Jester Jacques Gallery features emerging artists in a pop up space in London. Artsy Shark interviewed co-founder Karen Shidlo on this trend and how artists can get involved.
AS: How common are pop ups in the UK?
KS: Pop ups in the UK are really becoming very popular. With the economy still in a bit of a slump, young creatives in Britain are doing a lot more start-ups, which is fantastic. The need for us entrepreneurs to be fiscally savvy means that instead of finding permanent venues/retail spaces for our businesses, we have opted for doing short term events such as pop ups.
AS: Do you feel that Britain is ahead of the US in embracing pop ups?
KS: I lived in New York City for 5 years and I did notice the emergence of pop ups there, but I think their presence is really felt more here in London. Box Park, for example, which is in East London’s famous Shoreditch neighbourhood, is the world’s first retail mall made up entirely of pop up shops. Jester Jacques did one there this past month and it was incredibly successful.
AS: Are you only working with emerging artists from London? Could you describe your concept and your market?
KS: We work with artists predominantly based in London, as we like to have a real hands on approach and personal relationship with all our artists. Having said that, some live in different parts of the UK and one or two are in other parts of Europe.
Our concept is to fill a void in the art market, because when starting out and researching, we found that galleries here are very niche-y and we want to combine both emerging artists work which is affordable with that of famous artists work, investment pieces.
Street art is so popular now in Europe and especially London. The market is over-saturated and very competitive, especially where we reside in East London, but I think what makes us stand apart from other galleries is our selection of artists.
We update our inventory slowly, taking our time to reach out to artists we really believe in, guiding them and choosing very carefully what we want to show and sell. Also, the fact that we appeal to both those looking to buy cheaper work with investment potential as well as the avid collector, makes us quite unique.
AS: How did you start your gallery at Box Park?
KS: We have been friendly with Box Park since last summer, so it was an absolute delight for us when they approached us with the pop up space. The fact that it was given to us completely white washed and blank was like a fresh canvas for us and we seized the opportunity to turn our virtual/online shop into a physical venue of interest for the public.
With daily workshops, we attracted a great crowd and managed to make some great sales. We will be participating in The Other Art Fair here in London in April, but after our success at our first pop up, we will definitely be doing another one soon!
AS: What do you think artists need to know about working with pop up galleries, or potentially creating their own?
KS: I would say: do not be afraid to approach your local council, as well as local owners of unused shop/retail space owners with your concept. Make sure you type up a proposal which is succinct and assure the people you approach that you will be bringing in a diverse and interesting audience to their venue.
Pop ups are a great way to spread the word about your art, but note that it takes a lot of time to prepare for what is typically only a handful of days presence in the shop! Organization is key, but do not be afraid to get creative with the space, making it as attractive as possible. Use social media to spread the word, as well as sending press releases to your local newspapers, magazines and online directories.
If you team up with local businesses, such as pizzerias or a drink supplier, you can reach a wider audience, as well as save on costs of providing snacks and drinks at your opening. That reminds me, definitely have a launch party!
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