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Annual Contest Invites Kids to Design Their Own T-Shirt Prints

The competition is put on by Meryl Katlin of, based in Coral Springs, Florida.




Meryl Katlin recognizes the winners of the 2023 Student Magical T-Shirt Design Contest.

OURTOWNAMERICA IS THE longest-running festival for small-town Coral Springs, Florida. Among car shows, vendors, and typical festival amusements is a booth that would make any screen printer proud.

For the past decade, Meryl Katlin of MakeATee-Online has hosted a competition that gives young artists an exclusive chance to set foot in the printing world. The Student T-Shirt Design Contest invites children of all grade levels to submit their art for a chance to be printed on T-shirts and entered into a competition for prizes and festival passes.

“Eleven years ago, we were asked to have a booth at our local carnival,” Meryl says. “We wanted to do something a little different than handing out flyers about our company. [That’s when] we came up with a T-shirt design contest for the kids.”

This year’s T-shirt design theme was magic.

This year’s T-shirt design theme was magic.

Children submit artwork based on a theme that changes every year (for 2023, the theme was magic). Kaitlin and her team group the entries by age and judge them in the weeks leading up to the festival. “It has become a really special event for the kids, where the parents are calling me like crazy, asking if their child has made the finals,” Meryl says.


The chosen finalists have their designs printed on T-shirts for display online and at the festival grounds for a three-day public voting period. The top three candidates receive their printed T-shirt as well as other prizes, such as a custom backpack filled with “goodies,” a 2023 Student Magical T-Shirt Design Contest medallion, and a free all-day ride pass. The winning designs also are shared on the festival’s website along with products like stickers, facemasks, and bags.

A custom backpack, a medallion, and an all-day ride pass were just some of the prizes awarded.

A custom backpack, a medallion, and an all-day ride pass were just some of the prizes awarded.

The 2023 event attracted 170 entries; 75 finalists were selected. Local artists Kelly Merkur and Omari WIlliams-Reid selected their favorite designs and gave out original pieces of artwork for the awards’ 10-year anniversary. In the weeks following the event, the final designs were displayed at MakeATee-Online’s showroom and facility open house, where winners could see where the T-shirt printing magic happens.

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Let’s Talk About It

Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Screen Printing Industry

LET’S TALK About It: Part 3 discusses how four screen printers have employed people with disabilities, why you should consider doing the same, the resources that are available, and more. Watch the live webinar, held August 16, moderated by Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief, Screen Printing magazine, with panelists Ali Banholzer, Amber Massey, Ryan Moor, and Jed Seifert. The multi-part series is hosted exclusively by ROQ.US and U.N.I.T.E Together. Let’s Talk About It: Part 1 focused on Black, female screen printers and can be watched here; Part 2 focused on the LGBTQ+ community and can be watched here.

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