User experience and spatial awareness make for enjoyable trip to shops

Collaboration and exhibiting are an important part of developing as a creative. You can learn a lot from visiting an art exhibition but you can also learn from taking part in art exhibitions.

Without showing your work in a considered way it is quite hard to really understand where your work fits in the world. It is not just about sales, it is about confidence and the learning you gain from the experience. Over the past few years I’ve visited many exhibitions and also taken part in many group artist exhibitions in Surrey, Rutland, Leicester and France but never had a solo exhibition. “Bikes & Blooms” was my first solo exhibition which took place at Four Walls, Melton.

User experience and spatial awareness are important factors in exhibition layout. It was quite easy to organise this in Four Walls as they use a wire picture hanging method which was easy to adjust to suit the size of the artwork. You could move the hangers up and down the wires to suit.

Retail display is an important skill which I have learned from selling my illustration and surface design through retailers in Stamford and Rutland, different retailers have different skills and method of engagement, as well as different audiences. It is about building up a variety of different methods. In Four Walls we placed eye catching pieces in the window in order to grab attention using easels placed at different heights. It proved useful to have pieces at different price points and in different materials in order to engage different audiences.


The interpretation panels for the exhibition in Four Walls I designed using some of my writing and mixed up the images but made sure that the panels were placed next to the correct pieces of work – so it made sense in situation as you walked around the exhibition. I layered the panels with my sketch work, surface design and the graphic motifs I’d used for the paintings.

It was also important to hang the exhibition using negative space correctly. Each piece has to have enough space around it to be seen in isolation yet remain part of the group.

Readability is important, when doing panels for museums 16point was the smallest type size which you could read easily from a metre or so away. Placing the panels at eye height is also important – it ensures the reader doesn’t have to do too much work to engage with the content.

Audience flow around a room is fascinating. Assessing how an audience moves around a space in a group or in isolation also comes into play. People quite often move towards the right on entering the space but any obstacles will play a part in this flow of traffic. Any desirables will also effect flow – at my preview night it was the Prosecco and pork pies which drove everyone to the top end of the space!

You can use these factors to hang an exhibition and make the user experience more enjoyable. Use colour and visual prompts to engage and excite.

As well as retailers I’ve worked with many museums and galleries over the years. Chertsey museum in Surrey in particular was a fun collaborative experience.

We used the strapline “Does my bum look big in this” to advertise their exhibition of underwear and bustles which they had an exhibition of. The exhibiton featured corsets, Vivienne Westwood pieces and other fascinating Victorian underwear from the 1800’s to 2000.

Thinking about how you exhibit and display your product and then thinking about how it is used or viewed by your audience is important whether you need to display product on or offline. You want customers to engage meaningfully with the product whilst ensuring that the experience makes the user feel valued and positive. If you achieve this then the user could reflect/remember that feeling and eventually buy into your product or service.


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Sarah Hatherill

Well Street is run by me - designer Sarah Hatherill. I have worked for many years as a freelance designer as well as being employed as a creative director and marketing manager but am now self-employed and trading as Well Street Studio. I work alongside marketing teams, social media experts, manufacturers & printers to provide content and creativity to local businesses.

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