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Should Jewelry Display Include the Artist's Name?

Elephants-room-display3 copy
During a recent visit to Patina Gallery in Sante Fe, I noticed that they did not include labels with the artists' names identifying the makers of the jewelry on display.
 I asked Ivan Barnett (the gallery owner) about this approach. The response was that labels created visual clutter. They wanted the visual impact of the work on display to be about the artistic impression of both the display and the objects themselves.

IMG_20160805_110236343I must admit that their gallery does look very attractive. Each piece of jewelry in a case or on the wall creates a positive impression. The jewelry on display does not feel crowded.  I give them high marks on visual impact unequivocally.

In contrast, another gallery exhibiting jewelry placed labels everywhere with all kinds of information, e.g. names, materials, dimensions,  and prices -- and the overall appearance did look jumbled to horrendous with visual clutter in the displays or on the walls.

Labels or not labels is not a new debate, but I think a few issues come to the fore.

1) Should artist-made jewelry have a label with the artist name in an exhibition or gallery?

2 What is the solution to an attractive label?  

3) As a jewelry artist, would you express your opinion to the gallery or exhibition that displays your work? 

4) What is the value of discussing this issue? 

Let's look at the first question:
Should artist-made jewelry have a label with the artist's name?

I started to think about it like this. ...

Can you imagine going to a museum or gallery for other media and not seeing the artists' names with the artwork on display?   I can not recall ever seeing an exception. 

How about at an airport showing public art? Don't they always include the artist's name? Of course they do. Usually with just a couple of seconds to look around, there is always a placard or label. 

Did you ever go to a ceramics, glass or sculpture show and not see the artist's name near the artwork on display?  Never.

Is there any other art form in which the artist's name is considered optional?   At a minimum, artwork of any medium and the maker are identified with a label.  It establishes credibility for both the exhibition and the artists in the show.  

Further irony is that there are even brand name commercial jewelry brands commanding higher prices and better sales because they are associated with an individual's name. Examples like Paloma Picasso or David Yurman sell their boring jewelry with a name attached.

However. . . 

The visual and aesthetic impact of an exhibition must be part of the equation.    Seeing creative, innovative expression can be a magnificent engaging experience for the buyers and community.   Any opportunity to elevate a gallery visit into a sense of wonder should be a goal for everyone. Intrusive labels or poorly placed placards may interfere with that experience.

Let's compare some examples side by side of jewelry on display, with and without labels, before we consider the professional and practical issues.

  IMG_20160805_111604482 IMG_20160805_134847116



































Boston society of Arts and Crafts







It is clear that the artwork displays best when no distractions interfere with the visual experience.

But it is also essential that the artwork should not be displayed anonymously.

So, question two...
What is the solution to an attractive label?  
How can the artist's name be clearly associated with the artist-made jewelry on display?

How can this be done effectively without visual pollution of labels and the cluttered effect?

Here are some  ideas:

  1. Have one label discretely near but not in or on the jewelry. Ideally the label will be attractive (more attractive than a white piece of printer paper).
  2. Keep the label below the display so that it can be found if desired but does not obstruct or is not included in the field of vision of the artwork.
  3. Provide a printed handout or gallery guide with small images of the jewelry.
  4. Use a small number in the display that corresponds to either a label to the side or the printed handout.

Can any readers of this post offer other suggestion or ideas? 

 What are your solutions or ideas?

 The third issue is....
As a jewelry artist, should you express your opinion to the gallery or exhibition that displays your work?
Did you ever ask the gallery that shows your work if they display your name? Do you think that the artist maker has a voice in this issue?

Question four is... 
 What is the value of discussing this issue?
 The reason for this discussion is that it is time that artists and makers take responsibility and advocate for their work and how their work is displayed.  Surely, galleries and exhibitions are opportunities, but makers of artist-made jewelry should not simply remain quiet and anonymous.

What is your position? Do you have any power?

Next post: Should labels have any information other than the artist's name? How much information is TMI?


P.S. I recognize the irony of not labeling all of these images with the artist's name and will try to create a key for this post identifying all the work in these images. 

Necklace by Helen Shirk
Steel with enamel



Necklaces by Arlene Fisch
Crochet wire


IMG_20160805_140146031(Center) Necklace and jewelry by Mike and Maaike  - "Stolen Jewels" Digital printing on leather
(Front Center) Marjorie Simon  - Enamel rings
(Left edge) Rebecca Laskin  - Bracelets dyed 3-d printing
(Right edge) Rachelle Thiewes - Painted bracelets

Necklace and cuffs by Arlene Fisch Crochet Wire 


Boston society of Arts and Crafts
Exhibition at the Society of Arts and Crafts
Bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman


This post was updated on December 13th, 2021.

Jewelry Display and the Elephant in the Room

Recently, I viewed jewelry on display at multiple galleries all in one day.  Seeing so much jewelry in a short time allowed me to compare and contrast the quality and effectiveness of different display approaches.  

Jewelry window at Patina Gallery, Sante FeSome jewelry displays were elegant and inspired, while others were horrendous and highly questionable.  Trying to understand the cause of such disparities seemed to be a good subject for several posts and possibly an informative debate.

BAD-booth-displayTo add to the display confusion
 the various individuals responsible for the different display approaches (shown in this post) each considered themselves experts with years of experience.  How would one know they had jewelry display expertise?  They said so.   

Elephant-Room-jewelry-displayThe inconsistencies of the jewelry displays remind me of the ancient Indian tale of the blind men describing an elephant.
 Each man touching a different part of the elephant confidently extrapolated their vision of what the whole elephant must look like.  But their stories varied enormously, as you can imagine.  Ultimately, "When a sighted man walks by and sees the entire elephant all at once, the blind men also learn that while one's own experience is true, it may not be the totality of truth."

The elephant in the room -- or more specifically the "elephant" in this post -- is the lack of standards for quality jewelry display.

Putting all good intentions aside, there are some pretty clear display standards that merit universal implementation for the display of artist made jewelry.


SPACE applies to jewelry everywhere! 

IMG_20160805_113332519Space defines value. 
Crowded jewelry displays scream lesser quality, lesser importance.   The more space around an object the more important it becomes. In the first photos, you see a crowded jewelry display photographed on the street. The attempt to squeeze in as much jewelry as possible diminishes the perceived value of the jewelry. The visual clutter reflected in the store window seems like an apt metaphor for the visual clutter of the merchandise. 

IMG_20160805_112501036When a jewelry display has too many items (whether in a case or on the wall) the message of value or uniqueness has been diminished. For example, laying bracelets on top of each other or squeezing as much work into a case is reducing the perception of value. 


Museum-Art-DesingCompare the previous examples to how  jewelry is displayed in a top quality museum
where there may be 12" or more between objects. One piece of jewelry may even be allowed to occupy the entire case or placed on a pedestal by itself.  

Space is a valuable resource.
Space costs money. It doesn't matter whether it is a craft show booth or gallery or a museum.  Space is a luxury. Space needs to be a physical and metaphorical component of effective display.

Space in retail context is a definition of value.
 We see this all the time. The space principle is applied to items in retail stores of all kinds. Discount stores crowd their racks with merchandise. Top quality stores place an object on a shelf away from other distractions. When you are selling, you are selling more than just merchandise. You are selling a perception of value.


Apply this principle to your display whether at a craft show or gallery exhibition.   You want the work to look like it is worth buying.


Two more essential display attributes: 

IMG_20160805_135218270Consistency in display props. 
Ask Harriete has featured this topic on numerous occasions. Inconsistent display materials create an unattractive and distracting display.  In the photo (left) there are two different commercial neck forms covered in brown textured linen, a clear Plexiglas support, black linen fabric, and a business card holder used as a prop. The wood framed case is awkwardly perched on top of a painted grey pedestal - not a good combination.



commercial display and inconsistent display materials never work togetherMore awkward combinations (left)  include a wood frame case with brown linen commercial neck form on a grey painted cube. Add Plexiglas props and white paper labels. It doesn't work.

Adding business cards in the middle of a display may provide contact information but they are unnecessary distractions from the work whether this is a million dollar gallery or a craft show booth.  It looks bad.  Keeping focus entirely on the jewelry is essential for quality jewelry display.   

bracelets should never be exhibited on commercial propsAvoid commercial display props. 
Commercial display props should not be used for artist made, hand crafted, handmade, or art jewelry. Purchased display props send the commercial jewelry message. No amputated fingers, collars, necks, or bracelet posts, ever. 

purchased display props look terrible and should never be used for artist made jewelryYour clients easily sense the difference between retail commercial  jewelry and art jewelry. 
Though I've heard some defense of commercial props after my previous post regarding "Purchased Racks and Props", it is my experienced opinion that purchased display props should be avoided.  Ordering commercial displays may be a convenient time saver, but I am not convinced that they are worth the loss of perceived care and uniqueness.  Display props are often necessary for jewelry display, but you have to make them. 

