Pop-up art galleries are extremely popular with designers, photographers and artists because they offer a number of benefits longer-term venues simply can’t.
Overall, pop-up art galleries are less of a financial investment, allow immense flexibility and can be set up and open in a much shorter space of time.
Sometimes it is hard to get into a commercial gallery. Or these mega galleries ask for too much upfront or for long residencies. Many artists spend a lot of time at art fairs or art markets. Pop-up galleries are often fantastic opportunities for these artists to take the next step.
We created the below seven steps to running a pop-up art gallery. While what follows is written with artists in mind, most, if not all the recommendations, are equally applicable for designers, photographers, designers or even real estate agents!
1. Establish the goal of your pop-up art gallery
Pop-up galleries serve myriad purposes and can provide huge benefits for a wide variety of artists. However, in order to make your investment a success it is important to establish your goals and focus your efforts on achieving them. If you try to do everything you run the risk of diluting everything you do.
Want to reach a new audience or do you want to reconnect with an existing one? Are you considering a new neighbourhood, city or even country? Want to make more sales? Want to launch a new showcase with a bang? Maybe you’re appearing alongside a major art event or art fair? Or perhaps you’re a person who is just starting out and want to see if a gallery is the next step for you?
All these are things a pop-up gallery can really power. However, you need to truly understand your goals in order to clearly plan and execute successfully. Keep your goals in mind throughout every step of the process. Who are your target audience. Where are they? Be goal minded.
Another thing to consider is what is your long term plan and how can the success of your pop-up exhibition help you achieve it. Are you thinking about a series of pop-up galleries?
2. Create your concept pop-up gallery
With your overall goal in mind you can get planning and creating. Your overall concept is super important and something you should get straight in your head early. The temporary nature of a pop-up space provides a huge amount of flexibility and this is something you should make the most of.
Our advice is to keep it simple but fresh and original. Easy to say, difficult to do. You want something that resonates with your existing fans and customers but also raises awareness, generates buzz and draws new people in.
Make your concept your overall theme and stick to it. Once you have a concept you should flex your creative muscles to create something that really stands out. You are an artistic person and you should generate your concept based on your core skills. Use the space to create something that summarises your brand or your collection. You are building an exhibition of you and your work.
3. Find your pop-up space
The right space is critical to the success of your gallery. In the past spaces willing to rent out short-term were few and far between but now, thanks to Storefront (yep, a shameless plug), thousands of pop-up gallery spaces for rent are just a few clicks away. But don’t just restrict yourself to pop-up galleries. Depending on your concept and your goals you may wish to go for something a bit out there and creative. There are plenty of pop-up spaces out there that you could use. Think vacant storefronts, containers or a totally unexpected location like a boat!
The most important thing is to make sure the gallery space you choose fits your purpose, is chosen with your goals in mind and fits your concept. Think about things like location, size and foot traffic.
If you need help, feel free to contact our concierge team.
Depending on the type of space you settle on, venue and property owners with vacant spaces are typically very receptive to working out favorable rents and terms for pop-up art galleries and shops. After all, the space is not currently bringing in any money, and a pop-up event often showcases the space well, which can help the landlord attract a permanent tenant.
5. Promote your pop-up art gallery
Promoting your event is what will make it a resounding success. You must let people know about your pop-up gallery and you must give them a compelling reason to visit. There are many ways you can promote your gallery. Here are a few:
There’s the more traditional advertising route such as handing out flyers, putting up posters or paying for print advertising in relevant media. Get planning early and maybe recruit some willing volunteers. The more noise you can drum up about your efforts the better. Don’t leave it all to the last minute.
Social media can be a great vehicle for drumming up awareness and interest. Events, pages and groups can be used to get your message to the relevant audience. Try sharing your information in local communities and engaging with other local businesses and local artists. Building artist relationships is key and this is a great opportunity to build some more bridges.
If you have a website or digital real estate you should use it to heavily promote your gallery. Consider a virtual gallery for your fans and customers who can’t get down to the bricks and mortar space.
PR – public relations
Depending on who you are, what you’re planning and where you’re planning it there will be media outlets with an audience that would be interested to know about you. Do some research and get in touch with them. Offer interviews and send out press releases. Be realistic, don’t aim for national newspapers or global TV stations. Think super local media or local bloggers. If you’re popping-up in a new area or city make sure you reach out to the local art community.
Events and giveaways
A good way to drum up awareness and interest in a limited time is to run events and promotions. You can also use these to support your other promotional efforts. Think launch parties. pop-up shows or raffles. If you can pull some strings and get a local celebrity or official to come down, do it. Promotions are another option. Do you have something you can give away for free? Think about partnering up with someone else – perhaps a local food producer or retailer. You could help them drive sales and attract people to your exhibition.
Check out our guide on how to generate buzz for your pop up. The guide is designed for pop-up shops but many of the principles remain the same and you should find it useful.
Since your pop-up gallery will be relatively short-lived, don’t spend loads of time and money on permanent displays. Make sure you have a budget and understand how much you have to spend. There are plenty of ways you can do this cheaply – think about upcycling or recycling. Do you have stuff around your home you can use? If you’re planning on running a number of pop-up events it may be worth investing in some fixtures and furniture you can reuse but be careful, only do so if you are certain those follow up events are going to happen. Again, think about partnering up with local suppliers and businesses. It could be you can borrow some fixtures or take the opportunity to showcase some of their wares at the same time in exchange.
Here are some design ideas to steal from to make yours stand out.
Pay close attention to the timing of your showing; do not schedule it to coincide with events that might draw away your potential visitors. On the flip side, scheduling it on the same weekend as a festival key art industry events, auction weeks or art fairs that will send additional traffic to your pop-up venue can be a very wise move.
Pop-up galleries are an excellent tool for artists, designers and photographers to showcase their collections. Running for a shorter period of time they offer an exceptional opportunity to create a big bang, reach new audiences and make an impression for a limited cost.
If you’re looking for a pop-up gallery check out these venues in New York City, Paris, London, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. We have plenty more venues around the world. Check out Storefront and search Art Gallery / Exhibit / Exhibition.