Making a display is like telling a story. You can keep it simple or you can add drama. I’m a drama queen, I love accentuation. I can’t tell a story as it is, I make it more exciting, scary, or fantastic.
By the way, that’s what newspapers and magazines do. They use adjectives. They talk about major disasters and massive disruptions. Plain doesn’t arouse us, drama does.
Ads are great examples. Advertisement agencies use all kinds of drama. The bad ones with irritating, loud voices and annoyingly stupid jingles. The good ones with great graphics and clever slogans that make us think and shows a different side of what we were taught or believed was the way to go.
We should use that knowledge and apply it to our displays. In a nice way, of course. If we want to reel in the viewer, we need to make a point. If we want our customers to pick up the items we have on display and add them to their selection than we need to get their attention. A good display will do that.
I’m a huge fan of titles. It points us in a certain direction. A good title reveals what the display is about but it leaves space for the imagination. There needs to be room for thought and contemplation. Don’t panic if you’re not a poet who comes up with fantastic slogans saying it all. Scroll through the material you want to display – turn pages, scrutinize the headings, and read up about your topic- somewhere, somehow you’ll come across the right phrase.
Not everybody has a creative mind that pops up ideas like bubbles in a fizzy drink. But there are ways to get there. One of them is brainstorming. It might sound silly and over the top but the surest way to generate ideas is by writing down what comes up in your mind if you think about a topic. Make groups of the words you have scribbled down – connect the words that have something in common.
‘Detectives’: dark coat and sunglasses, sitting in a car, peaking around a building, earphones, running woman, binoculars, pistol, grubby alley, notes, photographs, etc.
Get yourself some detective books from the shelf or Google detective stories/images/ideas and see what pops up. View the titles of books and read the blurb. The more you dive into your topic the bigger the chance your mind will construct an idea. Get books about forensics, spies, white-collar crime and hacking.
Instead of the good, old man with the black raincoat, hat and pointed gun you might come up with a huge pair of blue sunglasses above two crossed knives on top of an Ipad. (referring to pirates) Or a laptop surrounded by pistols like rays around the sun with colorful hashtags coming out of the barrels instead of bullets.
Draw a plan: Even if you don’t stick to it, a drawing will give you a reference point. You make it more real when you put an idea on paper. Sometimes that fantastic idea in your mind doesn’t work and you have to remove or replace items. More often it will rouse your imagination and the ideas will flow.
Make a list: When I prepare a display I ‘think’ in stages. Suddenly a material or item crosses my mind. I need to write it down or it’s gone again after being distracted. Crossing off materials as you acquire them is a good way to stay on track.
Prepare in advance: Building a display often needs to be done in a short time frame. It saves time and energy if you can grab the title, images, and items and pin them to the board without cutting and pasting and trying to make do. Being prepared saves time and energy.
Stand back as often as you can. Or get a hand mirror and look at the display from a different angle. It’s very revealing. Distance and a different point of view creates objectivity. Have fun, and enjoy.