More posts are coming, and the line of "elephants" is way too long. Stay tuned for a circus of jewelry display issues that you won't want to miss. 


P.S. Most of these photos are not great. I don't want the jewelry recognized as victims of the display sins. All photos taken inside a gallery were taken with permission. 

This post was updated on December 13th, 2021.


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


WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props


WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials


WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

Museum-Art-DesingImage taken by Phil Renato at the Museum of Art & Design, NY
Jewelry by Harriete Estel Berman (Yellow Ruffle Bracelet) and Peter Chang (bracelet shown at the bottom of the photo.)


Vintage Visual Feast Thanksgiving 2015

Every year, my favorite part of the holiday season is theme development in preparation for my Thanksgiving table . Similar to theme development for a booth display, the theme for a table should stimulate a visual feast of repeating design elements over and over.  

Thanksgiving 2015 photographed by photographer Philip CohenPhotograph of the Thanksgiving 2015  by Philip Cohen.

My goal each year is to reinvent our Thanksgiving table and deliver a completely different and memorable experience. Our 2015 table was inspired by vintage 1950's/60's screen printed Filkauf commercial fabric, fabric that I found in a secret, dusty, musty storage room at Direct Office Furniture in Harrisburg, PA. (Check out the Red Door Consignment Gallery for great furniture options at the same location.)
Fiklauf vintage fabric for our Vintage Thanksgviing Feast.
 Vintage Fabric from the 1950's/60's is marked "Filkauf Inherently Fire Retardant Fabric Screen Printed".

The screen printed leaf pattern and fall colors were perfect for a Thanksgiving table. To save time I fringed the edge. It looked great.
Filkauf Inherently Fire Retardant Fabric was vintage 50's 60's in fall colors

Long Thanksgiving table for 17 people A phenomenal stroke of good fortune, the fabric was large enough to cover the entire table for 17 people in one piece.  Photo left is before setting the table...   



The idea for the vintage theme began 5 months ago with the discovery and purchase of two "atomic era" (1950's) starburst candlestick holders from West Germany.Vintage atomic motif plastic candlestics from West Germany started our theme for Thanksgiving.

Atomic starburst plastic candlesticks from West GermanyYes they are a little weird but I loved the orange translucent colors and vintage atomic aesthetic that also reminded me of pumpkins. Then I had to find six more online. Amazingly, most of the Friedel Gesch plastic purchased online was unused, still with the original tag. Imagine, they have been sitting in a drawer for 60 years!

Thanksgiving 2015 031

Orange candles weren't hard to find. Adding small sugar pumpkins boosted the orange shapes and color  on the table. The sugar pumpkins will be cooked at a later date. 

Gold leaf glasses for our  Thanksgiving 2015 037These vintage Libby glasses from the 1950's with gold leaf design further repeat the leaf theme of the table cloth perfectly. I bought them for a past Thanksgiving and fortunately had about 20 of them. 



The gold plated flatware was my grandmother's from the 1960's. I remember when she bought it. I think she only used it once. Dishwashers and convenience-focused lifestyles really brought an end to gold leaf glasses and gold plated flatware. None of this is dishwasher safe.  

Gold plated flatware complete of Thanksgiving theme

All of the plates were from my collection of vintage dinnerware collected over the years. The colors were selected to match the colors in the tablecloth.  The plates sat on gold chargers to repeat the gold of the flatware and gold leaf glasses. 

Thanksgiving 2015 012

The floral arrangements were real fall leaves with the addition of some dried orange pods. Both the leaves and orange pods echoed the tablecloth leaf motif and colors.  

Thanksgiving 2015 001


Thanksgiving 2015 007Left 
is our menu card inspired by the vintage fabric tablecloth.

Dessert included a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting in the shape of leaves inspired by the tablecloth. It took a whole crew and hours of work . . . and topped off with a final touch of chocolate creativity to bring this to fruition.






Making our Thanksgiving dessert to match our vintage tablecloth.  

The dessert crew made abstract chocolate leaves as the final touch.

Thanksgiving 2015 021

The photo below shows how you make the chocolate leaf shapes. 
Thanksgiving 2015 023
Just paint warm chocolate on wax paper, let them cool, and peel them off. 

Vintage fabric, dishes, glasses, and flatware with atomic candlesticks. 
Theme development with repetition of the visual elements works every time. Give it a try for your next holiday table or booth display. 

Thanksgiving 2015 002

Thanksgiving 2015 029Harriete 

P.S. Commercial fabric is often fire proof so it would be suitable for booth display.

E-bay and Etsy are both great resources for finding obscure items for theme development. 

This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.

Thanksgiving tables from previous years:

Many images of my Thanksgiving tables can be see on Facebook albums. 

Thanksgiving 2014 flower arrangements 003Thanksgiving 2014- Setting the Table





 Philip Cohen photography of Thanksgiving TableGelt, Gilt, and Guilt - Thanksgiving 2013



Thanksgiving a Visual FeastThanksgiving Visual Feast Giving Thanks





Thanksgiving with a mondrian inspired color blocks in red, blue, yellow and black  outline.

Thanksgiving 2012 was inspired by a Mondrian  color theme including the cake and cookies. 




Thanksgving birthday cake with sculpted cream cheese frostingThanksgiving 2011 followed a leaf motif including the drinking glasses and the cake with sculpted cream cheese frosting.









Thanksgiving 2010 was black, white, grey and chartreuse green

Thanksgiving 2010






Thanksgiving 2009 with a beautiful Thanksgiving festive table.Thanksgiving 2009 is  a traditional fall motif with leaf motif including cake and our drinking glasses with gold leaves. 








Thanksgiving in Black, Grey and SilverTHANKSGIVING 2008  was black, grey and silver. 


WANTED Better Display - Offender #8 CLUTTER

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY8-clutterThe 8th Display Offender is Clutter. What is Clutter? For a booth display it is anything that could distract a potential customer from purchasing your work.  It may be anything visible that fosters a less than optimal customer impression....not that you don't need the items, not that everyone doesn't have clutter ....but clutter should be eliminated from customer view in your booth display.



Clutter in your booth displayStorage boxes, suitcases, and credit card machines are clutter. Sure they are important, sure you need them, but they really distract from the quality of your work and your display -- and as a result diminishes the customer's impression.

When planning your booth, a crucial tactic is how to hide the necessary clutter. Putting your suitcase anywhere that is visible in your booth is not hiding the clutter.  A charge machine and invoice tablet on a table at the back of your booth are not hiding clutter. I know you've seen it all and you don't need me to show you boxes of clutter.

Below are some practical examples
of how some people hid their clutter:

Emiko Oye hid extra inventory and clutterEmiko Oye stored extra inventory by changing the tile color on the floor to black and covering her boxes with a black drape. It wasn't the best solution, but it still looked better than visible packing boxes on the floor.


Jonathan SpoonsDid you notice that Jonathan's Spoons had a tiered display on their counter top?  Jonathan very proudly told me how the elevated display conceals their credit card machine, tissue paper, along with everything they need to complete a purchase.

Beverly Tadeau booth Lots of people use the space under their cases for storage, but that doesn't work if you aren't using a drape for the open look, or if the drape is shear as in Beverly Tadeau's booth display.


Beverly-Tadeau-Concealed-Storage2Tadeau's solution was a diagonal drape across the back corner. Everything from a charge machine, to boxes and suitcase fit into that corner behind the drape.

Beverly Tadeau

Amy Nguyen beautiful clothing at ACC San Francisco Amy Nguyen had a beautiful display of her clothing. A table of extra inventory, postcards, and the charge machine was concealed by a drape on the main aisle, but not concealed from the side aisle of the corner booth (right photo.) Amy Nguyen did not hide her clutter  completely.

Customers see everything.  Clutter suggests unfinished, unrefined, and careless. Hoping that clutter doesn't matter may give a subtle message to prospective customers that you don't care about every detail -- and they walk out, almost, but not quite convinced to purchase. 

Clutter is a "kissing cousin" to Offender #5 Inconsistent Display Materials" and Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display.  Don't let these display offenders enter into your booth.... and steal your sales. Avoid Clutter.   


This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.

Wanted-Better-Display-Offender8-clutterYour 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

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

Personal Appearance and the Pathetic Aesthetic - Where's Tim Gunn When You Need Him?

Pathetic Aesthetic with Poor Signage - How Would I Know Your Name?

WANTED Better Display - Offender #7 "Butt Brush Factor"



WANTED Better Display - Offender #7 "Butt Brush Factor"

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-Butt-brush-factorOffender #7 - "Butt Brush Factor" is real and very well documented phenomena first observed by the famous shopping guru Paco Underhill, author of the book  Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. 

