Designed By Humans – A Legitimate Threadless Competitor?

Designedbyhumanslogo is a new t-shirt design competition which IMHO is one of the few services that has the potential to become legitimate competition to Threadless. Sure it’s a similar concept but these guys have focused on two key aspects of the business that are critical, first the prize money and second the printing technology.

The Prize Money

The way Threadless structures prize money is it’s Achilles heal, a one time payment of $1500 in cash, and $500 in store credit sounds OK but it really doesn’t add up for the very best designers whos designs get reprinted over and over.

Designed by Humans doesn’t solve the reprint issue, or provide any residual income but it does provide the ability to make $3500 cash for 1 design.

Each day of the week, Monday through Friday, a submitted design wins the Shirt of the Day (SOTD) prize of $750 ($500 cash & $250 store credit). Every week the five previous SOTD winners go head to head for the Shirt of the Week (SOTW) prize of $1000 cash. Then the four SOTW winners compete for the final prize of $1750 ($1500 cash & $250 store credit) and the coveted trophy and title of Shirt of the Month. All in all, a winning design that goes all the way can win up to $3500!

Printing Technology

It seems that DBH has put a hell of a lot of work into the various printing technologies designers will be able to utilize. I think this is one area that DBH has leapfrogged Threadless’s screenprinting set up.

  • 8-Color Designs / Gradients / Half-tones – 8 colors per design (not including the t-shirt) and may contain gradients and half-tones
  • High Density Inks – used to give a design a dimensional appearance or texture
  • Flock – a technique that gives the design a fuzzy feel
  • Foil – used to give a design a shiny metallic look
  • Suede – Ink that as the name indicates, has the look and feel of suede
  • Metallic – used to give the design a metallic shimmer less intense than foil
  • Gel – can be applied over a print to give it a glass-like look
  • Water-based inks – used to give a design a soft-hand feel and almost no-hand feel after wash
  • Burnout – process removes the cotton fibers from a shirt, leaving only the synthetic fibers
  • Discharge – basically a bleaching agent that is used to take the color out of the shirt (they have to find a better name than that :-)
  • Applique´ – a piece of fabric that is cut out and sewn onto the shirt

Those are some very cool options IMHO

So what’s the downside? not sure yet, although i’m not very keen on their licensing terms, considering this is a competition with a one time prize I think they are asking a lot in these terms

you hereby grant to DBH, its licensees and assignees, an exclusive, world-wide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, sublicensible (through multiple tiers) right to: (1) reproduce the Design or any parts, alterations or derivatives thereof, whether alone or in combination with or as a composite of other matter, including, but not limited to, text, data, images, photographs, illustrations, animation and graphics, video or audio segments of any nature, and embody such reproductions in any media or embodiment now known or hereafter to become known (the Products); and (2) publicly display, perform or exhibit, or distribute the Design, as part of the Products, in any way now known or hereafter to become known including without limitation by transmission, broadcast, or electronic communication.

I think the Threadless T&C’s are a little more… Human. In fact the ironic thing is that the whole of the Threadless site feels more human. If fails it won’t be a failure of technology it will be a failure to build and grow a culture online like threadless has.

hat tip to Mashable

16 Responses to “Designed By Humans – A Legitimate Threadless Competitor?”

  1. Joe says:

    I’m not so sure how I feel about the prize structure… I understand that they’re trying to reward the designers of their best submissions by having the tiered contest, but what distinguishes a ‘shirt of the day’ from a ‘shirt of the month’ (besides the amount of money the pay out), for example, isn’t clear. It just seems… arbitrary, I guess.

    And the super-clean Web 2.0 design of the site makes it feel less human (like you point out), though more intuitive for a first time visitor than the Threadless site is. By calling their users a ‘human population’ they’re indexing biological sciences discourse that could be alienating, or at least not warm and welcoming. And ‘Featured Human’ sounds like something our future robot overlords would have… sort of like ‘employee of the month’.

    Anyway, astute analysis Karl. And all the printing options they offer are awesome!

  2. Nikko says:

    Yeah, I pretty much agree with everything you said. I really enjoy submitting designs and stuff, but the thing about DBH’s site, is their hard to understand terms. Maybe, if they made some of those things on the site, a little bit more sweet and simple, I would probley submit something. Although, the only cool thing about them, are their printing options.

    Also why does the site refer to the members as humans? I’d prefer people, it makes it sound a little nicer. Design by People. Doesn’t it?

