2020 Year in Review: The Resilience and Growth of Our Artist Community

2020 was a gauntlet. From a global pandemic to natural disasters, the year’s onslaught of events had a tremendous impact on the whole world. But doom and gloom weren’t the prevailing themes of the year. Instead, they were perseverance and togetherness in isolation. We’re incredibly proud of the entire Threadless community for not only showing resilience, but also coming together to serve those in need during critical times. This could not have been possible without YOU.

Your captivating art was the lifeforce and catalyst for so many exciting Artist Shops accomplishments in 2020. You helped Threadless Causes reach multiple fundraising milestones. Your awesome designs infused imagination into a new lineup of products, which now includes four styles of Face Masks, Ringer T-Shirts, and Greeting Cards. You even sold art to customers in more than 130 countries! Let’s take a look back at the highlights of 2020 and celebrate the ways you help make an impact.

You Helped Uplift Communities Around the World with Your Art

Art throughout history has always been a powerful tool that drives cultural change and gives a voice to the underserved and underrepresented. In 2020, you continued that tradition as we launched multiple fundraising campaigns to support organizations doing good all around the globe. With support from the entire Threadless community, those efforts led to an even larger fundraising aspirations. Here’s how it all went down.

Face Masks Benefiting MedShare

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States in early 2020, we wanted to make sure we did our part to help stop the spread and support those whose lives were impacted by the virus. With the CDC’s recommended guidelines in mind, we launched four styles of Face Masks and donated a portion of our proceeds to MedShare, starting with a goal of $100,000. You and the rest of our artist community created unique designs that quickly made Face Masks one of our most popular products. Through the sale of our face masks, we collectively raised more than $500,000, and we’re aiming for a new goal of $750,000!

To get a better understanding of how these funds translate to meaningful action in the real world, read the following message from MedShare:

MedShare Quote

The Arrival of Threadless Causes

After launching fundraising campaigns for MedShare and the fight against racial injustice, we were floored by how ready and willing the entire Threadless community was to rally around important causes. It’s truly inspiring to see, especially in a turbulent year that will be remembered for a global pandemic, natural disasters, and civil unrest. We decided to harness our community’s positive energy to create a new fundraising initiative for our artists—Threadless Causes!

From your Artist Dashboard, the Threadless Causes feature allows you to select a design you’d like to donate a portion of your earnings from. Then, you can select a Cause and charity where you’ll direct those funds. Causes range from Racial Injustice to Mental Health Awareness, and the list continues to grow with your input. Thanks to the artist community, Threadless Causes has donated a total of $800,000 to more than 25 charities in 2020!

How We Addressed the Impact of COVID-19 on Our Artist Community

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned that many independent artists, musicians, and small business owners like yourself depend even more on additional income streams like Artist Shops. To help offset the financial impact of the pandemic, we found ways to put more earnings in your pocket. Here are just a few of the steps we took.

We Launched Our Community Action Plan

To help you recover some of the income you may have lost during this critical time, we launched our Community Action Plan. Depending on the products you sold from your Artist Shop, this helped increase our artists’ earnings between 60% and 100%! We also helped new Artist Shop owners set up their shop.

We’re Just Getting Started: Threadless Community Action Plan

We Permanently Increased Your Earnings During Promotional Times

If your Artist Shop is opted into Managed Pricing Promotions, you’ll never earn less than 10% of the sale price during promotional events. In fact, oftentimes you’ll earn more. Now, whenever we run a sale or promotion in your shop and/or the Threadless Marketplace, you’ll receive higher minimum earnings across the board when the promotional price of an item drops below the base fee. This change prompted by your feedback significantly increased artist earnings!

We’ve Increased Your Artist Shop Earnings—Again!

Most-Sold Design of 2020: Shing Yin Khor’s “Four Seasons Total Landscaping”

Throughout President Donald Trump’s time in office, Los Angeles–based artist Shing Yin Khor made it a daily routine to make activist and protest art. But things took a surprising turn when they created a design that quickly became one of the bestsellers in Threadless history. Poking fun at a logistical mishap by the Trump campaign, “Four Seasons Total Landscaping” features the furry, bug-eyed mascot Gritty riding a lawn mower. Read more about the origin story of Shing’s design here.

In an enormous act of generosity, Shing decided to donate all of their proceeds from the wildly popular design. So far, their design has raised more than $170K for BIPOC voting rights organizations! A portion of the proceeds also went to the campaigns of Georgia Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. And to top it all off, The View featured the design as one of Joy Behar’s Favorite Things Under $50:

Top Five Highest-Grossing Artist Shops in 2020

Each of our highest-grossing Artist Shops of 2020 have all of the symptoms of a successful e-commerce storefront. They have a unique brand aesthetic, an “about” page linking to their social-media profiles, and designs catering to a specific audience. Explore their shops to discover why the Threadless community loves them so much:

1. Nathan W. Pyle

“Strange Planet Special Product: Explode the Grains” by Nathan W. Pyle
“Strange Planet Special Product: Explode the Grains” by Nathan W. Pyle

2. ShopClass (Shing Yin Khor)

3. Steven Rhodes

“Here Comes the Apocalypse” by Steven Rhodes
“Here Comes the Apocalypse” by Steven Rhodes

4. Micah Ulrich

5. Glitch Goods by Rob Sheridan

Top Five Emerging Artist Shops Published in 2020

These Artist Shops hit the ground running almost immediately after they went live in 2020. Their styles run the gamut from cute and fantastical to motivational and politically charged. If anything, their early success shows that the Threadless community is hungry for all types of art!

Stats that Prove You Crushed It in 2020

Despite all of the curveballs and obstacles 2020 threw at us, Artist Shops still had a great year thanks to the hard work of our artist community. More than 35,000 new shops were published in 2020 alone. Shop owners collectively sold art to customers in over 130 countries around the world. This type of performance is a testament to the unique art styles and undeniable talents of artists like yourself. The Threadless community loves you!

  • Artist Shop owners earned $4.6M in 2020.
  • Your art was shipped to 133 different countries.
  • You uploaded over 446K unique designs.
  • You sold over 680K unique pieces of art.
  • Total number of Artist Shops: 346K and growing
  • Top four products sold the most: T-Shirts, Face Masks, Stickers, and Mugs

New Products Added to Artist Shops

We’re always exploring new and innovative ways to display our artist community’s incredible designs on apparel, accessories, and home decor. In 2020, our product catalog grew, giving you even MORE unique opportunities to showcase your art. Follow the links below to add these awesome new products to your Artist Shop!

Face Masks (Ultra Premium, Premium, Regular, and Youth)


Ringer T-Shirts

Neck Gaiters

“Cool, Cool, Cool” Performance Single-Layer Neck Gaiter by makart
“Cool, Cool, Cool” Performance Single-Layer Neck Gaiter by makart

Greeting Cards

Bucketfeet (Now Exclusively Available in Artist Shops and on Threadless)

“Spiders from Mars” Men’s Bucketfeet Shoes by Butcher Billy

Now that we’ve turned the page on 2020, we’re confident we can accomplish a whole lot more together in 2021. We can’t wait to showcase your talents on a new lineup of products, and continue expanding Artist Shops features to create the ideal playground for your imagination. Cheers to a new year and more opportunities to create art!

The design featured at the top of this post is “The Big Tee” by thepapercrane.

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