Winner Interview: When in Doubt, “Be Bold”

Good things don’t come to those who wait; good things come to those who dare to be bold! And the winner of our “Be Bold” challenge – our very own designer here at Threadless, Katie Lukes – created a design that serves as a perfect reminder to be just a little bit bolder everyday. It might cause a few bumps and mental bandaids along the way, but in the end? “It’s All Good.”

We talked to Katie about her very first Threadless win, the textures she makes by hand (no pun intended), and about how to be bold with your art and creativity every day. Check out what she had to say below!

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Congratulations on the win! “Be Bold” is a broad concept – how did you come up with this design?

Thanks Carlyn! It’s actually kind of a remix if you will. I originally came up with this icon awhile ago for our return policy pop-up. I liked it and wanted to remix it into a more illustrated version, and the “Be Bold” challenge seemed like the perfect opportunity!


This is definitely not your first time being printed at Threadless, but it’s your first big win! Excited?

Woo!! First win! It’s really exciting, a nice surprise when I found out!

“It’s All Good” in action

Your designs have a great visual texture to them, and you make some pretty amazing custom textures! How do you go about making a texture? Does it make it feel like a piece of art is extra-yours when you use a texture you made yourself?

Why thank you! Yes, exactly – it feels more like my own and more unique when I use my own textures. I make my textures by hand, which usually involves putting random objects in black ink and then seeing what kind of marks that makes on paper. Then I just scan them in and adjust in Photoshop. It’s also just more fun and allows me to get messy and get away from the computer for a bit.

“It’s All Good” on several different products and styles

How has working at Threadless and with so many artists helped you grow as an artist?

It seems like it has accelerated my growth as an illustrator and designer much faster. Just comparing my own work from a year ago and two years ago, it seems way different (in a good way I think!) I know I can attribute that to working with a lot of talented people and seeing all of the great work the community submits to Threadless. We all push each other, which is great. Also just by simply cranking out more work naturally brings growth, and I’ve been able to work on a lot more things since working here.

“Forest Pattern” featuring a Budgie appearance! (Via Katie’s Instagram)

Your art isn’t the only thing that’s Threadfamous: your pet bunny is a beautiful model! Tell us a little bit about the little guy!

Ha! Yes, Budgie is three and we adopted him about two years ago. I couldn’t have asked for a better pet. He does a darn good job modeling I have to say! Luckily, he’s super chill all of the time and isn’t a rabbit that gets scared of things easily, so I’m able to bring him in for photos. I’m sure he’ll be back for more!

If you’re not willing to get out of your comfort zone or really put yourself out there in your work and let your personality shine, then I don’t think you’d reach your full potential or really connect with people as much.

You have an Artist Shop too, and it’s done super well! Is there a design in there you’re particularly proud of? Any designs that have been more popular than expected?

Thanks! Actually the “It’s All Good” design started in my Artist Shop first. It was helpful to see it on the mockups, and ordering a sample of it reassured me that it made a solid tee design.

Designs from Katie’s Artist Shop! Top row: “Good Vibes Only“, “lol“, and “Stay Inspired” | Bottom row: “Watching“, “Handmade Club“, “The Great Indoors

Finally, do you have any advice as far as how artists should “Be Bold”?

Great question! It’s definitely a good motto to follow as an artist, I think. If you’re not willing to get out of your comfort zone or really put yourself out there in your work and let your personality shine, then I don’t think you’d reach your full potential or really connect with people as much. Being bold and taking risks get you much further than always playing it safe.


Anything else you want to leave us with?

Happy Holidays everyone! I’m excited for some new things we will be doing here at Threadless in the new year and for the design challenges we have coming up next so keep an eye out for those! :)


Shop the winning design now!

CategoriesBehind The Tees
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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.