As an artist and educator with a head full of entrepreneurial ideas, I have often contemplated setting up some sort of pop-up business, so approached the reading of this book with some excitement. The book promises to cover all aspects of planning and launching a pop-up, whether gallery, business or any other conceivable type of temporary venture. Topics include finding the perfect venue, negotiating terms with a landlord, fixing up a space, inexpensive marketing, and tips from successful pop-ups, plus many more invaluable ideas passed on from the pop-up master, Dan Thompson, who runs Empty Shops Network and is an award-winning expert on the reuse of empty shops and creation of pop-up spaces.
Pop-ups may seem new but, as Thompson points out, they have been around for quite some time. Examples are peppered throughout the book, ranging from Shakespeare’s reuse of the gatehouse of Blackfriar’s Monastery to Andy Warhol’s Factory in New York. Interestingly, Thompson doesn’t define a pop-up as something specific, but more as a set of skills which can be applied to many different kinds of activity, taking place in various spaces. Establishing a pop-up may seem overwhelming, but
‘Pop Up Business…’ breaks the whole process down into bite-sized chunks to consume as and when needed. Easy-to-read, well-organised, and thoroughly helpful, this book provides a step-by-step guide for anyone wishing to organise their own pop-up venture. I read it cover-to-cover and was treated to a sequential strategy, interspersed with inspiring examples of successful and unusual pop-ups.
The first four chapters deal with developing a plan, building your team and funding your project which, although useful to a beginner, are perhaps a little basic for anyone with business experience. The book then looks at finding a space and a landlord, gives essential advice on insurance and legal issues, before moving on to hugely informative chapters on branding, marketing, social media and press releases. These provide a wealth of ideas for any artist or arts organisation looking to promote their work or brand effectively and inexpensively. The final chapters deal with evaluation and the end of a project. Again, I found these to be invaluable, filled with helpful advice relevant to any arts-based venture.
‘Pop Up Business…’ is logical, with clear icons throughout to guide the reader to relevant sections. It does an excellent job of comprehensively and clearly addressing every issue surrounding the creation of a pop-up, making it suitable for novices as well as the more experienced pop-upper. Read from cover-to-cover, some of the information did seem a little repetitive, but the book is perfect as a reference guide to dip into as needed. I would recommend it as essential reading for anybody considering their own pop-up, and will definitely use it when developing my own projects in the future. By following Thompson’s advice, I have no doubt that with a little bit of creative thinking and imagination, anyone can succeed with a pop-up of their own.
Ruth McLees is an artist based in Cardiff