"Just looking thanks ...."

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by Graeme Hird, May 4, 2005.

  1. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    Prompted by an excellent answer that chuck94022 gave in the "How you sell work" thread, I'd like to turn the original question around and ask the following question:

    If you are entering a gallery to browse (with no intention of buying), how would you like to be approached by the artist or gallery owner? What style of approach from the staff puts you most at ease?

    I ask because I would like the people who enter my gallery to feel at ease, neither feeling "pushed" into purchasing nor ignored from the outset. I realise most people walking through the door are simply looking to see what's in there - I want them to come back when they are ready to buy.

    Cheers,
     
  2. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    I am the kind of customer who likes to be on my own in a store or shop. Therefore I like when the shop assistant or like approaches me this way:

    SA: "Can I help you with anything?"
    Me: "No, I am just looking"
    SA: "Let me know if I can help you"

    Then I can be on my own and have the possibility to ask if I want to know more. I am not into being guided around.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm with the Dr. of Rodinal. Salespeople who hover or seem desperate are a turn-off.
     
  4. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I agree with the above two gents.
     
  5. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    I agree too.
     
  6. arigram

    arigram Member

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    It depends on how sexy is the sales person.
    If they are attractive enough I want to be taken around by hand.
     
  7. Leon

    Leon Member

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    i like gallery attendants to say hello then wait to see if I initiate any further discourse. that's fine for me.
     
  8. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Leon's answer is how I see it.

    There have been times when the art is either really interesting or hard to penetrate and at those times a well versed sales person can be great.

    IMHO
    Window shopping art is different from most other forms of retail. If I window shop a camera store I don't mind a sales person hanging out to answer questions or even to push me toward playing with a product. Art requires some space so you can take it in.
     
  9. mark

    mark Member

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    A friendly greeting when I walk and then leave me alone.

    I hate when a person leaps into talking about the work. What is worse is a gallery owner (who is not the artist) giving the resume of the artist and hoovering. I don't care if the image was made by a National Geographic photographer or someone's great aunt Polly. Not when I am first looking. Now, If I ask about the artist then it means I want to hear about great aunt Poly's adventures in with Dr. Livingston.
     
  10. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    I agree with Leon (erm, and Arigram if I'm honest! :smile: )
     
  11. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I agree too - but I would like the salesperson to be available to answer any questions I might have. Sort of like the perfect butler: Never obtrusive, always available...
     
  12. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Graeme, My ideal inviting gallery would be as follows:

    Wander in and say "I'm happy browsing, thank you for asking..." and like my own 'space' without interruptions unless I request some help.

    Ideally then, apart from having beautiful images to satisfy my vision, I'd also like soft music to stimulate the senses and a gallery that has many intimate rooms with comfortable chairs to sit and indulge a while. Many people feel intimated and cold in one large room full of images with a person at a desk waiting to be spoken at, not giving them the opportunity to relax and truely 'see'. This way I'd spend more time at the gallery with the luxury of time for private thoughts on each image whilst allowing me to take in what the artist is trying to express and possibly fall in love with an image that I couldn't let pass me by.

    I hope this makes sense. This will be my own gallery one day. :smile:

    I'd like to create a space that allows viewers privacy and inspiration whilst happy to pass the time away and inviting to welcome people back time and time again.
     
  13. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    I hate when salespeople hover over me especially when it is obvious that these people earn their living by commission as in an appliance store or some clothing stores. Sometimes I go into a store just to kill some time, sometimes to buy. After a while it is OK to say "if you have any questions feel free to ask" and walk away. But I hate the feeling of 2 or 3 sales people hovering over me like vultures. This is coming from someone who earns his living in sales.
     
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  15. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Nicole, in my opinion, is dead on.

    I love music and listen a lot. The way I finally bought analog/valve stereo gear was to visit a small store with three "real world" listening rooms, couches, racks of vinyl and CDs to choose from, and an open invitation to sit and listen, for hours if you wanted. They'd stay and talk or leave you to listen according to your wishes. You could really find out what you liked that way.

    A gallery would ideally be that same kind of atmosphere, comfortable and inviting, not too big, or cold, or sterile with no place to sit and absorb. Make it a comfortable place to spend some time.

    Ole's right on the level and type of service from staff.

    I would only disagree with Nicole on music to some degree. I find a lot of music that you might be likely to hear in a gallery to be insipid and distractingly bad. Choose music you like and that goes with your work, but keep it unobtrusive. You wouldn't want to drive away customers who like your photography aesthetics, but not your musical tastes.

    I found that the photography studios I worked in had interesting music around, and one portrait photographer who worked for magazines would go out and purchase music that they thought would be interesting to the subject, but not something they would necessarily have heard before. This would become a point of contact and create conversation that put the subject at ease and distract them from feeling like they were under the microscope in front of some stranger. However, you can't do that with a wide range of customers who come in to see photos, not listen to music.

    Lee
     
  16. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    I agree with all of the above. I HATE pushy sales people. Don't hover. This goes for any store, retail or gallery. Don't follow me around like you think I'm going to put a 16x20 print under my coat and walk out. (used to be a problem untill I finally cut my hair). A cold looking sales rep staring at you from a desk is almost as bad. A sales rep who basically ignores you is not good either. The simple greeting and " I'll be over there if you have any questions." always works best for/on me.
    I've not been in a lot of galleries, most have been pretty good, personell wise. The galleries on Rue Royal in New Orleans' French Quarter are the most memorable and pleasant browsing/shopping experience for me.
     
