[Updated] I Love Contests – Tshirt Design and a Little Waxing Philosophic

[Updated] I was denied! Well, no duh. Looking at the competition my implementation sucked. Even though I think it is a good concept given the theme of the contest. Actually, looking at some of the newest entries I may have over-thought my design. Note to self: use less brain.

Hello Matthew Oliphant,

Regarding: ‘Off Button’

Unfortunately your submission was declined.


The reason your design was declined is: Sorry, your design was not accepted by the initial panel of Judges. Even though your design may be submitted properly, we do decline some submissions for poor design. All designs are pre-screened by a panel of Judges before put into the running. Please feel free to create another design and try again.


Here are some other reasons we sometimes decline a design:

– The number one decline reason is that your design did not pass the initial panel of Judges. Each submission must be approved by 3 Judges before being put in the running. Due to the large number of submissions we receive, we cannot accept every submission into the running.

– Improperly sized thumbnails and designs
– The design has too many colors
– The design has a gradient or halftones
– Submission did not use the templates
– Inappropriate material within the design
– The design is too large to print
– The design contains copyrighted material

Thank you for submitting to Threadless,
The Jakes

Earth’s Best Tshirts

5225 N Ravenswood Ave #101
Chicago, IL 60640
United States of America


I just entered the Threadless/SXSWi T-shirt Design Contest.

Off Button

Off Button Tshirt

I actually kind of like it. I submitted it with the following description: There are many solutions to a design problem. This one was provided by the company’s mirror division. This is Silo-Centered Design at its best.

All too often I see this kind of thing. One area of the company comes up with a solution to a problem that benefits the area, not necessarily the company. It often isn’t an issue of lack of User-Centered Design (UCD) but a lack of Balanced Design.

There are many levels of customer that are impacted by a problem or opportunity. Most solutions don’t consider every level. They should, especially with physical products. Total focus on UCD will have most designers looking at the needs of the end customer; the person who buys the product and uses it within their context of choice (Ooo, designer talk!).

That focus won’t consider the space in which the product is sold, or what happens to the product when it is no longer needed/wanted, or how many slave-labour children can be put to work and still meet the budget?

Good products consider all levels of customer. Great products know which levels to design for. Design is, after all, a negotiation process. It’s not just negotiating with developers/engineers and business partners. It is negotiating with the many levels of customer too.

Taking into consideration each level will help you make a better product. You may not be able to negotiate the best solution for most of the levels, but as with all things categorization and prioritization are key in this negotiation process. The point is to find as much balance as possible among all the levels of customer.

But yes, you are correct: way too much thinking for a T-shirt design.

One reply on “[Updated] I Love Contests – Tshirt Design and a Little Waxing Philosophic”

  1. Can anyone out there help me? I’ve been trying to submit a design to Threadless and can’t, for the life of me, figure it out. My design is a vector/Illustrator file. Does any one have a step-by-step instruction? I would greatly appreciate it. I’ve imported the design into Photoshop and tried to reduce the 640×480 pixel file to a 100×70 gif but it reduces to 100×75. And when I save the 640×480 illustrator file for the web it’s over the maximum 120 kb size required. I know that thousands of people have submitted their designs successfully, and I’m embarrassed to ask for this help but I’m desperate. Thank you in advance for your guidance.

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