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October 2012

Window Dressing for Booth Display - Dessert Delight

Today's post continues the series of window design ideas for booth display. Deliciously sweet inspired ideas for giving your booth sparkle and delight.
Buy fake food.  Tie your jewelry to the display to prevent theft (if necessary.)
While this window shows many shelves of ice cream cones...I think one shelf (perhaps larger than real life) would do just fine for your booth.


 Keeping with the desert theme....

Instead of the cherry on the side (as in this photo)...what if it were a red hat or red purse on top of the "whipped cream". One big cupcake (on a stand) in the back of your booth with your merchandise as the "cherry on top" along with your name in red...for an eye-catching display. Your sign should match.


If you could carry the red accent throughout your booth, that would be better. Make your own fake cupcakes or buy fake food that fits in your display cases or a stack at the edge of your booth.

Go larger than life with your own display.

What about all red accents?


What about collaborating with another maker for display? Use one item like this entertaining cake plate (right) to establish your theme.


If your work is small, what if were displayed on Cake Plates? Yard sales shopping might help you find some great resources. Go white on white for a sophisticated display.


This post was updated on June 27, 2022.

Window Dressing for Booth Display Inspiration

Let's continue with the objective to look at window dressing for booth display inspiration. The great thing about looking at window design for ideas is the similarities to designing a craft show/art festival booth.

  • the space is shallow
  • the main objective is to catch the eye of the passerby
  • the display is temporary

I am so excited about these ideas found online, and would like to share images for a couple of posts!  Please keep in mind that the objective is to be inspired by elements in each photo, not copy the idea. Some ideas will fit your work perfectly, others will be the wrong style.

ABC used minimalist window details to illuminate visionary designers. These included Tom Dixon, The Conran Shop, Moroso/M’Afrique, local designers with VOOS Brooklyn, Glas Italia, and a tribute to the classic Fritz Hansen Egg Chair by artist Tal R.

Pure white, black details, and a spot of color always make an eye-catching combination. Keep the color accent to one strong color.


Nordstrom’s Seattle flagship store window designed by Nate Rasmussen.

An area of eye-catching and energizing color with diagonal lines from the cord creates a memorable impression. The cord could be used to hang anything from pitchers to clothing. The gears are completely optional. 


White suit cases against a colored backgroundeOld suitcases and trunks painted white against a colored background look great. The suitcases might even be used to carry your work to the show, then used as props. Use the suitcases to support shelves. Or stack the suitcases to become pedestals. 

This is part of a Louis Vuitton window by Visual Department, Paris. The windows were inspired by a famous photograph from artist Jacques Henri Lartigue.


 Macy’s window with graphic white clouds that acted as platforms for the mannequins or your merchandise. The windows also showcased kites, birds, and insects.

Use your imagination. Blue fabric in the background. Foam core clouds could be a background or extra display for merchandise. Make your own fabric kites to match your aesthetic. One or two kites within a booth space are all you need. Consider putting your name on the kites as a way to get your name up high.


Grafitti background
Topshop's experiential “Colour Shock” window campaign was to mix a life event with commercial art in order to generate a maximum wow factor. The result is a concept that combines a regular window space with the art of up-and-coming Japanese artist Que Houxo, who painted the window space with fluorescent paint, while passersby observed the spectacle.

Fabric or paper with paint or graffiti images
with lots of color and diagonals can really be eye-catching. Don't forget to include your name in the graffiti so everyone remembers your name. What if you let anyone who bought work sign their name on the side of your booth with a paint marker?


Greenbackgroundvintagerust display
Gomez created this window, incorporating funky vintage items, for Saks Fifth Avenue's men's designer pre-fall June 2010 campaign.

The mucky mint green is a nostalgic color from the 1930s. It works perfectly with the rusty metal display. The rusty bins could be anything. Does this match the aesthetic of your work?

Take a really large professional-quality image of your work. Grid it out.

Print the image in sections on photo paper...then mount it on foam core. Hang from the tent structure or pipe and drape. It doesn't matter if the image matches edge to edge like this is the idea of creating an eye-catching display. If you glue some of the foam core to a white cardboard box...that is all you need to push it out from the surface. 

More window ideas coming...


This post was updated on June 23, 2022, to provide current links.

Window Dressing for Booth Display - YOUR Name on Display

The previous post demonstrated how store displays focus on getting the brand names up high as a focal point above the heads of the crowd. Here are a few more ideas inspired by store window designs. Your name up high creates name recognition and draws customers into your booth display.  

Nordstrom’s window was designed by Bridget Rogler.

Minimal old fashion wooden hangers with clips hold the letters for the brand name CHANNEL. This could be hung from the back of your white tent booth structure or pipe & drape. It is so important to get your name above head height.

Repetition helps make many ideas successful such as in this eye-catching sophisticated example.

The hangers could be quite effective for any clothing designer but may work equally well for other objects, as in this example, handbags by Channel. In this window display, symmetry is very important with the chain of the handbag framing the lettering.

I'd love to see this all the way around the booth, including the sides and the back wall. Hanging some clothing on the hangers or clipping it up can work for clothing, handbags, scarves, prints, or aprons. Keep in mind that this type of display represents your booth but is not appropriate for the bulk of your inventory.  As soon as the display looks cluttered, it will no longer be effective. 

I LOVE THIS WINDOW. It gives me lots of ideas.
Paint your name up high on your drape (which could be painted vinyl hung from the pipe & drape or white tent structure).

The books are a great prop. What if you had a bunch of old books, painted them white (or the color of your booth), and used them as pedestals or table legs for a countertop? Of course, this is only good for a local show and it needs to tie in with the theme of your work. But if your work uses letters or words, what a great conceptual connection to your work.

More text-related are flowers in the window made from books!  A couple of flowers in the back of your booth (along with your name) would be fabulous!

In searching online, I am finding great blogs about window design. Why not subscribe and look for that nugget of a fresh idea. Here is one blog The Window Display Blog

More ideas coming in the next posts!

Wacky Words Flower Pin

Wacky Words Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman

Wacky Words Flower Pin

This post was updated on June 23, 2022, to provide current links.

A Square Yard of Grass at REDUX

A Square Yard of Grass
A Square Yard of Grass                   1998

This work was in the exhibition titled, REDUX: Repurposed Materials at the University of Mary Washington Galleries in Fredericksburg, Virginia. View the exhibition on Facebook. 

A Square Yard of Grass by Harriete Estel Berman is about the environmental impact of lawns on our environment..Lwuy

REDUX: Repurposed Materials

EXHIBITION DATES: October 26 – November 30
    Download REDUX Catalog
    University of Mary Washington Galleries
    Ridderhof Martin Gallery
    1301 College Avenue at Seacobeck Street
    Fredericksburg, VA    22401
a Grass postcard is available for purchase.
                10 cards for $30.00 plus $10.00 shipping.
                Dimension of card: 4.25" height x 18" long.
                Folds to 4.25" x 6" long or
                Cut into 3 individual 4" x 6" postcards.

Below is my 8-minute Grass/gras' video about the construction of a lawn-size sculpture of a grass lawn.

Grass raises many points. These blades of grass are cut from post consumer tin cans and reflect upon our consumer society's preoccupation that everything can be bought including happiness and a green lawn.

Each blade of grass has printed images and advertising.

Beyond the sculptural presence and artistic impact, this sculpture carries a very serious environmental message. Lawn maintenance requires tons of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides which then wash into our surface water and ground water. In the United States, the lawn, or “turfgrass,” is the single largest irrigated crop, three times larger than corn. Add the air pollution involved in lawn mowers, etc. and you have a huge environmental impact.

Square Yard of Grass by Harriete Estel Berman is a sculpture about the environmental impact of lawns.AR

P.S. Back to the white tent display issues tomorrow and Tuesday with phenomenal ideas from window display.


This post was updated on June 23, 2022, to provide current links.

One Hour At The Mall For Display Ideas

In a previous post, I was pretty blunt about craft displays that do not measure up to retail displays.  Yet, it seems disingenuous to criticize without offering solutions. The biggest problem is that we makers aren't display professionals, yet we are competing against the best for consumer dollars.

Effective display of your art or craft is an essential ingredient for success. This is reiterated by Greg Lawler of the Art Fair Sourcebook who says successful artists "pay attention to the presentation of their work in their booths..."

So with this insight in mind, I set myself an assignment. Could I go to the mall and in one hour find display ideas that could be implemented at low cost and incorporated into a craft booth display? What display tools do stores use to catch the eye of the consumer?

Please keep in mind that the objective is to find nuggets of ideas that a maker could implement for eye-catching results. Go searching on your own at the high-end mall or downtown retail area for inspiring ideas that fit your style.

Here are some rough ideas.

My photos were taken discretely and quickly. Generally, store managers don't like people taking photos. This is about thinking smart with a "can do" attitude. 

Display images 001
Small carpet segments on the floor help create islands of instant eye-catching color. It visually gathered two tables and a sign into one cohesive display.

I began to notice that carpets are used everywhere in different colors. Even carpet on carpet to focus a display of merchandise. In the next photo, a black carpet creates a trio of three different mannequins. The glittery sequin theme of the dresses was repeated on the fabric-covered mannequin torso and the printed backdrop. 

Display images 002

The housewares department is a great place to find ideas. The stores are accustomed to finding innovative ways to make objects look attractive.

Signs high above the merchandise were used over and over in different ways throughout many different stores.

Notice in the image below the high signage above the plates and dishes to grab your eye.

Display images 003
An interesting sign with your name high above your work is an effective way to gain name recognition and attract attention for work in your booth.  It must be high enough to be above the heads of the crowds with clear and easy-to-read lettering.

Color for your sign is an option, but not required. It depends more on the styles and colors of your work or signature style.

Below the lettering white on white works just fine.

Display images 011

In this image above, notice how the brand name is high above the merchandise. The addition of the vessel is irrelevant to selling clothes but a fabulous idea for any person making vessel forms. Large and dramatic it was eye-catching, solo by itself up high.

Display images 012
Here two vessels form a group below the sign. Again this shelf is high to keep the name and image above the crowd.

ALL kinds of signs can work but they need to be elevated high in the retail space. Notice the writing (rear left) at the ceiling height. The CHOOSE ME and HEAR ME signs are "calls to action" but they could be your name.

Display images 020

Notice how these signs (above) hang from the ceiling. They were very high so that they were always visible no matter how many people were in the store. Your signs could hang from the pipe and drape, tent, or an extra pole across the top. Use the signs for your name, or a "call for action" like these.

Did you notice the bright yellow walls? While this may not be appropriate for everyone, if it works for your style, yellow is an energizing color.

High merchandiseI noticed several stores featured one item or a group of items up high (above eye level) to catch the eye of the consumer. For example, the shoe is high, but more shoes for selling are much lower.

Highmerchandise2Notice how they used simple boxes to frame merchandise on the shelf and as a stand.

To the right is a similar idea. A high shelf for "display purposes". Merchandise for selling is below.






The next idea would be a great backdrop for the back of your booth or function as support for your tables or both.

 Display images 014
This structure of painted steel rings could easily be redone with cardboard tubes. Cut and paint the cardboard tubes in advance. Use shipping tubes for small circles. The tubes here are all one size but I could easily see this idea with circles of all different sizes. Larger cardboard tubes for pouring concrete pillars (Sono tubes) would be easy to find at a construction supply store. Pop rivet or glue'em together.

Display images 013
While this was supposed to be an open divider, I can see merchandise displayed inside the circles if they were large enough.


  • Pick a theme, shape, or color scheme for within the area of your both.
  • Keep your signage high above the heads.
  • Signs need to match your booth aesthetic.
  • Display example merchandise up high above eye level.

Consider the impact of your color choices.
    White on white for sophistication and modern aesthetic.
    Research your color selection. Color sends a message.
    Use color to unify display elements.
    Use color for eye-catching results.

THE NEXT POST is my 2nd assignment:
Could great display ideas be found on the internet? Wait till you see what I found!!!!!!!!!!

This post was updated on June 22, 2022, to provide current links.

The State of the Art Fair Business

For those of you following the series on The White Tent or the White Wall, the next post is about booth display, but I wanted to bring some information to your attention.

Greg Lawler, Editor, and Publisher, The Art Fair SourceBook has an opinion piece titled: My Views on the State of the Art Fair Business.

It is worth reading!

Topics include:

  • Sales have declined...
  • Costs have skyrocketed!
  • Predictability has plunged – the ZAPP attack...
  • Why has it been so challenging for so many to jury into good shows?

