Terence Cheong

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Visual Merchandising Instructor
Miami International University of Art & Design

"Stand out from the crowd. Be different. Capitalize on your uniqueness and make it work for you."

Stand out from the crowd. Be different. Capitalize on your uniqueness and make it work for you. Terence Cheong , Visual Merchandising Instructor
, Miami International University of Art & Design
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

In college, I worked as an intern in the visual merchandising department of Saks Fifth Avenue. That fueled my passion for creativity, and I knew I wanted to learn more about the field. It reinforced the theory I was learning in class, and gave me the experience I needed to break into the industry.

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

My professional background greatly influences how I teach. Everything I do in class is based on current industry needs. I work in the industry, so I’m able to incorporate the demands of the real world needs into my classes. I not only focus on creativity, but provide practical knowledge students can use no matter what part of the industry they go into. For example, they learn how to lay out a professional proposal for a client, learn their way around a basic contract, and generate an invoice after the job is complete.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

One that exemplifies my approach is the final project—the window project—in my level 3 class. This is as close to a real-life industry situation you can get. It’s a five-week project that starts with students brainstorming in teams to come up with window ideas. They agree on one solid idea, then work out budgeting and plan out the props, tools, and materials they’ll need. They then spend a week working together to install the windows. I oversee every step and give advice along the way, but the final result is the culmination of their efforts.

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

There are so many positives to be gained from collaboration: Students learn how much can be accomplished through teamwork; they interact with people they might not have had a chance to before; they can learn a new skill set just by observing; and they may even learn something new about themselves.

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

Individuality. Stand out from the crowd. Be different. Capitalize on your uniqueness and make it work for you. You’re your own best brand.

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

It’s the little details that finalize your work. You could produce the most interesting and creative piece of work, but if it’s not executed well, with attention to all the small details, it won’t be as good as it could have been.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m very passionate about what I do and what I teach.