Ralph Stewart

Fashion Design

Fashion Instructor
The Art Institute of Philadelphia

Fashion Faculty Member Ralph Stewart

Be prepared to make mistakes. Learn from them and move on. Ralph Stewart , Fashion Instructor
, The Art Institute of Philadelphia
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

My college instructors and mentors helped me realize I had the ability to take ideas beyond a personal sketchbook, to take what I’d learned and apply it to the world of creativity. That’s when I also decided I wanted to help others recognize their own abilities, as an educator and motivator.

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

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned from mentors and colleagues is the connection between a professional attitude and success in the always-changing creative world. That includes a willingness to participate, taking criticism well, active communication, and dedication. And it’s something I share in all my classes to help prepare students for the real world.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

My approach is to reinforce what students have learned in prior classes, introduce and demonstrate new objectives, and work in some of the content from later courses. The idea is to build a foundation that promotes cumulative learning and helps students take on each new challenges with confidence and a professional attitude.

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

Teamwork helps build the social and professional muscles you need for success. One of the extracurricular projects of The Fashion Network, our student-run fashion club, is a magazine by and for students. It takes the combined efforts Marketing and Design students, as well as Photography, Graphic Design, and other programs to make it happen. And it helps develop their confidence in networking and communication, which are critical when they leave here and start their careers.

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

Keep focused on your goals. Be professional. And manage your time well.

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

Be prepared to make mistakes. Learn from them and move on.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I encourage students to apply their in-class work to as many extracurricular opportunities as possible to help them become stronger, more confident creative professionals.