Spoonflower is rolling out significant changes that will impact artists on its platform. The Durham-based print-on-demand company sent an email to artists late last week detailing the changes coming in December which include limiting the total number of designs that can be uploaded in a week, delisting unpopular designs, and digital proofing. Spoonflower was sold to Shutterfly in August 2021.

Some artists who sell their designs on the Spoonflower marketplace are embracing the changes, while others have expressed disappointment and anxiety about the potential impact on their small businesses.


Since Spoonflower launched in 2008, artists who wanted to list their designs for sale on the marketplace needed to pay for a test swatch. Spoonflower explained that this process was necessary because colors may print differently than they display on a monitor, may vary from substrate to substrate, and disruptions in a repeat may be more visible in physical form. Ordering a swatch of 1-5 designs cost $12. As a result, some artists have invested hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the years ordering swatches to be able to sell their designs.

Now, Spoonflower is switching to offering free digital proofs. Effective December 31 a digital proofing tool will become available which will allow artists to pan, zoom, and review design edges. While physical proofs are still encouraged, they are no longer required.

Design upload limits

In conjunction with this change, Spoonflower is, for the first time, limiting the number of new designs an artist can upload. There will be a weekly upload limit of 25 designs per artist.

“While we are excited about digital proofing and the removal of the proof-purchasing requirement, we also want to meter an overload of newly made-for-sale designs to the marketplace,” the announcement said.

Since March 2010, Spoonflower has been running weekly design contests to encourage artists to upload new designs and many artists have thousands of designs for sale.


In addition, unpopular designs will be delisted. “We hear over and over from many shoppers that they feel overwhelmed by the number of search results, often receiving hundreds of pages and thousands of results to wade through,” the announcement said. “To condense search results, make new designs more discoverable and encourage more design diversity, we will be de-listing (making private) older, stagnant designs starting in January 2024.”

Designs that are at least two years old, have not sold in the past two years and have less than 50 favorites will be delisted. Artists have the option to relist designs, but Spoonflower recommends that they first ask themselves, “Do I think this is a strong design? Is there something I could improve about the design before re-listing? Can I better optimize my title, description, and tags for improved findability?”


Senior Director of Brand Marketing Sarah Ward explained the changes in an email today. “The feedback we’ve received from consumers time and time again is that the platform is simply overwhelming. Likewise, feedback from artists is that there are so many designs available, that they’re having a hard time being noticed/ being relevant,” Ward said.

“Supporting artists also means creating strong pathways for shopping, because, at the end of the day, shopping equates to royalties earned,” Ward said. “To be clear, ‘delisting’ does not equate to ‘deleting.’ We are making designs ‘private’ with the intent that in conjunction with our new free digital proofing tool, artists will be able to make modifications based on this review opportunity and relist them without an additional cost to bear.”

“While it would be easy to assume that a higher volume of designs would equate to more success on the site, it turns out that the average number of designs uploaded per week by the top 10% earning artists on our site is 12,” she says.


In October Spoonflower announced a change to the artist royalty structure. In the past, artists would earn a 10% royalty on each sale whether the item was bought at a discount or not. Beginning in January, artists will earn 10% of the total sale price, meaning if the order was discounted they’ll earn less than before. Along with this change, Spoonflower announced that for the first time, artists will also begin to earn 10% royalties on home décor items customers order.

Artists react

Melissa Polomsky is an artist who designs vibrant and dramatic floral prints for her Spoonflower shop which currently has hundreds of designs available. Polomsky is also the moderator of the Spoonflower Squad Facebook group which has 1.9K sellers in it. She’s concerned about the impact these changes will have on designers. “Spoonflower has actively encouraged designers to upload thousands of new designs weekly through the design challenges, but is now going to penalize the designers when what… the servers get too full? I think fixing the functionality of the search feature of the website should be the bigger priority of Spoonflower’s development teams before removing tons of good designs from their designer’s shops,” she says. 

“It takes most designers several years for their shops to gain enough traction to finally see their sales numbers, number of hearts, and overall traffic to their shop increase. It was certainly more than two years in my personal experience with my shop,” Polomsky says.

“Designers want Spoonflower to be successful. They want buyers to be able to easily shop. They want to see Spoonflower continue to evolve, expand, and be updated and work more intuitively and be more user friendly,” says Polomsky. “Penalizing your designers however I feel is not a step in the right direction.”

Other Spoonflower artists are noticing an uptick in the number of AI-generated patterns being uploaded to the marketplace since the announcement was made. One artist in the Spoonflower Fans Facebook group remarked, “This situation is worse than we all thought. If you look at the new designs being listed today, it is very heavily AI by several known AI shops. They are going to nonstop list between now and December 31 to combat the listing cap. This is ugly, Spoonflower.”

Other artists are more optimistic. Liz Masoner, an artist based in Alabama who has hundreds of designs for sale on Spoonflower, says that although she feels the Spoonflower search engine needs to be made more powerful and effective, she can see the logic behind the 25 uploads per week limit and the delisting of unpopular designs.

“If people flood the site without any self-editing, it just exasperates the site problems. With moving to a no-purchased proof system, fail-safes are needed. Is relisting more work, and will it require spacing out relists? Sure, but it really gives us an opportunity to target older designs for rework and fresh optimization.”

Abby Glassenberg

Abby Glassenberg


Abby co-founded Craft Industry Alliance and now serves as its president. She’s a sewing pattern designer, teacher, and journalist. She’s dedicated to creating an outstanding trade association for the crafts industry. Abby lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

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