University of Arkansas Student Wins National Apparel Design Competition

The winning design created by University of Arkansas graphic design student Lily Hay.
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The winning design created by University of Arkansas graphic design student Lily Hay.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The votes are in and after going head-to head against students from five other universities, a U of A senior, Lily Hay, came out on top in the second annual Student Design League competition to see which college could create the best T-shirt designs and receive the most votes.

The Student Design League, sponsored by Robin-Ruth, an international casual lifestyle brand for travelers worldwide, also showcased the talent of students from the graphic design program within the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and its Department of Art.

U of A students’ designs captured 3,743 of the total 14,322 competition votes. Lily Hay created the competition’s overall top design, which received 1,716 votes alone.

Hay’s shirt is classic U of A cardinal red, with white and black lettering simultaneously spelling out both “feel” and “Fayetteville.” A square graphic element on the front also includes the university’s 1871 founding date, a running hog logo, the university name and location. A diagonal line through the design evokes the concept of Fayetteville’s many hills.

Hay said the inspiration for her winning design was Fayetteville’s culture and how well the city and the university relate to one another.

“I wanted to design a T-shirt that students, faculty, alumni and fans would be proud to wear,” Hay said. “I also wanted to stick true to my style and design something I would like to wear.”

U of A designs by Hay, Joe Burns, Sam Broas and Chrystal O’Boyle beat out those from West Virginia University (3,505 votes), Auburn University (3,102 votes), the University of Alabama (1,957 votes), the University of Tennessee (1,567 votes) and Florida State University (749 votes.)

Hay said it felt surreal to win the competition, and she thanked Robin-Ruth, Fulbright College and the Department of Art for supporting her throughout the process.

“I also want to thank everyone who voted for my design,” Hay said. “It means so much to know that my design is something people want. I couldn’t have done this without your support! I also owe a big thank you to the students in our identity design class, and to Professor Chioffi for his support throughout this competition.”

Students in associate professor David Charles Chioffi’s identity design course worked as a team all semester to create shirt design mock-ups and promote the competition through interactive campus and social media campaigns.

“This has been an incredible collaboration with Arkansas from the beginning, delivering learning outcomes and making cool designs which really resonated with the community,” said Ben Jablonski, CEO of Robin Ruth North America. “Arkansas has really set the bar for all of the other schools, and I believe we are at the start of a very long tradition here.”

Jablonski said the next step for Hay will be interviewing for a chance to win one of two paid internships in New York City with Robin-Ruth. She will be in the running for the internship opportunity along with the other top vote getters from each of the schools that competed in this year’s Student Design League.

Additionally, Hay will be collaborating with Robin-Ruth to develop a collection of shirts and other back-to-school merchandise for fall 2017 that will feature her design and variations of it.

This merchandise will then be sold in the University of Arkansas Bookstore, with partial proceeds from each sale going to the graphic design program.

For more information about graphic design at the University of Arkansas, please visit

For more information about the Student Design League, please visit

About the Student Design League: Created as a way to uplift student designers and give back to universities, the Student Design League, created by international casual lifestyle brand Robin-Ruth, gives student designers from high-ranking apparel and graphic design programs the opportunity to showcase their talent. The competition is all about empowering up-and-coming designers one campus at a time, giving students a forum to share their school spirit with everyone. Designers have a chance at great prizes all while supporting their programs and colleges.

About the Department of Art: The mission of the Department of Art in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is to offer the highest quality educational, research, and service programs in the visual arts. These goals encompass the department’s professional and liberal arts programs, at both graduate and undergraduate levels, in art education, art history, graphic design, and studio art to prepare students for graduate study and meaningful employment in the art and design fields and allied professions.

About the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences: The J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is the largest and most academically diverse unit on campus with 19 departments and 43 academic programs and research centers. The college provides the core curriculum for all University of Arkansas students and is named for J. William Fulbright, former university president and longtime U.S. senator.


David Chioffi, associate professor of graphic design
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences

Andra Liwag, director of communications
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences


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