Pat Ryan’s Things – This designer builds fascinating interior displays for shops around the country. He is quite amazing! So, I asked him if I could feature his words and his work on the Craft Friendly Southern Illinois blog…
I have truly learned a lot of new concepts just from reading Pat’s answers. He has turned on that little light bulb in my head, making me further understand that your booth is not just a 10′ x 10′ space, it is actually a 10′ cube. Please read on to hear words of wisdom from a master artist, engineer, and designer. He builds a lot of custom display pieces, counter tops, desks, and other furniture for upscale buildings. I believe that building your own displays for craft shows is really a great option if you have the skill set. If you own a store front, it is incredibly important to have a some sort of counter that is interesting and functional. This way, you can have you register there, a work space, and a place to store packaging materials and other supplies without the customers seeing your mess.
1.) What is your name and occupation?
My name is Patrick Ryan but friends call me Pat or Patrick. I don’t have a preference about who I am name-wise. Patrick Ryan is a common name. Kind of boring really. I make my living using art, design, and engineering.
2.) Your website/business?
I have a lot of websites based on my ideas for that day, but my main website is probably www.patryan.com
3.) How did you get into this line of work? Do you work for yourself?
I graduated from San Francisco Art Institute with a BFA in Fine Art. Then I got a BSEE in engineering from the University of Colorado. I didn’t really want to be just an artist or just an engineer so I found a happy world of “design” that fell right in the middle of those two fields. I have created my own career by bridging these worlds, and I have worked for myself since 1994.
4.) What types of things inspire you?
Interesting people who make objects – not necessarily the objects themselves, unique workspaces and studios, authenticity, natural materials, evidence of hard work, color used unexpectedly, complexity within simplicity
5.) Can you tell us a bit about Visual Merchandising?
Visual Merchandising is creating a feeling that the item on display is real. A successful display allows a customer to intrinsically understand that a product can somehow just work for them. Or fit within their personal needs and desires.
6.) Is it best to stick with one color scheme with our main displays, or should we use a mix of colors that work well together?
I like color that is naturally occurring. Using color to mask or detract from the obvious is not necessary and will create displays that cannot be easily changed or modified. This is not to say that color, if part of a brand strategy should be ignored. But consumers have also grown weary of brand thugs.
7.) How much of our display should be at eye level, bend-down-level, and reach-up level?
A good example of conventional, boring display can be seen in jewelery stores. Ninety percent of the product is presented in a flat case you lean over and look down into. But jewelry is actually dynamic and moves with the body in different ways. Lighting angle effects jewelry. Whoever creates a new way to display jewelery will create a whole new and effective way to sell it.
8.) Any major words of advice when setting up a craft booth in a space that is roughly 10′ x 10′?
A 10′x10′ booth actually contains around 800 cubic feet of potential 3D display space. This is very large in most circumstances. Customers only “see” about 3 to 4 feet into a booth as they walk by. A display should concentrate on the initial 320 cu. ft. of “active” display to engage and draw the customer in for a closer look. This includes the floor, walls, and even the perceived ceiling that makes up the cube. Rented, lightweight display fixtures that are cheap and wobbly should never be used at the front of the booth. Nor should there be a traditional-looking “check-out counter” look that sets up a boundary most customers won’t cross. Incredibly creative displays and booths are usually the ones built with the most limited budgets. Limited budgets are a blessing in disguise for display design.
Thanks for opening my eyes to some really important concepts Pat!
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Craft Friendly Southern Illinois and has been reprinted with permisison.