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Window-Dressing an art career

Window-Dressing an art career

Once upon a time I trained as a window dresser. These days most stores employ a visual merchandiser instead in that they cover a broader range of merchandise display and not so much the arty farty side of pinning and preening or visual deception made to capture the shoppers eye and lure them into the store to spend their money.

It was a fun career that I enjoyed a lot, only giving it up when I moved to a small town where the stores didn’t feel the need to compete with each other for the biggest brightest window. Having a small child at the time I didn’t have the stamina, time or money to create a business and market a new concept. I did do the occasional window even winning first prize in the small town local window competition, I would have been shocked if I hadn’t won to be honest, but them it was my professional career!

What is window dressing then? Well a display window or store window is literally a window in a shop displaying items for sale designed to attract customers into the store. Usually, the term refers to larger windows in the front facade of the shop. Display windows in clothing boutiques usually have dressed-up mannequins in them.

It’s the putting a window display of merchandise in a store’s window that is called window dressing, which is also used to describe the items displayed themselves. As a figure of speech, window dressing means something done to make a better impression, and sometimes implies something dishonest or deceptive in other areas like finance or accounting. In this instance it’s deceiving the eye, making things magical or more beautiful and therefore enticing people in as I suggested before.

Window dressers arrange displays of goods in shop windows or within a shop itself. They may work for design companies contracted to work for clients or for department stores, independent retailers, airports or hotel shops. Or like myself I was also self employed free lance as well as working for department stores.

Alone or in consultation with product manufacturers or shop managers they artistically design and arrange the displays and may put clothes on mannequins and display the prices on the products.

Like visual artists or sculptors they may even hire joiners and lighting engineers to create displays. It’s not uncommon to hire things like cherry pickers to get up high on some jobs.

When new displays are required they have to dismantle the existing ones and they may have to maintain displays during their lifetime. I personally recall dreaming about new designs and windows, it was that intense! Some window dressers hold formal display design qualifications of which I have a couple. At the time I was training it was more of on the job training but there were a couple of schools that did short courses which I was able to do.

Sometimes when I see movies where there are massive Christmas displays I get all nostalgic about what it takes to create such a large display. I recall starting preparations in September with displays going up as early as October. It was a magical time that I really loved and miss it at times like that.

Tomorrow Im going to look at Nude Modelling..... another art career

Posted: Sunday 20 June 2010

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