Last year, I took part in a group pop up at Nichols gallery with five other artists all from the school in which I teach. It was a great success with all of us achieving some sales and some interest in our work.
This year I took part in three pop-up shows. One at Weigh Ahead in Dunblane then two i Edinburgh at the Whitespace Gallery and The Life Room. It is a great exercise in curation and I would recommend it as a way to finalise your work. As you have to pay for the gallery space, you generally don't pay commission and you have complete control of what you put in. However, in most spaces, you will need to man the gallery and have a system to receive payments. Here are some other things to consider.
Location: Whilst you might think being in a street full of galleries will attract visitors, this isn't necessarily so. Consider somewhere with a window at street level and with good passing trade. If the gallery frequently has pop up shows, this will increase your visitor numbers. People are a bit worried about coming into a space they cannot see from the street.
Publicity: Check out how the gallery has promoted other pop-ups. Do they regularly update their social media and web sites? Do they have links with the local community into which you can tap. Your success is their success so the gallery owner should be keen to promote you.
Wi-fi: You might believe that everywhere has wi-fi but you would be wrong. Check for this in advance or you will have an expensive add-on
Facilities: Even a tiny kitchen with kettle and fridge is better than none. Heating is important too and strangely absent from some spaces.
Lighting: Somewhere with good lighting, particularly in the window to attract passers-by, will ultimately make a difference to your sales.
The space itself: Whilst this is very important for artists, it probably isn't the most important when it comes to number of visitors or sales. It is important for you to develop your skills in curating.
Hanging system and support. Some galleries might fill holes and repaint after you leave and some might ask you to do this yourself. Either is fine but you need to be clear before you take the space.
Rules: Clarify the rules ahead of time and ask if there are any no-go areas. Ask if anyone else has access to the building. Ask about locking up.
Insurance: I ensure I have my own insurance but you could check the situation within the gallery too. You must have public liability. Whether you ensure against theft or damage is up to you.
Private View: this is a great way to celebrate your work going up and to create some buzz around it. You will have to shell out for some wine and you may not sell anything, but if your work is in a space for a week or more, it is probably worth doing. If you are showing in Edinburgh, beware of a certain crew led by a fire-haired lady of a certain age. If you are happy to see most of your wine disappear down the throats of career gallery-hoppers then fine. In fact, it can be somewhat amusing. If not, keep one hand on the door and the other on the bottle.
Outreach: This is something I will definitely be doing before I do another pop-up. It isn't just about selling work, although that is nice. It is also about opening the doors to people who don't usually come to galleries. Going to an art gallery is one of the few free remaining entertainments and I don't believe people should feel that it isn't for them. In the future, I would invite local primary schools and community groups and run some workshops.
My next blog might be a review of the places I have shown in. If you are interested, do join my mailing list.