A New NPR T-Shirt Designed By Listener Jessica Roush

Oct 15, 2013
Originally published on October 16, 2013 2:33 pm

This week NPR is debuting its newest t-shirt, and it's unlike any other we've had before. NPR teamed up with Threadless earlier this year and challenged designers all around the world to create the ultimate NPR t-shirt. More than 80,000 votes later, we have a winner, a new shirt and a new way for people to support public radio.

So who is the winning designer? Meet Jessica Roush - a Milwaukee artist and proud public radio listener of her local station WUWM Milwaukee and hometown signal out of WUNC Raleigh.

Hi Jessica! How about a quick introduction?
Hello! I grew up in North Carolina and went to NC State for a double major in Textile Technology and Art & Design. Now, I'm a textile artist at Kohl's in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I do hand-painted and vector art for all sorts of home product - table linens, dinnerware, bedding, bath stuff, decor, etc. I also like to do some illustration at home too.

Congratulations on your winning design, NPR: Plugged In! What was it like to receive the notification that you won?
Thanks!! A few excited expletives may have escaped my mouth. And I was at work at the time, so I drew a little crowd around my cubicle when I started yelling. It was a wonderful surprise. I still half-thought it was some sort of elaborate hoax until I got the prize box in the mail a few days ago.

Could you tell us more about how your design came about? What about NPR influenced your design? Can you share any process photos with us?
This one was a challenge. Not only is it about SOUND, which isn't easily expressed visually, but also about NPR, which has a scope so broad that it would be impossible to illustrate all of the topics that it covers. I decided to illustrate instead its effect on me, in that I get lost in thought and imagination and wonder when I listen. I'm absorbed by the current events stories, and feel closer to the world around me. I tried to include country, suburban, and cityscapes (along with a little capitol building!), and the NPR colors (red, black and blue).

When did you first start listening to NPR?
I really can't remember! Ever since I was a little kid, my parents have listened to NPR in the car, so I did too. We would listen to it on the way back from my grandparents house, and now I listen on the way back from work.

As part of your grand prize, you're getting a private tour of NPR HQ. First, who are you taking with you? Second, is there anyone you're especially hoping to run into during your visit?
My dad and my boyfriend both really want to go. Maybe I'll make them compete by arm wrestling or rock-paper-scissors or something. When we (whoever we ends up being) get there, I would love to see Steve Inskeep, Renee Montagne, or Bob Boilen. A girl can dream.

Do you have any favorite NPR shows?
Not having cable and being slightly addicted to Netflix can be a nuisance when you try to keep up with current events. I most often listen to NPR on the way to and from work for news, but I also like to catch This America Life, Car Talk, Tiny Desk Concerts, and RadioLab.

Shout out time! Want to show some love for your #1 NPR station?
Since I grew up in North Carolina, my first NPR love was the Raleigh, NC station - WUNC 91.5 - but I also love the Milwaukee station, WUWM 89.7.

Given your design, are headphones your favorite way to listen?
At work they definitely are. Sometimes that's the only way I can get work done, with an open cubicle and lots of foot traffic. I have the over-the-ear headphones, and I can just tune out everything and get stuff done.

What's it like to be able to design for an organization like NPR on Threadless?
I LOVED IT. I don't think I would ever have had a chance to design for them otherwise, so Threadless gave me the perfect opportunity. Getting a design on Threadless was awesome enough, then add NPR on top of it.... I seriously lucked out.

Read Jessica's full interview at Threadless.com, and check out more of her work on Tumblr and at her website, jessicaroush.com.

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