“Explore the Great Indoors” With Katie Lukes’ Artist Shop!

The “Katie Lukes Artist Shop” isn’t just awesome – it also belongs to one of our own!

One of the greatest parts about working at Threadless is being surrounded by super creative people whose awesomeness is nothing short of inspiring. Our designer Katie Lukes is one of those super creative people.

We get to see her make cool things all the time. But for those of you who might not be familiar with Katie’s work, we talked to Katie about her unique style, introvert-chillin’ in “The Great Indoors,” and got some sagely advice about staying creative and selling your swag.

Check out her answers below!

.     .     .

How did you get your start at Threadless?

I had been following Threadless in college, and right before Threadless I was working at a small design studio here in Chicago. I wasn’t looking for a new job per se at the time, but when I found out Threadless was hiring a new Designer I absolutely had to apply. Being a Designer for a company like Threadless was the dream. And luckily it worked out!

“The Great Indoors”

Were you submitting to Threadless before you starting working here?

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 10.26.37 AM
Courtesy of Katie’s Instagram

Yes, I finally started taking part in design challenges three years ago when I was at a job that had a good amount of downtime. I took advantage of any time I had to create my own stuff.

It was exciting for me to use Threadless in the challenge aspect, because then I could see how my work stacked up and I could see what sorts of things were successful and unsuccessful. I found that when you are submitting designs for others to see and score, it really pushes you to keep improving.


Are you ever surprised by the designs that become the top sellers in your shop? What’s your favorite design?

Totally! In fact, I added two designs to my shop that were kind of last minute in order to get my shop to contain six designs and I wasn’t that happy with them, and to my surprise, I still got compliments on them and people have been buying them. Maybe it says something about trusting your gut or running with an idea without second-guessing yourself.

Left: “Handmade Club” | Right: “Beer Family

I feel like it’ll be hard for me to not pick “The Great Indoors” as my favorite design for a long time. Mostly because this was the only time I can remember having sort of an epiphany on a design – the idea just hit me and it was so clear how I wanted it to look.

“The Great Indoors”

I get compliments on “The Great Indoors” all the time! What inspires your designs?

It’s usually the most random things that inspire me! I find inspiration in everyday experiences that others can relate to. I like to try and highlight everyday encounters that are constantly in our lives but are often overlooked. If I made someone stop chuckle or smile with my work, then mission accomplished.

Courtesy of Katie’s Instagram

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I’d say my style is very much inspired by vintage graphic design and illustration. My work typically combines clean vectors with handmade elements. I like to keep some aspects of my design or illustration super clean, and then other parts more humanistic – I like to let the imperfections shine sometimes, or keep happy accidents resulting from experimenting. The end result varies depending on the project, but it will most likely combine those two aspects.

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 10.26.53 AM
“Stay Inspired”

Your drawings are awesome, but your hand-lettering and typography REALLY stand out as unique to you. Are you more of a typographer or illustrator?

Why thank you! I would say lettering and illustration are pretty equal in my work and experience. When I hand-letter, it is created in my own handmade style, which mimics my illustration style, so that makes both elements merge together if that makes sense. I use both in tangent most of the time.

How did you develop your style?

I’m an only child, so when I was out with my parents as a kid doing boring adult things, I’d always be doodling to keep busy. I never really got into drawing realistically; I was more excited about recreating the logos of companies I saw or drawing characters from the comics I read. Then from college and beyond, I think that interest translated into illustrations with a heavy graphic design influence. Or vice-versa.

“Obvious Mouse”

How has the move from where you grew up to Chicago influenced your art?

Growing up in Green Bay and being in Madison, WI for college and then moving to Chicago brought certain changes to my work and how I viewed my work. I feel like going from small town to big city living exposed me to more diversity and more art and design in-person rather than just on the internet. I feel like living here has pushed me to become more adventurous and open with my work.

Courtesy of Katie’s Instagram

How has working around so many artists at Threadless influenced your art?

Oh man. I work with the most creative people, it’s crazy. Everyone at Threadless has such a passion for creativity that you can’t help but be inspired constantly – it’s contagious. Actually, since starting at Threadless I’ve had to start an “ideas notebook” because there’s just always something going on that will make ideas pop in my head for my work or a new project (as well as Threadless work). I think being here has really helped me grow as a Designer/Illustrator because everyone is always helping and supporting each other in their work.


What are you most excited about with your Artist Shop?

I like the flexibility and customization Artist Shops offer. I’m able to adapt my shop to have the look and feel that goes along with my style. I’m also addicted to our french terry sweatshirts and hoodies – I basically live in them now, so being able to put my designs on products that I really like and stand behind is great. Oh, and I’m really excited to see what products I’ll be able to get my work printed on in the near future!

Courtesy of Katie’s Instagram

What advice would you give other artists opening online shops?

My advice would be:

  1. Stay true to yourself and your style. Make things you’re most excited about! It shows when you are truly passionate about something, so let your personality shine in your work.
  2. Promote yourself and your work, and do it in a way that comes naturally and works best for you.
  3. Have fun and never stop making new things – that’s the only way to improve and make better work!

Featured image courtesy of Katie’s website

Check Out Katie’s Artist Shop!

Avatar photo
Carlyn Hill

Dad joke aficionado, cartoonist, & contributor for sites like HelloGiggles and The Mary Sue by night. When I'm not writing or drawing, you can find me in my cave of a room hanging out with my boyfriend, Netflix.