The use of commercial display racks and props just seems inconsistent in a craft show. Purchased display props of any kind are synonymous with mall-style mass merchandising -- i.e. the wrong message in a craft booth about "handmade." Every aspect of your booth should resonate that what you are selling represents custom design, artist fabricated and sold by one maker. The entire booth design and aesthetic are supposed to reflect YOU as a unique, special, amazing artist/ maker.... So why, oh why would an average, off the shelf, mediocre display unit from a catalog occupy your booth?
For me, this is an issue with no compromise. Perhaps I should be more sympathetic to the use of commercial displays. Perhaps people are sold the idea that they are professional or neutral solutions, but to me, it sends a message that you're not quite a confident, unique artist/maker. Don't you understand who you really are and what you are selling? It makes me grimace and grind my teeth!!!!!!!
Jewelry is a common victim of this display offender. It's taking a plain vanilla display prop as if from a commercial jewelry store and using it to display your artist-made jewelry. At a craft show, at that special moment of interacting with potential buyers, you are trying to differentiate your limited production or one of a kind jewelry from the local jewelry store. So what is signaled by an average, banal display prop purchased from a catalog?
Wrong message. Sure these are all fine for a jewelry store or consignment shop, not for an artist-made craft.
An equal opportunity display offender is commercial chrome clothing racks. These are too similar to the utilitarian clothing racks used in the garment district to wheel around mass manufactured clothing on the street.
A purchased clothing rack sends the wrong message to the customer. Serviceable for working in your studio, but if you can buy that display rack at Bed, Bath and Beyond, it won't say my clothing is special for a craft show display booth.
These were just a few examples. Craft shows too often exhibit many other display offenders including grids that clip together, or other "pop-up" mechanisms. A good rule of thumb is, If the display is purchased from a commercial catalog, don't buy it. With a little effort, artists and craft persons should be able to "make" a display that attracts the eye and says "think different."
Since I did not take pictures of display offenders, let's look at a few successful display solutions for jewelry and clothing.
Simplicity without clutter is the current trend for the best art jewelry display. Beverly Tadeu grouped work on frosted acrylic. Prices were written nearby. (More on her booth display in a later post.)
Julia Turner created some height for her jewelry display with custom stands to hang necklaces and pendants.
For more valuable items she covered them with a clear acrylic vitrine to avoid commercial jewelry cases.
Her display was open and well lit. White drapes looked elegant and clean -- consistent with her work.
emiko oye grouped work by color. Variable height created a more interesting display. Only one of each piece is on display Extra inventory is contained within the chest of drawers seen in the upper left corner.
Melissa Finelli created a layout on plain brown paper. The drawing helped her keep track of whether jewelry had been picked up by the customer.
For clothing, I would like to feature the booth display by Amy Nguyen (shown below.)
The booth had a custom hanging system using black pipe across the top of the pipe and drape.
From the top bar she used wire and chain running through black tubes for a straight, linear appearance. They told me the slim lengthwise black pipe was re-purposed from "abstracta cases", but I think you could consider black plastic irrigation tubing or other less expensive options created yourself.
Notice also that the black tubing is different lengths which creates another level of dynamic interest. Long garments can hang higher. Short garments can hang from longer tubes.
All the hangers match, and they even seem to have a longer "stylized" hook at the top of each hanger. This is just another small detail that says "I am special."
Every detail of your booth display counts toward the overall impression for the customer. Every artistic nuance of a designer's eye invested in your booth sends a subliminal message to your customer. This work is very special. Buy me.
This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.