Winning T-Shirt Design
Inspired by music & graffiti

by Holly Craft

POWELL, Tenn. Who says the youth of today listen to too much discouraging music?

The youth group at Powell United Methodist Church was inspired by a favorite song to create the winning design for the Resurrection 2004 T-shirt contest.

A Michael W. Smith concert the group attended last year provided a lasting memory for many of the youth, but the lyrics of one song in particular became inspiration.

In "You Are Holy," Smith refers to God with many different names, including most of the ones in the winning T-shirt design. Names include Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Alpha, and Omega.

Youth leader Doug Roberts remembers that the original design was going to consist of the slogan "BEMO" as a graffiti tag. By using the graffiti look, the Knoxville District youth hoped to do something a little different and add a lot of visual appeal.

"People would look at 'BEMO' on the front of the shirt and say, 'What does that mean?' Then they would see the back of the shirt and it would say, 'Be More Like God,'" said Roberts.

That idea faded away when Roberts received a letter from contest organizers, stating that the theme of Resurrection 2004 would be, "One God." Roberts immediately made the connection between the theme and the lyrics of "You Are Holy," which Powell youth often sang around church.

Although the "BEMO" idea faded, there was still plenty of interest in the graffiti look. Roberts sat down to draw up a rough draft of the design and later showed it to the group. "I'm not talented when it comes to this kind of stuff," he said. "They were all nice and said it was good." After looking at the design the group huddled around a computer and began arranging the text and style of what would become the final design.

Jonas Carnes, age 18, had a significant impact on developing the design. Carnes doesn't do a lot of typical artwork such as drawing or painting, but he does like to do some computer artwork, which came in quite handy while designing for the contest.

Roberts said Carnes "came in and said 'why don't you change the 'One' to a '1' ... and why don't you slant the 'God' this way?" The rest of the group added their thoughts as well. "We looked at what he (Roberts) had and thought it was a good idea," said Carnes.

Powell's youth group is no stranger to winning this contest, this being the second win. They also designed the 2001 T-shirt. That doesn't mean that winning is easy, especially with 20 other youth groups entered in the contest.

"The last design wasn't as complex as this one," said Carnes. "This one is very visually appealing."

The Rev. Dan Gray, Holston Conference's coordinator of youth ministries, believes the visual appeal of the design was a high priority in the judges' decision. "I thought it was neat how they designed it around the theme 'One God,' " said Gray.

The design did appeal to the judges, who were the Conference Council on Youth Ministries, a group of 25 people consisting mostly of youth who represent Holston Conference.

When Powell youth developed the design they knew it would be popular because of the graffiti look and also because hooded sweatshirts will be available for the first time.

"I can't wait until they go to print," said Carnes. "I can't wait to wear one."

Last time Powell won the contest, Roberts and his youth group sold 4,000 shirts. He's not sure how many he wants to sell this time around, but he knows he doesn't want to go home with any.

"I wish there was some way every kid got one," he said. "They provide a great witnessing opportunity."

Roberts suggests that anyone who wants a shirt should buy it early. "Last time, we sold out by the first weekend," he said. If the same thing happens at Resurrection 2004, Roberts hopes to be able to return to the printer, make more shirts and return to sell more during Resurrection's second weekend.

It's possible to pre-order shirts from Powell UMC and pick them up at Resurrection, held Jan. 16-18 and Jan. 23-25 at Gatlinburg Convention Center in Gatlinburg, Tenn. T-shirts cost $12 ($10 pre-ordered); sweatshirts cost $25 ($20 pre-ordered). Visit or call (865) 938-2741 or (865) 670-6870 to pre-order.

Powell is required by the contest rules to give 10 percent of their Tshirt profits to Youth Service Fund. The remainder of the profits will be used for a youth mission trip to the Dominican Republic, church supplies, and Powell UMC's new building addition.

"This has been a positive experience," said Carnes. He believes it will be a good feeling to see people wearing the shirts at Resurrection 2004.


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