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What is a Display Artist?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A display artist is someone who puts together exhibitions and displays. This is a highly visual profession which relies upon the ability to present items in an aesthetically appealing, interesting, and dynamic way which will attract the eyes of passerby. Display artists can be found working in stores large and small, and they also work for museums. No special certifications are required to work in this profession, but people with some education, such as a bachelor's degree in art, advertising, graphic design, or a related field can usually find jobs more easily.

Perhaps the most spectacular examples of the work of a display artist can be seen at major department stores during the holidays. Major holidays around the world are usually celebrated with a flurry of elaborate store displays which reference popular activities people engage in during the holidays. These windows are designed by display artists and people may travel considerable distances to urban areas where stores bedeck their windows for the holidays.

The work of the display artist, also known as a visual merchandiser or window dresser, starts with an assignment. Usually the store provides the artist with the products which need to be displayed. The display artist thinks about the products, the way they are marketed by the company, and the message to be sent with the window. For example, a store selling haute couture wants a very different look and feel for its windows than a hardware store setting up for a summer sale.

The display artist sketches out rough designs, mapping out the needs for the window. These designs may need to be approved, or the artist may be able to proceed immediately. The work of constructing the window may involve assistants at a larger store, or the display artist may be required to work alone. This means that she or he could be responsible for wiring, finding props, painting, and so forth to bring the window to life. Display artists can also set up in-store displays along with dioramas and displays for exhibitions.

Display artists are constantly taking their work apart to create new displays, because stores are expected to maintain dynamic displays which change with the seasons. There is some room for advancement in this field, as a display artist can eventually rise to a supervisory position at a big store, and may even become the display supervisor for chains, as some chain stores have standardized displays which they want all of the stores in a chain to use. Thus, someone can develop designs which may be seen all over the country.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Practical Adult Insights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon71202 — On Mar 17, 2010

are there any visual examples of store displays?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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