He also has some worthy considerations for:

  • What can be done?
  • Why should art fair directors care about all of this?
  • What can an artist do about it?

He specifically suggests the participants "pay attention to the presentation" of their work. That is my next couple of stayed tuned.

In the meantime, read the opinion piece by Greg Lawler. It's time for artists and makers to be smarter and more effective in taking control of the craft marketplace from the smallest detail to having a more comprehensive understanding of the market forces at play. Take control of your future. 

If you don't sell at craft shows or art festivals, this information is still affecting everyone in craft media.
From high to low, the poor economy combined with oversupply and reduced demand is sucking down prices and quality like a black hole. 


If you are new to ASK Harriete I have been covering the issues surrounding the craft marketplace since Labor Day in the series The  White Tent or the White Wall.

CafecafecurtainPrevious posts about jury on CaFE jury service might be informative:

CaFE, Behind the Curtain: Tips for Improving Your CaFE Juried Application Starting With Photos

CaFE, Behind the Curtain: Challenges for a Juror Using CaFE

CaFE, Behind the Curtain: Insights as a Juror Using CaFE

Behind the CaFE Curtain: Tips to Improve Your Statement Information


This post was updated on June 22, 2022, to provide current links.

Pencils Say A Lot

Pencils say Star Student, and Gain 51 point on the Star Test about standardized testing.

Hopefully, you've listened to the Seth Godin presentation in the last post. He makes some incredible points about education.  Quote . . .

"And when we put kids in the factory called "school", the thing we built to indoctrinate them into compliance, why are we surprised that the question is, ‘Will this be on the test?’"

Measuring Compliance by Harriete Estel Berman

Godin continues: "So if someone is making art, they don’t say, 'Can I do one less canvas this month?'  They don’t say, 'Can I write one less song this month?'  They don't say, 'Can I touch one fewer person?'  If it's art, they want to do more of it."

Education is a scary subject. You may not think so because it seems to be in the news all the time, but when personal becomes political, the system often seems to feel threatened. I've had institutions afraid to show this artwork about education. Why?

De Anza College Euphrat Museum of Art is showing
Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin.
Pick UP Your Pencils, Begin is a gigantic bell curve 28' wide and 15' tall about the impact of standardized testing on our educational system. It showed in the following exhibit:

The Art of Education
October 22 - December 7, 2012

Euphrat Museum of ArtDeAnza College
21250 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Cupertino, CA 95014

The Art of Education exhibition will include the Pick UP Your Pencils, Begin by Visiting Artist Harriete Estel Berman. Additional work by De Anza & Foothill Art Faculty and Staff will highlight the diverse yet interconnected work of art faculty and staff and their educational philosophies.


This post was updated on June 22, 2022, to provide current links.

THINK-ing CRAFT Addresses Education

Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin is about the impact of standardized testing on education. It was shown at the DeAnza College Euphrat Museum of Art as part of the exhibition The Art of Education from October 22 - December 7, 2012.

The Art of Education exhibition included Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin by Visiting Artist Harriete Estel Berman. Additional work by De Anza & Foothill Art Faculty and Staff will highlight the diverse yet interconnected work of art faculty and staff and their educational philosophy.

Below is a phenomenal lecture by Seth Godin about the current educational system. Watch it! 
This video aligns with many of the concepts behind my artwork about education.

Pencil3GREENIn this video Seth Godin says:

"Some of you have a number two pencil.... the number two pencil is famous because Frederick J Kelly made it famous.

Back around World War I we had a problem because there was this huge influx of students because we expanded the school  day to include high school students. And there was this huge need to sort them all out. So he invented the standardized test. An abomination!

He gave it up ten years later when the emergency was over, but because he gave it up, because he called it out because he said the standardized test was too crude to be used.... he was ostracized and lost his job as the president  of a university because he dared to speak up against a system that was working."

THNKing CRAFT. What is the impact of standardized testing on education?


This post was updated on June 22, 2022, to provide current links.

The Craft Show Booth Just Stands There

ApplewhiteIn recent years, superior display and merchandising have become synonymous with good product design. Think about Apple Computer - sleek products, youth-oriented advertising, and Apple stores sparkling and brilliant white. 

"The company has executed a near-flawless strategy, from the stores' architecture and design right down to their sales staff." is by far the most valuable chain in the U.S.

