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...
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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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.
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".
Originally Posted by Leon
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...
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)
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.
Originally Posted by Leon