FDU wins top design honors in first year of competition


FDU’s design team celebrates following its grand prize win at the Art Director’s Club of New Jersey Design Derby. From left, Richard Reidy, Carla Cucinotta, Thomas Hind, Brittany Blohm, Erin Dubord, faculty advisor Janet O'Neil, Shanece Hornedo, and Katie Tedesco.

By Dan Landau

Students in the graphic design program at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham took home the grand prize at this year’s Art Directors Club of New Jersey Design Derby on October 19. This was FDU’s first year in the competition, and it beat out 10 teams from five New Jersey colleges, including Kean University and the incumbent champion, Montclair State University.  

The design derby is a rigorous competition in which New Jersey college students are given a design job for a real client and must come up with a comprehensive design — without using computers — in only three hours. 

This year’s challenge was to design a logo, a poster, an invitation, and a concept idea for a fashion show for Seer Farms. Seer Farms, of Jackson, N.J., provides temporary foster care for pets while families are in crisis. Currently, Seer Farms is harboring pets displaced from Hurricane Sandy, as well as for people who lost their homes in the housing crisis. 

“Seer Farms said it will continue to work with our students, who will complete finished products on the computer and submit them for Seer Farms for its fashion show in the spring,” said Janet O’Neil, associate professor of computer graphic design and the FDU team’s advisor. “This win is a huge feather in the cap of FDU’s design program. This is the first year we entered the competition and we swept the grand prize. The students are as ecstatic as I am!”

Right, the logo the FDU team created for Seer Farms’ fashion show. 


Besides getting to work with the competition client, the grand prize also includes free one-year memberships for the Art Director’s Club of New Jersey for the students. 

“Professor O’Neil had so much confidence in us at the competition,” said Carla Cucinotta, a sophomore fine arts major with concentrations in graphic design and studio arts. “She was convinced we had already won the minute we walked in!” 

While O’Neil’s confidence was not misplaced, the journey to the prize was not an easy one. “The competition was long and tiring,” said Erin Dubord, a fine arts major in the QUEST program. “There were seven of us on the team so there was a bit of arguing and contrasting opinions throughout the work period, but the group quickly figured out what strengths each of us had and we really came together.”  

All New Jersey colleges were invited to the competition, but only some chose to participate. FDU’s team competed against three teams from Montclair State University, two teams from Ramapo College, two teams from Kean University, two teams from Sussex County Community College and one team from Bloomfield College. The Design Derby was held at Sussex County Community College.

Feature Story from the FDU Newsroom

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