WhitecratebarrellDisplays and merchandising that literally "attract" the consumer are readily apparent all around us.  Yet, the conventional white tent of craft shows seems stuck in time and is getting left behind by contemporary merchandising.


Wordle.rustGREEN.Unfortunately, white tent craft show displays rarely feel innovative or original.  Most of the booths are, well, plain, mundane, look-alikes. . . mismatched...not attracting customers.

To put this into dollars and cents, a poor craft show display costs money, and very likely much more than you thought.  If potential customers walk past your booth, that is a lost revenue opportunity.

If you want to be successful in the future of craft, then improved display and merchandising are essential.  Our target customers (and all consumers) are accustomed to stores with remarkable displays and sophisticated merchandising. I don't think it is going too far to say that great store displays "seduce" the consumer. 

Aspirational marketing means evoking the consumer's aspirations to perceive what they desire.  Play into the consumer's desire to be that beautiful, that powerful, or having that much fun.  

Pink There are all kinds of successful merchandising examples . . . think

  • Polo Ralph Lauren sending the subtle message of old money,
  • Victoria's Secret's Pink campaign (cute, colorful, sexy, and seductive),
  • MAC makeup to look amazing.

MACYour display style needs to elevate your art or craft in the eyes of the consumer.  Your booth is not just a viewing space.  How can a booth become an experience? 

WindowwhiteREDI know that creating an amazing display can be a challenge. We aren't display professionals, but this needs a solution.

So I set an assignment for myself. Could I go to the mall and in one hour find display ideas that could be low-cost for a craft booth display? 

2nd assignment Could I look at window designs and online displays for remarkable craft booth ideas?

Wait till you see what I found!!!!!!!!!!

Absolutely! Stay tuned for booth ideas that could be remarkable.


This post was updated on June 22, 2022, to provide current links.

Aligning Craft Values and Craft Practices with the New Economy

There were many heartfelt comments responding to the previous posts about the brand of craft. Some questioned the brand of craft. The overwhelming evidence, however, is that craft must adapt to the dynamics of the evolving marketplace.  The question is, "How?"

2HANDsolarizebrilliantHolding on to values that makers care about while navigating the realities of the current economy seemed daunting to me also.  Then I saw John Gerzema in a TED Talk that inspired some new insights and helped me focus on actions that the craft community can support. 



Some quotes from the TED Talk (shown below) by John Gerzema: The post-crisis consumer

The consumer has moved "from mindless consumption to mindful consumption." "By restricting their demand, consumers can actually align their values with their spending, and drive capitalism and business to not just be about more, but be about better."

Gerzema states that we are "going to go through four value-shifts that we see driving new consumer behaviors...." 

The consumer value shifts that Gerzema describes will impact or have already impacted the craft marketplace.  By understanding these value shifts, the craft community could better align itself with and take advantage of the emerging trends in consumer behavior.

Declasse consumption"The first cultural value shift" is "..déclassé consumption." Déclassé consumption is the whole idea that spending money frivolously makes you look a little bit anti-fashion."  Similarly, craft should not participate in the "buy cheap and throw away" mentality. Craft could be about quality instead of quantity.

"The second of the four values is this movement toward ethics and fair play." "And, as a result, businesses must provide not only value but values. StonyfieldcultureIncreasingly, consumers are looking at the culture of the company, looking for their conduct in the marketplace...Complete transparency."   Similarly, craft has traditionally been about multiple values. The value of handmade or artist-made. The value of skill. The personal connection with the maker in the booth or at an exhibition. No factory model, no exploiting labor in third world countries.

"The third of the four laws of post-crisis consumerism is about durable living." Consumers increasingly want to obtain the full "value out of every purchase." "The principle is...that it's about being sustainable.." Likewise, craft could highlight sustainability and conservative use of materials. Craft can be about traditional skills and heritage. It could be about "Made in the USA."  Buying quality instead of quantity.

"So, the fourth sort of post-crisis consumerism that we see is this movement about a return to the fold." It's a growing awareness of our place in the world. "It's now about connecting to your communities, connecting to your social networks."

