Kellie Wallace

Kellie Wallace

Be able to tell the client not just what you did, but why and how. Kellie Wallace , Interior Design Instructor , The Art Institute of Dallas, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design

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

I’d always been creative...always rearranging my room, choosing paint colors or wall coverings. In college, I’d sampled a few non-creative fields, like biology and accounting, but hadn’t settled on a major yet. My father worked at the same university and suggested interior design. I had no idea that was even a career option. But when I got into it, I realized I could not only use my creative side, but also explore the technical aspects of the built environment.

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

I always try to give examples of things I’ve experienced that I think students can learn from—whether it’s a mistake I once made, or just an observation about what happens in the real world.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

I try to make every course I teach very hands-on. I use class assignments to show students how they can apply the material we’ve covered. To me, students do best when they’re presented with a variety of learning methods—auditory, kinesthetic, and visual. I also encourage their progress through praise for work well done.

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

Collaboration is essential to professional growth. Recently, students in one of my classes had the opportunity to work not only with Graphic Design students, but with students from a school in Troyes, France. The project was time-consuming and the time difference between Dallas and France was challenging. But the students learned a lot by working with different programs and cultures.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

In Interior Design, it’s important to use both sides of the brain. It’s a creative profession, but students also need to tap into the logical side to deal with things like building codes and specification writing.

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

Use critical thinking and problem solving in everything you do. Be able to tell the client not just what you did, but why and how.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I love when a student has that "light bulb" moment where they can apply what they’ve learned.