Dell is announcing a deal with Threadless today where it will use designs from the T-shirt company’s crowdsourced shirts as cover art for its laptops.

Threadless is a decade-old online design community where artists can submit T-shirt designs. The community then votes on the best designs and Threadless makes T-shirts out of the top six designs. The artists are paid a flat reward of $2,000 and retain non-fashion rights to the designs. They also get a $500 gift certificate for the Threadless web site, and Threadless will pay the selected artists flat licensing fees for the Dell deals.

Under the deal with Dell, Threadless will provide 11 new designs that will be sold as laptop covers through the Dell Design Studio. The designs are available on the Dell Studio laptops (pictured at top) and Inspiron Mini netbooks (pictured below, smaller one in middle).

The Dell Design Studio allows computer buyers to select their own laptop cover, which is a piece of plastic that covers the outer case of a laptop. They can currently select designs from all sorts of artists that have been selected by Dell’s own designers.

But the Threadless designs are the first where users can have a significant input into the artwork available. Dell will update the Threadless design options multiple times a year. Now computer users will have the option of buying a T-shirt and a laptop with the same artwork on it. It’s just one more step on the path to completely custom computer manufacturing.

“All of the designs are originally T-shirts,” said Cam Balzer, vice president of marketing at Threadless. “We’ve got work  from more than 1,000 different artists and we’re looking for new ways in our second decade to find opportunities for our artists.”