Where Are They Now: Tia Mitchell


By Luca Hatzopoulos, Staff Writer

A camera sways back and forth on Niles West alum Tia Mitchell. She’s found with a camera at her side at all times and a deep passion for photography and art. They define who Mitchell is.

As a young girl, taking pictures was one of her many hobbies, but it wasn’t until she entered high school that her passion for photography took off. One of her favorite Fine Arts Department teachers, Deanna Sortino, helped push her tremendously and set her up for definite success in college.

“Niles West’s art program and my photo teacher Ms. Sortino pushed me for success in college. She is so passionate about what she teaches and makes all of her students excited to produce work. Ms. Sortino was great with making her students apply for awards and galleries, and I had a lot of amazing achievements to write on my resume and I am thankful for all those experiences. A lot of people I met in college are not proud of their high school work (photography/design) because they didn’t have a good program in high school. I was one of the few people that could say I am actually proud of the work I made in high school. I am so thankful for the art program at Niles West,” Mitchell said.

The feelings Mitchell felt for Sortino were definitely mutual.

“Not only did Tia Mitchell have one of the most impressive photography portfolios I have ever seen at Niles West, but she was also an excellent student and leader. Her dedication to being an outstanding all-around academic and artist gave her a strong work ethic that vividly shined in my art class. In following her social media account (@tia_mitchellphotography), I have seen that her work ethic and dedication that was so evident in high school has certainly carried through to her collegiate art experience. I can’t be more prouder of her and look forward to seeing her work at the Spring Undergraduate Exhibition at SAIC this Saturday,” Sortino said.

One of the biggest changes from high school to college was the difference in schooling. Mitchell currently attends School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and will be graduating in two months. Switching from an all-subject high school to an art-only school was a different experience for Mitchell and something she was not used to.

“Being in art school is a very different experience from high school. The entire process can be draining at times and very stressful, but it’s rewarding. It is hard as an artist to put time for yourself, it is very easy to get tied up working everyday, all day. It was definitely difficult to find a balance at first, but in the end it is worth it when you love what you are doing,” Mitchell said.

Her family has always been her biggest supporter and has always encouraged her to pursue her passion of photography. Her hardwork and achievements definitely didn’t go unnoticed by friends or family.

“Tia has always pushed herself with her coursework and always goes above and beyond with her commitments. I’m very proud of her,” seniorĀ Thomas Mitchell said.

SAIC has offered numerous opportunities for Mitchell, one of them including the chance to take a class about fashion photography. Fashion photography gave her the convenience to experience her proudest collegiate moment- being selected to have her photography displayed at the Uniqlo store located on 813 Michigan Avenue for a couple months. One of her banners was showcased along with another image displayed on the window. Along with working with Uniqlo, SAIC gave Mitchell the chance to explore many different classes which helped her decide what she wants to continue after college, which is now fashion photography.

“We will see what will be in store for me once college is over. I want to be able to continue to pursue my fashion photography and hopefully work for an agency or magazine,” Mitchell said.