Jan Ballard, Texas Christian University

Key words: interdisciplinarity, corporate identity, entrepreneurship

The Entrepreneurship-Corporate Identity Program offered Graphic Design undergraduates a new opportunity for interdisciplinarity beyond the classroom, matched students with entrepreneurs in need of authentic design solutions for start-up businesses. The program’s concept was proven viable through a limited Spring 2016 pilot that paired 21 design students with entrepreneurs from TECH Fort Worth and the Dallas Entrepreneurship Center.

The process produced a Corporate Identity package for their entrepreneur start-up partners, which included a logo, stationery package, website landing page mockup, and a basic Brand Standards Guideline. Students combined their new knowledge of the entrepreneur’s product or service with their design knowledge and skills. The student designer entered their start-up partner’s world and through listening, questioning, reading and additional background research, developed a base of knowledge sufficient to produce materials that visually communicated to the business owner’s satisfaction and demonstrated effectiveness in a competitive marketplace. Through practical application, gained an understanding of the design process, along with the associated information gathering and problem solving, helped to shape a mind more adept at interdisciplinary inquiry.

The Entrepreneurship-Corporate Identity Program incorporated a number of key concepts from interdisciplinarity research, the core of which is synthesis, or the combination of elements created something new:

1) Creativity required interdisciplinary knowledge. Graphic design required that the creator apply not only the tools of their discipline, but background knowledge from other disciplines.

2) Many problems required interdisciplinary approaches. Solved problems in emerging technology and medical innovation that involved an understanding of scientific, social and other factors. Effective graphic design required an understanding of the entity for which one designed and its context.

3) Experiential Learning. Interdisciplinarity promoted the relevance of learning to the world-at-large, and “doing” fostered understanding. While design students obtain lots of hands-on practice with projects in the classroom, going outside the classroom for experience greatly enhanced learning.

Download PDF: Jan Ballard Entrepreneurship-Corporate Identity Interdisciplinarity


Jan Ballard holds the BFA from University of Illinois at Urbana-­Champaign. She joined the Texas Christian University faculty in 1986. Since then she has taught and assisted in the development of a gamut of courses including Typography, Corporate Identity, Publication Design, Professional Recognition, Portfolio and Marketing, and Senior Thesis. Her teaching provides students with a solid foundation of the history and anatomy of type, and an examination of the principles of hierarchy and legibility at work within an individual letterform, to sentence, to paragraph, to page. In her professional practice, she has worked for local design studios, regional advertising agencies, and a national public relations firm. Jan’s design work has been featured in Print’s Regional Design Annual, Fort Worth ADDY Awards, and International Association of Business Communicators’ Bronze Quill Awards. She is committed to arts in elementary education and is a founding board member of the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts charter school. Recently, Jan was selected as one of fifteen international participants in the School of Visual Art (SVA) Masters Workshop in Rome with co-founders Steven Heller and Lita Talarico. She worked with faculty including Louise Fili, Mauro Zennaro, and James Clough. She is also a frequent attendee and presenter at TypeCon sponsored by the Society of Typographic Aficionados (STA). Jan has been nominated for the Wassenich Award for Mentoring, and was honored as the Faculty of the Year in the TCU College of Fine Arts by the TCU Student Government Association.