First Thursday iPhone app

30 Jul

On the first Thursday of every month, faceless brick buildings and studios big and small open their doors, transforming Pioneer Square into one big, free art festival.

While some of the fun is in the treasure hunt, I’ve found it’s hard to know which studios are participating and I’m left wondering what I’ve missed.  I usually end up defaulting to 619, a building that on its own houses over 100 artists in its 6 story building. It’s also hard to track down an artist you’ve liked before as collections often shift month to month in a given gallery and studio.

First Thursday does create a brochure with information and a map that’s available at most of the venues, but it’s not very easy to follow while on the go and this just provides very high level information. That’s where an iPhone app comes to the rescue.

The First Thursday iPhone app would help people navigate Pioneer Square’s famous art walk and learn more about participating artists and their work.  It would allow you to easily view participating studios and galleries, find out what their hours are and learn about the artist and type of art their hosting. And then, it could help people figure out where they are on a map and navigate to the studios and galleries that are scattered across over 54 blocks.

App purpose: Help curious art lovers explore Seattle’s famous First Thursday art walk in Pioneer Square and learn more about participating artists and their collections.

Rationale: According to the First Thursday website, First Thursday in Pioneer Square is actually the first art walk in the United States.  In 1981, a group of Pioneer Square art dealers printed handout maps, did small-scale promotions, and painted footprints on the sidewalk outside their galleries on the first Thursday of the month.  Today, Pioneer Square is at the heart of Seattle’s art scene with studios and galleries that span over 54 blocks and a wide range of art from sketches to mixed-media installations that often rotate month to month.  An app could allow both locals and tourists to better explore and appreciate this vibrant and organic art scene and community.  It would provide an on-the-go tool where people can easily find and navigate to participating studios and galleries, and learn more about the art and artist.

Audience: art lovers, artists, socially active people, art investors/buyers/sellers, tourists

Rough feature brainstorm:

  • Location Services: integration with Google maps to display studios and your current location (below is what’s currently on the First Thursday site)

  • List:
    • View studio > then drill down to see hours, artist(s), type of art

    • View by artist > drill down to bios and showcase of art (audio/video clip?)
    • View by art/exhibit category (e.g. drawing, sculpture, photography)

  • Featured artist/artwork
  • Ratings/comments for studios/galleries
  • Add artists/artwork to a Favorites folder or action sheet where you can connect with artists by email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Featured artist/artwork
  • Ratings/comments for studios/galleries
  • Add artists/artwork to a Favorites folder or action sheet where you can connect with artists by email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Competing apps: There aren’t any true competitors here, however, there are a few apps I stumbled upon while searching through iTunes that serve as really good models for how this First Thursday app could work.

  • Dumbo Art under the Bridge Festival (Free in iTunes) – This app is a great model for the Art Walk app I’m envisioning. The app helped people navigate the 3 day festival in Brooklyn through a digital map and schedule of events, and extended the experience by offering videos, recorded statements, text and images from the artists so that people can learn more about them and their art.

  • Museum apps like Brooklyn Museum and Portland Art Museum are in a similar realm and I think their simple UI approach paired with appropriate visuals and an easy way to drill down into more information is executed well.  I think the layout of the First Thursday app could be pretty similar to these examples, just some of the content would be swapped.

Possible organization sponsors: Pioneer Square Community Association, CityArts, Seattle’s Convention and visitors Bureau, Seattle Art Blog, City of Seattle – Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs or a mobile app agency trying to gain experience (this is what ended up happening for the creation of Dumbo).


3 Responses to “First Thursday iPhone app”

  1. Kathy E. Gill 30 July 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Excellent, Erika! You’ve done a lot of work and given this a lot of thought.


  1. Week 6 : App Selection, UI | MCDM Smartphone Class - 30 July 2010

    […] First Thursday […]

  2. Our Projects | MCDM Smartphone Class - 31 July 2010

    […] Erika, Kwame and YunLi : First Thursday […]

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