Designing for the client: UIndy visual communication design students put their skills to work

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Named after the first computer lab in the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, One14 Design functions as a design studio within the Department of Art and Design at the University of Indianapolis.  The studio provides professional-quality design services to nonprofit organizations and to the university.


Assistant Professor of Visual Communication Design Nelson Wei Tan and One14 Design students discuss the next moves in their design plan in the classroom.
(Photo by Ayla Wilder)


Students are involved in all aspects of the design process such as meeting with clients, strategizing concepts, formulating concepts and executing final solutions. Students named the studio and developed the overall branding, including the logo and marketing materials with January 2014 being the official launch date.

Both Assistant Professor of Visual Communication Design Nelson Wei Tan and Associate Professor of Art and Design Julia Taugner teach One14 Design.

“The class is set up like a real design studio,” Wei Tan said. “Last year, we focused a lot on building a strong brand awareness. This year, we will have real projects that aim to give the real-world studio experience.”

Wei Tan said that One14 Design, like other applied courses, provides students with real-world experience in a professional environment.

Participation in One14 Design is required for all Visual Communication Design students with a junior standing. Any student who has already passed the course is eligible to apply for the paid position of studio director. This year’s studio directors are senior visual communication design students Jennifer Wolf and Whitly Charles.

“Taking a leadership position gets you prepared for the real world in different ways,” Wolf said. “The student experience is learning, and being a manager is learning how to lead.”

According to Taugner, it is important to have many people in leadership positions because just as in the real-world there are a lot of time sensitive projects with a deadline that must be met.

“There are a lot of tight deadlines and things that come up quickly. There are just too many tasks for one person,” Taugner said.

One of the tools employed by the groups in the class to accomplish these deadlines is a bulletin board, called a move board, that represents class ideas.

“The move board allows us to look at certain categories individually,”  Taugner said. “We may discuss a specific color pallet, a type face or the overall look and feel of a project.”

Not all work in the course is done within the studio environment.  According to students currently enrolled in the course, a lot of work also goes into the creative process outside of class, including outside research, interaction with One14 Design clients and using different marketing strategies on campus.

One14 Design also provides the opportunity for up-and-coming artists in the UIndy Department of Art and Design to gain recognition.

“The class is an excellent chance for current and prospective students to see the work we do here in the design department,” said junior visual communication design student Dominique Pence.

The course has also allowed students to gain recognition on the national level with award-winning pieces such as “Arc poster series”  by Stephanie Seman, “Don’t Be Blue,  Just Be You”  by Danielle Lawson and “Impulse” by Sara Blair, all of which received a 2013 Student Silver ADDY award given by the American Advertising Federation.

More information on One14 Design or Applied VCD is available on the class website at or its Facebook page.


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