Student’s ‘Electric’ Design Makes Waves in National Competition University News
By: Greg Russell

Memphis rarely experiences a snowstorm — only once or twice a year does the city see accumulating snowfall. But leave it to University of Memphis student Justin Achelpohl to conjure one up in only a matter of hours. And he is going to London with $1,000 in his back pocket because of it.

Justin Achelpohl
Justin Achelpohl
Achelpohl, a senior graphic design major, became the latest in a string of U of M students to win a major competition when his graphic design creation, “Electric Snowdream,” was chosen as the grand prize winner in a national T-shirt competition sponsored by retailers Journeys and Dr. Martens, makers of Doc Martens shoes.

The design he came up with “in a couple of hours” includes snowflakes, a stocking and candy canes. Retail workers at locations throughout the United States will wear the T-shirt during the holiday season. Journeys has locations in Wolfchase and Oak Court malls.

“It is a ‘Go Wild for the Holidays’ theme,” said Achelpohl, who works in Tiger Copy & Graphics as a designer.

The contest rules were to design a shirt that represents the stores with a holiday theme. The grand prize is a trip to London with all expenses paid and $1,000. Achelpohl, who will graduate this month, said he came up with the design after studying Journeys and Dr. Martens.

Achelpohl's Design
Achelpohl’s design was chosen
from 2,897 entries.
“I looked at the color of their Web site, looked at the style that was going on in their store and based on that, I chose those colors and chose some elements such as the snowflakes, the stocking and the candy canes. I didn’t want to be too literal with it — it is kind of an abstract, pretty much wild.”

A Journeys spokesperson said 2,897 designs were submitted. The number was trimmed to 50 via online voting by those visiting the company’s Web site. Stafffrom Journeys and Dr. Martens chose Achelpohl’s entry as the grand-prize winner.Two other designs he submitted were in the list of 20 runners-up.

“With the record number of entries this year, this decision was not an easy one,” a statement on the company’s Web site reads. “What set Justin’s design apart was the way he was able to incorporate both the theme of the “Go Wild” idea and use of such a vibrant color selection in his work.”

Achelpohl said he owes much to the graphic design department at the U of M.

“The projects that they give us are really challenging. I know that, by a little bit of research and hearsay, coming out of Memphis with a graphic design degree is really good,” he said. “They challenge you to put out good work.”

Achelpohl said five employees in the department have been influential: Calvin Foster, Gary Golightly, Hugh Busby, Lucas Charles and Michael Schmidt.

“Justin has developed into a great creative designer,” said Foster. “I’m sure he’s even a little shocked at the evolution of his concept and design prowess over the past year. He’s definitely ready for the next level of professional practice.”

Said Achelpohl, “It is really awesome to see your designs out in the world and see how people react to them. I really like that aspect.”

(To read more about Justin and his award, visit

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Last Updated: 12/21/12