Danielle Kling of Muldrow, a University of Arkansas - Fort Smith graphic design student, can walk into over 100 select GAP retail stores across the nation and buy a T-shirt featuring a design she made in a class at UAFS.
The popular clothing retailer ordered 15,000 units of a T-shirt design Kling made in her Digital Illustration class, as part of a project where students submitted designs into a weekly contest on Threadless, an online clothing retailer that sells designs created by users.
Her design, a blueprint diagramming a spiderweb titled "Web Construction," did not win the contest. But GAP, which had partnered with Threadless to sell the website’s clothing merchandise at select GAP locations across North America, sent her an email "out of the blue" expressing interest in purchasing it.
Kling, who is a junior at the University, was eager to hear what they had decided, but it took several agonizing months to hear back.
"I checked my email every single day after I signed the contract, hoping to hear back with good news," she said. "I hadn’t heard anything back and started to assume that mine hadn’t passed through."
Then, about seven months after receiving the first email, she received a check in the mail with a royalty payment.
"I’m not ashamed to admit I screamed," she joked.
The idea for the shirt came to Kling one day at her house when she was sketching concepts for a design. While brainstorming, she noticed a spider outside her window that had been there for nearly a week.
"As I thought about him building that web, the idea for a web blueprint came to mind," she said.
Travis Brown of Fort Smith, assistant graphic design professor at UAFS, said Kling is "a valuable student in our art department."
"She had the concept for the shirt immediately after I gave the assignment and produced the artwork well before the deadline," he said. "But that’s not unusual for Dani. She invariably comes to class with work prepared early enough for critical feedback. She’s an excellent communicator during critiques, and her classmates appreciate her in class."
Brown added that one of the goals of the graphic design program is to "attract talented students who would previously have left the area for college. We consider Dani to be one of those students who we’ve retained in the area because of those efforts."
"We’re very proud of Dani and her recent notoriety," he added.
The shirts are for sale at locations in three countries across North America — the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada — and in approximately 30 states in the U.S. The nearest GAP + Threadless retail stores carrying Kling’s shirt are in Tulsa, Okla., and Dallas, Texas.
Kling had never used Adobe Photoshop before entering the graphic design program at UAFS, and she said she has learned everything she knows about the program "from the dedicated professors here."
"It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made to enroll at UAFS," she said. "The closer I get to graduation, the more I realize it was the right choice."