Jessica Roush designs winning T-shirt for public radio fans

November 20, 2013
By Bill Krueger

Jessica Roush, a 2010 NC State graduate living in Milwaukee, Wis., has been listening to public radio for as long as she can remember.

“My parents are pretty avid NPR listeners. Growing up we would listen in the car and on road trips,” says Roush, who works as a textile designer for Kohl’s department stores.

So when Roush heard about the My Sound World competition on Threadless, an online site that designs and sells clothing, she jumped at the chance to design the official T-shirt for NPR.

NPR shirtRoush’s design, “NPR: Plugged In,” features a pair of over-the-ear headphones topped with urban, suburban and rural landscapes and the cord spelling out NPR below. It was inspired by how Roush listens at work.

A few weeks later, her design was selected out of more than 150 submissions as the winner. She was at work when she received the email.

“It was fantastic, I was completely flabbergasted,” Roush says. “I totally screamed at work and everybody kind of gathered around my desk. I assumed I wasn’t going to win anything, so it came as a huge surprise.”

In addition to having her design sold as the official NPR T-shirt, Roush won a cash prize, Threadless gift credit, a special edition iPod dock, an autographed copy of “This is NPR” and a private tour of NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Roush plans to take the trip over her Christmas vacation and is looking forward to visiting the NPR music office, home of the Tiny Desk Concert series, and putting faces with the names of some of her favorite radio personalities.

“I really lucked out,” Roush says. “A lot of people I know that have entered on Threadless have dozens of entries that don’t win and sometimes you just luck out, so I was really fortunate.”

JessicaRoushThough Roush designed for NC State’s Art2Wear in 2009 and double-majored in art and design and textile technology, she says designing the shirt was different than any of the work she did at State, where she was an Anni Albers Scholar.

“In school it was more print pattern-based and more dying and weaving and things like that,” Roush says. “It wasn’t until after I graduated that I started to do more graphics.”

She says designing a T-shirt for a Threadless competition was also different than the work she does at Kohl’s.

“It’s a younger audience and a younger buyer versus Kohl’s,” Roush says. “I don’t get to do as many younger or kid-friendly designs.”

Roush says entering design competitions on Threadless is a way for her to do some “work outside of work” and broaden her portfolio.

Though she had only entered a few times before winning the NPR contest, Roush says she plans to enter many more in the future.

Roush’s “NPR: Plugged In” T-shirt is available online in the NPR shop.

—Alex Sanchez

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