeds made from selling their designs on print-on-demand products.

But, by that time Society6, Printful, Redbubble, and a handful of other print-on-demand services made it easier for artists to promote their work and get paid. So, why would people want to upload work on Threadless? What would make Threadless artist shop better or more beneficial than all the other print-on-demand options?

We take a look at the foremost differences between the Threadless artist shop and other print-on-demand services.


The greatest difference between the Threadless artist shop and other options is that the Threadless artist shop gives you greater control, primarily over the price of your products and the appearance of your store.

You Control The Prices

Society6 gives you a flat rate of 10% for every item, with certain exclusions. But, Threadless gives you control over the price of the products in your store. You can determine the amount you’ll charge for the products listed in your store, whether you’ll offer discounts, coupons, sales, etc. Threadless then deducts their base prices from your prices, leaving you with the remainder as profit.

You Determine The Appearance of Your Store

Branding is the buzzword of the century. But it’s more than a buzzword, branding is a fundamental part of the online retail experience. Younger audiences consider the appearance of their online shop as much as they consider prices and products. If that’s who’s in your target audience, you want a visually appealing storefront. Threadless enables you to customize your storefront so it looks like a legitimate online retailer and doesn’t include much Threadless branding. Although you don’t have as many customization options as you would on Shopify or Squarespace, opening a Threadless artist shop is free.

You Get Discounts on Samples

On other print-on-demand platforms, if you want to determine the quality of your products, you’ll first have to publish your work and then purchase the final product at full price. These other platforms argue because you’re getting an amount as remuneration from the sale, you’re essentially making a discount. But Threadless gives you a legitimate discount when you’re ordering your stock. This gives you insight into what your products will look and feel like before you begin promoting your artist shop.

You Collect Insight About Your Audience

On Society6 and Redbubble, you don’t know who purchased an item, whether they’re a returning customer, or whether or not they hated or loved the item. You only know that you made a sale. However, Threadless lifts this veil of secrecy and gives you access to your audience. Because the Threadless Artist shop differs quite significantly from the traditional print-on-demand model, when people shop on your Threadless artist shop it’s because they want to purchase a product from your store. Threadless knows this and gives you data like their email. With this information, you can reach out, thank them, and continue to promote your store to them in the future.

Web Traffic to Your Store Belongs To You

Say goodbye to those pesky recommendations below your work.

Having an artist shop is like having a legitimate eCommerce store, not a listing on a marketplace. This means all the traffic you get to your store won’t receive recommendations for products by other artists. 

Should I Only Publish My Work on my Threadless Artist Shop?

Although a Threadless artist shop is an advantageous way to retain most of the proceeds from your products and greater control of your store, for fairly unknown artists, choosing another print-on-demand service will be beneficial.

Because the Threadless artist shop and the Threadless marketplace aren’t cohesive, gaining exposure from the marketplace is complicated. Therefore it’s advisable that as an unknown artist, you diversify.  Publish your work on other marketplaces like Society6, where you’re not responsible for driving traffic. 

Once you’ve built a loyal following of buyers, you can migrate your designs to your Threadless artist shop and publish your work there exclusively.


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