What began as a small freelance business in 2000 is celebrating two decades of growth — and serving its community.

In that time, Tingalls Graphic Design, 2939 S. Fish Hatchery Road, has helped more than 1,100 companies and nonprofit organizations build their brands, owner and creative director Tara Ingalls told the Star. Ingalls said around 80%-90% of those companies are from the Dane County Area.

She said that’s been one of the greatest joys of owning her business — making a difference.

Tingalls Graphic Design has grown to offer such services as logo and branding design, website design, copywriting and search engine optimization, Ingalls said.

Specifically, companies trust Tingalls designers to conceptualize designs for print, packaging, trade shows, new businesses, infographics and events. Ingalls said that could even extend as far as helping people pick out wearable clothing for business golf outings.

For its work, Tingalls Graphic Design won the InBusiness Magazine’s Executive Choice for best Website Development Company 2015-2019. It also won the Dane County Small Business Award in 2016.

Ingalls started in the corporate world, but after she began picking up freelance marketing gigs on the side, her business began to take off.

She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a double major in communication arts and journalism, then worked for a Madison advertising agency. But she found she wanted something more.

While waiting to take design classes at Madison, Ingalls began working for an insurance company, moving up the ladder to a corporate communications position with its parent business. She then decided to forgo a formal education, instead working for three years to master layout, illustration and photography on the job.

Around 2000, Ingalls married and decided to freelance while still working full time. With networking and word-of-mouth advertising, Ingalls was able to effectively market her services to start-ups, small businesses and nonprofits.

By 2003, her business was nearly taking up her house, so she moved Tingalls Graphic Design into a small office.

Today, Tingalls has a staff of around 10 employees.

One of the projects that put the design company on the map, Ingalls said, was branding for Sun Prairie’s J. Henry and Sons bourbon. Tingalls designed the logo, coasters, its bottle label and website.

Among the company’s work is Community Living Connections, which hired Tingalls to develop its brand identity – including a more welcoming website. More notable nonprofits the business has worked with include The Road Home, Heartland Farm Sanctuary, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services and the Urban League of Greater Madison.

To assist nonprofits on tight budgets and in need of graphic design work, she established the Giving Tree Program, which pairs experienced designers with interns to keep costs down.

She also enjoys the culture she’s come to create with her staff.

Ingalls said because she is quirky and fun, she wants her employees to have fun while at work. She said Tingalls encourages a work life balance, a self-starting attitude, authenticity and clear communication.

“I want my employees to be happy and I want them to come to work and to do a good job,” Ingalls said.

Email Emilie Heidemann at emilie.heidemann@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at