  17. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Most NYC galleries don't play music, though there is sometimes music at openings to contribute to the festive atmosphere. Some of these openings are more about the fashionable nightclub scene than they are about the work. In New York at least, I think that music sends a signal that the gallery is targeting a more popular audience and isn't really trying to attract serious collectors.

    Museums don't usually play music, and when they do (I'm recalling a Leonardo exhibit I saw in Seattle), it turns the space into more of a theme park.
     
  18. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    That, time to ponder, and seating down the centre of the gallery - this way you can spin on your butt to mull over and compare prints from a distance. Toss in a couple coffee tables with written material about you & your work on them, as well as mugs, hot water, tea, and coffee. That would say to me, "come in, relax, take your time viewing my work...it's worth it".

    Murray
     
  19. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    I'm not talking about upbeat loud music here to create a statement or represent a nightclub or fashion parade!

    I'd like to visit a gallery that has soft, quiet, very subtle music that doesn't 'swing' in any way or is suggestive or annoying.

    I personally don't like sterile environments. The deafening silence when someone clenches their cheeks together to avoid embarrassment or the echoing rasping and clearing of throats, someone dropping a pen, the shuffle of feet, the painful clacker of high heals on timber floors, or the fumbled attempt to strike up a conversation between 2 other people in a gallery can often be so much more distracting than some subtle music to distract from 'the deadly silent sterile gallery' we are so used to seeing.

    In my humble opinion... :D
     
  20. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

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    I agree with nicole....
    some good ambient music is wonderful or mellow classical etc....
    one thing I really wish was more common is people in galleries (attendants, curators) would know a little something about the work they are showcasing or know a little about the artist, art in the gallery they work at.
    Ive found often times here in Austin that alot of the galleries attendants, workers dont know a damn thing about the work being presented.
    I love photography, but as Im a photographer myself I always like to know what the work is, the process, etc etc. especially if Im ever to eventually purchase work (god forbid I have some actual expendible income)
     
  21. oriecat

    oriecat Member

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    That's pretty much what I do at the gallery I volunteer at. Hear someone walk in, glance up from my book, say Hello, or maybe Welcome to Blue Sky, and go back to reading until they need me.
     
  22. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Be careful Nicole and all others who are thinking into making an exhibition space.
    If you haven't checked the post I made on that thread about photographic movies,
    there was this soft porno I caught once on TV in which a gallery was turned into
    an orgy just because it featured midly erotic BW photography...
    Come to think of it...sexy salespersons, stimulating music and aphrodisiacs on the fruit punch on the buffet could endanger even a flower or landscape show!
     
  23. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    I recently went into a frame shop and the girl "working" there proceeded to read her book and offered no help until I asked. After that she neglected to follow up my enquiry and lost my business. I recently went into a electrical appliances shop wanting to buy mini-DVDs for a DVD videocam and not one of the five people "working" there helped me so I walked out. There is a fine line between helping and being unhelpful, and Graeme, I'm sure you have the balance right.
    The idea somebody mentioned of seats would probably work well in your gallery - just a simple bench seat across the middle. And from what I recall, you had nice music from the radio, which I agree helps avoid that annoying silence Nicole mentioned.
     
  24. donbga

    donbga Member

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    When the price per print is in the thousands I'm only telling the truth when I say, "I'm just looking."

    Most substantial galleries know who their big buyers are and don't mind the browsers. I try not to be a pest and ask peevish questions that waste their time.

    Over the years I've gotten to know some of the gallery personel and owners and they realize I'm there to visually sample. In fact most of the time I think vistors are encouraged to enjoy the hangings whether they are potential buyers or not. Exposing the public to their artist's work is simply advertising.

    My 2 cents,

    Don Bryant
     
  25. omalley

    omalley Member

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    Most professional place I've been in, the owner was a stylish but seriously dressed woman who walked all the way to the front of the gallery when I came in, said, "hello, please let me know if you have any questions," and then went back to her desk to file correspondence. I hate to see a gallery owner or an intern dressed like a slob, eating or on the phone, not getting up from their desk. In my mind, that's not caring about discourse with the public, which is what a gallery owner is supposed to do. I really don't like the use of interns because they seem to always be reading or making personal calls.
    I probably differ from others in this, but I like the owner to engage me and tell me things about the work. I don't like to be asked questions, but a nice back-and-forth about technique or content is pleasant for me. But I can see how people who aren't necessarily art majors don't want to risk embarassing themselves by seeming uneducated. People are insecure about that, so sometimes they say things like, "nice use of linear perspective" (actual quote from a real person) and then they may feel dumb.
    Also if there's a catalog or any printed matter I want to be offered it without having to ask for it like it's a favor. I went to see an exhibit of new work by Odd Nerdrum a few months back, and some bimbo had her feet up talking loudly on the phone. When I asked her for a catalog, she heaved a sigh, looked around for it, and then thrust it in my face without saying a word.
    My opinion is that art is about communication, completely aside from selling work, somebody there should be trying to engage you anyway. If you're not there to do that, then why are you working at a gallery? Because if you only want to "help" people buy something, then why don't you just work at the Circuit City or something?
    Sorry if I offend anyone, but I feel very strongly about the social role of art galleries.
     
  26. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Part of the problem here is what you may like, may not sell any pictures. If you are just allowed to browse like a museum chances are you will not buy any art.

    I agree that sales people following you around is annoying, but the good ones will tell you about the various artists and their work without seeming like they are pressuring you.

    I also agree that sometimes you wish to be alone, and just snoop but I would bet that from experience that the owners know that leaving you alone does not sell art.


    Michael