It occurs when a merchandise display is placed right up to the boundary of an aisle.  Some may think that such a position would help force passing shoppers to look at the work.  BUT the opposite occurs.  It is far more likely to be pushing your customers away from your booth. Yep, your customers are leaving because they can't put up with the "Butt Brush Factor" when they are shopping.

Apparently, too many people have never heard of the "Butt Brush Factor" because I saw several display cases pushed to the very front edge of the booth.  

Here is a quote from Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping :
"As part of an early study for Bloomingdale’s in New York City, we trained a camera on one of the main ground-floor entrances, and the lens just happened to also take in a rack of neckties positioned near the entrance, on the main aisle. While reviewing the tape to study how shoppers negotiated the doorway during busy times, we began to notice something weird about the tie rack. Shoppers would approach it, stop and shop until they were bumped once or twice by people heading into or out of the store. After a few such jostles, most of the shoppers would move out of the way, abandoning their search for neck wear. We watched this over and over until it seemed clear that shoppers — women especially, though it was also true of men to a lesser extent — don’t like being brushed or touched from behind. They’ll even move away from merchandise they’re interested in to avoid it." - Paco Underhill, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping

Jewelry-cases-pushed-into-aisleI witnessed the impact of  "Butt Brush Factor" while roaming around ACC San Francisco 2015. For example, a very forlorn looking booth with dark black drapes had cases pushed to the very front edge of the aisle.  (Actually, if you look at the photo closely it seems they pushed the jewelry cases a half inch into the aisle.) This had the appearance of shoving the jewelry cases into the customer. The customer will have to stand in the aisle blocking traffic flow.

In addition, shoppers likely concerned about over commitment took a wider berth or stopped briefly and then walked away.  Why? At least one reason was Butt Brush Factor. 

Sign-Victoria-Morre-long-sideAs previously mentioned, women, in particular, are most vulnerable to the impact of Butt Brush Factor. They will not stop and shop if they run the risk of people pumping into their behinds. When the jewelry cases are pushed to the edge of the booth, there is no place to stand except in aisle with people closely passing by. When a customer is forced to stand in the high traffic zone, they will choose instead to just keep on moving. 

To eliminate Offender #7 - Butt Brush Factor, the remedy is simple.  Leave at least 12"-18" for the customer to tuck themselves into your booth and out of the aisle.   They can then inspect your work without the unconscious concern of being bumped. 

Booth-layout-narrow-gauntlet-over-commitmentButt Brush Factor can also be a display offender involved in the internal booth layout - the narrow alley trapping the would-be customer in a gauntlet of scary over-commitment.  Once one shopper is shopping in this narrow aisle there is no room for a second customer to navigate around.  Butt Brush Factor is another reason why this booth layout is less than ideal. Consider a different booth layout, larger booth, corner booth, or sharing a booth to create a larger common shopping space.


Other great books about modern marketing include:
Buyology Buying-In-Why-We-Buy

I have read all these books along with Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, and think they are both entertaining and informative. I'd consider them required reading if you want to sell your art or craft effectively.

These books are affiliate links provided for your convenience. Clicking on these links could provide this blog with a few cents. Other options for finding these books are your local library.

Online book review from The New York Times about Why We Buy offers insight into the content covered in the book.

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.



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

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

Personal Appearance and the Pathetic Aesthetic - Where's Tim Gunn When You Need Him?

Pathetic Aesthetic with Poor Signage - How Would I Know Your Name?



Pathetic Aesthetic with Poor Signage - How Would I Know Your Name?

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-generic-signThe last several posts have discussed issues that cause Pathetic Aesthetic in booth display. Improving your display quality is a minimum requirement for success and this includes a sign identifying your name, or company name which will be consistent with your signature booth aesthetic. 

The white paper print out with your name & number identifying your booth (provided by the craft show organizer)  is NOT a sign. Sorry for the big bold scream (I'm containing a scream of frustration)!

Dinky photo banners at the back of your display do not create an inviting impression with that customer walking right "by Bye"  your booth.  How will they know your name?  Without remembering your name they won't even be able to look you up in the show map to come back when they are ready to buy. 

Your name needs to be up high and done in a creative way. I wrote a number of posts with inexpensive  ideas. The links are at the bottom of this post. 

Steve Rossman  (a reader of ASK Harriete) says:"I  owned a custom exhibit design and fabrication company for almost 30 years. When it comes to signage and messaging, I believe strongly that, for a small booth (8\' to 20\') you have something like 3 to 5 seconds to \"capture\" a prospective visitor. So signage should concentrate on 3 basic things...

  • Who you are
  • What you do 
  • Why visitors need to stop


It is time that artists and makers start being more creative than the standard printed banner.  But something in "good taste" is better than nothing. Here are a few examples from ACC San Francisco that include signs in their signature aesthetic along with a few comments.

Can you take these ideas, improve upon them and make them work for your booth?

Sign-Jonathan-SpoonsThe round white sign for Jonathan Spoons included their descriptive tag line "Wild Cherry Spoons." Though I still don't care for the black drape, the sign popped against the dark background giving it high visibility. The font and styling matched the other price tags in the booth. 

You might be wondering why I keep showing photos of Jonathan Spoons in my posts. Well there is a reason why -- they won Best Booth at ACC San Francisco 2015. They did so many details right, keeping a signature booth aesthetic in every detail.



Sign-Melissa-FinelliMelissa Finelli had a very eye catching sign that matched her business card exactly.  It turns out that the business card design came first, and then she duplicated it as a sign. Ironically, the vintage typewriter mistake styling with jumping letters that were faint and more precise felt very contemporary.

The one improvement that I would make is to put your name at the top of the sign. This way if there are a lot of people in front of your booth, or in the aisle, your name is still visible. When your name is low, it can easily be hidden by your own cases or even one customer.





Beverly Tadeu has her name at the top of the sign. That is good.  She added a short description "metalsmith" though I wonder if that could be improved upon for a more unique and informative description. 

Note that beverly tadeu's sign is done in lower case lettering, a current trend in font styling. I wonder how long this texting influence will last before it looks common and everyday ordinary. On a positive note, the earrings in the sign and the sign itself were large, going full length from the top bar to the floor.

What would I want to see for more signature sign styling? Amazing metal letters done in Beverly Tadau's signature style. The letters can hang from the bar at the top holding the drape. They could fit in one suitcase along with some touch-up paint.



Ealish Wilson and emiko oye put their names up high and on both sides of their booth. Good move! This way their potential customers will see their names no matter which direction they are walking up the aisle.

The rub off decal on the hard wall looks professional but Ealish Wilson in metallic lettering did not have strong enough contrast. As you can see in the photo (left) the silver lettering is hard to see. Either this should be applied to darker paint, or the lettering needs to be darker.

emiko used her trademark "reware" to reinforce this branding of her jewelry. If you do use a business name rather than your own name, it is important to keep reinforcing this alternative identity for your work.  (The question of whether you should market your work under your own name or a business name is another huge topic in itself.)

The mirror done in Legos helps reinforce the identity for emiko's medium - Legos. It is also intended to be a "selfie hot spot" for selfie photos when people try on her work. This way every photo will include the identity for "emiko reware" jewelry.

Our final example is Victoria Moore jewelry. She had three different signs in her booth as shown below.  I've condensed  the three signs adding arrows to point out the point of discussion.
Sign-Victoria-Morre-long-middle-side-arrow copy

Sign-Victoria-Morre-long-side(left) The left sign went all the way to the floor with a large image. Her name is at the very top. Unfortunately, the jewelry case was pushed so far forward it obscured part of the image.

Sign-Victoria-Moore-backThe center sign has larger text for her name in a brighter, higher contrast color that improves readability. This is a definite improvement. She has also added a "tag line" damascus steel jewelry which describes her work.

Notice that victoria moore is using the lower case text style on her signs. As just the third example of four example booth signs you can see that lower case doesn't feel like signature style any longer.

Sign-Victoria-Morre-shortThe right sign was an earlier version of her sign and is too short. With a much smaller sign her name seems tiny and harder to read especially with the pattern of the jewelry behind the lettering.  The image of the jewelry is smaller and less dramatic just because of the size of the sign. Despite the difference in size, it was good that Moore put a sign on both edges of her booth to capture the eye of the customer no matter which direction they are walking down the aisle.   

I'd like you to notice in the images that the cases obscure the jewelry image on the signs. This is because  the jewelry cases are pushed to the very front edge of the booth. It seems that many jewelers are trying this for booth layout, and it has a huge marketing problem called "butt brush factor." (This will be discussed in the next post in the series WANTED Better Display. )  


  1. Your name up high.
  2. Your name in high contrast lettering.
  3. Large lettering big enough or bold enough to impress.
  4. Your name in a signature style matching the aesthetic of your booth.
  5. Optional is an informative tag line or short description about "what you do"or "why visitors need to stop."
  6. Make your sign memorable.



