Courthouse Creatives

When Evansville freelance graphic designers Matt Wagner, Rachel Wambach, and Aaron Tanner went looking for an office space in August 2011, they wanted something to make their own.

What they found was an empty room surrounded by windows on the third floor of the Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse, 201 N.W. Fourth St., Ste. 301, with floors covered in glued-down carpet, sun-bleached walls, and aged ceiling fans — and it was perfect.

“I remembered thinking how cool it was,” says Wagner, owner of Matt Wagner Design, who previously worked in the courthouse for four years early in his career. “I stopped by on my own and looked up here and walked in and peered through the glass and said, ‘Holy cow, this is available?’”

The three designers first came together to work out of Wagner’s home in 2010. They would work individually on projects and often collaborate together as well. “We didn’t know if this was temporary, but once we were working together for about a year, we were like, ‘OK, this is how this is going to be,’” he says.

But the designers lacked a functional office. The renovation took two weeks as the group rented equipment on their own dime and sanded and refinished the floors, reconditioned all the wood, and painted.

“Having a space that we can feel creative in is important,” says Wambach. “We are representing what we do in here.”

Four years later, the office is home to three designers, a developer, and two interns. Tanner of Melodic Virtue left in March and Nick Basham with Nick Basham Design and Kennedy Rose with Smarter Games joined in his place. They serve clients such as Tin Man Brewing Co., Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden, Welborn Baptist Foundation, and more.

They’ve given the space “two layers of vintage,” says Wagner. “There’s the original feel of the building and the feel of when advertising was in its heyday during the ‘Mad Men’ era.”

Because it is an open floor plan with no dividers or cubicles, Wagner says chemistry is important. They share the expenses such as rent and the cost of equipment.

“This is stuff that none of us would be able to do on our own,” says Wagner. “The group is more powerful than the individuals.”

Currently, the entire third floor is being renovated after the first two floors were renovated over the past two years.

“It’s the sweetest inconvenience,” says Wagner of the construction noise. “It is such an iconic building in Evansville and it needs to be treated as such.”

For more information about the Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse, visit

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