Aubrey Johnson created a design for the 2008 Cooper River Bridge Run as a school assignment over the summer and, like others in his graphics class at Trident Tech, had no plans to actually submit it.
But after hearing the positive responses to it, the 24-year-old Air Force reservist decided to send it in. It was the first time he had ever entered a design contest.
Out of nearly 60 designs submitted, he won.
Now his design - which was unveiled Thursday - will be put on 50,000 T-shirts and 4,000 posters. He was paid $1,000 for the honor.
"I was kind of floored they picked me over the others," he admitted.
Johnson, who grew up in Cape May, N.J., explained what he wanted the design to convey:
"I wanted to make something that other Charlestonians could relate to, even though people come from all over. The colors, first all, that came from making trips back (downtown) from Mount Pleasant and seeing those beautiful sunsets and skies," said Johnson.
He put in palmetto trees because "if it's Charleston, it's got to have a palmetto" and a skyline to reflect Charleston's dual character as being "youthful city with colonial charm." Johnson thought about the Charleston Riverdogs - the only professional sports team to call the peninsula home - and most specifically old baseball cards in choosing the lettering for design.
Michael Desrosiers, an assistant Bridge Run director who coordinates the design contest, said Johnson's graphic design stood out in a year characterized by better graphic, rather than hand-painted, designs.
Johnson, who just graduated with an associate's degree in commercial graphics, plans to attend the Art Institute of Atlanta in October with plans to get his bachelor of fine arts in interactive media design. Despite still being a student, Johnson already has worked on Web designs for local businesses, such as Salon Couture, b'zar, Lesesne, Atkinson Pools and Spas, Blue Moon Events and LIFE.