Jason Axtell

Graphic & Web Design

Lead Art Foundations Faculty
The Art Institute of Washington, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta

Lead Art Foundations Faculty Jason Axtell

Learn all you can, whatever you can, while you can. It'll only make you more viable and resourceful—that's what employers want. Jason Axtell , Lead Art Foundations Faculty
, The Art Institute of Washington, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I knew early in life that drawing and painting were essential to who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. But it wasn't until my freshman year that I knew I had it in me to pursue a career in illustration and design.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

In my job, I’ve had to become very resourceful and flexible as I use traditional and digital techniques to create logo designs, illustrations, digital coloring, layouts, etc. The skills and work ethic I’ve learned help me design a course load of assignments that build upon and expand my student's knowledge and abilities.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

The one I’m best known for is my “apple” assignment. I provide a step-by-step guide to illustrating an apple in Photoshop from scratch. It forces students to take the time to understand where the tools are and how to use them. It also provides a strong basis for everything else that comes later in the class.

How do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their perceived limits?

On the “apple” project, for example, students who stick with it realize they have what it takes to work with this complex program.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

Art and creativity are subjective. Everyone approaches their chosen profession, discipline, and techniques in different ways. Having a class of people who are all there to learn something unique to their field helps everyone gain a broader understanding of color, drawing, and computer programs by watching how others work out a problem or assignment.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

Be punctual. You’ll earn a poor reputation in the creative community if you can’t deliver what you promise, on time. Beyond that, I encourage students to practice and learn everything they can while in school. Learn all you can, whatever you can, while you can. It’ll only make you more viable and resourceful—that’s what employers want. And learn more than just techniques and tools—learn about yourself. How do you work? What are you capable of doing?

Anything else?

This is the most rewarding and fulfilling job I've ever had. I inspire others and myself at the same time. I surround myself with like-minded individuals who keep me motivated, ambitious, and honest.