I love pop-up events!
They can have all the fun and satisfaction – and money-earning potential – of a regular shop, but without the ball and chain of having to be there long-term, 9 to 5!
If you’re doing a pop-up event in your own house, your creativity can really go wild, too – and we’re not held back by any of the restrictions of the old days, where location might be a hindrance… with the internet, we have access to infinite networks, and the limits are only our own imagination and ambition.
Here are my top tips on setting up a pop-up event:
photo by Jenny Di Meola
ONE: Your ‘why’ – a really good reason to do one; do you, like me, have an excess of glorious old clothing which you could iron and arrange attractively? Do you want exposure for your art? Do you have a service which you’d like to practise, or a skill which needs to start building a client network? For me, it’s all of those things, and more!
Installation at the Arthouse, Guardia Sanframondi (now the shop!)
TWO: The venue – is there a room in your house, a garage, a garden corner? Could you rent or borrow a space temporarily – council buildings can often be rented out, sometimes free, if there’s any educational or social benefit… Could you piggy-back on another event or space, in a way which is mutually-beneficial? I’m extremely blessed to have my arthouse, but it wasn’t always so: I’ve done pop-up events in tents, car-boots, market stalls, village halls, allotments, beaches, woodlands… I love a bit of guerrilla art!
Installation at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens, 2007
THREE: Your clientele – how important is income from this event? Decide what your aims are, in terms of who you want to serve and earn from. Start connecting with them beforehand, and build up through word-of-mouth and face-to-face, wherever possible – these connections are the most sustainable; build up ‘your people’ and your presence, by making a lot of small, meaningful links, rather than doing a flyer-drop; all projects are strongest when built on robust foundations and genuine dialogue, rather than pushed and strained for!
Art stall at the Out Of The Blue studios, Edinburgh, 2008
FOUR: Your produce or service! Less is more; though it can be tempting to cram a pop-up shop with a ton of goods, it needs to be presented in a way which it can be both digested and be seen as available (e.g. if it is for sale). Having everything under an umbrella topic or brand name can also be very useful: if your own name is appropriate, use it! If not, take time to make up a snappy event name – ask your friends or set up an online questionnaire; this can glean great solutions. I highly recommend using an online font provider (there are some free, some which can be used for a small fee) to get a striking logo or heading.
Art stall in Ex Libris, Capua, Italy, 2010
FIVE: Make it fun for you! Don’t get burned out before you’re all set up: I insist! It’s a classic artist’s mistake, to work like a donkey up to the opening night, and then appear stressed or haggard when it’s time to be the face for your event and your art. Yikes! Plan your time, get the details dealt with well before the opening hour, and make sure you have the final hours before the event to run a long bath/ have a seriously regenerating massage/ nap and empty your head of thoughts: enter the quietest, most nourishing time, before you have to go on stage – it’ll mean that you arrive looking like you’re on top of it; professional and sure of yourself, fresh and happy – then your energy will be infectious!
I hope these tips are useful: they certainly would have helped me in the past when I was a pedantic newby to pop-up art stalls! I invested a lot of energy in details and a lot of money in places which didn’t fruit for me…
Over the years, having built up a colourful presence and unique reputation, and because people know where my house is, I can now knock out a pop-up shop like ARTE-ALCHIMIA (currently running throughout Vinalia in Gaurdia Sanframondi) in a relatively breakdown-less manner.
Yippee! Off I go to set up for this evening – hope to see you there – tante belle cose, Clare