Young T-shirt designers celebrate Bristol

SEVENTH-GRADER MADELINE Diop of Bristol was excited to see her Bristol-themed design get printed on T-shirts this past summer. Diop was one of two winners of a design contest sponsored by Vermont Marketplace in downtown Bristol. Photo courtesy of Vermont Marketplace

BRISTOL — If you could express your feelings and thoughts about Bristol for a T-shirt design, what would you come up with?

The folks at Vermont Marketplace, who sponsored the “Bristol T-Shirt Design Contest,” asked just such a question this past summer — and community members responded with impressive results.

The downtown Bristol business offered a $100 cash prize for the best design, as long as it followed a few simple rules: It needed to include the word “Bristol,” fit into 32-square-inch space and use no more than two colors.

And the winner was … well, Vermont Marketplace actually chose two winners: 12-year-old Madeline Diop and 26-year-old Andrew Rainville.


Diop based her design around the pinpoint vector graphic that’s used on digital maps. Round on top, pointy at the bottom.

“The pinpoint shows that Bristol is a kind of location,” Diop told the Independent. “People come up to Vermont for the fall foliage season every year, and even though it’s a small town, the people who come love it.”

Diop had developed a number of design ideas originally, she said. Then she had her family vote on which one they liked best. Then she made something “completely different.”

During the process, though, “I was thinking about the most recognizable places in Bristol, and of course the first thing that comes to mind is (Holley) Hall. I wanted to incorporate that in a fun way.”

Now she gets to see the fruits of her creative labor around town.

“(Madeline) was so excited about seeing her design printed on a shirt,” said her mom, Claire Corkins. “It was a really cool experience.”

Diop, who’s in seventh grade, also pointed out that “you don’t need fancy equipment to design, you can make things that people will like and enjoy as long as you create from the heart.”

ANDREW RAINVILLE, 26, of Bristol was one of two winners of the Vermont Marketplace “Bristol T-shirt Design Contest” this past summer. His design incorporates a number of notable elements about the town, including Holley Hall. Photo courtesy of Vermont Marketplace


There are two key graphical elements to Rainville’s design, he told the Independent.

“First is the distinctive bell tower of Holley Hall that replaces the ‘I’ (in “Bristol”),” he said. “Second is the outline that runs through ‘Bristol.’ It may seem arbitrary but that outline is the ridge that makes up the Bristol Cliffs area, where Bristol sits in the valley.”

And though it wasn’t intentional, the placement of the Holley Hall “I” in the geographic outline ended up being pretty close to accurate.

In developing his design, Rainville wasn’t thinking about a particular aspect of Bristol so much as what comes to mind when you think about the town, he said.

“Holley Hall was, of course, my first thought because it is, quite literally, the town center, so I knew that I wanted to incorporate that. I also know that Bristol brands itself at the ‘Gateway to the Green Mountains,’ so my use of the Bristol Cliffs ridgeline and valley is an homage to that. When I’m rowing out on Lake Champlain, I can always look east, find that convergence, and automatically identify where Bristol is.”

There are plenty of other iconic places in Bristol, but Rainville preferred to follow the principle that “less is more” and keep things simple, he said.

Other notable design elements include the word “Vermont” — to distinguish the charming Addison County town from any number of other Bristols in the world, including the most populous, Bristol, England — and the year of Bristol, Vt.’s founding, 1762.

T-Shirts with Diop’s and Rainville’s designs have been printed and are now available for sale at Vermont Marketplace, at 19 Main St. in Bristol.

But, as Rainville pointed out, “people have to go to Bristol to see it in all its glory — you can’t fit it all on a T-shirt!”

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