Friday, September 12, 2014

10 Years submitting to Threadless.

If 10 years ago someone had told me how much Threadless was going to effect my life, i would have probably said 'what..this tee shirt comp thing..naaahh.' But 2 things occur to me just now as I type this: how quickly 10 years can fly by, and how much I could cover from the last 10 years at Threadless!

First, I'd have to say I am aware of how much I owe Jake, all the Threadless staff (past and present), and the Threadless website as a whole. I've written about it in magazines and been interviewed more than once and have always said that Threadless propelled my career as an illustrator into a new and exciting genre, that of graphics for apparel. I had not really done tee shirts til I had a stab at Threadless, and the website worked as a second portfolio for me. For this I am eternally grateful, and I remind myself of it every time I work on a new tee shirt commission. I truly feel if it wasn't for Threadless, I wouldn't have as many tee shirt clients as I do today.

Secondly, there's the unexpected side of effect of making life long friends. I won't get into names, but there's too many to mention. But for me, true friendship is solidified with meeting and being with those people, and I have been very lucky in the last 10 years to travel a bit and to have met so many folks who were just avatars and nicknames before sharing a beer or a meal.

Third, another side effect of meeting folks online was forming the Black Rock Collective (BRC). I won't get into that so much, but it has to be mentioned as we all met via Threadless, and all had a collective desire to work with other like minded designers and illustrators.

There really is too much to get into, but above I've attached some pics that help convey a few of the highlights.

1--2007-the very first Meet Up (or Mish Mash I think it was called.)
As part of the opening of the first retail store, was the very first (now called) Family Reunion. I changed some flights to the UK adding a 4 day stopover in Chicago. It's where I first met Ross (who was my host, and a relative stranger, even online) and so many others from Threadless and the BRC. In the pic we gifted the Thread-staff this massive collaborative giclee print. I do not know, but hope it is still within the walls of Threadless HQ.

2--18 months later, Ross is giving a talk about Threadless in Sydney. I was still living in New Zealand at the time, and flew over and caught up with my friend. I also met Pascal (aka eskimokiss) for the first time, and we are still friends today. Ross is now one of my closest friends to this day, and surprisingly we still get to have beers together ever few years.

3--I was very lucky to have Jake invite me to speak with him, and 4 other international artists, at the HOW design conference in 2010. Before this, I stayed with Ross again, got to see Threadless HQ and the staff again, and catch up with a whole bunch of friends in who were in Chicago at the time. I never imagined seeing some of these folks again, so this was a really great night for me.

4--The panel (Dave, Jake, me, Al, Dan, and Terry) and associated Thread-staff at the booth in Denver. It was also an honor to be invited to dinner at your (then) home Jake, and meet the family and dogs.

5--Ross introduced me to Eddie Zammit (editor of T-World Magazine, on the left) and he and I organized a Threadless loves Aus+NZ exhibition, featuring a dozen antipodean artists. A great night, and I got to return some love to Jake by plying him with drinks all night (literally til 6am), which felt great to do. (Eddie, Pascal, Jake, and myself.)

As much as I have said I will not be submitting to Threadless anymore, I will always feel a part of Threadless, whether I submit or not. I think it's safer for me to say 'never say never'.

I really miss being in regular contact with a lot of the faces in the pictures above, staffers included, but I know that business's change, and so do the people. Threadless has a new community to the one I came to know over the last 10 years, and it's not a bad thing, I feel maybe it's just the right time for me to let go. 10 years..I'm still amazed it has been this long.

Thanks again Jake, Ross, Joe, Bob, Colleen, Festa, Craig, Rachel, Kristin, Mig, Dustin, Alex, and all those others at Threadless for helping me (and humoring me) along the way.

Best of luck in the future 10 years, I hope to keep reading on Threadless's success, and the success stories it creates on the way.

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