I have a super special guest for you guys today! Debra Kristi is here to visit and share one of her fabulous experiences. This is all about fashion and the art of display pieces. Take is away, Debra!
Thank you for having me, Karen. *waves* When Karen first asked me if I would guest blog about art, I wondered what I could possibly say that would be of any interest. She’s had so many interesting posts on some pretty amazing talent, how could I possibly fit? But Karen knows that I come from a family of talent and she seemed determined to squeeze something out of me. Little did she know I’m the less talented of the bunch! *laughs*
Growing up I was surrounded by my mother and grandmother’s rich oil paintings. My mother even went on to teach classes in her soft Impressionist style. I, on the other hand, always preferred to work with pencil or ink, sticking primarily to the black and white hues.
Painting never became my thing, but working with tangible elements that I could move and arrange – that was something I got into. I learned a lot about art over the years. It has a lot to do with placement – where you want the eye to be drawn. Upper right corner is the usual, natural location. I almost always recommend up. And, of course, color palette – will you be using similar colors, complimentary, or strikingly different? The combinations are endless.
A few years after graduating from college with a degree in business (Operations Management), I ventured back into the artistic world, attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. It was one of those crazy expensive decisions we sometimes make in life, looking for validation of what we think we know, but are yet unsure. It is a project from this period in my life I thought I’d share today. It’s definitely different from anything Karen has shared with you so far.
Think about walking down 5th Avenue in New York City and taking in all the fabulous window displays. For someone like me, that’s like a six-year-old stepping foot onto Disneyland’s Main Street filled with Disney characters. I bubble over with excitement. Those windows are what visual designers aspire to. Of course, I’m not going to tell you I was the superb designer on any of those beauties. I’ve never even been to New York. But I have created artistic displays in a similar fashion.
My personal taste has always been “less is more.” I don’t like clutter. It confuses the eye, leaving you with no idea where to focus. If your display is a mannequin, be it just one or several, include minimal props. Smaller windows use the same concept, using only a few supporting elements to make the focal items look more attractive.
In 1996 my visual design partner and I got the opportunity to create a window display featuring two 1960’s vintage dresses. We didn’t have much to work with, but I did say less is more. What we had were a couple of blank mannequins. Painted in an old flat white paint, they did little to highlight the dresses and make them pop. Yes, I know. White is good, even great, when you want the focus to be on other things. Yet there are times when you can do better. Our dresses demanded a little more drama and pizzazz. A simple change to flat black alone made a huge difference. The fun little go-go dresses suddenly found new life.
There may have been life, but was it enough? Turning to the dresses for further inspiration, from each of them we pulled out a pattern to wrap around their respective mannequin, pulling color from the dresses in a thin, less conspicuous line. After that, only one more element was needed to give the window a complete look. Oversized chains were added, dropping them down in a clean straight line from the ceiling.
POW! We had the look we were striving for. A simple white backdrop, two nondescript flat black mannequins, a couple of amazing vintage dresses, some foam core, metal hoops, paint and brushes and voila – an eye catching design.
Not many stores take the time to do more than slip an outfit on a mannequin these days. Unless, of course, you’ve made your way to 5th Avenue in New York or some other trendy fashion district. Do you notice when a store designer takes the extra time on a display, be it in the window or on a vignette inside the store? Is it something you’ve ever done or had the desire to try your hand at?
Debra Kristi lives with her husband, two active children, and one White’s Tree Frog. She is currently working on her first Young Adult Fantasy novel, but has many more stories to share. She holds a degree in Operations Management and a Professional Designation in Visual Display and Spatial Design. She graduated from FIDM as Valedictorian, receiving the Niedermaier Merit Award and the special honor of creating the California Student Aid display for the State Capital. When not writing, she is usually building puzzles or Legos with her kids in her free time.