As a young girl, I religiously watched the Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 70s. Mary had a friend, Rhoda, who was a “window dresser.” I loved Rhoda and became obsessed with becoming a window dresser or visual merchandiser. I worked many retail jobs and the most creative part of those jobs was being able to do displays.
When I started doing arts and crafts shows, I realized that my background in retail came in very handy! I not only wanted to showcase my art, but I wanted to do it in a beautiful way. My displays have certainly changed over the years, and are constantly evolving.
I am always searching for unique and clever ways to display my work and love testing new ideas. If you are new to craft shows, and even if you have been doing it a while, consider these elements to help improve your displays!
It is important to plan ahead and create a layout of your booth/space. Not all spaces are the same, so you have to have flexibility to change things on the spot. Think about how people view your space. It is inviting? Does it attract attention? Does it feel like your booth is approachable, or does it give a “hands-off” vibe? Create a few different booth plans so that you can adjust according to your space.
This is the one I am going to harp on the most! Nothing drives me crazier than when people lay everything flat on the surface of their table. It is so important to have your displays at different heights and levels. I found this on the website Chron, “The most effective visual marketing displays are arranged at 90-degree angle to the customer as opposed to lying flat on a counter, according to marketing expert Harry J. Friedman, writing on the Friedman Group website. Customers can see a display that is standing vertically much easier than a horizontal display. Using displays of a uniform height creates a flat display horizon. When you do this, all of your displays can blend together and customers can lose interest. To maintain your customers’ attention, use varying heights and colors to help each display stand out.”
Play around with your display fixtures and get creative. I make jewelry, so I have used everything from traditional jewelry displays, to food trays and bowls with rice, to cigar boxes, and hand towel racks to display my work. I am the queen of scanning the sale section of Michael’s and discount home good stores for unique fixtures and sign holders. Consider how you will transport these fixtures and if they can double as storage. For example, I see a lot of vendors using suitcases to display their wares, which also can be used to transport your art! Next week I will go more in depth about ideas for fixtures, display pieces, and signage.
Do you have a color scheme? Is the color scheme part of your branding? Is your booth colorful to attract customers? Is your booth one solid color so the eye focuses more on the product? I have a white pop-up tent and tend to use white or cream table cloths because my work is very colorful. I do change fixture color themes and this year it is rose gold! Play around with different colors to see what best compliments your work.
Also, think about what colors your art looks best against. I remember always using white or cream necklace displays and tablecloths so that my brightly colored beadwork popped! It would be harder to show off the glass beads that I use against a dark display or tablecloth.
Once the display is finished, add appropriate signage and if need be, extra lighting. Take photos of and keep a record of your displays in case you would like to repeat or use a variation. If you have photos of your displays, send a picture and I’ll add them to this post!