Design Challenges are the longest-held tradition here at Threadless. The way it works is we give a creative prompt, artists submit their designs, and the entire community scores them to help us select the winners. These challenges are a fun way for artists to step out of their comfort zone and win additional earnings. Now that you’re caught up, let’s take a look at all of the Design Challenge winners of 2022!
By the end of last year, artists submitted more than 11,000 designs to 17 challenges that awarded more than $60,000 worth of prizes. What you’ll see below are all of the first-place winners, as well as links to each Design Challenge collection. Choosing a first-place winner is always tough, so we HIGHLY recommend exploring the collections to find your own favorites. Congrats to all of the Design Challenge winners!
Yee Haw! | Goblincore | Video Games That Don’t Exist Part 2 | Halloween | Grow STEM | Trippin’ Out | Trick ‘r Treat | Protect Reproductive Rights | Flower Power | Travel | Weed | Dark Academia | Care Bears 40th Anniversary | Kawaii | Actually Curious | Winter Wildlife | Noodle No Bones
For the Yee Haw! Design Challenge, artists saddled up and took us back to the Old West, where cow skulls bake in the sun and buzzards swarm overhead. “Far West Far Above” by DiToons won first place with a cowboy riding a horse-shaped cloud into the sunset. And by the looks of it, he isn’t going to miss any of us. Later, cowboy!
This challenge called for artists to explore the mossy, mushroom-speckled world of goblincore, a subculture and aesthetic that celebrates the not-so-beautiful aspects of nature. Pepe Rodriguez went full goblin mode with “Rotten Core Goblin,” showing a mischievous green creature nestled inside someone’s rib cage.
Our friends at DesignerCon challenged artists to power up their brains and create real-life art for made up video games. The winner, “The Final Revision” by rarpoint, reminds us of late nights at college when we used to rush to finish our final term papers of the semester. Little did we know that when we graduated, there was one final boss waiting for us: adulthood.
“Trick or treat, smell our feet, give us some good art to see.” That’s the mission we gave to artists for this challenge, and they summoned all things spooky with more than 1,500 design submissions. Bosatsu didn’t just capture the “Spirit of Halloween,” they unleashed it into the atmosphere with a young witch blowing ghost bubbles into the sky.
Partnering with Intel in an effort to help close the STEM gap, we asked artists to use their design skills to inspire the next generation to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These are all essential fields in which women and BIPOC are largely underrepresented. Artist Christopher Phillips answered the call with “Limitless,” which envisions a future where anyone can soar to new heights, regardless of their gender, race, or ethnicity.
This challenge delivered a strong dose of bold colors, wavy lines, and expanding universes—the kind you can only experience with the help of natural psychedelics. Of all the submissions we received, “Trippin Out” by migspnz obliterated our minds the most with a bizarre illustration of a primate…well…tripping out. Is this how we evolved into humans? Someone ask Google.
In October of 2022, the cult-classic horror movie Trick ‘r Treat was released in theaters for the first time ever for its 15th anniversary. To celebrate this incredible milestone, artists created designs inspired by the anthology’s grizzly events. Turborat14’s “I Am Sam” design took home first prize with a hair-raising rendition of the film’s most recognizable character.
In response to the US Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade in June of 2022, the Artist Community moved swiftly to show its support for reproductive rights. Rather than selecting a winner, our community focused on spreading the message and raising money for nonprofit organizations helping the cause. 100% of proceeds Threadless receives from this challenge go to the National Network of Abortion Funds and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The Flower Power challenge was fertile ground for floral patterns, sprawling landscapes, and striking symbolism. Artists also showed us different ways flowers can express love…or loathing. “Love Me Not” by losereputation makes its intentions clear with a flower flipping the bird. Message received!
For this challenge, artists used the concept of travel to take us wherever their imagination would lead us, be it a national park, space, or another dimension. “I’m Out” by losereptuation shows us that when we need an escape, sometimes it doesn’t really matter where we travel. We just need to get away.
Mary Jane. Bud. Ganja. Weed. Reefer. The devil’s lettuce. Broccoli. Whatever you like to call it, marijuana is nature’s gift to humankind. For this challenge, artists sparked up their imaginations and created new designs inspired by weed. Diego Fonseca’s “High Sun” evokes the sensation of floating up in the clouds.
Dark Academia is a growing internet subculture that romanticizes 19th century liberal arts education, with a particular focus on the dark and unusual. Think dusty libraries, classical art, and secret societies. Speaking of dark and unusual, Benjimoji’s “Necromancy Workshop” advertises a class on the fundamentals of raising the dead. Did you say you were busy Friday night?
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Care Bears, artists harnessed their belly-badge powers to create officially licensed designs focusing on themes of friendship and positivity. Artist M Lee made the most beloved characters look as lovable as ever with their first-place design, “Care Bears Care Squad.” It’s always a good day to care!
Presented by our friends at Hot Topic, this challenge called for artists to craft new designs in the spirit of kawaii, a culture of cuteness that originated in Japan. Artist Eduardo Ely broke the cuteness scale with “Shiba Hut,” a pizzeria run by the most adorable Shiba Inu you’ve ever seen. Pups AND pizza? Where do we sign up?
Partnering with the conversation card game Actually Curious and the nonprofit Curious Publishing, we challenged artists to create new designs that inspire connection, love, and empathy. These elements are what help all of us grow, which Char Bataille alludes to in the winning design, “Nourishment.”
For this challenge, artists made designs inspired by all the whimsical beasts of winter—big, small, and imaginary. Florent Bodart incorporated deer, buffalo, foxes, and other wild creatures into an all-over print design that looks fantastic on Fleece Blankets. The perfect couch accessory for winter.
Kicking off 2022, 14-year-old pug and social-media sensation Noodle was the focus of the Noodle No Bones challenge. Artists illustrated their own interpretation of a “bones” or “no bones” day. In other words, seizing the day or taking it easy and practicing self-care. The Dog Agency captured the go-get-em attitude with “Definitely a Bones Day.”
Unfortunately, our small squishy friend Noodle passed away at the end of 2022, but not without teaching all of us the value of being kind and loving to ourselves. What a legacy!
Thank you to everyone who submitted and scored designs in 2022, and congrats to all of the Design Challenge winners! If you’re an artist who’s interested in joining the fun, build your own Artist Shop for free and start submitting designs to any of our themed or ongoing challenges. We can’t wait to see your art!
On the other hand, if you’re an appreciator of art, come score submissions! You can help your favorite independent artists rise to the top and grow their following.