Window Dressing for Booth Display - YOUR Name on Display

Window Dressing for Booth Display - Hang It UP
Signage in the ACC Show Booth Display
Resources and Highlights for Remarkable Booth Display

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.



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

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

Personal Appearance and the Pathetic Aesthetic - Where's Tim Gunn When You Need Him?



Personal Appearance and the Pathetic Aesthetic - Where's Tim Gunn When You Need Him?


Wanted-Better-Display-6-iPATHETIC-aESTHETIC-appearanceThere are a couple more issues related to the previous post, WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic.
The first is a very personal, yet important component to the booth display aesthetic -- the artist's appearance.

Yes, YOUR appearance in your booth should reinforce the aesthetic signature of your display and your work.

At every art and craft show the appearance of the artist is very much a part of the story that your customers want to buy. The moment someone walks into your space, the artist/maker is playing a role as the creative individual that every customer wishes they could be. This is why so many art/craft shows require the artist/maker actually be there to sell their work. 

The artist/maker is always selling more than just a vase, plate, cups, clothing, piece of jewelry, sculpture or painting. You are selling the personification of the creative individual. YOU are the star of your booth! You are walking your own red carpet moment in your booth, yet too many artist's and makers let this moment slip by due to a disappointing pathetic personal aesthetic.

Where is Tim Gunn when you need him with his sharp eye?

O.K., runway couture is not really expected, but "for maximum impact the aesthetic of your booth display needs to align with your art/craft, absolutely 100% down to the last detail." This includes you. 

Almost any attire can work, but there are some definite do's and don't's. 

Artist attire should match the price range and style of the work.

David Guiletti at his booth at ACC San Francisco 2015 David Guilette & I had a pretty frank discussion about his shirt at ACC San Francisco.  The picnic casual plaid of blue and white did not match any other feature of his display nor did it reflect the price point of his work.  


Jonathan SpoonsThe Jonathan Spoons husband and wife team both wore the same brown shirts matching the burnt wood colors of their display. The individual utensils were mostly about $35- $50 so the matching t-shirt and tank were completely fitting in every way.

Wardrobe choices can't get any simpler than a t-shirt or tank, but it fits their booth perfectly. When walking up to the booth display, there was no question that this dynamic duo were there to represent and sell their work.

Artist/maker clothing style should match the artistic influence expressed in the work for sale.
Davide-Bigazzi-display-materialsDavid Bigazzi wore a white shirt that felt like a classic, European styling. This matches his technical background and the metalwork. 

WP_20150802_021Emiko Oye wore a contemporary white and bright combination to match her booth and jewelry.



Apron-logo-printedA potential customer should be able to walk up to your booth and identify the maker/artist/craftsperson immediately without confusion or hesitation. Other wardrobe possibilities could include an apron, dress or shirt made from the same material as the booth background, booth theme or display materials. 

It doesn't take much effort to align your appearance to the aesthetic of your booth display and walk the walk to success, but you have to think about it. It is a shame that so many sellers miss this opportunity to impress. 

Am I asking too much that your appearance align with the aesthetic of your booth?  No way! Your customers are accustomed to going to stores and restaurants every day where the employees wear clothing that matches the style of the store or venue.  High end stores to discount stores control every aspect of the retail experience. So should you.

Dial-up-aesthetic copyEvery aesthetic decision about your booth affects the customer experience and can move it from pathetic, to average, and into extraordinary. Using the words of Tim Gunn, "Make it work."  


This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.



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

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

The past two display offenders,  "Purchased Racks & Props" and "Inconsistent Display Materials" often travel with "Pathetic Aesthetic" to art and craft shows.

PATHETIC-AESTHETIC-LETTERINGExamining the situation closely, I'd say that "Inconsistent Display Materials" and "Purchased Racks and Props" are at least partially responsible for the mismatched, incoherent booth display offender that this post will label as "Pathetic Aesthetic." 


WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-pATHETIC-AESTHETICFor maximum impact the aesthetic of your booth display needs to align with your art/craft, absolutely 100%
 down to the last detail.  If every single booth assembly decision contributes toward this goal, the better your booth display and the more effective your booth display will be in attracting your customers.

The booth needs to be like a powerful magnetic field. It needs to attract an audience from 50, even 100 feet away.  Before your customer even enters your booth, your booth display has started "selling" your work.

Another issue is that "Pathetic Aesthetic" will be confusing to your customer.
 If they walk into your booth, and the display is not consistent with the work for sale, it is unlikely that they will fully engage with you or your work. 

Do you think that I am too critical of "Pathetic Aesthetic?"  Perhaps, but your non-customers are being even more critical when they walk right past your booth. They are too busy, too tired, or too uninterested, especially if they see a more interesting booth on down the path.   

So here it is ....your booth display has two jobs.....

Attract the customer into the booth......

Then keep the customer in the booth.... until they talk to the artist maker, look at the work for sale, and maybe even buy or at least pick up a card for a later online purchase.

What are the components of  a consistent aesthetic in your booth display?
It could be a decision about color, texture, motif, background drape, display props & displays, your floor, your cases, even your sign, the way you are dressed. Everything counts.

ACC Show 2013-electric-green-displayColor is a key indicator of aesthetic. In the image (left) from Jillian Moore at the 2013 ACC San Francisco. The  Lime Green wall says trend, young and irreverent. Every color is acceptable....but they all send a message.

Colors do affect purchasesColor is specific to a demographic consumer audience and type of purchasing. There is so much information about the science of color.  I'd recommend considering your color choice to fit your audience. A quick study online can find lots of information including "10 Colors That Increase Sales, and Why." 

Texture can also be an aesthetic choice. As one example that I have seen on many occasions, Japanese Rice paper says "low key, subdued" aesthetic.


Looking for a motif for your booth might come from your work as in this example by Fobots. Funky chalk board paint with hand drawn characters in white chalk have the same whimsy as the Fobots made from repurposed materials.



Background drapes should be background
 without distracting from the items on display. In the left photo, Fobots has a curtain that looked totally consistent with the booth aesthetic. I thought they must have even hand drawn on the fabric themselves.

Be cautious about a dark colored background. Dark colors to black drape need a tremendous amount of light to be a successful display, so consider lighting before taking this option.



Commercial-display-prop-finger-ringsDisplay props and racks often send a very "commercial" retail message.
"Purchased display props of any kind are synonymous with mall-style mass merchandising -- i.e. the wrong message in a craft booth about "handmade."  

Jonathan-spoons-lights-every-spoon-wood-displayCan you think about how to make your own display?
Can you make your own display from your medium?  Jonathan Spoons made their display entirely from burnt wood like their signature Niche Award winning spoon . They made their entire booth from wood, the same medium they use for all their spoons and utensils. Consistency created a strong aesthetic in the booth display.

Floor-white-tile-emiko-oyeFlooring in your booth such as tile or carpeting can create more of a defined space. It is kind of like crossing a threshold of graciousness into a space or environment, but it also becomes part of the aesthetic of your booth. In the photo left from emiko oye's booth at ACC San Francisco 2015, the raised dots in the floor tile echo the raised dots in the Legos she uses for her jewelry. Walking up to her display at ACC was a knock your socks off eye-catching experience.


Carpeting-grey-rentalIn contrast, the gray rental carpeting  (left) that I saw in several booths was not doing its job. It was not creating an aesthetic experience nor the effect of a special room. This image looks like a super boring picture doesn't it. Well,  it didn't look any better in person. Skip the gray rental carpet.  

Your booth sign and personal attire are two more considerations for creating a complete aesthetic experience in your booth.
These are topics for future posts.

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


 WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials


 This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.


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. 


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." 


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. 


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.
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.
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. 
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.....


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.

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.


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





WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props


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?


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.

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."

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.











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 #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

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. 

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. 

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.


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 - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

The #2 Display Offender -- Not Enough Lights.
 These days there is no excuse for this display offender. The options for energy efficient LEDs and low heat lighting are expanding. 

The positive impact of effective lighting in your booth can be remarkable and rewarding. Yet during my visit to the ACC show, there were many booths with inadequate lights. And when inadequate lights combine with black drapes (as mentioned in the previous post), the effect was devastating. (I did not take pictures of the victim booths with poor lighting.) 

Look at any department store display and you will see that the merchandise is brilliantly lit using different kinds of lighting. Effective lighting can include both general lighting and spots.

If you think my insistance for effective lighting is expecting too much, consider the fact that consumers are accustomed to the best quality merchandising every time they go to the local mall. Lighting can even become a signature element of some high end shopping venues or restaurant dining. Poor quality overhead lighting correlates to bargain clothing shops and fast food. 

