Visit Jackson Spearheads Jackson State University Art Department & Local Jxn Restaurants Partnership

March 4, 2024

group photo of Mark Geil, Shon Perryman, Glenda Barner, Ashanti Stiff and and Tyler Tremble
Mark Geil, Interim Chair, JSU Art Department; Reshonda Perryman, Director of Brands & Creative Engagement, Visit Jackson; Glenda Barner, Owner, Sugar's; Ashanti Stiff and and Tyler Tremble, graphic design students, JSU
Credit: JSU/William H. Kelly, III

Visit Jackson, the Jackson State University (JSU) Art Department, and a collective of vibrant local restaurants announced a groundbreaking partnership during a press conference Friday morning at Sugar's Place in downtown Jackson.

Graphic design students from JSU's Art Department were challenged by adjunct professor Reshonda Perryman, a JSU Alumnae and Director of Branding and Creative Engagement for Visit Jackson, to rebrand three signature restaurants. Five students were assigned to each restaurant and the owners were given the opportunity to select which direction best fit their vision. Those selected were Ashanti Stiff (Sugar's Place), Tyler Tremble (James Beard Award-winning Bully's), and Michael Brown (Taste of the Island).

"As a former art student at JSU, I understand the importance of building student portfolios and preparing them for the workforce," said Reshonda Perryman. "I utilized my position at Visit Jackson and its posture to elevate our restaurants to merge the branding needs with the talent of my students."

The brand consisted of logos, signage (fabricared by A-Plus Signs) and other captivating marketing assets to inject fresh energy and creativity into the city's dining scene. The branding offers a unique and visually engaging experience for residents and visitors alike.

"We've been here serving the city of Jackson for over fifteen years and never had any distinctive signage," said Glenda Barner, Owner of Sugar's Place. "I just kind of went to Signs First and ordered something and stuck it on the window, but now we're standing out and it's looking good. I want to thank Visit Jackson and JSU's art department for honoring us with this gift."

This ongoing collaboration promises to be a catalyst for positive change in Jackson's culinary scene. By harnessing the artistic talents of JSU students and the support of Visit Jackson, local restaurants can elevate their brand identities, attract new customers, and contribute to the city's cultural vibrancy.

"I was one of the graphic design students tasked with redesigning Sugar's branding, including the logo and the menu," said Ashanti Stiff, a graphic design student at JSU. "It was quite an honor to do so and I would like to thank Ms. Reshonda Perryman."

"Thank you Jackson State University, for continuing to partner with Visit Jackson and this entire community," said Dr. Rickey Thigpen, President & CEO of Visit Jackson. "You know we talk about brain drain and workforce development as an issue in our state. These kinds of initiatives really help shorten that gap in that process and keep amazing talent in our state and capital city. What better way to do that than to give them real-world projects that undergird the educational experience they're receiving at colleges and universities in Mississippi."

 About the Project

Reshonda Perryman served as an adjunct graphic design professor at Jackson State University in the Art Department. As a part of her curriculum, she assigned real-world projects, to challenge her students while giving them something tangible that impacts their community. These projects also give them experience, build their portfolios and prepare them for the workforce. All three restaurants gave input and feedback during the rebranding process. Visit Jackson provided signage for Sugar's Place and Bully's. Taste of the Island's signage is soon to come.

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