  3. Katrina says:

    I agree with Joe, the prize structure sounds complicated and not really clean although (I have trouble understanding Threadless’s rules as well :P)
    Regarding the look of the site, it doesn’t bother me that much; I think it takes time for a new site to be alive and have soul and at the end of the day the people are the ones who will play this part so time will show…
    I loved all these printing methods, I believe it opens a whole new era for this industry. And the designs I’ve seen so far are quite impressive!
    I’m quite positive about DBH. Thanks Karl for the info, that’s a great post!

  4. [...] I could you you more incite, but I think that Karl has got this one well covered. [...]

  5. [...] Designed by Humans has been called a Threadless competitor and killer. Personally, I think the deciding factor for me will be if they can manage to keep mens-size-large in stock for more than 12 seconds. Posted by poploser | in Design | [...]

  6. Jeffrey says:

    I think that DBH has a pretty solid idea, though I’d like to see where they’re at in a year. I don’t really look at any other site like ours (Threadless) as “competition” as there’s room for everyone in the tee business. Honestly, if DBH became 10x the size of Threadless and then you took our two companies and compared our output to the whole of the “tee industry”, we wouldn’t even be a blip on the map!

    The one thing I will say is that you can’t buy something with the idea of money…

    Designed by Humans doesn’t solve the reprint issue, or provide any residual income but it does provide the ability to make $3500 cash for 1 design.

    As my Dad says “that and a dollar can buy a cup of coffee”. It’s like the weight loss commercials where the fat dude loses 100lbs in a months. “Results not typical”. Not to slag on DBH for it, I honestly hope that it works. Nothing would please me more than to see unknown young designers making serious cash for their illustrations. If anything, I believe that Threadless along with other companies like us raise the bar for what is acceptable payment for work. In the end, that’s what really matters.

    So, that’s my piece. I do wish DBH luck with their business. I’m excited to see how it fares over time!

  7. Jason says:

    Thanks for wishing us well, Jeffrey.

  8. karl says:

    Thanks Jeffrey, I take your point about the term competition, sure the t-shirt marketplace may seem infinite, but i’m not sure the marketplace for talent and ideas is quite as big and that. That being said Threadless has an incredibly loyal base of talent, and apart from the financial reward they are assured of huge exposure on Threadless, which you can’t say about DBH.

    I remember when ask a ninja put his content only on youtube, until revver came along and started offering revenue share for post roll advertisement. it didn’t take long for ask a ninja to start putting his content on there.

    In the end people are only partially motivated by money, when talking about “employee motivation” money is a basic nessesaty but does not engender loyalty or high performance, that kind of intrinsic motivation comes from higher order needs like autonomy, achievement, self determination, recognition etc. It’s the company that can figure out how to fulfill those needs that will succeed in the marketplace for talent.

  9. mj00 says:

    Personally, I think the “humans” thing is a reference to the fact that the site aims to have shirts that look more like artists made them than designers. Sort of hand-drawn instead of vector-based. I don’t know, it made total sense to me.

    I will say that the community aspect isn’t as good as Threadless’s so far, as Threadless has a lot of options for communicating with other users (blogs, critiques and submission comments) while DBH only has a few so far. Hopefully that will evolve a bit as the site grows.

  10. klf says:

    what kind of shirt stock are they using?

  11. [...] Via Tcritic Scritto da Simone il 14 Luglio, 2007Tags: opportunità, streetwear, t shirts [...]

  12. [...] This announcement comes of course hot on the heals of the launch last week of Designed By Humans, which many agreed was one of the only potential competitors to threadless. Ironically one of the threadless founders made the comment that there wasn’t really any competition as the t-shirt market was so large, of course one of the quotes in this recent announcement was: AND, starting today, we are paying an additional $500 for each time your design is reprinted! That means that if your design is reprinted 8,000,000 times, you could win an addition $4,000,000,000 !!!! Beat that, competition! [...]

  13. [...] the winner of the $5000 kick-off contest at Design By Humans (which in concept is somewhat similar to Threadless) is Robot Attack, which just happens to be the Design By Humans submission that I [...]

  14. [...] you had suggested to me last year in September that you were going to start a t-shirt company just like threadless with community submitted [...]

  15. Matteo says:

    I think theese guys made a great work. The print options and quality is outstanding and so are the artists involved. Submitting your artwork is fast and friendly and almost every day the BEST design wins. What’s “best”? Best is what other people (included you and me) would buy and wear…that’s a t-shirt’s aim. I think it’s really democratic and competitive. And the results are great.

    What about the 2.0 interface? It’s simple. Beyond any artistic dissertation this UI is intuitive an friendly… Threadless’ is not….so many people (morely not interested in web design’s trends) will move to DBH. Who’s right?

  16. [...] was put some pressure on the whole T-Shirt competition industry to pay their artists more money. I wrote a bit of a blurb about them about a year ago where I highlighted their printing options and commission structure both of which were important [...]

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