BlueMoonCraftourBrew Within this concept, "the artisanal movement is huge. Everything about locally derived products and services, Human crafting Artisan Crafted Body Caresupporting your local neighborhoods, whether it's cheeses, wines, and other products."   GarlicGOLD Ironically, many of these new products market their products using the word craft, crafted, and crafting to develop an identity for their premium product.   Craft fits perfectly into buying local, "support your local neighborhood or local producer." Craft is about the value of buying from the individual that lives in your neighborhood or has a studio down the street.

Craft and the "post-crisis consumer" can be closely aligned with a long list of values:

  • SUSTAINABLE and GREEN FABRICATION (without greenwashing.)
  • TRANSPARENCY meeting the makers, visiting the studio.
  • IDENTITY OF THE MAKER as an individual (not a factory)
  • ALIGN WITH THE artisanal movement
  • MADE IN THE USA - no imports.

So what can artists and makers specifically do?
Specific actions can transform the craft market.

Insist that every show implements rules against imported items.  If the show has no such policy, Don't even apply.  Actively practice how the values of craft can be used to promote craft in the marketplace. 

Make quality instead of quantity

Decline to compete on price alone.  A downward price spiral is not a productive strategy. Craft needs to sell the values that makers add such as quality, buying local, or sustainable fabrication practices.

Differentiate your art or craft from third-world imports and manufactured goods.

Participate in the experiential economy. Demonstrate with samples, or show your fabrication process.

Create understanding and appreciation for realistic wages.

Appeal to the consumer with services such as custom or commission work.


BELOW TED talk from John Gerzema:
                            The post-crisis consumer

Think craft.

This post was updated on June 22, 2022, to provide current links.

Average Doesn't Cut the Mustard Any More

Craft has been self-absorbed in self-importance, resting on its past laurels, while the marketplace has changed drastically over the past twenty years. Just like print media and music, craft must redefine its role in the marketplace. Craft needs to rethink.

Grey PouponThe previous post generated a comment from Tara Brannigan...she says, "The examples listed, Grey Poupon, Campbell's Tomato Soup, etc., are singular products with an easily definable set of descriptors and a strong level of consumer awareness."  Very likely, many other people were thinking about this.

Makerstanding greenAnd I agree. It is easier to create a "brand" for mustard than it is to create a "brand" for an enormous diversity of makers and expressions of craft. Craft represents many media, many levels of skill and expertise, and degrees of expectations. I just can't imagine trying to answer the question, 'What is Craft?' It makes my head spin to think of it. It took Bruce Metcalf and Janet Koplos, authors of Makers: A History of American Studio Craft, 505 pages for just the 20th-century craft movement.

MustardOn the other hand, unless you understand that before Grey Poupon developed their remarkable advertising campaign, French's Yellow mustard was the only mustard anyone used.   The rise of Grey Poupon proved that the American supermarket shopper was willing to pay a premium—as long as what they were buying carried with it an air of sophistication and complex aromatics.

Despite the complexities of rebranding craft and the craft community, there's still room for applying the lessons of successful marketing.  Differentiating subsets of craft consumers and then target marketing to each audience provides the most likely improvements.  

For individual makers, developing your brand and cultivating an audience for your work is essential to achieving better sales. Branding the work allows the maker to establish prices beyond covering expenses.

If people walk up to your booth and say,
"Why does this cost so much?"
you have not established the value of your brand. (Read the previous post on ASK Harriete.) No one goes to an Apple store and asks why an iPhone5 costs so much.

Apple-iphone-5It is hilarious just to think about it. Not only is the value of an Apple phone established, but it isn't even one of a kind or a limited edition. An Apple phone is a mass-produced consumer item. Everyone pays full price. And next year, people will replace it with another phone.    

Think about how you can establish a clear brand for your work and define your market. Possibilities might include:

UNIQUE Objects
NICHE Marketing
ENGAGING the Customer

Competing with 1000s of other look-alikes has no future. Average doesn't cut the Mustard anymore.

Authentic Iconic Copyright, Trademark and Patent
Authentic Iconic Copyright, Trademark & Patent
Constructed entirely with post-consumer recycled tin cans. The packaging reflects the iconic images of our consumer society.
This post was updated on June 22, 2022, to provide current links.

The "dismal brand" of craft.

TomatosoupUnfortunately, the "brand" of craft has been on a steady decline and no longer represents something special for the consumer.  If the consumer (whether it’s an individual, a business, a voter, a donor, etc.) doesn’t pay a premium, doesn't make a preferred selection, or doesn't spread the word, then no "brand" value exists for that consumer.

Campbells-warhol-2012-cansWe need to reinvent the brand of craft, just the way Campbell's soup recently reinvented its TOMATO SOUP can based on Andy Warhol prints.  Clearly, a case where a company embraces art that reflected its brand.

I bought four cans, one in each color.
Before this, I hadn't bought Campbell's soup in years. It was too boring, too average for my taste. This new can was remarkable.   I was seduced into buying it and had to have it.

Along with a similar "brand" achievement, Did you read about the Grey Poupon Facebook page? "

The buzz isn’t centered around the fact that Grey Poupon has a fan page, but how they are managing it.Grey Poupon Good Taste

While anyone can view Grey Poupon’s wall, in order to “like” the brand, one must apply to be a member of the “Society of Good Taste.” Accepted members get access to exclusive content, which includes coupons and deals for the product. How do you get accepted? The application process requires allowing Grey Poupon to scour the public areas of your Facebook account. They look for good grammar, diversity in taste, and the number of friends you have. If you “cut the mustard” (their phrase) you are granted access. If not? Your application to the Members with Good Taste is declined!

It isn't the first time Grey Poupon has elevated its brand from ordinary mustard. Maybe you aren't old enough to remember this famous television commercial, so here it is.

This commercial (from the 1980s) transformed the perception of Grey Poupon from ordinary mustard into "extraordinary" mustard. It turned Grey Poupon mustard into something remarkable. Until this commercial, bright yellow (boring) mustard was the standard. Now Grey Poupon mustard is everywhere!

Now look at craft as a "brand".

Very few people go to a craft festival with the conscious intent to buy the craft, let alone pay a premium for something. (Brand isn't the only reason for this, but we can't tackle all the problems in one post.)  Previous posts examined the consequences of excess supply and dwindling demand.  Any commodity responds to the laws of economics. 

So sad to say that the oversupply of average has contributed to the "dismal brand of craft".  This handicap in the marketplace causes makers to compete in a downward spiral for consumer dollars. 

But if mustard can be reinvented from ordinary to extraordinary, it might be possible to reinvent the dismal brand of craft to remarkable.

Better branding can raise a product out of the ordinary.  It has happened over and over.  The opportunity to create a better brand for craft exists, but we need to admit to current facts, find better practices, and devote ourselves to elevating our craft.  A better brand for craft is possible, but only if we make it happen.

Ideas anyone? Seriously.....brainstorm. Your future, my future, and our futures depend on making a better brand for craft.

Golden Girl Bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman
Until Mrs. Field's, cookies were just cookies.
Until Jazzercize, exercise was exercise.
Until Barbie, dolls were dolls.

After Mrs. Fields, cookies were a million-dollar business.
After Jazzercise,  exercise was a franchise worth $93 million in 2008.
After Barbie, doll marketing was changed forever.

Golden Girl Fruit Crate display and three art jewelry bracelets by Harriete Etsel Bermanbra
Golden Girl by Harriete Estel Berman

The images and re-purposing of post-consumer materials reflect California as both the archetypal consumer culture and a leader in the recycling movement and green design.                    

Fruit crate labels were actually invented by California growers in the early 20th century as a promotional campaign for California produce.  The fruit crate labels symbolically convey the fertility of California’s bountiful agricultural industry of fruits and vegetables, but it now blooms with inventions and technology ventures.

Golden Girl was on display in an exhibition:

Redefining the San Andreas Faultline
September 8 - October 27, 2012

Craft in America Study Center
8415 W. Third Street
Los Angeles, California 90048.

This post was updated on June 22, 2022, to provide current links.

The value of "brand" and branding

Brands1In the consumer marketplace, companies develop a clear identity for their products with "branding." There are tons of books about this fascinating topic. Branding is how companies attract and keep a loyal following among consumers. Branding sustains or even increases demand in the marketplace and supports a premium price.


The reason a consumer buys one toothpaste over another or pays $3 for a cup of coffee is, in part, because of branding. Companies consciously develop and market a brand identity to appeal to specific audiences. As a consequence, the brand enables more profitable premium pricing for a specific product.

ApplelogosLet's look at Apple as an example.  

