This last summer 2016, I was given the most exciting opportunity to be an intern for a gallery in downtown Chicago, IL. It was a good experience and quite thrilling for being my first internship ever. Since I live in the Northwest area of Indiana. I had about an hour commute by train and a hour walk to and from the gallery twice a week. So days started at walking up at 5:30 am and not getting home until 6 pm. However, I learned quite a bit of interesting things about myself as a worker and a very bit about working in art setting.
- I am not a third person type of gal.
So one of my tasks as an intern was to post on the galleries Instagram page. I was very enthusiastic about such a task. I would be quite the good person to get people excited to come and check out the gallery. However after realizing I would have to post a picture of something interesting on display or happening, then try to sell the allusion of enticement as the voice of the gallery, and figure out at least twenty hashtags so that people would actually see the post, I quickly became deflated. I’m very familiar with Instagram and I frequently post personally so that wasn’t the problem. The key word in that sentence is personally. When I was constructing the post, I couldn’t be like, “Hey guys its Emily! Here we have blah blah’s piece and you can see if for yourself at such and such.” I had to put on the company’s mask and write something that wasn’t very enticing in third person as the sole voice of this hyper-professional company. It also didn’t help I was trying to sell to my audience that you should come and admire this 98,000 dollar painting in a sort of out of the way gallery on a Tuesday because maybe someone would want to buy it (more on the art of selling art later). Then trying to figure out what hashtag would draw the most people to like the photograph. Needless to say after about four times of posting and not quite getting the hang out of it, or the same of amount of likes on my post as to other intern’s post, I just stuck to my sole purpose and mission as an intern.
- Purpose and helpful service.
I found out that I really need to be a semi-important person on the team with a clear and defined purpose and mission. What I did as an intern was photograph their collection of paintings, by the time I ended my stay I did nearly 200 photographs that were colored corrected and presentable. However thank heavens I had this task, because I quickly realized that other people didn’t have much to do and I for one do not like working someplace and doing nothing (especially when I’m not getting paid) because I could be home working on a different project or idea. So at least I was busy with photographing and correcting, because I would have been totally unsatisfied and bored.
- I need human interaction.
So I have been working at a library for the last three years and it is very busy and their is usually even on a slow day at least 30 people I can interact with. Let me just share with you the fact that I am an ambivert. Since the last time I took a 16 personalities test (I’m INTP btw also not spon), I am 57% introverted and 43% extraverted. This is always in flex and usually I am good with being to myself. However working at a library were you have customers, I am used to (and love) helping other people out or informing people about something. However you can’t inform or help people when there are no people. This gallery when I worked was so depraved of customers it was very disheartening. Not to say there was never anyone coming in, but at max their would be 3 couples. The best day was after forth of July when 20 people actually visited. Now it was good because I could concentrate on my photographs and hauling the artwork around, but it would have been nice to have a break of taking to a stranger from far off lands coming to look at art.
- I am not a natural salesman.
Now if I know that when something is good that you should get excited about, say a book I think you’d love after judging your personality and time to read, I would be more than happy to suggesting and informing you on how you should spend your time. However, if it comes down to encouraging you to buy said book for a total of twenty dollars and you only have 5 dollars with you that is a different story.
So as I mentioned earlier this was a high end gallery, prices ranging from 500-98,000 dollars. I understand that prices are important and I do think its reasonable to want to price your artworks highly, but I can’t fathom someone having over 70,000 dollars in a bank account which they are able to afford to spend that chunk of money on whatever they wish. So for myself to be like, “Oh yes you would totally love this painting for your house and you desperately need it for your collection,” was totally insane. Also that the people who usually just strolled in were not really people who could afford said price. I don’t know, I just felt totally under qualified for selling such “high quality” paintings. And if I firmly encouraged the customer to look at the price page, they were politely decline or ignore you even mentioned it. The people who actually can afford that kind of price would become in with an mindset and agenda for wanting to buy a work. Needless to say I did not sell anything in my stay, though I did inform the one or two people that would stop in about the artists and the really cool things they are about, I could not really attempt to see a work. Hopefully I will at some point be more qualified to do so.So I really did like my first internship and I learnt a lot about how to photograph a collection and had good practice color correcting. So that was really helpful.
Thank you for reading this, if you have any similar revelations or interesting things that happened at your first internship, leave a comment down below and we can analyze them together.
Have a wonderful day! Until our next chat,