Saturday, March 13, 2010

MENTOR - Justin Compton

Last week, we sat down with one of our most encouraging and inspirational teachers, Justin Compton. While teaching us for our VM presentation class in semester two of last year, we came to learn a little of his VM background and past experiences within the industry. We jumped at the opportunity to interrogate our teacher just that little bit more for the purposes of our blog. Here is how our interview rolled out.

A&A: Where and what have you studied?

J: I completed a year of Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and decided it wasn’t for me. So I then went to RMIT to study Visual Merchandising and completed the two year diploma. The program now however, has really grown & developed even further. There are more teachers with industry experience as well.

A&A: What jobs did you have while you were studying?

J: I began working in fast food stores until second year where I began to do a little bit of freelance work, mainly at book stores. After graduating I got a job at Henry Bucks as their Visual Merchandiser. While at Henry Bucks I still did freelance VM work on the side, styling for Gasworks, designed and made props, ticket writing and catalogue styling.

After three and half years at Henry Bucks I moved on to Nike and became involved in the opening of their then new store on Bourke St. I was flown to the U.S for training which I then rolled out and taught to employees at the Bourke St store.

A&A: How did you find that transition?

J: It was a big jump moving from Henry Bucks a smaller more intimately run company to an international corporation like Nike but I enjoyed the challenge.

A&A: How did you learn about the job opportunity at Nike?

J: Newspaper advertisement

From Nike I moved to Daimaru the department store. Again a big change from a retailer specialising in one type of merchandise to a department store ranging from cosmetics to home wares and clothing but a great learning experience. Daimaru then closed down and through word of mouth got a job at Myer Melbourne. While working at Myer I began teaching the Introduction to Visual Merchandising evening course at RMIT and really enjoyed the teaching aspect of the industry. From there I moved on to teaching the VM course full time.

Was teaching something you were interested in while you were still studying?

Nooo. I never thought I’d end up teaching. I was always interested in windows and in store merch displays. But I enjoy teaching and being part of the mentor program is great.

A&A: What has been your best and worst experience?

J: The best would be that the industry isn’t static; you’re always learning and following different trends that are forever changing. The worst is you have to be prepared for a third party to let you down or for something to not go as planned. However, overcoming a problem like that is extremely satisfying and you definitely learn from it.

A&A: What has been your biggest challenge so far?

J: The Nike opening, being in charge of the VM for the entire store. There was also a lot of media attention in the lead up to the opening as well as a launch party. Various newspaper articles were published as well.

A&A: Any future endeavours?

J: At the moment I’m pretty satisfied. You can’t plan too far ahead; I’m always open for new opportunities.

What is the best advice you’ve received?

The best advice I’ve been given is to make sure you’ve thought out all options and have an organised plan.

The best advice I’d give is to always treat people fairly and with respect. Build on your network and take the opportunities that are given to you.

A&A: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

J: Strength – I’m good at making and sourcing props, and I’m well prepared and organised. Weakness – perfectionist.

A&A: Where have you travelled and where is VM most prominent?

J: VM in London and New York is great but compared to Melbourne we’re right up there too.

A&A: Who are you inspired by?

J: Art in general, stores like Liberty and Selfridges, Aesop has a great ethos, Country Road and Witchery for their consistent image, magazines.

A&A: How do you collate your inspiration? Mag cut outs, hard drive?

J: I’m a bit of a hoarder with my magazines and notebooks.

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