Fashion Marketing and Fashion Design Instructor
The Art Institute of Charlotte, a campus of South University
We do so much more than transfer knowledge. We shape individuals and help position them to succeed in life. Mike Watson , Fashion Marketing and Fashion Design Instructor
, The Art Institute of Charlotte, a campus of South University
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
When I started creating large-format silkscreen works of wearable art in college, there was a "click" of insight that I’d integrated my lifestyle and beliefs with my outward expression of art. When I was actually "seen" and recognized for my work, who I was became an integral part of what I created.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I share stories about lessons learned, often to show how failure is a lesson—it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. I also invite professionals to provide their own perspectives. I maintain relationships by consulting and working in the industry to show my students how we never stop learning. And I show them the world of opportunities that the global nature of fashion opens up by having them create videos, mood boards, and presentations that reflect the ever-changing world of fashion.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
Here’s one example: I ask students to watch a brief video that reflects one of many perspectives in the industry. Once they’ve discovered what they believe to be the core concepts of the video, they share their viewpoint with another student. They get feedback, and adjust as needed. Then they develop a specific target market that the video appeals to—using industry research sites and describing their target demographically and psychographically. Next, they choose a student who reflects their target and develop a mood board designed to appeal that student. Finally, they create a PowerPoint about the video's concept, mood, and target market, all while explaining why.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
I introduce cross-collaborative projects to add a real sense of the industry and employers’ expectations. In fashion, you constantly work with people from other professions—photographers to web designers to graphic designers. In my fashion styling class, students from all those disciplines come together to produce a photoshoot, print media, and a short video for social media. In this interconnected and interdependent world, collaboration is crucial.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
I tell them that they each have a unique personal brand, and that it shouldn’t just inform marketing decisions, but guide their decisions in every aspect of their lives. When we fully step into who we are, we gain the confidence to be the truly brilliant person we were meant to be.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
Learn to listen, observe, persist, and then create with purposeful intention.
Anything else you’d like to share?
We do so much more than transfer knowledge. We shape individuals and help position them to succeed in life.