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UI Student Wins Iowa City Design Contest From Afghanistan

Although winning the contest and having his design printed and sold on T-shirts at Iowa City’s Active Endeavors was accomplishment enough, Dustin Smart had a few more challenges than most entries.

In the midst of his six-month tour in Afghanistan, the United States Air Guard weapons specialist had to deal with poor Internet connections and the overall distance between him and Iowa City to submit his design.

“It didn’t take long to throw it together, to get an idea of what this shirt was going to be, but to send it home and back was the biggest trouble,” the 24-year-old said.

Smart’s winning entry, “Hawkeyes for the Planet,” portrays a tree design with foliage of Tiger Hawks and is available now.

Smart noted that the entire process of submitting and making the roughly five revisions for his design took about two weeks to complete. In a normal setting, he would have had it done in a day, Smart added.

Laura Heineman, Smart’s friend and coworker at University of Iowa Marketing and Design, was Smart’s main contact in Iowa City during the submission process, forwarding designs and providing feedback.

The final email contained a picture, Smart said.

“I got an email from Laura and attached was a photo of the shirt on a mannequin in the store, and she said, ‘It won,’” Smart said Friday.

Although only the third year of the competition, Active Endeavors manager Dave Nerad said Smart’s design has been very successful, selling more than 40 shirts since hitting the store floor April 12.

“This is by far the strongest so far,” Nerad said. “I think this thing has a lot of legs to it.”

Active Endeavors owner Mark Weaver said the contest, which awards the winner a $50 store gift card, also raises money for the environment.

For every one of Smart’s $19.99 organic cotton shirts sold, Active Endeavors will donate $5 to Johnson County Heritage Trust, a local nonprofit organization committed to the preservation and enjoyment of natural areas within the county.

Outerwear company Patagonia also has offered to donate $10 to the nonprofit for every article of footwear sold at the store during Earth Month, which Active Endeavors has pledged to match with an additional $10.

“At the end of the season, it’s a nice check to a great cause,” Nerad said.

For Smart, the biggest personal payoff is seeing his work in public.

“I definitely like seeing it in the stores, and I can’t wait to walk down the street here and see someone wear the shirt and I can say, ‘I made that,’” he said. “That’s what I really want.”

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