Christopher Wilhelm

Christopher Wilhelm

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. If you’re not occasionally making them, then you aren’t trying hard enough. Christopher Wilhelm , Adjunct Instructor , The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I always sketched and painted, even when I was a pre-med early in college. That all changed when UC Berkeley offered me some grants and a fellowship to serious studio painting. However, after getting my MFA, my practical side kicked in and I went back for my MBA. That’s when I sort of blended all that training and went into advertising and marketing.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

I very much enjoy branding exercises because it forces people to not only understand the difference between mere corporate identity and true branding, but the extent to which successful companies manage their brands – from initial positioning all the way through the myriad of customer touchpoints that can affect a consumer’s experience with a brand. It helps to understand just how comprehensive the branding process really needs to be.

How do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their perceived limits?

Group projects really help in this regard. They force students to work outside the classroom to research their hypothetical businesses, to understand all of the elements that go into a successful marketing or advertising plan, and how to collaborate with others in the process. It’s a good introduction into how the real world works and what it takes to succeed beyond the individual level.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?

Very few marketing problems don’t involve collaboration to solve them. Whether you are a designer or a restaurateur, you always have to depend on the skills and goodwill of others to successfully market your product or service. No one can do it all.

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

The most successful people in any field – whether it’s engineering, healthcare, public service or something creative – are also good communicators. No matter how good your product or service is, you’ll be a bigger success if you can write and speak well.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. If you’re not occasionally making them, then you aren’t trying hard enough.