Arts & Humanities Campus News

By design: Student combines business and art majors

Jackson Mitchell is learning hand drafting, watercolor, AutoCAD, design process, universal design and site and space planning in his interior design classes in the Lamar Dodd School of Art. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA.)

Madison native aims for a career in historic preservation.

Jackson Mitchell is passionate about design—specifically, interior design and historic preservation.

Double majoring in real estate and interior design, he hopes to work in high-end residential design and historic renovations after he graduates in 2021.

He’s using his Terry College of Business skills to learn about the real estate market and investment properties. He’s using his Lamar Dodd School of Art skills to learn skills from hand drafting to watercolor, AutoCAD to site and space planning.

“My work combines my passion for historic Southern architecture with curated details,” Mitchell said.

He just finished Studio 2 in interior design—a project-based class, where he spent the semester designing a historic renovation of a cabin from foundations to landscaping. His final project was a 60-page set of plans outlining everything from floorboard spacing to electrical and lighting systems.

He’s combining all that with a certificate in historic preservation from the College of Environment and Design.

And if that’s not enough, he’s also minoring in piano performance. In previous semesters, he’s worked as the accompanying pianist for UGA vocal students for recitals and juried performances.

But Jackson came to UGA intending to major in political science—with a spring internship in politics lined up. And then four weeks into his major classes, he realized it wasn’t the right fit for him. He tried majoring in music and finance before finding his place.

Jackson Mitchell is president of the Dodd Ambassadors. He can be found at art exhibit opening and closing receptions, Dodd Award Presentations, Visiting Artist Lectures, Dodd Welcome Back Parties, Dodd Graduation Reception, Career Days and more. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA.)

Study abroad impact

After his freshman year, Mitchell studied abroad in Freiburg, Germany, a town founded in 1120.

He’d taken four levels of German classes in high school and college and wanted to take an immersive German language class. The experience fundamentally changed his college trajectory.

In addition to taking a German class at University of Freiburg with students from all over the globe, he also took a sustainable design class that looked at the town’s architecture—including a medieval cathedral and town square. The town was bombed in World War II but rebuilt to keep the narrow streets, which make the town pedestrian friendly. The class looked at the town’s historic opera houses as well as 21st century use of wind power.

“Going from my hometown, which is so historic preservation focused, to going across the globe to Germany where they had the same sense of preservation—it really went full circle,” he said. “We need to see how things are done, and why things were done in the past.”

It inspired him to see historic preservation and design as a career.

Hometown influence

It really all comes back to his hometown of Madison, Georgia, which is about 30 miles south of Athens and has the second largest historic district in Georgia.

Historic preservation is part of the community culture, something he grew up around. Exteriors of houses can’t be changed, and interior structure is to be kept intact.

“Everyone really appreciates architecture and the arts as a community,” he said. “I was really inspired by how well preserved the entire city is and how through that preservation, Madison has its own atmosphere.”

Undergraduate Jackson Mitchell works on his interior design sketches inside a studio at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Dodd Ambassadors

Mitchell is president of Dodd Ambassadors, a group that serves as the face of the art school—from attending events and receptions to helping with student recruitment and giving prospective students tours of the art buildings. “My responsibility is to be a voice for the student body,” he said. One initiative this year is Cookies and Coffee, where the group provides free snacks to students on a Monday mornings. Students can meet the Dodd Ambassadors and give feedback about school successes and areas of improvement.

He tries to encourage all prospective students—whether or not they’ll end up at UGA—to look out for opportunities, like study abroad.

“Going on a study abroad trip, I learned more about myself than I have the rest of my life,” he said. “It’s all about scale and perspective. The entire world is moving in ways you’re never going to experience otherwise.”

Up next, he’s applied for a scholarship to study architectural rendering in Paris.

“I am so excited to explore additional study abroad opportunities to learn  historic rendering techniques,” he said. “The ability to create designs with cross-cultural influences that adapt to our globalizing society has transformed the way I understand the world around me and its impact on my life.”