Aelish-Wilson-spot-lightsLighting that highlights your work on a wall attracts the customer into the booth. In the photo (left) Ealish Wilson used spots to light both her name and the fabric art on the wall.




Fobots-individual-cubbiesFobots by Amy Flynn integrated lighting into each recess of her display. This is very similar to how high end designer handbags has lighting installed (but concealed) in the store display.


Fobots-display-cubbies-with-lightingFobots (Found Object Robots) display also functions as a multi-purpose traveling case for storage that fits right into her van. 



Emiko-oye-lightbulbsLighting can also be an effective accent as in this photo (left) from a previous post from 2013 Display Ideas Remarkably Effective . Here emiko oye used hanging colored lightbulbs in her booth display to catch the eye. These light bulbs are not providing lumens but do catch the eye of visitors encouraging the curious to look in further.  





In other examples of superb lighting at ACC 2015, Jonathan Spoons took commercial lighting and modified the arms to match his booth aesthetic, lighting every utensil in the front of his booth. (Spoonwood, Inc. also won the ACC San Francisco Booth Award.) This demonstrated that expensive lighting fixtures aren't necessary, but savvy planning and preparation can win the day. Jonathan-spoons-lights-every-wooden spoon

Lim-table-lampIn her booth, Valerie Mitchell showed me an exquisite LED light fixture she arranged to highlight her jewelry laying on the table.

The Lumina light fixture (left ) has an arm that can swivel, rotating on it's minimalist stand. An additional arm can be added to the other side. (This is the light manufacture's photo but if I get an image from Valerie Mitchell I will add it to this post.)  



Lim-c-under-surface-table-lampThis light is also available as a counter mounted version. "The “L” shaped arm discreetly conceals an array of high-output LEDs with two intensity level settings, and it utilizes a magnetic attachment system for effortless adjustment."

I only showed this light as an example. It may not fit the aesthetic of your booth, but I loved the minimalist design that does not distract from the work. Great lighting can truly enhance your display.

One final point regarding booth lighting is to be sure that your lights do not shine into your customers' eyes. I noticed that several booths had poorly positioned overhead lighting and case lighting that was literally a blinding light and very unpleasant shopping experience.

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.


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 Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

Retailing is a highly competitive market -- especially at a craft show. Not only are you competing with every other seller at the show, but also all the other demands on the customer's pocket, i.e. rent, tonight's dinner, or this summer's vacation. They don't NEED what you are selling.

I'd go so far as to say that most craft show attendees intend to only come & look. The craft show is entertainment and they are not committed to buying anything -- unless something really stands out and strikes their fancy.

This is where your booth design and display plays a pivotal role in the consumer's purchase. As mentioned in the previous post your booth is the first thing that people see.  If you think of selling as a step by step process, your display is the bases of their first decision whether they will look more  deeply at your art/craft. You can't sell anything unless the potential  buyer diverts from "just looking" and chooses to walk into your booth.

ACC-black-drape-like-caveAfter spending hours at ACC in San Francisco, I observed that the most fatal display offender was the foreboding dark black booths drapes.  Black pipe and drape is the funeral parlor "valley of death" for a craft show display. It is the Darth Vader of "dark side" display offenders. Black drapes suck the life out of even the most colorful craft. Black drapes behind beautiful black jackets are retail flat liners.

There is no pardon for black drapes. It is not sophisticated. On the contrary it was depressing. Of all the booths at ACC, their was one booth with black drape that was O.K. because the light colored wood furniture booth stood out with great lighting and the booth was at  least double wide (avoiding a dark cramped feeling.) 

Every other booth with black drapes looked like a cave.
The smaller the booth, the worse it felt. I am not exaggerating. Even though Fort Mason has fabulous ambient light with extensive sky lights, large windows and a high white ceiling, the black drape booths sucked the energy right out of the booth space and the craft work.  Fort-Mason-Windows


Booth-layout-narrow-gauntlet-over-commitmentThe claustrophobic affect of black drapes was worse if the booth layout had a narrow alley trapping the customer in a gauntlet of scary over-commitment.



Even brightly colored work could not resuscitate interest when so much black in a small booth extinguished the inadequate lighting.   

This leads us to the next "Display Offender #2 - Not Enough Lights" for tomorrow's post. 
P.S. No booths with black drapes were photographed at ACC San Francisco 2015 to protect the perpetrators of "the #1" display offenses. 


This post was updated on December 10th, 2021. 

The black drape rule still stands.

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

Summer 2015,  I went to the San Francisco ACC show with the express purpose of studying the booths and figuring out (if possible) what elements contribute to a successful booth.  I was curious if there was a way to diagnose what was a successful display and what was not effective in a craft show booth. Could a few simple principles be gleaned and generally applied? Alternatively, are there display issues to avoid? 

WP_20150802_030Granted, the difficulty of transporting and setting up a booth in a strange city can be a challenge, but most everyone is under the same time constraints for set up, needing effective low-cost booth designs, and the challenge of creating a booth display that is an appropriate aesthetic for their craft work.

Harriete-photographing-a-boothAfter spending several hours looking around and talking to many of the artists, I gathered lots of topics to discuss that are practically exploding out of my head.  There are numerous ideas that can be implemented successfully and recognizable "display enemies" to avoid.

Several makers at the ACC show allowed me to take photos of their booths to share their great booth ideas. And one super brave individual was willing to let me take photos of his booth display problems. He knew his booth was a “work in progress.” Clearly, his booth display did not reflect the quality of his work.

Over and over I saw problems in the display of craft work that could have been rectified on the spot, rearranged, or edited to better effect.  Just imagine if a "Tim Gunn" display professional gave a styling critique before the show opened improving display, retail sales and the quality of the show overall.  A few booth edits would have improved many displays to "Make it Work" much better.

craft show booth by Julia Turner at ACC san FranciscoA craft show display should be an invitation for the customers to walk into the booth. That is the crux of this series.

It is a terrible shame to see quality work in a booth display that clearly does not present the work favorably -- sometimes I even saw superb work with a really poor display. That is the greatest shock!

Pipe and drape becomes a dull and repetitive craft show display structureIt breaks my heart to see the negative impact of a bad display diminish a maker’s chance for success, yet that is the impact of poorly designed retail display.  A poor display is an excuse for potential customers to walk right past the booth.  

In contrast, a great display is a magnet attracting the customer into the booth. Engaging the viewer to look -- or even to buy your work.

This series of posts will discuss other issues regarding booth displays.  To keep it lively, Alison Antelman and I agreed to go to the ACC show separately and prepare our separate observations to debate and discuss what seemed to work well.

Stay tuned to this 2015 series on craft show displays starting with specific display enemies. 

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.


Puzzle Props for Your Show Display

Every so often I see a window display that would translate well to the craft show or white tent.  This window was in the San Francisco Airport displaying Hermes merchandise.

The white display stays in the safe territory of "good taste," but departs from standard boring display props. The white puzzle pieces in the larger window were all cut from foam core. Inexpensive, lightweight, and dynamic it would be easy to implement for a craft show booth. Notice how the puzzle pieces break the flat plane by tilting at various angles.

Tilted puzzle pieces allow smaller items to be off the floor on puzzle piece shelves or wedged between pieces.

In the smaller display window white puzzle pieces were both a backdrop, and prop to conceal the plastic watch stand. It also continues the puzzle motif from the larger window.

For this stack of bracelets the white puzzle pieces are both a background, and the foreground of the case. The small puzzle pieces like these are available in a low cost kit for coloring your own puzzle. 

In the second large window displaying men's clothing the puzzle pieces float on the background, and foreground. Notice how the puzzle piece is used as a prop for the tie flying in the wind.

The flying tie adds an animated and enchanting personality. I am sure they just put a wire through the tie so it would extend horizontally; great idea if you sell scarves or any textiles.

Hope you are inspired to update your booth with these display ideas on ASK Harriete . Elevate your craft show display to catch anyone's eye. Stops them in their tracks, right in front of your booth!



Retail Display Should NOT Include Packaging.

One broad observation about the American Craft Council Show applies universally to any retail display aesthetic, even all the way to my local Farmer's Market and on to fabulous trunk shows or ACC .

Do not include packaging in your display.

By packaging, I mean cards that hold a pair of earrings or the boxes that you will provide to the customers with their purchase. No matter who you are, or how great your work, or fabulous the box, it just plain looks bad -- more like discount retailing at Big Lots than artist made jewelry.

Tiffany-blue-box%255B2%255DLearn from the masters of selling jewelry - Tiffanys. Despite the heavy branding investment that Tiffany's has in the Tiffany Blue Box and the  trademark color, you never see a Tiffany box or bag as part of the display in the case.They know that the packaging is the treasure box, not the display. The packaging is the "take home" part of the purchase experience.

What brought this to my attention was this display at a booth at the ACC show.

