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Visual Merchandiser

Visual Merchandiser

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The Creator
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Spotlights

Similar Titles

Visual Specialist, Window Display Artist, Merchandise Displayer, Display Specialist, In-Store Marketing Associate, Display Decorator

Job Description

Visual merchandisers conceptualize and create visually appealing displays inside and outside of a store to draw in business, showcase items, introduce new items, create a positive store image and increase revenue.

The Inside Scoop
Main Objective

The main objective of visual merchandising is to increase sales and buyer attention, capitalizing on the human tendency to ‘window-shop’. Displays are frequently changed to promote new product launches and reflect festive or seasonal themes, such as Christmas, spring or summer.

Job Responsibilities
  • Creates sketches of visual displays based on the requirements set by the client’s store management department.
  • Conceptualizes a design or piece of clothing from what it looks like on paper to how it will translate in a store with multiple other pieces.
  • Once preliminary designs have been approved, he/she finalizes the design and creates detailed floor plans.
  • Sources the necessary props, materials, designs for signage, and accessories required to bring the designs to life
  • Must have working knowledge of hand rendering to computer rendering skills.
  • Responsible for supervising the staff tasked with turning your creative designs into a reality.
  • Ensures the uniformity of displays across multiple store locations.
  • Throughout all these processes, he/she will frequently be liaising with other retail professionals, such as buyers, marketing executives and retail merchandisers, to make sure each and every store has the right visual impact.
Employment Types
  • Retail Stores (clothing, furniture, kitchen, stationary, etc.)
  • Museums
  • Design Agency
  • Hotels
  • Set Design (Film/TV sets)
  • Freelance
Expectations/Sacrifices Necessary
  • Ability to change everything due to the clients wants: learning the balance of what you as an artist prefers visually and what the client prefers.
  • Long hours for research, tedious building, and knowing that even after all the hours of building and research, your project will be gone in a few weeks to make way for the new designs of the following seasons.
  • Early mornings and late nights to meet fast deadlines.
  • Seasons when you land a job that pays well and seasons when you are struggling financially but still needing to produce more work to sharpen your skill.
  • Physically demanding: you will be on your feet working with your hands to create and change the visual displays.
What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were young...
  • Built things with Legos or toys.
  • Built sets for a stage show/musical.
  • Woodshop classes
  • Played dress up.
  • Puzzles
  • Games and environments that involved teamwork.
Education Needed
  • HS diploma or GED required.
  • College education is not required to be a fashion designer.
    • Though you can learn and build a portfolio without college experience, a fashion design program can be extremely beneficial in providing resources and knowledge that may be difficult to find on your own.
  • Employers usually seek applicants with the following:
    • Creativity
    • An experienced portfolio
    • A good technical understanding of the production process for clothing, accessories, or footwear.
Training

Fashion designers often gain their initial experience in the fashion industry through internships or by working as an assistant designer. Internships provide aspiring fashion designers an opportunity to experience the design process, building their knowledge of textiles, colors, and how the industry works.

Things to look for in a program
  • Recommend looking into Visual Communication programs at art-based schools or schools of fashion.
  • Look at a breakdown of the class/course schedule. Make sure you getting the basics of color theory and design, but also basic graphic design courses, visual display classes, and basic sketching courses.
Top Educational Institutions
Things to do in High School and College
  • Theatre set design
  • Art classes
  • Enter into art competitions.
  • Home economics to learn tailoring and sewing.
  • Work at a retail store and learn from the visual merchandisers at the store.
Education Stats
  • 12.7% with HS Diploma
  • 13.9% with Associate’s
  • 43.1% with Bachelor’s
  • 7% with Master’s
  • 1.1% with Professional
Typical Roadmap
Visual Merchandiser roadmap gif
How to Land your 1st job

“Start at the bottom and work up. That may mean at a retail store, an internship at a creative design company, or even at an art studio or becoming an assistant to someone in fashion. Begin working at the space you want to grow and be developed in. Even if it doesn’t begin in the position that you want, be vocal early about wanting to move up or learn more about the desired field you want to get into. The main goal is to work somewhere where you can be hands on and inspired as you continue to learn, grow and look for more competitive jobs.” Jennifer Welsch, Visual Specialist, Madewell

Description of Different Titles

VM Manager/Director 

  • In charge of the team of visual merchandisers in the tore.

VM District Director

  • In charge of a visual design of few stores in the geographic area.

VM Regional Director

  • In charge of a visual design of few stores in the whole region.


VM Corporate Visual Team

  • Works in the corporate headquarters and sets the visual direction of the whole company.
  • Works with buyers and fashion to identify “look and feel” for the visual collateral.
  • Produces set guides which tell the stores which color/style they need to follow.
  • Devises planograms, a form of merchandise diagram, to send to stores throughout the chain.
  • May be responsible for selecting the fixtures, carpet and furniture for stores.
  • More project management and communicating with other departments to coordinate efforts (Marketing, Merchandising, and Operations).
How to stay competitive and stay in the game
  • Remain original and constantly evolve your art and continue to fuel your sources of inspiration.
  • A higher understanding of the brand, and vast understanding of how certain visual changes can react positively or negatively to the consumer.
  • Developing a clientele lists that likes your portfolio and design work, and see results in sales from your work.
  • Longevity in developing these relationships and continually evolving your work to respond to the current and most popular consumer trends keeps one’s work alive and growing.
  • A knowledge in statistics, marketing, and business is incredibly helpful at the corporate upper levels.
Plan B
  • Key transferable skills: graphic design, styling.
  • Alternate careersSet DesignerArt Director (design agency), Graphic Designer, Product designer, Brand development, Retail fashion buyer.
Recommended Tools/Resources
Words of Advice

“Never stop creating and always stay inspired…while you are in school, working as an unpaid intern, when you land your first job designing window displays at a retail store… continue to sketch, to observe, to create, to design, learn from others, to collaborate. Creativity and inspiration are like muscles and joints, one can’t function without the support of the other. Nurture them and you will produce great work.” Jennifer Welsch, Visual Specialist, Madewell

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Source: Interview, Salary.com

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