Plug into Jessica Roush's life and her winning NPR design!

  • by jeffreyg
  • posted Oct 14, 2013

Hi Jessica! How about a quick introduction?

Hello! I grew up in North Carolina and went to NC State for a double major in Textile Technology and Art & Design. Now, I'm a textile artist at Kohl's in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I do hand-painted and vector art for all sorts of home product - table linens, dinnerware, bedding, bath stuff, decor, etc. I also like to do some illustration at home too.

Congratulations on your winning design, NPR: Plugged In! What was it like to receive the notification that you won?

Thanks!! A few excited expletives may have escaped my mouth. And I was at work at the time, so I drew a little crowd around my cubicle when I started yelling. It was a wonderful surprise. I still half-thought it was some sort of elaborate hoax until I got the prize box in the mail a few days ago.

I see you're a textile designer by trade, was making this design outside of your comfort zone?

Yeah, I'd say so - I've done quite a bit more illustration-y stuff in the last few years after college, but I'd say I'm more of a Jack-of-all-trades (and master of hopefully a couple, at least?). I really didn't do any sort of illustration in school. I did strictly textile application (weaving, knitting, jacquard) and fine art (painting, classical drawing, installation, etc etc) so getting into something fresh and new to me has been a blast.

Could you tell us more about how your design came about? What about NPR influenced your design? Can you share any process photos with us?

This one was a challenge. Not only is it about SOUND, which isn't easily expressed visually, but also about NPR, which has a scope so broad that it would be impossible to illustrate all of the topics that it covers. I decided to illustrate instead its effect on me, in that I get lost in thought and imagination and wonder when I listen. I'm absorbed by the current events stories, and feel closer to the world around me. I tried to include country, suburban, and cityscapes (along with a little capitol building!), and the NPR colors (red, black and blue).

What's your favorite medium to work in?

Watercolors. I love how unexpected and dramatic it is when I add pigment to the wet paper - like magic! I kind of "grew up" with acrylics and oil colors, which is predictable, but watercolor makes me think ahead, work fast, and also go with the flow (pun intended).

When did you first start listening to NPR?

I really can't remember! Ever since I was a little kid, my parents have listened to NPR in the car, so I did too. We would listen to it on the way back from my grandparents house, and now I listen on the way back from work.

As part of your grand prize, you’re getting a private tour of NPR HQ. First, who are you taking with you? Second, is there anyone you’re especially hoping to run into during your visit?

My dad and my boyfriend both really want to go. Maybe I'll make them compete by arm wrestling or rock-paper-scissors or something. When we (whoever we ends up being) get there, I would love to see Steve Inskeep, Renee Montagne, or Bob Boilen. A girl can dream.

Do you have any favorite NPR shows?

Not having cable and being slightly addicted to Netflix can be a nuisance when you try to keep up with current events. I most often listen to NPR on the way to and from work for news, but I also like to catch This America Life, Car Talk, Tiny Desk Concerts, and RadioLab.

Shout out time! Want to show some love for your #1 NPR station?

Since I grew up in North Carolina, my first NPR love was the Raleigh, NC station - WUNC 91.5 - but I also love the Milwaukee station, WUWM 89.7.

Given your design, are headphones your favorite way to listen?

At work they definitely are. Sometimes that's the only way I can get work done, with an open cubicle and lots of foot traffic. I have the over-the-ear headphones, and I can just tune out everything and get stuff done.

What's it like to be able to design for an organization like NPR on Threadless?

I LOVED IT. I don't think I would ever have had a chance to design for them otherwise, so Threadless gave me the perfect opportunity. Getting a design on Threadless was awesome enough, then add NPR on top of it.... I seriously lucked out.

Are you currently working on any new projects?

I'm working on some typographic illustrations for a daily calendar coming out in 2014, called "Today is Going to be a Great Day". Super stoked about that opportunity. And, I'm working on a fun illustrated spanish language chart. No real reason, just because I miss having to speak in Spanish everyday (I studied in Spain for a little while in 2010).

Can we expect more submissions from you in the future?

YES. It's on.

Any last words or shout outs?

Thanks to Threadless and NPR - You've made my year!

Check out more of Jessica's stuff on her sites:



You can pick up Jessica's winning design, NPR: Plugged In today!

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TheInfamousBaka profile pic Alumni

Her work is really lovely, especially those watercolors! Congrats. :-)

cshimala profile pic Staff

Love those leaves! I also really need to start playing with all the watercolor supplies I have.

campkatie profile pic Alumni

beautiful work


That alphabet is gorgeous.


super nice style. congrats!

albyletoy profile pic Alumni

Congrats :-)

soloyo profile pic Alumni


TheInfamousBaka profile pic Alumni
jlroush2 said:

Thanks, everyone, for all the sweet words! Means a lot!

Also, I forgot to mention I have a blog. Man, I suck at marketing myself. haha -and-

Followed! :-) It would be awesome to see some of your beautiful watercolor work on your submissions.


Awesome! I especially love your watercolor alphabet with all the animals

Underdawg profile pic Alumni

Terrific interview and tee-rrific design! Congrats on the much deserved win! Keep the great work coming.

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