Candace Corlett, president of market consulting firm, WSL Strategic Retail, says, "One way to look at Apple's retail success is in sales per square foot, but a second is brand identity."

 Apple white store"Apple creates an identity of openness and transparency with its open spaces and windows. It fosters a sense of a creative, transparent, and welcoming community that transcends bricks-and-mortar."

So Apple emphasizes its brand even with the exterior of its stores. Even before you walk in the door, Apple has captured your attention with its "branding." 

Makerfaire 101D.I.Y. fairs provide another example of creating a brand. With names like "Renegade" and "Bazaar Bizarre", these craft marketplaces have differentiated themselves and created an alternative craft identity associated with a lifestyle.  They have transcended the stale craft fair genre of conventional white tents.

They created a "brand" for the D.I.Y. marketplace with images and effective marketing through social media.  They segmented and reached specific sets of emerging customers. The merchandise has not been significantly better than the white tent craft, but the marketing and advance promotion definitely was.  

So where is the potential for the white tent?
In a competitive marketplace, craft needs to be able to convince the consumers why they should buy at a craft fair and pay a premium price over the mass-produced inventory at Target, Forever 21, or Pier One. This is what branding is all about.

Craft shows and art festivals
could capitalize on the public desire to support "made in America", local makers, and local small business owners. I don't see any of these values being clearly associated with craft.

A craft fair by its very nature implies a small business owner making their work in the U.S.  Promotion should consider the "buy local" and feature local makers limiting the craft fair sellers to just this demographic. Thus the advertising could manifest a clear preference of the consumer and create a strong "brand identity." I am sure there must be other themes that would work. Think purple cow and pet fairs with dog tags, cat bowls, beds, & leashes.

My advice to craft festivals: create a brand for your craft festival outside of the hackneyed harvest festival and holiday sale. 

My advice to makers is to stop supporting the mediocrity of boring craft fairs.  Decline to participate and save your booth fees for more productive efforts.  Time to stop investing in average. We can't keep doing the same thing and expect different results.


P.S. For those who know a lot about brands, brand identity, and marketing, I apologize for my simple, short explanation of a very complex issue. If you would like to add your seasoned understanding of marketing, please write in the comments. 

If the concept of brand is new to you, please consider reading more about this online or get some books from your library. The topic is fascinating. Below are a few quick branding tutorials from Slideshare to get you started.

Branding in a Troubled Economy

Innovate or Die: 10 ways to build a brand

This post was updated on June 21, 2022.

The White Tent - Rehab.

WhiteTENTcalendarDuring the entire month of September, these posts explored the White Tent. The response?  Fantastic! The number of comments, replies, and concerns raised has been overwhelming. Apparently, many issues are coming to the surface that I and many other people have been thinking about . . . but never discussed in a public context.

This discussion has prompted me to initiate over 40 draft blog posts. Yikes! That is a lot of topics or problems and hopefully, solutions.

Continuing on the current path of excessive oversupply and waning demand, the craft field will wither under the inevitable consequences of economic pressures. Or we can look for ways to survive AND possibly even thrive.

Unfortunately, the craft marketplace has been in a steady decline for a long time. A thriving economy over most of the past two decades concealed chronic bad habits. But then the recession has revealed extremely poor health.

Until we examine the symptoms, diagnose the problems, and accept the "cause & effect" realities, the craft marketplace will continue to decline.  

Medicine Vitalizer BOTTLERemedies need to be multifaceted. One therapy will not treat all the symptoms.

Full recovery is optimistic but certainly can't happen if we choose to ignore the symptoms or fail to take action to improve the situation.

Future posts will try to diagnose individual symptoms and suggest appropriate rehab options.

I'll try to keep the posts shorter. Is that possible?


TherapyMany of the comments from readers of ASK Harriete have been particularly enlightening about problems that aren't readily apparent, and I hope you will continue to share your points of view either privately, or publicly in the comments. Email me anytime at: harriete [at]

CommentapprovalComments on ASK Harriete now require my approval before publishing (because of spam.) Please be patient if your comment doesn't appear instantly.

SubscribeASK Harriete has a new feature....a subscription for an email version in your mailbox. I just figured out how to do please let me know if this is working properly for your convenience.


This post was updated on June 21, 2022.




Arrow copy