Display Artist

Merchandise displayers design and install shop and shop window displays in an attractive and eye-catching manner. The display artist is also responsible for displays at museums and international shows.

A theme is usually chosen and then the necessary properties (such as lights, mannequins and background scenes) are obtained or constructed and installed. In small shops, one displayer may perform all these tasks, while in larger shops different people may specialise in activities such as carpentry, painting, sign-writing, interior or exterior displays or administration.

The display artist starts an assignment by planning a work scheme in a studio. Here the artist’s ideas come into practice. Thereafter a sketch plan and models of the final display are made. A list of all the required accessories - background material and other supplies - is drawn up. As much as possible of the preparatory work is performed in the studio. The display artist and the advertising manager continuously work together.

The work of the display artist varies according to his experience, skill and the place where he works. The display artist usually does all the planning, organising and the display by himself, while the assistant display artist helps him with smaller tasks.

The display artist must be able to picture, draw, design and paint the décor for exhibits and make models. He must be able to work with wood, cardboard, nails and many other materials needed to build a display.

The display artist constructs window displays or dress counters in such a way that products catch the eye of the potential buyer. The work of the display artist is an important part of merchandise marketing.

Personal Requirements

  • original, creative, artistic and imaginative
  • able to work well with others
  • perseverance
  • able to work well under pressure
  • be sensitive to the needs and tastes of the public
  • interested in the latest fashions
  • practical and have a mechanical aptitude
  • manual dexterity
  • agility and stamina
  • above average sense of colour, form and spatial relationships

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Art or a related subjects is highly recommended
Recommended subjects: Art, Design Studies, Engineering and Graphic Design


  • An art portfolio is required to demonstrate your creativity, abilities and commitment.
  • If you intend studying towards a degree in Fine Art at university, you will need to a Bachelor's pass in matric. If you intend studying a diploma in an art-related field, then you will need a Diploma pass in matric.
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university or requirements set by the college.

What to Study

Degree: BA (Fine Art) - all universities except UL.

Diploma: N.Dip: Fine Arts - CUT, DUT, TUT and VUT, Interior Design, which includes Display Design - CPUT, DUT, TUT, UJ, Port Elizabeth TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) College; or N.Dip: Graphic Design is also suitable - CPUT, DUT, TUT, NMMU, VUT, UJ

After appointment, the beginner display artist gets in-service training by working with, and under the supervision of, an experienced displayer.


  • departmental, clothing and home furnishing stores
  • shoe stores or book and gift shops
  • self-employment, as freelance worker serving small shops, that cannot afford full-time display workers

Further Information

Any of the above-mentioned educational institutions or potential employers

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work as a displayer’s helper in a departmental store
  • observe store displays to get an idea of trends and techniques in displaying
  • consult books available on the art of display

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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