Meet The First Ever Threadless Artist: Prate

There’s a first time for everything. First word, first time seeing Star Wars, commenting “FIRST!” on a youtube video (please don’t).

And for a place like Threadless where there’s such an incredible community of artists, there was, of course, a first artist to be printed. And we’re super excited that she’s just opened an Artist Shop.

Prate,” a.k.a Jemma Hostetler, was in the Threadless community at its very start – way back in the olden days of the early 2000’s. So it’s pretty rad that the artist who’s been with us the longest is participating in the newest wave of Threadless – Artist Shops.

We talked to Prate about her return to Threadless, her uniquely minimal-yet-complex style, and about where she gets her ideas. Check out the interview!

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So you were the very first artist printed at Threadless, wow! What’s it been like to see Threadless evolve?

“The Jakes” were still in high school when I first met them. They did a short presentation at View:Source (web design event in the late ’90s?) involving plastic-wrapped slices of cheese flying through the air. It was really something. You should ask Jake Nickell about that day.

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They went on to become super successes. I think it’s great.

Old school Prate designs, back at the dawn of Threadless

How has your style changed since your original Threadless designs?

The first couple of things I did for Threadless were more inside jokes than anything. Like, the Prate™ Parody Pack – the audience was mostly people on Dreamless (see: Threadless history). I think the first actual Prate art was the “Beautiful Land” shirt.

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“Beautiful Land”

What do you do for a living now? Do you do art full time?

Design and art direction. Once in a while I’ll get a commission for personal work.

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What brought you back to Threadless to open up an artist shop?

I took a really, really, long break from publishing work on Prate.com and only just recently put new stuff up…so…yeah…new art = new tees!

SouthAm,” “You Are Here,” and “Ribbon

\What does “Prate” mean? How did you decide that title?

A friend wrote a script and ran it against the whois database looking through the dictionary for .coms still available in 1999. Prate was on the list.

  1. intr.

To talk idly and at length; chatter.

  1. tr.

To utter idly or to little purpose.


Empty, foolish, or trivial talk; idle chatter.

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Your designs look like they have a topographical influence to them – is travel a big part of your life and work?

I hate flying, but I’ve always loved looking out of plane windows. Some of the most ugly things can be incredibly beautiful when viewed from above.

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Topography, maps, diagrams of ideas that can only be understood from a far removed point of view… love.

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“March 2016, No. 2”

How do you get in the creative zone?

Cava or iced americanos.

What inspires your designs?

Random, everyday bullshit. Seriously.

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March 2016, No.




I have an outdoor rug on the balcony right now that has a preppy, New England style pattern on it. A couple months ago I was looking at the negative space in the pattern repeat and I used that shape as the centerpiece for image No.1 on the March 2016 update of Prate.com. I once had a Nike sneaker inspire an entire month of Prate. It could be a weird paint job on a semi truck, a shadow on a wall, anything.

How did you curate the designs for your shop?

Eh. I’m working on that. The plan is to update the shop with new designs from each Prate.com update.

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“Pattern Pink”

What medium do you use?

Illustrator, paper, iPhone camera…whatever.

What’s your creative process like?

Google “dog no idea what I’m doing.”

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You manage to add a clean minimalism to designs that are usually the opposite of minimal, like landscape shots and maps – how did you find this balance?

l like batshit crazy and I like milky, white, nothingness equally. Sometimes a clean, minimal, little mark or image can be way more confusing or ambiguous than a cavalcade of chaos. I guess I’m amused by the pairing of both, because it’s a constant in my work.

Check Out Prate’s Artist Shop Here!

Featured image is “You Are Here

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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.