Bullied student's hand-drawn uni T-shirt is a sellout success

When a elementary school student created his own logo representing the University of Tennessee Volunteers, his hand-drawn design was mocked by other students. In a heartwarming twist, the university has adopted the logo for use on one of its official T-shirts, with proceeds going to an anti-bullying charity. The logo design (opens in new tab) has proved so popular it caused the university's online shop to crash.

The story starts when a Florida boy, a University of Tennessee fan, didn't have a Volunteers shirt to wear on his elementary school's Colors Day, so he decided to make his own. He wore the hand-drawn logo pinned to an orange T-shirt, and his efforts attracted the ridicule of fellow students. 

Quick pause for non-US readers here. 'Volunteers' – often shortened to 'Vols' is the name adopted by the University of Tennessee in reference to Tennessee being a Volunteer State in the War of 1812. College Colors Day is a US celebration in which university students, parents, and alumni are encouraged to celebrate their team spirit.

volunteers day t-shirt

This Florida student didn't have a Vols T-shirt for Colors Day, so made his own (Image credit: Laura Snyder via Facebook)

The boy's teacher, Laura Snyder shared the story on Facebook (opens in new tab), explaining that the child was a big University of Tennessee fan and had been heartbroken when others had made fun of his handiwork, and reaching out to the university with a request for some Vols merchandise to cheer him up. The story quickly went viral, and the University of Tennessee responded by not only sending a mega box of stash, but adopting the design for an official university T-shirt.

t-shirt design

The design now adorns one of the University's official T-shirts (Image credit: University of Tennessee)

The design is featured on a T-shirt in the University's official Tennessee orange, with a portion of proceeds being donated to US nonprofit STOMP Out Bullying (opens in new tab). When the shirt went on sale in the VolShop, demand was so overwhelming it caused the website to crash. It's now available to preorder (opens in new tab) again, for delivery in late September. See our 10 pro tips for better T-shirt design if you're thinking of designing tees yourself.

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Ruth Hamilton

Ruth spent a couple of years as Deputy Editor of Creative Bloq, and has also either worked on or written for almost all of the site's former and current print titles, from Computer Arts to ImagineFX. She now spends her days reviewing mattresses and hiking boots as the Outdoors and Wellness editor at T3.com, but continues to write about design on a freelance basis in her spare time.