Classy display

Friends–Over time, as my work has become more ambitious, it has,
inevitably, become more expensive. I am constantly trying to get into
a better class of retail show. I think I am now ready to begin my
assault on some of the top venues-- but it occurs to me that my booth
slide may be holding me back.

My booth setup is more than adequate for the mid-level shows I’ve
been doing, but is not suitable for air travel, or, visually, for
some shows I’d like to try (ones like the ACE show in Evanston, IL,
or the Smithsonian show–that ilk)

So, my question is, what solutions have others in this situation
come up with for a display that is practical if you’re not driving,
upscale, and, preferably, not requiring a second mortgage to
acquire? Any hints, tips, dos & don’ts much appreciated.


Hi Noel, I’m reasonably pleased with my current display and, every
time I think I’d like something more elaborate, I remind myself that
I’m able to get everything into suitcases that travel with me, so
that nothing needs to be shipped. One caveat: When I do out-of-town
shows, I rent pipe & drape, two tables and two chairs (and
occasionally carpeting) from the show’s decorator service. This can
cost anywhere from $150 to $250 or more depending on the show and the

What customizes my display and makes it look classy are the fabrics
I use. I rent black drapes for the booth and bring fire-retardant,
black table covers. Then I use panels of a print fabric to drape
over the tables as well as to hang at the back of the booth.
Complementary, solid color panels, also hung at the back of the
booth, act as backgrounds for two photo blow-ups. Two of my track
lights are used to light up these photos (as well as to brighten up
the booth so it doesn’t look like a cave). Good lighting is
essential, but I’m sure you know that. I use a combination of track
lighting and clip-on lights. When possible, I iron the fabric at
the hotel the night before; if not, I steam it on site with a steamer
I bring along. It’s a pain, but wrinkled fabric looks awful.

My three case are constructed from pieces of plexiglass connected by
aluminum brackets (a bit more expensive, but lighter than other
kinds of metal brackets). The plexi has to be replaced periodically
because of scratches. To display the jewelry, I use white,
fabric-covered pieces of styrofoam, large pieces to line the bottoms
of the cases and smaller, variously shaped pieces to place the
jewelry on. Earrings with posts are nicely displayed on styrofoam
because you can stick the posts into it (provided you use a fabric
that isn’t too dense.) I used to display on black but the white (or
any light color) looks much better I think.

Another thing that makes my booth look classy are the flowers that I
buy for each show. At the higher end indoor shows, the promoters
usually arrange for a florist to come in to sell to exhibitors. It
can be expensive but it makes a huge difference in the look of the
booth. When this service isn’t available, I find a florist shop.
Other little touches: a holder for my business cards, a mirror hung
(by fishing line) at the side of the booth, and a portfolio with my
artist statement, press clippings, etc. Many exhibitors hang framed
press clippings in their booths. I would too if they weren’t so
heavy. I used to think this was self-glorification, but I now
realize it can help to make the sale: Some customers are more
willing to spend if they think you’re “somebody.”

Finally, I can fit all of this and my jewelry into one big suitcase
and one carry on, although when flying I usually have to transfer
about 10 lbs worth into my clothes suitcase to avoid going over the
airlines’ usual 70 lb limit. My suitcases are on wheels with straps
that allow piggybacking so I can handle all four pieces myself: the
big suitcase, the medium-sized one with my clothes plus the spillover
display stuff, the standard carry-on containing my jewelry, and a
soft bag that holds my purse and a book to read on the plane.

Now I’m not necessarily recommending this kind of arrangement. It
evolved over time and works for me. It might not work for you. But
it does at least demonstrate the possibility of carrying a
classy-looking, customized display with you on a plane. Hope this