Last year I hosted my first-ever in-person event in North Oakland/South Berkeley, California. Here's the top five things I learned from this experience, complete with a couple photos of the space & art!
1. Plan ahead for the unknown. Sounds impossible but my point is - be flexible. Build adaptability into your plans. For me, this meant bringing more paintings that I thought would fit (they actually all did once I got to know the space better!) as well as bringing art supplies with me. The paints and brushes came in handy differently than expected - although I planned on doing a community art project, the weekend was super stormy, so with very little foot traffic - and instead I opted to do a painting demonstration instead. This allowed folks sitting in their cars and walking or biking by briefly to see my work in-action, which ended up bringing more traffic and being tons of fun! Plan to adapt and be prepared for things to turn out differently than you expect - sometimes, better :)
The nicest day of the pop-up was the day we took everything down haha.
2. Remember self-care. This might seem basic but as a chronic forget-to-eater, it really helped me to stock the mini-fridge with snacks while setting up. That way, when I finally remembered to eat, food was readily available. I also brought an extra jacket - which was handy since the weather turned pretty cold, and made sure to go on a couple tea runs to stay toasty. If remembering these kinds of things is hard for you too, try setting a reminder or asking a shop-partner to verbally remind you, these helped me so much at this event!
3. Invite Invite Invite! We've all seen those reels that remind us, "If you don't tell people your art is for sale, how will they know it's for sale?" which is true. Same goes for this, unless you're planning on relying on sidewalk traffic entirely (didn't work in this location), make sure you let people know about the event. I did this through social media, emails, texts as well as some local listings, flyers and a sidewalk sign at a busy intersection. There's many ways to invite folks to your event but the most important thing is that you actually invite them! People are more likely to come when they feel welcome and wanted, so be genuine and get the word out.
4. Be prepared for downtime. This one is obvious but worth repeating - quiet times will happen and it's really ok. Unless you're on the busiest block of the street on the busiest day of the year, there will be times where you're wondering what to do with yourself. I kept myself busy by tidying up (see below), sharing on social media and taking care of background business tasks that needed to be done anyways. Bringing my laptop was one of the best things I did all weekend, it allowed me to get so much done for the studio during the time quiet times.
"Tidying up" manifested as "...could that be straighter?" several times over.
5. Measure your outcomes holistically. It's tempting to to measure our success on sales, and for good reason - sales = money, which is (unfortunately) necessary for life. However, there's so much more to it than that - so as you calculate your sales, however many or few, consider the following factors as well; How many people saw your art? Connected with your digital presence? Did you have any meaningful conversations about your work or art in general? What did you learn through the set-up, running and take-down process? Were you able to get good pictures or videos from the event that will help your media game? Did people in your life show-up to support you? Are you proud of yourself for putting yourself out there, could you even imagine doing this a few years back? I could go on, but these are all questions I've asked myself as I've reflected on this event and how much it really meant to me.
This piece, Pandan, sold as a result of the pop-up but not during the pop-up, which besides being a total delight (it went to a super cool person) was also a great reminder to me about measuring event success holistically.
Have you hosted an in-person event lately and learned something in the process? I'd love to hear it! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Instagram @colorata.studio :)