8 Tips to Start a Career as a Window Display Designer

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Jul 24, 2018

Jul 24, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

As of June 2018, the unemployment rate is sitting at 4 percent. It was 0.3 percentage points higher around this time last year.

This means that there's no better time to start looking for a new job. Getting your foot in the door in some fields has become much easier.

Window display design is one such field. Brick-and-mortar retailers are always in need of designers who can turn their storefronts into customer magnets.

How, though, do you get into the visual retail business? What skills do you have to bring to the table? And what can you do to make yourself a more competitive applicant?

Below you'll find eight tips that will help you start your career as a window display designer.

1. Choose Between In-House Work and Freelancing

Some display designers like to work in-house and complete freelance projects on the side. Others, however, prefer to stick to one or the other. Their preferences are often the result of their creative goals.

As an in-house display designer, you will usually focus more on the marketing aspect of design. Department store window displays, for example, prioritize positioning brands favorably and capturing just the right audience.

Freelance projects are also somewhat about marketing. Even so, the artistic elements of these projects can take precedence over the technical elements.

2. Consider Studying Fashion or Design

To be clear, you don't have to attend college to work in this field. College is expensive and not a good investment for some people. As a matter of fact, many display designers don't have any formal training.

Still, you can pick up several marketable skills by taking design classes if you can afford to do so.

You can choose between many types of design classes. Fashion design classes might give you a competitive edge if you want to work as a window designer in the fashion industry. Graphic design classes could also make you marketable.

Even a photography class could benefit you. You would develop a keen eye for selecting flattering lighting and positioning items.

3. Develop the Technical Skills You'll Need

As we stated above, going to school to study design can help you develop invaluable skills. If you can't afford school, however, you're going to have to develop those skills on your own time.

What, then, are those skills? Here are just a few that will come in handy:

  • A basic understanding of color theory
  • Knowledge of how lighting (natural and artificial) flatters a display
  • A sense of how to strategically position objects

Developing these skills on your own time doesn't require that you do everything alone. If you work in a retail establishment, learn from your peers or find a mentor.

4. Work on Your Soft Skills as Well

Technical skills are essential, but taking on a job as a window display designer requires soft skills as well. Designing a display is a team effort, so you must refine your planning and communication skills.

Fortunately, you can develop soft skills in an entry-level position. If, for instance, you work as a retail clerk, you're already refining your communication skills. You're engaging with customers and other employees daily.

When you finally move up from your position as a clerk, those skills will no doubt stick with you.

5. Volunteer to Dress Windows

We understand that working for free isn't ideal for someone who is already working a full-time job. But here's the truth:

If you want to be paid for the work you do, sometimes you have to do it for free first.

Don't, however, just think of your volunteer work as free labor. Choose a local business or charity you're passionate about and you'll rarely feel as if you're working.

As you're volunteering, be sure to do some networking. Find out if anyone you're volunteering for is willing to recommend you to any employers.

And don't forget to add your volunteer projects to your portfolio. Volunteer experience is, after all, experience.

6. Start from the Bottom

Time for a reality check:

We all want to land our dream jobs. Not only that, but many of us believe that we have what it takes to do those jobs well.

Despite this passion and confidence, the truth is that experience matters. As a result, most of us have to start from the bottom before we finally land our dream jobs.

So if you want to be a window display designer, you're likely going to start off in retail. And this starting position isn't a bad thing in your career.

You're working in retail and developing an understanding of the industry. That's a talking point you can use while you're trying to market yourself to employers during interviews for window decorator jobs.

7. Create a Space to Test Your Designs

The first design is almost always a draft. The window display designs pedestrians see have usually been reworked several times.

For this reason, any aspiring display designer should set aside a place to practice drafting designs and reworking them.

You have several options here. If there's a local art studio, you could spend some time there working on designs in your spare time. Those of you who need a cheaper option can buy a glass display cabinet for your homes.

Anyone who's interested in using glass display cabinets for this purpose can read more here.

8. Build a Great Portfolio

You could take every tip on this list to heart and have nothing to show for it if you don't build a great portfolio. Your portfolio gives potential employers one of the earliest impressions of you as a designer.

That said, sift through the projects you've completed and choose the work you're most proud of. Once you've identified your favorites, strategically place them into your portfolio.

Make sure that you host your portfolio online. Over 3 billion people use the internet today. That's more 40 percent of the global population.

And over 3 billion chances for someone to notice how talented you are as a window display designer.

Start Your Career as a Window Display Designer Today

Are you ready to start your career as a window display designer? If so, there's no better time to start than right now.

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