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August 9, 2015 - August 15, 2015

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

A close cousin to the previous Display Offender #4, "Purchased Racks and Props", is "Inconsistent Display Materials." These offenders have the same DNA and often work together to rob booth displays of potential customers. 

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David-Giuletti-booth-profileAt ACC San Francisco, I saw several booths with as many as 13 different display materials in one case or display. Rarely did I say anything to these display victims.

However the interaction with David Giuletti was different perhaps because we met at the Holiday Metal Arts Guild party last year. We entered into a conversation about display. David Giuletti said that "his booth was a work in progress." He wanted to hear what I had to say to improve his booth display for next time, and he bravely said I could use images of his cases in a post. 

Below are two  photos of his jewelry cases taken with my phone. These are not professional quality photos, but clearly show a number of examples of "inconsistent display materials." 

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Between this photo (above) and the next photo (below) I count the following materials:

  1. A whitish background lining the bottom of the case (not sure if it is paper or fabric;)
  2. Brown textured leather;
  3. A light colored wooded block (similar in color to the brown leather;)
  4. Dark brown wooden blocks in three different sizes and thicknesses;
  5. Off white textured leather in two different sizes;
  6. Purchased acrylic ring stands;
  7. Dark brown leatherette (?) rolled ring stand;
  8. A lighter colored wood block laying down with wide grain;
  9. Different grained wood block standing up with tight grain;
  10. White fabric drape (?) for the back and sides of the booth;
  11. White signs were a different color white from the back drape.

Layout in the cases is an additional problem.  The inconsistent layout of the earrings and the chains lack organization. 

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David Giuletti is a skilled engraver and metalworker. You only have to look at his work for a few minutes to see that quality -- but his display is lacking.  Unfortunately, I doubt that most customers will give the work in his cases that much time. They are going to walk right by because his booth display did not convey quality.

And though this post only featured David's inconsistent display, there were many other Offenders #5 at ACC San Francisco that had "Inconsistent Display Materials."  Examples (not shown) included:

  • Postcards used in the display (postcards are not display materials;)
  • Mismatched paper in different colors and textures;
  • Mismatched purchased display props that were not the same color;
  • Different color tablecloths (that had no relationship to the booth display colors;)
  • Mismatched signs.

To avoid display Offender #5, all the materials of your display props, display cases, drapes, and photos need to echo each other in both texture, color, materials, and aesthetic. The aesthetic aspect can be a matter of taste appropriate to your work but considering that you have one small booth, repeat this mantra "less is more." The fewer distractions from your work the better.

Below are some examples where the seller's display made an effort to provide consistency and coherent theme within the booth.

Davide Bigazzi used the same textured metal inside of his cases as on the front panel.Davide-Bigazzi-display-materials-booth
(Left) Davide Bigazzi;                          (center image) Looking at the back of his case;           (Right)  Sheet metal front to his case. 

Consistent use of display material may take on different approaches depending on what you are selling. Since Ealish Wilson was selling fabric wall sculpture, pillows and scarves, she had a custom wallpaper printed with her own design. It went up on the solid walls rented for the booth, but it seems likely that you could have your own fabric drapes printed with digital technologies if you didn't have solid panel backdrop.   Ealish-Wilson-wallpaper-backdrop copyThe image to the left is a portion of her booth.  The right half is a close-up of the wall paper. I am pulling back the edge of the paper so I could see that it was just like a big sheet of contact paper. (Ealish Wilson told me, " You have to be careful but you can indeed get it [the contact paper] back onto the backing paper to reuse it, because it's basically paper backed fabric it's more durable than paper ." )  Note how she used the contact paper/fabric to even conceal the seams in the rented wall panels. 

