Text based designs in design challenges

Hi all,

Having seen the top 20 of the latest design challenge, there is something I want to have your opinion on.

As a designer who designs custom made typography, it is such a shame text based designs never ever make it to the next round of a design challenge from Spreadshirt. 75% of the designs that made the top 20 are from Germany (seems bias). 100% of the top 20 designs are illustrations, with only a few that contain a little bit of text.

Why doesn’t Spreadshirt value a more diverse top 20 to really give the customer a choice. Not all their customers want only illustrations. This way it will always be an illustration that wins.

I’m not so much disapointed I didn’t make the top 20 but I’m more disapointed that text based designs are not even given a chance to win.

I hope Spreadshirt will change its way a bit. Not only for my sake, but for the sake of other text based designers as well. We all want to feel like we have a chance to win.

What does the forum think about there not being any text based designs in a position to win a design challenge? Shouldn’t a top 20 be a little more diverse?

P.s.: There is a design in the top 20 by a shop from Indonesia. That is strange in a design challenge meant only for designers from the EU. Indonesia is not part of the EU as far as I know. Nor is the UK part of the EU anymore, but there’s a design from the UK in the top 20 as well. But at least the UK has been part of the EU in the past.

Kind regards,


Rico has replied to my comment under the announcement of the top 20 (and my reply to Rico is above the first comments).

But it seems Spreadhirt wasn’t as transparent about their criteria for review of designs for the design challenge as I hoped they would be. Step 1 for the design challenge addressed 4 criteria:

"Step 1:** Our design experts will review each and every design of thousands of submissions. Then they’ll select the top 20 based on the following criteria:*
** The effect on the product: does the design come out well on a Spreadshirt product?*
** Relation to the topic: how relevant and appropriate is the design for the competition?*
** Very important – creativity: is the design unique and original?*
** Art is about skill: does the design show solid creative skills?*

The jury will award points for each criterion on a scale of 0 to 3. This means that a design can receive a minimum of 0 and a maximum of 12 points from each jury member. To determine the total score, the points awarded by all jury members will be added up."

Had Spreadshirt just used these 4 criteria mentioned above then I believe my design would have made a good chance to be in the top 20. But in stead of 4 criteria, there seems to have been a 5th criteria that wasn’t mentioned, as you can read below:

" * Rico von Spreadshirt
** 1. June 2023 @ 10:12 am*

Hello Luc,

Thank you very much for your constructive criticism. You have hit a sore spot. The reason why we prioritise illustrations is that font designs are simply much harder to evaluate. On the one hand, it requires jurors who are familiar with the creation of font designs, who are familiar with the matter of letter design and typesetting, to be able to evaluate the quality. A well-done font design can look like an ordinary text design to an inexperienced person, even though the letters may contain small fine details such as an individual width, kerning, strokedetails, special ascenders and descenders, open or closed counters and so on.
But we will try to include text designs more in the coming contests. We have a few ideas – without giving anything away.
Thank you for your feedback."

I kind of knew illustrations were more popular, but for years I have been unaware of the unwritten rule that typographical designs “are simply much harder to evaluate”, which is complete nonsense of course. The mentioned ‘font design’ has nothing to do with designing a T-shirt print containing text.

‘Font design’ is designing complete alphabets for (other) people to use for typing text. That has nothing to do with designing some letters for a T-shirt print, or using a font to type some text for a T-shirt design. So nobody at Spreadshirt needs knowledge of font design to review a T-shirt design.

Any T-shirt design can be reviewed with the 4 criteria Spreadhirt gave us, so I really hope they will just use those 4 criteria for future design challenges. Because every designer deserves an equal chance of winning a design challenge, whether a designer uses text should not matter.

And I would still like to hear some opinions of fellow designers/shop owners…

Kind regards,


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