I Do Windows

Glory Days Fashion Show

Posted in Fashion Schools by Arcadia on May 22, 2012

Art and fashion definitely go hand in hand.  I think we can all agree that’s pretty much what we do as visual merchandisers!  Below is some information sent to me of a local fashion and art showing of one of our local design schools.  If you are in the Bay Area I hope you will support these students and the local talent!

 

The Bachelor of Science degree students of the Fashion Marketing & Management program of The Art Institute of California, A College of Argosy University, Sunnyvale are presenting “Glory Days” on Saturday, June 9, 2012. This is the first fashion-related show for the Institute since the Sunnyvale location began accepting creative talent in 2008.

“Glory Days” is a production of The “Freedom” Fashion Show & Art Event, which debuts what will become an annual event of fashion, art, and design; revolving around the ideas and images of “freedom”. The event is taking place at 1120 Kifer Road, Sunnyvale, the location of The Art Institute of California, A College of Argosy University, with an agenda that will show case the artistic works of the various programs offered through the creative arts institution.

Doors will open at 11am, beginning with a reception and gallery event of open and juried submissions of art and design work by current and alumni students. In addition, tours of the facilities and information about the institutions programs will be offered. This will be followed by a student produced fashion show at 1pm, which will feature a variety of looks focused on the use of America’s most-iconic, fashion staple – denim.

Viewing of the gallery submissions will be open until 3pm.

 

Thanks Woody Anthony for sending this in!

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!

An Easy Inspiration Wall

Posted in Inspiration, Props by Arcadia on February 2, 2012

Last week I gave out an “inspiration file” assignment.  Students are tasked with creating a scrapbook or collage of tearsheets that they find inspirational and could be turned into a display.

Creating collages is one of my most favorite things to do and I swear I could waste countless hours making them!  When I was younger I used to wall paper my bedroom with fashion tearsheets.  My father hated it because the thumbtacks left holes in the walls, and the tape pulled the paint off!  Now that I’m older with a house to care for myself – I see what he means.

This is why I like the idea below.  You can change out your photos as often as you like without ruining your walls:

(image and idea found at a pair & a spare)

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 “green” Theme Displays

Posted in Class Group Projects, Discuss This Display, Fashion 49 by Arcadia on April 6, 2011

Group projects are underway in class and we are off to a great start!  I love this part of the semester when I don’t have to lecture as much and the students get to unleash their creativity.

This week’s theme was “green”.  Their displays had to have an eco-friendly focus.  The students get to choose whatever product they wish to promote.  Here are some photos from this week’s displays.  The only group missing is Group 2, as the display cubes went MIA from our classroom (I’m on the hunt for them now)!

Group 1 had the wall this week:

Two students who are proud of their work!

 

Group 3 had the window this week:

Group 4 had the table this week:

Group 5 had the shelving unit this week:

So how do you think my students did?  Everyone in class is getting the chance to critique each others work.

Coming Next Week Holiday

PAVE’s Rising Star Award

Posted in Inspiration, Retail News by Arcadia on August 18, 2010

Hey Folks, do you know someone you would consider a rising star in our field?  Perhaps it’s yourself?  It’s not too late to nominate them for PAVE’s (the Planning and Visual Education partnership) annual Rising Star Award.

This award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated vision, creativity, and talent in the retail environment.  Retailers and design firms can nominate any individual under the age of 35, who works in retail design, visual display, or contract design, and is a proven leader amongst their peers.

The finalists and winner will be recognized during the PAVE Gala, to be held on December 8 in New York.

The deadline is October 1.  Go to their website here to download a nomination form.  And while you’re there check out their other competitions recognizing student achievements.

(rising star image via: Brain Cafe)

Syllabus for Fashion 49 – Visual Merchandising

Posted in Class Syllabus, Fashion 49 by Arcadia on February 12, 2010

Objective: This course is to give students a hands-on approach to visual merchandising, through the use of lectures, field trips, group projects, and guest speakers.

Supplies: There is no textbook required for this course; but most class lectures will be pulled from Tony Morgan’s book –Visual Merchandising: Window and in-store display for retail.  Each student should be ready to spend at least $80.00 during the course of the semester for the purchasing of props and other supplies as needed for group display projects.

Attendance: Since most of the assignments for this course are completed in class (group projects), it is important that you attend class!  There is no way to make up missed projects.  You are allowed two unexcused absences – anymore will affect your grade by a full letter.

Field Trips and Store Studies: There will be one field trip this semester to Westfield Mall.  There will be a written analysis due the week following this trip.  Attendance and the reports are mandatory.  Each week you will have a store study assignment to complete.  Visit any establishment and answer the assigned questions.  This is a Credit/No-Credit assignment and counts for 25% of your grade.  No store study is required the week of Spring Break.  I DO NOT accept late assignments. If you do not turn in an assignment the day that it is due you will not get credit.

Group Projects:  You will be divided into teams of six to eight depending on number of students in class.  You will complete group projects in various themes using the display areas that merchandisers work with, such as windows, walls, cubes, tables, and shelves.  This semester there will also be a group assignment on professional businesses outside of class.  This assignment will be in collaboration with Wells Fargo Bank and their Renovation/Design Event!

Exams: There will be no mid-term exam, but you will be given a mid-term grade based upon your assignments completed to that point.  There will be a final exam on the last day of class, based on what you have learned during the semester.  Depending on how quickly group objects are accomplished, we will have a review in class or I will send you home with a study sheet.

Grades: Your grades will be based upon your attendance, class participation (group projects), Store Studies, and the final exam.  This class gives a letter grade using the school’s standard grading system.

You will also grade you fellow students who share in your group projects.

Suggested Reading: Visual Merchandising: Windows and In-Store Displays for Retail, by Tony Morgan – Laurence King Publishers, 2008

Window Display: New Visual Merchandising, by Tony Morgan – Laurence King Publishers, 2010

Silent Selling, by Judith Bell and Kate Ternus – Fairchild Publications, Inc. 2006

If you attend class regularly, participate in all discussions and projects you should do very well in this class!

%d bloggers like this: