I Do Windows

Group Projects: Music

Posted in Class Group Projects, Discuss This Display by Arcadia on May 22, 2012

Here are the displays for the Music theme week:

Group 1 – Window

Clever idea to cut the musical note out, and I like the styling of the mannequin.  Like your classmates had mentioned, I too had wished the musical note had been constructed out of a different paper, something more colorful.

Group 2 – Table

Great job group 2!  I could see this display at the MAC makeup counter, and the colors you chose are perfectly on trend!

Group 3 – Shelving 

You’re on the right track with some of the iconic images you used for Jimi Hendrix.  The guitar is great, but the peace fabric is a little much.  Nonetheless this display would work in a store that sells vintage records, and it is truly representational of the artist.

Group 4 – Other Cubes

This was one of my favorite displays of the day.  I loved how you took the cubes and made them into a an old school boombox, yet you have a modern-day music player – genius!  My only critique is to nix the pipe cleaner musical notes.

Group 5 – Wall

The meet and greet display was fun, and who knew 20-somethings were such Beatles fans!  I enjoyed looking at the collage with the drum in the middle.  Great job!

Group 6 – Cubes

As simple as this might look, it took a lot of time to assemble.  You can tell Lady Gaga was just an inspiration for this display and not a direct representation of her. Shame the black contact paper didn’t cooperate, but regardless it is still an elegant display.

 

The final projects coming up are Pop Culture!

Group Projects: Food

Posted in Class Group Projects, Discuss This Display, Fashion 49 by Arcadia on April 20, 2012

Here are the photos from last week’s displays.  The theme was food.  I’m finding the displays are getting better and better each week, as the students are refining their skills and taking more chances.  The comments in class, as they critique each other’s work, is also in line with what I’m thinking.  This is a testament to their growth as visual merchandisers and how their eyes are now trained to pick up on slight details that used to be overlooked.  My hat is off to all of you!

Group 1 – Shelving Unit

Looks yummy group 1! – I thought they did a great job with this one.  I could see this as a free-standing display in a bakery or even in a window.  The background matched the sprinkles on the cupcakes, and the coloring of the cupcake prop is not too overpowering, which makes it a perfect complement for the merchandise.  They even added under-cabinet lighting.  Great job and thanks for sharing all the treats at the end of class :)!!!

Group 2 – Cubes

Group 2 chose candy as their product to feature.  This project was good in theory but did not deliver in execution.

This cube is suppose to be cotton candy.  The pieces of cotton candy on the bottom of the cube didn’t work, as the sugar began to crystallize.  There is too much negative space within the cube.  I wish the tree branches had been painted a color, and instead of cotton candy, they could have used cotton batting, or stretched out cotton balls.  Learning to improvise, or creating what you want out of something else is the name of our game!  Plus the cotton will last longer than the cotton candy.

The candy mosaic on the bottom of this cube turned out nice.  They used mint flavored dental floss to hang the candy (kinda’ ironic)!  Again, I wish they had painted the branch, although, the unpainted branches was their intent, as they were inspired from another display that used branches.

I like the last cube showing the jawbreakers and gummy bears.  Now, if only they didn’t add any branches to this cube, it would’ve have been perfect.  Their reasoning was, the other cubes had the branches; they wanted to be consistent and have a cohesive look.  Do you agree?

Group 3 – Wall

Unfortunately group 3 did not finish their display in the allotted time.  It’s a shame because they had a cute idea, and from what I saw on their design plan, this would have been a great wall display!

Group 4 – Cubes

I loved this look!  I wish our cube stands where in better condition, or better yet, they had placed the cubes on tables.  The old stands take away from their work.

They almost went overboard on this project, by placing cupcakes on top of the cube!  Glad they scaled back.

The “Heaven and Hell” theme comes across clearly in the overall display.

Group 5-Window

This display is a great example of when the store display follows along with the marketing campaign.  Every week we receive newspaper fliers in the mail advertising a store’s sales, holidays, hot ticket items, etc….this display would go along perfectly with that.  The slogan they choose “on the go” with quick and easy food products, for when you are “on the go”, would go perfectly with an advertising campaign along these same lines.  [VONS is a large grocery store chain in Southern California.  They are the equivalent to the Safeway chain we have here in Northern California]

Group 6 – Table

Group 6 never disappoints!  They do clean, professional looking work every time.  What can I say, the display speaks for itself.  I like that they added lots of different heights to the table.  Very important and visually interesting, as it keeps it from looking flat.

As I mentioned in class, the projects are getting better and better each week.  I’m finding less to criticize and more to praise.  Keep up the great work and I can’t wait to see what you do next week with our theme of FASHION DESIGNER!

UPDATED: Job Hunting in Visual Merchandising

Posted in Q and A by Arcadia on March 14, 2012

UPDATE (3.19.12): I received an email  from an actual visual merchandiser who works for Macy’s.  She offers some insight on working there.  

“…just a short comment about getting a visual job at Macy’s.  I have worked in Macy’s visual for many, many years.  Nowadays I would assume getting a visual position at Macy’s would be quite easy.  Every display is plan-o-grammed.  Pictures are sent to show how the display is rendered, even outfit descriptions.  Windows are sent out now as window packets, so each Macy’s with windows will look the same.  For me, as you could imagine, this is heartbreaking.  All of the individual creativity is vanishing, but for newcomers it is all very easy.  Look at the picture, take it out of the box, and install.  The best assets for a visual manager are organizing skills, floor layout skills, and computer skills.  Hope this give you a bit of insight!”

Thanks Julie for writing in, it’s great to get feedback from someone who is “in the field”. 

 

[First published on 3.14.12]

This week in class the question came up on whether or not a portfolio was necessary when applying for a visual merchandising job.  This also seems to be the question I get asked a lot by readers.  Instead of trying to answer everyone back individually, I decided to post my answer to a recent email:

Hello!

I came across your blog doing some background research on Visual Merchandising and was overjoyed by the insight you provided.

A little background, I’m a 25-year-old post grad with a degree in Communications but I was hired as a seasonal Brand Specialist for Calvin Klein than after Xmas I have been working as a part-time Merchandiser. I work at a very large (4.5 floors) Macy’s store.  I fell in love with merchandising at Macy’s. Getting to work a 5am and placing the merchandise on the floor, following plan-o-grams, building new shelves and fixtures, paying attention to fabrics and colors, etc. I love the hard work that goes into being a merchandiser.

Well, I applied for a Full Time Visual Merchandiser position at a different Macy’s and they want to interview me!
I do have a minor in Theatre Arts and I built the sets, props and wired the lighting for my University’s performances, so I have no problem using tools and getting dirty.

I do not have “Visual” portfolio to show in my interview and I’m wondering how bad that would look? I know they would have to train me in visuals but I’m not sure if Macy’s wants someone who they have to train so I’m a little nervous. Do visual associates at large retail department stores all require some training?


My reply:

Wow your question is right on time, as we just discussed this in my class. I have a student who is also interested in applying for a job at Macy’s with no portfolio.

Unfortunately it does not bode well for you. When I worked for Macy’s, I applied twice because the first time I did not have a portfolio of my work even though I had a lot of experience doing displays, but the guy who beat me out for the job had pictures of his work as a furniture designer.

My point is – even though you may not have display pictures to show, bring what you can. Anything that shows your creativity, shows you understand color, shows you understand balance and symmetry. I tell my students, jobs in other creative fields like flower arranging, photography, event planning, graphic design, etc….are skills that are all transferable to doing visual merchandising.

Your background in theater is HUGE – that’s exactly what display is – building little sets ;)! Hopefully you have some pictures of some of the plays you worked on and can tell the interviewer about the backgrounds you painted, the props you coordinated, and the actors you helped with costumes: backgrounds, props, and mannequins is what we do!

Talk up your hands-on experience in theater and what you do for them now, show pictures of your creativity in any aspect and you should do fine.

If by chance things don’t work out, and you still really want to do visuals, then apply again in October when they start hiring extra help for Christmas. That’s how I got in – as a trimmer for all those trees, garlands, and banners that needed to be hung! Once I got in I was able to prove myself to the boss, and it turned out I was the only Christmas hire they kept once the season was over!

I hope this was helpful.

Wishing you the best on Wednesday,
Arcadia

PS: The training – you will get training on the store standards only, you are expected to be creative and artistic already (and a quick thinker and good problem solver)!

Another reader wrote in asking about learning our trade when you live in a place whose schools do not offer visual merchandising classes:

Hello!

I came across your wonderful blog while trying to find some visual merchandising classes in the great Midwest. I am in Minnesota, and I looked through all of the courses at CCSF, and I would DIE if I could find something accessible to me here in MN like the fashion classes they offer there! (Or even if they were offered online!) Do they ever offer weekend seminars or classes?

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising, but I never learned anything visual, or any styling tricks. Do you have any resources that may help me out? I’ve recently taken some Interior Design classes, but I am also not really learning any styling skills there. I really want to break into the industry and be creative again, it’s been a few years! I would greatly appreciate any advice you can give, even if it is a book recommendation!

Thank you for your time.

My reply:

I did do a post on fashion schools on my blog, and I tried to focus on programs that have a visual merchandising program.  Take a look at that and see if there is something offered that is not too far from MN.

I’m surprised your fashion merchandising degree didn’t require a class in visual merchandising or visual communications, as it’s a required class in order to complete our degree program.

The textbook I teach from is Tony Morgan’s, Visual Merchandising: Windows and In-Store Displays for Retail. It’s an easy to read book that offers the subject in the most practical and layman terms. The author is British, so a lot of the examples tend to be European stores as well as some of the store standards, but I’ve found much of the book is what I’ve done in my career as well.

I know the Academy of Art University, which offers an entire degree in Visuals uses Silent Selling, by Judith Bell and Kate Ternus, as one of their textbooks. This is a textbook in the truest sense of the word! If you must teach yourself then this is the book to use.

You can’t go wrong with any book by Martin Pegler, our “godfather of display”. I have copy of his latest book which I’m still trying to get through! It’s loaded with lots of information. I also interviewed him on the blog too.

The best way to learn our trade is to find a job in display. Start with a small chain store, you’ll learn a lot more as they offer training on visual standards for their stores, and you’ll learn fast as floor sets are constantly changing.

Every time you go out to any establishment, pay attention to what you see. That’s another way to teach yourself. The store study assignment I give my students is not just to keep them busy, it’s to start training their eye. The 10 questions they must answer is what we as display people do, and pay attention to in our daily jobs (the questions are on the blog as well).

I hope some of this was helpful. I am happy to answer any more of your questions.

Dear Readers:

Keep the questions coming!  I will try my best to answer them as quickly as I can, and if they have a broad appeal such as the two above I will post them to the blog, so everyone can benefit.  If you have some advice to share please post in the comments or send to me. Thanks!

The Legendary Martin M Pegler

Posted in Interviews, Learn from the Pros by Arcadia on October 15, 2011

If there is one name we as visual merchandisers should all know it’s Martin M. Pegler.  I’m an avid fan and user of his many textbooks and was pleasantly shocked when one day he wrote me with some comments on my student’s work, I had posted on this site!  “Mr. Pegler knew of my little site”, I thought to myself, WOW!  I of course wrote back and since then we had been emailing each other back and forth, as I asked him if I could profile him for this site.

He has written or edited over 80 books all related to display and design, and does not suffer from writer’s block.  I know this because I asked, as I sometimes suffer from this :), I’m excited to hear he’s working on a new book around the subject of  being green and display work.

Mr. Pegler is an inductee in the Visual Merchandising/Display Industries Hall of fame and has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Professionals for Advancement of Visual Education (PAVE), He has also been a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and is a popular lecturer in the US, Europe, and Asia.  He is a wealth of knowledge and is so generous in sharing it!

When I asked how can a display person apply their talents in other areas he said, “In my textbooks I write about the numerous areas where a good display person could blossom out, like event planning, staging fashion shows, point of purchase, or stylist for TV – it is endless what one can do with a creative talent, imagination, and the hands to do things with.  Just say I can do it – and go ahead and do it!”

Some students are completely fixated on getting a degree in display and some on getting display experience, where should their focus be – the education or experience?
“EDUCATION is most important!  Whether you go to school, take courses, or just devour history, culture, art, architecture and all the rest of the seven lively arts.  To be a really good display person you really should know all about the history of art, architecture and costume.  They are all related to the changing, but un-changing fashions; there is always something a little retro in them. By all means GET EDUCATED and KEEP LEARNING; absorb the arts and culture around you and behind you. Though I was a college professor for over thirty years; I must acknowledge that some of the BEST display people I knew were self-educated.  They had this burning need to learn.  If we as educators, can instill that need and love to learn, we have done our job. If it is possible to continue in a formal education, take it!  It will help one focus on the areas they should learn about.

What have you learned over your lifetime that you would like to share with the younger generation?
“What I have learned over the many years I have been a part of this industry, is that you never can know enough!   As I said before – things change – but you can always find something from the past in the new.  Keep your mind open to what is new, absorb – let it become part of you.  Use your own brain as a computer, store everything in the “My Documents” of the mind.  It will never let you down.”

With the popularity of e-commerce how can the visual display person continue to entice shoppers to come into the stores?  “E-commerce is flat and up till now, two-dimensional.  Displays are three-dimensional and can have a far greater appeal.  It is up to today’s display people to harness all the available technology and create something exciting and vital.  We must stop them as they walk in the street with attention-getting, eye-pleasing, sensory and emotional displays.  You can’t as yet do all that on the computer screen!”

What are some of the common mistakes new store owners make when setting up their floor plan and how can they avoid them?  “I think many retailers are not taking advantage of what good window displays can do for them, in helping them to stand out from the crowd. Good displays are an all-important opening statement, and announcements that also tell the shopper who and what the retailer is and stands for.  It is BRANDING!! – and is much cheaper than other forms of advertising.”

I’m currently reading Mr. Pegler’s latest book  Visual Merchandising and Display – Sixth Edition, it’s published by Fairchild Books, and as Mr. Pegler says, I’m learning so much.  This book is over 400 pages, and encompasses everything you could ever want to know about visuals.  I think it’s an excellent book for the beginner but the seasoned pros will find a lot of new information as well.  I have quite the mini library of display books, but if you are a student who can only afford to purchase one book , then make it this one.  31 chapters is  a lot of studying to do ;), with review questions and discussions at the end of each chapter.  Store planners and interior designers who work in retail spaces should really add this book to their library as well.

I would like to thank Mr. Pegler for taking the time to answer my questions, for sharing his knowledge, and for being so patient with me, you are truly a legend.


Group Projects – Fashion Designer Week

Posted in Class Group Projects, Discuss This Display by Arcadia on May 31, 2011

I’m finally able to get the photos up from Fashion Designer week for group projects.  Each group was allowed to choose any fashion designer they wished as inspiration for their display.  Here’s how they did:

Group 1 – Burberry (window)

(I apologize for the flash, I’m not really the best photog!)  This window was a class favorite

Group 2 – Colleen Atwood (table)

This group chose Colleen Atwood as their designer of choice. If you don’t know, she is a costume designer, most notably for the Alice in Wonderland movie, as well as others, in which the students noted with place cards on the table.

Group 3 – Chanel (shelving)

This was executed so well – the photo doesn’t do it justice!

Group 4 – Chanel (wall)

Another homage to the Grand Dame, that was well done!

Group 5  – Betsey Johnson (cube)

A Betsey Johnson look for the girl-on-the-go!

My favorite for this week was the wall display – considering they made all the props themselves, they did a superb job!

 

How do you think my students did?

Visual merchandising student’s “Movie” theme displays

Posted in Class Group Projects by Arcadia on May 4, 2011

As the group projects, continue here are the photos from the students displays with Movie as the theme.  As usual the students were allowed to choose their own “movie” as inspiration and their own product to promote.

Group 1 – Table Display

The movie they chose was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Group 2 – Shelving Display

They chose Sixteen Candles

Group 3 – Wall Display

I think we can all guess what movie they chose!

Group 4 – Cubes

No surprise here either on what they used for inspiration!

Group 5 – Window Display

Alice in Wonderland!

So what do you think?  How did they do this week?

Visual Merchandising Student’s “holiday” Theme Displays

Posted in Class Group Projects, Discuss This Display by Arcadia on April 18, 2011

Here are the photos I meant to post last week on the in-class group projects.  Considering what limited resources we have to work with, I’m very impressed with what my students come up with every week.  The theme for this week was “holiday”.  Students were allowed to choose any holiday they wish and interpret it into a display.

The only rules are:

  1. I must be able to identify the theme immediately from looking at the display
  2. I must be able to identify what product/merchandise they are promoting

So how do you think they did?

Group 1

They are displaying books in a children’s store.

Two future visual merchandisers, very happy with their work!

Group 2

Last week we weren’t able to see anything from group 2 as the cubes were temporarily M.I.A., so this is their first showing.  Obviously they chose Easter too, and they are displaying towels.  The bunny artwork is adorable!  I would have like to see more towels displayed on the table.

Group 3 –  This group had the clever idea of doing a story line for Valentine’s Day.  I will admit when I first saw it, I thought their theme was weddings.

The Courtship – There are transparencies in each cube with a love poem on it that pertains to the occasion.


The Engagement

Happily Ever After!

Group 4

This group choose Christmas in April!

Group 5

This group’s holiday is 4th of July and cute H&M sandals.

I love how they displayed the shoes and made all their risers in class!

Good job group 5!

So how do you think they did?

Point of Purchase Displays

Posted in Fashion 49, Point of Purchase by Arcadia on March 21, 2011

Let ‘s get right to the point…of purchase display.  That’s what POP stands for in our world.

Recently my students took a field trip to the San Francisco Centre to critique the displays and sort of have a scavenger hunt.  One of the questions on the assignment form was to find a store that utilized POP displays.

A few of my students wrote about some really great displays they liked because they really POPPED with color or impact.  I laughed as I read their assignments!  I then ascertained they must have been absent the day we discussed POP displays.

So what is a point of purchase display?  We have ALL been a victim to them, even children…..especially children; unless you can honestly say you have never shopped in a store in your life.  These are the displays closet to the cashwrap.  The little tables and fixtures set up with just about everything and anything to catch your attention as you wait in line to pay for your goods. (i.e Whole Foods, Safeway, Trader Joes)

Here are some flowers on display at the cash register of a Whole Foods

Grocery stores have magazines, chewing gum, miniature hand sanitizer, batteries, mints, on their POPs.  Clothing retailers have lipgloss, keychains, sunglasses, earrings, wallets, mini perfume bottles, as their POPs (i.e. Victoria Secrets, Forever 21, Express)

This photo is a great shot of the POP displays leading up to the cash wrap at Victoria’s Secrets

Clever stores have made the check-out line out of these displays.  They have water bottles, cold drinks, candy, snacks, doggie toys, little baggies, knick-knacks.  There are rows of these items right next to you in line.  You play with the merchandise as you wait your turn to be rung up, and the next thing you know, you are carrying the item with you to the cash register. (i.e. Old Navy).

Mind you POPs don’t look like traditional displays (props+mannequins), they are fixtures set up to display merchandise and entice the customer into buying something they really didn’t intend to.  Are they worth it to the retailer?  Heck yeah!  Volume sales at a low price are extremely profitable to a store.

POPs are not only fixture based products.  Has a sales associate ever asked you if you wanted to open a credit card with their store?  Have you ever purchased a gift card?  These are also POPs.

POPs will often time be a vendor fixture as well.  The most important point of this lesson is not to confuse POPs with the actual “pop” word or Pop-Up shops.  We’ll discuss pop-up shops in another lesson.

 

An Education: Movie Inspiration for Group Project

Posted in Class Group Projects, Discuss This Display, Inspiration by Arcadia on March 2, 2011

The class has begun to settle into their groups and begin brainstorming on their group projects, as mentioned here.  The themes for the visual displays they will be creating are:

  • Movie
  • Music
  • “Green” (as in the environment)
  • Fashion Designer
  • Holiday

I’ve decided to play along with my class and come up with my own inspiration for a project.  Feel free to play along too, whether you are in my class or not and post your ideas in the comments section.

If I were to do a window or interior display based on a movie, I think the one I would choose right now would be “An Education” I found that movie to be incredibly chic!

I don’t know why, but I have a feeling most of my students might choose the favorites such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Marie Antoinette, The Devil Wears Prada, etc….they are good movies but too obvious.  Heck An Education isn’t an original idea, but I think it’s less obvious choice than those mentioned above.  I would really love to see my students go far out and choose something totally off the radar!

What movie would you choose for your display inspiration, and what product would you be highlighting?

 

 

Fall Trend 2010- Colors

Posted in Color by Arcadia on August 30, 2010

Since our previous post featured the fall fashion trends, here is a list from Pantone on what the fall color trends will be:

Click here for to download s PDF booklet of their fall fashion 2010 color report

A handy booklet to have when thinking of what colors to incorporate into your displays this fall.

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