Yong Joo Kim ACCShow2013 042AH
The exquisite earrings by Yong Joo Kim at the American Craft Council were rather lost in her boxes on the table. The boxes, the shredded paper filler, along with the large tags all look like clutter competing for the shopper's attention.  Even in this photo (above) you can hardly find her elegant earrings.

Yong-Joo-Kim-ACCShow2013 041
In contrast, these necklaces by Kim really grab your attention with the silver foam core background. This simple method was effectively eye-catching despite the rented pipe and drape (which is usually unsatisfactory).

Yong-Joo-Kim ACCShow2013 040
The flat surface of the foam core accentuated the texture of the necklace and with a little lighting created a beautiful shadow. It would have been much better to let her earrings rest on foam core on the table as well.

no more earrings on cards, please.
no more gigantic tags, please.

Let the jewelry speak for itself.

Previous posts in this ACC series:

Observations at ACC San Francisco 2013

American Craft Council Show Comparison To Renegade Craft Faire in San Francisco- Part 1

American Craft Council Show Comparison To Renegade Craft Faire in San Francisco- Part 2

Signage in the ACC Show Booth Display

ACC Booth Partnerships Reconfigure Display

ACC Booth Partnerships Reconfigure Display

AmericanCraftShowLogoAt the ACC show there were several sellers that joined together in combined booths to create more open and inviting booth configurations.



This year Petra Class and Biba Schutz booth display was remarkable as the first two booths greeting the customers as they entered the American Craft Council Show.

Petra Class
(left side of photo) and Biba Schutz (right side of photo) have combined their booths every year. Side by side they synchronize the appearance while keeping a completely separate identity. Without the curtain "wall" between the booths, it creates a big expanse of eye catching space.

In another example along the length of an aisle, Sarah Jane Hassler and Karen McCreary combined two standard booths to create an inviting open space.

ACCShow2013 012

Many booths adopted an L-shaped layout (diagram shown below). While it looks fine in this layout diagram, there is a problem with this booth configuration. The L-shaped layout creates a narrow aisle which can be an imposing gauntlet to the customer that may not want to be trapped in a narrow aisle uncommitted to a purchase or conversation.

L-shaped layout plan:
Booth layout

Below is what a l-shaped layout of a booth looks like at the show (below.) The narrow aisle is even more intimidating if the booth has a display case rising higher and creating vertical space like a wall.

Combining two L-shaped booths side-by-side Sarah Jane Hassler and Karen McCreary had a great innovation. The narrow aisle they both would have had with an L-shaped layout going solo is combined. (The green line is where most booths have pipe and drape divider between booths. Just imagine how narrow  this aisle would feel at the show.

ACCShow2013 011Hassler-McCreary-booth divided

Combining the center into open space in between their displays was inviting and allowed a non-threatening reception square (shown below). Customers could walk into the space and look around without feeling trapped.

ACCShow2013 011

Notice their signs diagonally across the back corner of the booth.

ACCShow2013 013

While not identical, the signs used the same font and styling to look cohesive. Both sellers also used the same earring display and fabric below their tables.

ACCShow2013 014

Remember the previous posts about signage in your booth.  Both of these signs include the makers name, a brief description, and images of the jewelry.

The ultimate in booth collaboration were three people creating one seamless booth going down the aisle. After viewing the show with the somewhat overwhelming density of one booth after the next, it was refreshing to see this long extended open booth layout by David Whippen, John Liston, and Niki Ulehla (booths 320, 321, and 322). It also was an award winning booth.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Ryan
Interactive Editor, American Craft Council

Removing the pipe and drape walls between the three booths kept their space open. They showed a few large pieces of furniture and sculpture of Whippen and Liston.

ACCShow2013 026AHJewelry-Niki-Ulehla
The jeweler Niki Ulehla was in the center with a minimalist display on a table. No jewelry cases contributed to the open booth layout.

ACC Show2013 016AHcropped

How did all these booth collaboration occur? They simply asked the ACC show organizers to place them next to one another. That simple -- and it happened. What a great idea for your next show.


Previous posts in this ACC series:

Observations at ACC San Francisco 2013

American Craft Council Show Comparison To Renegade Craft Faire in San Francisco- Part 1

American Craft Council Show Comparison To Renegade Craft Faire in San Francisco- Part 2

Signage in the ACC Show Booth Display

Signage in the ACC Show Booth Display

One thing I noticed at the American Craft Council Show in San Francisco was how well designed and effective signage improves the overall impression of a booth.

ACCShow2013 043ACC supplied a small tag for the booth. Sure it had your name and location, but it was too small and generic to be memorable. Unremarkable in every respect, it did not establish an artist's identity and was too high. Lesson learned: Do not depend on generic name banners as your signage. They do not differentiate your booth any more than map coordinates.

The sign below for Lauren Markley exemplifies a step up with minimum effort.  It has her name, an image of her work, and a short description, in this case "Contemporary Jewelry". ACCShow2013-Lauren-Markley

But this sign could also be better. It was lacking size. It needs to be bigger to make an impact. It also suffered from being wrinkled and had a slight texture to the plasticized finish (shown below.) The plasticized finish reflected the light and the wrinkles distracted from the overall impression. 

You can see the "linen-like texture" to the sign in this close-up, and the grommets in the corners were distracting to the overall aesthetic. Avoid putting grommets in your sign if at all possible. Grommets may be a necessity for an outdoor sign that needs to be tied down against the wind, -- but inside they are not working.

Instead, add a pocket or fold over seam for a ruler or pole at the top and the bottom.  This usually looks far more attractive and straightens out the wrinkles creating a more polished appearance.

Moving on to an improved example:

The sign for Beverly Tadeu was more successful. It seems to be printed on fabric so it has a matte finish. There are no reflections even though the light is shining right on her sign. The highlight on the sign was very eye catching. The sign also matches her fabric booth drape.

ACCShow2013 027
Hanging the full height of her booth, the sign goes seamlessly from the top of her booth to below eye level with a big image of her earrings. This is a great way to inform the customer walking past your booth exactly what type of work is available for purchase.

Notice that the sign has no grommets at the top of the sign and seems to be hung from a pole at the top of her booth. Perfect. No wrinkles. It projects a polished impression.

Her clean and white jewelry display of simple matte acyclic matches the sign aesthetic perfectly.

Notice that on the front of her display table Beverly Tadeu hung a piece of sheer unwrinkled fabric to conceal the legs of her table. This scrim is like a veil creating a more polished appearance to her booth presentation. It also matches her booth drape.

Notice that she did not use cases to display her jewelry, a growing trend. So often the cases are a barrier between the customer and a purchase. Getting the item for sale into the customer's hand is one of those #1 sales techniques. While I can see that this is a security risk, if you can afford to go in this direction, it is a great idea.

ACCShow2013 031

When everything works together it creates a seamless aesthetic with a more cohesive and polished impression.

ACCShow2013 030
Beverly Tadeu in her booth at ACC show

ChannelRead ASK Harriete for ideas on how to get your name integrated into a more enticing display. 

Previous posts in this ACC series:

Observations at ACC San Francisco 2013

American Craft Council Show Comparison To Renegade Craft Faire in San Francisco- Part 1

American Craft Council Show Comparison To Renegade Craft Faire in San Francisco- Part 2

Innovative and Fresh Display From Europe

In this post, I am thrilled to share images of booth display taken by Linda Savineau at "Sieraad", a yearly jewelry show in Amsterdam.   Linda was following the ASK Harriete series on innovative window display as ideas for booth design and offered to take these photos to share with the viewers of ASK Harriete. 

Linda Savineau lives in Aartselaar, Belgium. "Sieraad", a yearly show in Amsterdam held during the first week of November. "Sieraad" means "jewel" (in Dutch). She says, "It's a really good show, mostly European jewellers."

Unfortunately, we a missing a few names for the artists' work in the display, so if you know the work, or the show, please let me know.

Display by Anna Häggström & Rob Grootenboers
Presently called SMID/Stockholm
Photo taken by Linda Savineau


Display by Anna Häggström & Rob Grootenboers 
Presently called SMID/Stockholm
Photo taken by Linda Savineau


Photo taken by Linda Savineau


Silvi Dupont (Belgium)         Photo taken by Linda Savineau


Gu Weng & friends (China)     Photo taken by Linda Savineau


Photo taken by Linda Savineau


Alchimia (Italy)                       Photo taken by Linda Savineau


British Collective                    Photo taken by Linda Savineau


British Collective                Photo taken by Linda Savineau

Holiday Windows Inspire Holiday Display

I just can't resist sharing these two holiday window displays that are the perfect inspiration for making your booth display remarkable.
Hanging ribbons with Price TAGS window display that is a fantastic idea for your holiday booth.
Holiday window for Macy's, San Francisco
It can't get much easier than making your own oversized "price tags" from cardboard and hanging them with ribbon. The slightest bit of air causes movement that catches the eye.


Ribbon fabric star would make a great booth display
Macy's window downtown San Francisco. 

Strips of fabric...really create a great window. The diagonal lines direct the eye. In this case, they used the entire depth of the window, but you could keep it flatter and it still works. The star is an effective motif for the holidays, but you could substitute an example of your work after the holidays.


This post was updated on July 1, 2022, to provide current links.

Resources and Highlights for Remarkable Booth Display

The previous post titled "Guidelines for Remarkable Booth Display" was a brief summary. This post expands on some of these guidelines with more explanation and resources.

VisualMerchandising WindowsBergdorfGoodmanI found a great book to recommend: Visual Merchandising: Windows and In-Store Displays for Retail, by Tony Morgan. Many quotes from this book appear in today's post. The price for Visual Merchandising is modest . . . or look for it in your local library. The author has written many books.

Another book at a somewhat higher price is Windows at Bergdorf Goodman Anniversary Edition. The publication date is November 15, 2012...so this sounds like both a timely publication and could be a really great holiday gift. It must be amazing!

Bergdorg Goodman dress shown in Bazaar magazine 1
"Bergdorf Goodman turns 111 this year and is feting the occasion in appropriately high style. Premier designers have been enlisted to create exclusive one-offs, such as Akris's 10- piece window-print capsule collection inspired by "a vintage photograph found in the book Windows at Bergdorf Goodman." Image and quote found in Bazaar magazine.

Helium ballonlettersThe windows of Bergdorf Goodman are famous for style and innovation. Some windows are very involved productions, while others only involved a background of burnt toast graded from light to dark or helium balloons (proving that not all great ideas have to be expensive or complicated).

VisualmerchandisingPeglerMost of the books on visual merchandising are college textbooks and kind of pricey (as textbooks are inclined to be). Buy the used early editions or borrow the books from your local library.  If they don't have it, use the inter-library loan program with your local colleges. Here is one more book recommendation with good information despite very lackluster images in black and white. Visual Merchandising and Display (6th edition)

As we review some of the principles in window design applicable to booth display, keep in mind the importance of focusing on a few key ideas.  The booth display needs to excite the customer about why they can't live without your work.

I was watching a video about the fashion world and a comment from Mindy Grossman, CEO & Director of HSN caught my ear. She said, "It's the idea of inspiring vs. selling. People want to be inspired to buy things, they don't want to be sold to."


YOUR NAME (or company name) UP HIGH on display
"Signage is probably the most important component of any display. You can't assume that every person who sees a display is going to understand it. There are many ingredients that go into signage. It needs to educate, explain, and make the product something you just have to have."

"Often signage and graphics may be used as a statement to support the ...theme, or sometimes as the prop that ties" a theme together. "It is always best to keep any text simple and explanatory; punchy one-liners always work best." "...too many tags, signs, or graphics can lead to visual overkill."  Visual Merchandising

LIGHTING to highlight your work. "Lighting is one of the most fundamental aspects of design." Visual Merchandising has a lighting chart for a variety of lighting options. Low voltage LED lights are really phenomenal options for limited electricity. They even run off a battery.

CLEAR THEME that relates to your work. This could be:

  • color
  • topic
  • texture
  • visual motif
  • seasonal
  • demographics of your customer. Will your theme relate to your customer base?

"...What are you aiming to achieve with your display? Are you aiming to shock, attract, or cause a buzz?" Your objective may be to "stop passing customers in their tracks."  Visual Merchandising

The Louis Vuitton windows featured an eye-popping installation by dot-obsessed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.


  • COLOR THEME works with the merchandise.

"One of the most effective... schemes that has been used by visual merchandisers worldwide is the use of only one color. Various shades of the same color used in the same display can create impact." A display "based on the color blue, for example, can add an emotional value: it could be perceived as cold, sad, or - depending on the hue - warm." "Color can also promote a trend: pink for valentine's Day, for example; red for Christmas; or black for a more luxurious fashion look." Visual Merchandising page 80

"Color really is the most magnificent tool for capturing the attention of passersby and creating atmosphere. If in doubt, always go for the brighter or darker option. Taking the soft option will not be as effective and will be perceived as predictable by the customer who may overlook the color scheme...as weak" or stale. Visual Merchandising page 83



"The hardest category of products to design display... for what is called 'smalls'. This includes... jewelry." "It is much harder to focus on little things and get a big impact." "What you need to do is make a broad statement that grabs people's attention from a distance, and then focus their field of vision onto the product by drawing them into the center, corner, back wall, ... to notice the little gem. Pin spotlighting and clever signage is a sure-fire way to get this done." Visual Merchandising page 74

Bamboo PLINTHI do not think that artists and makers selling their handmade or artist-made items should use commercial displays. It sends the wrong message. Commercial or purchased displays look...well....just so commercial.  It does not say "handmade", "artist made" or one-of-a-kind. It says standardized, commercialized, manufactured.

The display (left photo) is from Visual Merchandising page 155 featuring lacquered bamboo.


Next week a brief pause in the series on Display and The White Tent or the White Wall In honor of the holiday, I'll share images of my Thanksgiving themes from past years.

Then we start a series by Guest Author Alison Antelman about how she previews craft shows, selects the craft shows she participates in, and more. Hear from Antelman's years of experience.

PS. I love comments, but the comments on ASK Harriete now require my approval before they go live. This is because increasing visibility has attracted spam.  Please be patient, I publish all comments whether I agree or disagree but remove spam.

This post was updated on June 30, 2022, to provide current links.

Guidelines for Remarkable Booth Display

Here are the highlights of a remarkable booth display. Pick one or two ideas as a focus....not everything listed here will work together.

Remember less can be more.

YOUR NAME (or company name) UP HIGH

CLEAR THEME that relates to your work. This could be:

  • color
  • topic
  • texture
  • visual motif
  • seasonal
  • etc.


DIAGONAL LINES create movement.

CURVED LINES create motion.



  • COLOR THEME works with the merchandise.

REPETITION of similar elements


LIGHTING to highlight your work.

THURSDAY'S POST details and reference materials.


This post was updated on June 27, 2022.


Booth Display Impacts Customer Behavior

Emiko Oye boothThe previous post featured a booth by emiko oye from the August 2012 ACC show in San Francisco. I asked emiko to share observations about how her booth design affected customer behavior and sales.

She said,  "the most important benefit of an improved booth design is that the booth worked for me." The booth engaged the customers, bringing them into the booth and helping to initiate a conversation -- the first two steps to a sale. She attributes an increase of approximately 1/3 more sales than the previous year because of the innovative booth design.

Below are a few questions from me and observations from emiko.

What do you think was the impact of your booth design?

  • People definitely paused and looked longer instead of walking right by.
  • The booth design invited them in. All I had to do was stand in the back corner waiting for them to engage in conversation.
  • There was enough room for attendees to walk around. In contrast, some booths feel like a gauntlet -- customers may feel they will be cornered or pressured into a purchase. Most people choose to walk right past instead.
  • The design created "positive energy" in the space with room to walk around. (While we both discussed how the concept of "positive energy" seems a little "new age", she definitely thought that allowing flow was a successful component of the layout and in part a result of her yoga training.
  • The mannequin in the back of the booth with exhibition work gave people more to look at, drawing people further into the booth, and worked well for framing the price point for less expensive work.
  • Photos and work displayed on the walls engaged people throughout the booth.

What was the impact of winning a booth award?

  • The award gave something to talk about when people walked in.  They could comment on the award and the booth.
  • The booth award gave "permission" for the customer to begin a conversation. Bruce Baker says it is an important sales technique to wait until the customer has given "permission" before speaking.
  • Everyone loves a winner.  The recognition from ACC gave me credibility.
  • The validation also made people look more closely at the work.  People wanted to buy work from a winner.

Emiko oye I noticed that you didn't use a jewelry case. What are the advantages of not using a jewelry case?

  • It was a huge advantage that I was not standing behind a case. Too often cases are like a barrier between the seller and the customer. My work is not expensive so security was not a big issue. Displaying my work out in the open made it accessible. Since my work is made from toys, it was natural that people wanted to touch it. Touching the work is an important step to make a sale.

Were there any other tricks you can offer?
I made small treats and offered them to anyone who looked like they were staying for a few minutes.  A bite-size treat was a psychological commitment.

Many factors contribute to a REMARKABLE booth that sells your work. Uniqueness, clarity, inviting, engaging, multidimensional, depth, psychological . . .  all factors work together to sell your work.

We can see the benefits of an award-winning booth.  In the next post, some specific recommendations and actions will be offered for booth layout.

Your comments are most appreciated and often influence future posts...

FUTURE POSTS on ASK Harriete will cover a spectrum of issues under the white tent theme: 

  • Booth Display Criteria
  • Visual Merchandising Resources
  • Craft Show Research
  • Evaluating and Selecting Shows
  • The Role and Responsibilities of Craft Show Organizers
    and more.

SubscribeSUBSCRIBING IS EASY. Put your email into the white box under my photo.


This post was updated on June 27, 2022.







Display Ideas Remarkably Effective

If some of the ideas in previous posts for improving the booth display of your art or craft seem like too much trouble . . . perhaps there is more than meets the eye.

Consider the great free publicity, visibility, and improved selling because the display is so remarkable.

Emiko Oye.Below are images from emiko oye's display this summer at the ACC show in San Francisco. Her booth won an award (for good reasons) because her display included significant features mentioned in previous posts.

Here are some highlights to describe what is "working."

Cohesive display that works with her Lego jewelry.

For emiko oye, the idea for booth components that fit together is conceptually consistent with her media, Legos (that fit together).  Her jewelry is all made from Legos.

The floor pulls her booth together into a unified display. The same thing can be achieved with a rug, carpet pieces, or floor cloth but she used rubber floor tiles. 

The cardboard display is made of purchased cardboard units.  Something similar could be made with other materials consistent with your work. An important aspect is that she departed from the standard jewelry case to display her work.

Emiko Oye booth display

NLightbulbote the colored light bulbs hanging above her display. The primary purpose is to attract the eye. Stores at the mall do similar tricks -- hanging gems or objects above the display to attract the customers (like moths to a flame.) Emiko saw a similar idea hanging over kitchen appliances in the department store and adapted the idea for her booth. Talk about a light bulb as an icon for bright ideas!

Emiko Oye booth with lights.

A wall of publicity gives the seller credibility. If you mount the articles on foam core it will eliminate reflection and wrinkles. The articles establish your credibility in the first 30 seconds. An important goal is to give people a reason to buy your work.


The publicity wall also gives something for the friend/significant other to look at while their spouse is buying. (Not all shows allow a publicity wall, so make a publicity book instead.)


A sign placed up high establishes your identity and gets your name and identity above the crowds. Stores do this all the time. Just walk around the mall for examples.

Large photos in the back of the booth can give people a better idea about what you are selling.

A mirror is necessary for customers to look at themselves while trying on jewelry....but emiko oye has taken this one step further by decorating her mirror with Legos to make it consistent with her theme. Look closely...
Photo Credit: Ravipa Veerasaksri

Your comments are most appreciated and often dictate future posts...

FUTURE POSTS on ASK Harriete cover a spectrum of issues under the white tent:
comments from emiko oye about the impact of her booth display,  booth display criteria and visual merchandising resources, craft show research, evaluating and selecting shows, the role of craft show organizers, and more.

SubscribeSUBSCRIBING IS EASY. Put your email into the white box under my photo.


This post was updated on June 27, 2022.

Window Dressing for Booth Display - Hang It UP

This post is all about ideas for hanging stuff UP.

What could be more simple and fantastic than a tangle of hangers to create an innovative background? A perfect theme for anything clothing related.

Metallic gold hangers have a completely different look. 
White hangers look just as fantastic!

Remove the shelf and HANG UP what you are selling.  This works extremely well for water pitchers or cups.

Coffeecupshang it up
Or put handles on your trays and platters to display your work.  Where possible, hang up your scarves, or jewelry. This increases visibility and makes your display more dynamic.

White twigs
Painted white twigs seem like a great idea for a holiday show...but don't overfill the twigs with merchandise.  The twigs are your eye-catching focal point and you don't want to lose the drama.

Below the display uses a peg board for display in a whole new way.

PhilipKarlberg portraits

Hang up anything.


When a display is both metaphoric and a fantastic display, it becomes a real winner. Look at this display for books made with pencils.


In the video below, watch how the display with pencils is constructed.

Wondering ....what to do with those old cassettes or video tapes?

Cassette tapes
JUST DRAPE THE TAPE... Tapes aren't that strong, but certainly strong enough to catch the eye. Practically speaking you could always camouflage some mono-filament fishing line for strength.

Building the fixtures (like this piano) may take too long...but I am thinking, what about the jewel boxes from C.D.s?  Glue them together in a grid. Build a front to your display to camouflage the legs.

What could be easier than helium balloon letters?
Helium ballonletters
In this window for Bergdorf Goodman the helium letters spell out the store name. The brilliant orange dress really works as a focal point. You could use a variation of this idea to spell out your name. Remember the post "YOUR Name on Display" suggests getting your name up high.

Velvet ropes are a great idea evocative of the holidays, theater, and elegance.

The sweep of the velvet ropes also creates eye-catching movement.

A brilliantly colored blind would be a great backdrop. The great thing about this idea is that the blind collapses for travel. ADD your name on top...or open the blind to reveal something behind.

Look at these other amazing ideas for suspending creativity in the air by Ken Marten.
They both use Vaseline as an adhesive.

BlueFLOWERwreathBlue flower petals are inspired...I can also imagine this with autumn leaves.

The whole idea for this series of posts
is to be inspired by display ideas from either stores or window displays. Think about how your booth can be remarkable!

Would you like to share an idea? Send me a photo. Leave a link in the comments.

Would you like help with your booth? Contact me.


This post was updated on June 27, 2022.

Window Dressing for Booth Display - White on White!

Imagine EVERYONE at the show...coming to your booth. Selling at a show is all about numbers. The more people in your booth, the more sales you will make.

This could all be made in foam core without the horse and be amazing.

The extra work required for a spectacular booth will be worth the effort.
A fabulous booth will bring in your customers.
A fabulous booth shot will get you into the next show.
A fabulous booth will earn you a reputation for "worth watching", blog posts, and magazine articles.
Be prepared with lots of cards. People will go home to look at your website.

Today's booth ideas are white on white.

A collection of mundane to ordinary objects all painted white
can be extraordinary.

White post-it notes couldn't be much simpler.

A stack of white chairs looks great!

The Polo Ralph Lauren window features the Spring Collection 2010 and was on display at Polo Ralph Lauren’s Bond Street store in London, which is the brand’s main flagship store in Europe. Both windows were executed by Hiro Hayashi, vice president of creative presentation, Europe and Japan, Polo Ralph Lauren.

Some ideas are a little on the heavy side and would only work if you lived close to the art fair or craft show with a van and some help.



White on White always looks fabulous.
If your work is small, what if were displayed on Cake Plates, white plates, white boxes, or white baskets? Yard sales shopping might help you find some great solutions. 
Finish with a can of white spray paint. 



Too much furniture to transport? How about this iteration of white furniture I found at The Urban Farm and Garden on Facebook?

Only the shelf is real, but all you need for display. Painted  furniture from The Urban Farm & Garden on Facebook

Maybe just one or two props are all that is needed to make a booth look distinctive.

My concern is that every white tent booth these days looks too much alike. Purchased displays, cases, and standards of professionalism in the white tent have turned to stale white bread.

Brighton-based designer Kyle Bean‘s window is based on the theory that "Matter cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed." 

Click on the image (above) ..because the rest of the windows are phenomenal (even if you can't use the ideas they are worth checking out!)

The wooden structure (shown above) could be prepared in advance and assembled on site. And it could also hold your merchandise. Or think about how you could put your name on top with 3-dimensional letters.

Sure, many of the display ideas in this example are heavy....not ideal unless you have a truck and help for a local show. But can you stop thinking about what will not work...and think about what you can do to freshen your display?

White box white ribbonWhite boxes with white ribbons. Big boxes stacked up could create a pedestal. More boxes hold up your tabletop.

White ribbon big bow and boxes in the back of your booth? An elegant and festive motif for the holidays.

Make your own paper-mache eye.
What about adding a diamond (rhinestone tear) inspired by Dali. 

White on white could be cut from Foam core.

Glasseshair white
Make your booth a destination.
Make your booth remarkable.


This post was updated on June 27, 2022, to provide current links.

Window Dressing for Booth Display - Mirror Mirror

Many booths need mirrors to sell their items.... such as jewelry, scarves, or clothing. Why not make your mirror a focal point?
Mirror, mirror.

Imagine a whole booth of mirrors
find an old mirror and decorate it to match your booth.

Another idea below:
Go to a plastics store and have them cut a bunch of mirrored Plexiglas.

Mirro rmirror The Window Display Blog

Seems that the squares could hang using mono-filament fishing line from the tent structure or pipe & drape. I can see the movement as being fabulous as it would catch the light and the eye.

Mirror balls capture the light.
Mirror balls
Christmas window display found on Flickr


Gold metallic details with fabric create an upholstery motif.

More ideas on Friday...followed by a summary.

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Would you like help with your booth? E-mail me your booth image along with images of your work. We could brainstorm some ideas.

This post was updated on June 27, 2022.

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 one....it 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 ideas...here 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.

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.