Pop-Up Galleries: My Experience and Tips for You!

Why Pop-Up Galleries Are Great

Hosting a pop-up gallery can be an amazing experience to any artist that wants to sell their work, gain exposure, and learn about the gallery process along the way.  Artists of varied ages and skill levels are able to run a pop-up sale. And, there's no pressure from the highly competitive professional art scene. I'm very glad I delved into the world of pop-up galleries at a young age, as they have expanded my art career immensely.

My First Pop-Up Gallery

I was a senior in high school when I organized my first pop-up gallery and I learned a lot. The first being that you have to be proactive, and, like many instances in the art world, you have to create your own opportunities. I reached out to a coffee shop that had just opened up in my town. Being a socially awkward 17 year old at the time, I was very nervous to ask the owners about potentially setting up a pop-up sale. Fortunately, they were thrilled about the idea. They viewed it as both an opportunity to gain new customers, and a way to support a local artist.

I also learned about how to effectively arrange the artwork in an existing space. Unlike traditional galleries, pop-up galleries can pose challenges as you must work around an existing layout. I had to take into account furniture, walls, and equipment. In addition, the coffee shops existing color scheme and decor couldn't clash with the art I hung. And lastly, I learned more about effectively pricing my art. I had to keep in mind that my potential customers were initially only intending on buying coffee. I had to find prices that were manageable for the customers, while still being profitable to me.

Final Notes

After this initial pop-up experience, I have set up 4 other shows. My most recent, and probably favorite, was in a hair salon in my hometown. I had never thought that combining an art gallery with a hair salon would make sense. However, I received very positive feedback and realized that the art and beauty industries overlapped more than I would have thought. My largest take-away from setting up these shows is that its so important to ask for feedback and observe customer reactions. At each event, I leave a small notebook asking for the customer's experience. They tell me what worked and what didn't work, and with each new gallery I am able to improve. 

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