In another booth, Beverly Tadeu's display theme might be described as translucent white. She carries this theme through at many levels. Notice the white translucent scrim in front of her tables.
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Her display props include translucent frosted acrylic on layers of white translucent paper and plastic.  In the photo below she pulled back the layers so I could see how she layered her table coverings. Beverly-Tadeu-translucent-layers

As shown (below) every display prop was frosted acrylic providing consistent theme to the display. This level of consistency is less distracting and helps the viewer pay more attention to the jewelry for sale.
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There are a few more details that I would like to point out because details are what creates the impression of a well thought out display. Every nuance sends the message to the consumer that the work is as well designed as the display. First the color of the drape matches closely the background of her photos. Note also the necklace on the right "panel" and the elevated bracelet for high visibility to the customer walking in the aisle.  Maybe they will stop to look. 
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Beverly-Tadeu-white-chairBeverly even had a white chair. Yes your chair counts. Another color and the chair is a distraction. You definitely don't want your chair to take anything away from what your are selling. And what your booth display is selling is more than just a piece of jewelry, a jacket or a vase. It is selling a premium experience.

Since Tadeu's booth focused on white translucency, she had no place to hide her clutter.  I loved her invisible solution which she is willing to share with ASK Harriete readers. Shhhh.....

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Don't tell! Behind the photographic panel, cutting across the corner of her booth, Tadeu hid her clutter with a panel of fabric.

Clutter is a future Display Offender #8. Stay tuned.

Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE 

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

 

 

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WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

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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!!!!!!!


Don't-use-White-display-propJewelry 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?

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Wrong message.  Sure these are all fine for a jewelry store or consignment shop, not for an artist-made craft. 

 

 

 

 


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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. 

 

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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.


Don't-use-grid-display-for-boothsThese 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.


Frosted-acrylic-block-Beverly-TadaeuSimplicity 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.) 

 

 

Custom-display-Julia-TurnerJulia 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. 

 

 


Simple-display-Emiko-oyeemiko 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.

 

 

Paper-layout-melissa-finelliMelissa 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.)
Display of artist made clothing by Amy Nguyen uses a custom designed display.

 The booth had a custom hanging system using black pipe across the top of the pipe and drape.  

Amy-Nguyen-custom-clothing-displayFrom 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."

IN SUMMARY: 
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.

  

Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE 

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

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WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

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TOO MUCH STUFF! Yeah, wwaaayyy too much stuff on display is a visual offense. A real downer . . . especially to see multiples of the same thing on display.

This is just wrong at a craft show, . . .  but not at the mall. Why?

You know why.

At a craft show the audience is looking for what YOU have made, i.e. "handmade." While many items for sale may not be one of a kind, they certainly are not manufactured by the 1,000's or millions. People are coming to buy directly from the artists or makers who have created work that reflect the unique abilities of one maker, not a corporation.

At the ACC show I walked past one booth with 30 identical pendants hanging from a display on top of their display case.  What in the world is the point of that? The illusion of buying one of a kind or limited production vanishes on the spot. 

Multiples of the same item send the wrong message. It doesn't say artist-made, hand-made, or limited-production. It doesn't even say special.

Since a craft booth is maintained by the maker, if a pendant is purchased, you can replenish your display from inventory in a few minutes. This is not Macy's selling 100's of the same thing. 

Only one of an item should be displayed

The same principle goes with displaying too much inventory, over all. There were a few booth displays that had so much inventory on display it was overwhelming. Quoting one attendee: "There were a few booths I didn't go into because I couldn't deal with feeling overwhelmed. It is hard enough to go to the show and look at so much work, but if a booth felt  crowded, I couldn't deal with the quantity of merchandise."  

I did not take photos of the "TOO MUCH STUFF" offender booths to avoid embarrassment, but in contrast, here is a prime example of a selective and thoughtfully presented display. 

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Among many booths with artist clothing, the display in the booth of  Amy Nguyen 
was my favorite.  Notice how carefully the jackets are organized by color. Each jacket hangs evenly spaced so there is room to look without even touching. The large photo in the corner frames the jackets with the glace of the eyes toward the clothing.

The clothing designer did not put out too much merchandise. It  might not surprise you that this was a deliberate decision on her part.

clothing  by Amy Nguyen on display at ACC San FranciscoWhen I admired their booth and asked if I could take a picture because I loved their display, my comment opened an entire conversation about how careful they were not to let their display get too crowded. They understood that their work was special and they wanted the display to convey that message.

They also had plenty of light directed on the jackets (which was the topic of the previous post).

Before concluding this post, notice also that the booth for Amy Nguyen did not use any commercial clothing racks.  This leads us to our next Display Offender #4 Commercial Display Racks & Purchased Display. 
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Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE 

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights