Pop-Up Gallery Show

Pop-Up Gallery Show


Roughly nine months ago I left my agency job and took the plunge into freelance. Freelance…such a scary word. Feels more like free-fall some days. But the motivation behind my decision is plenty to keep pushing me forward. The motivation – allow myself a more flexible schedule to help my husband Nick with his photography career.

Nick has found incredible success since launching his own business six years ago. He has developed a steady client base and cranks out commercial photoshoots like it’s his job…oh wait, it is his job. Ha! So you may be thinking to yourself, “If he’s got a good thing going without an assistant, what help would you be?” Well…I’m about to tell you. This is when the pop-up gallery becomes relevant.

I crave the tangible. When people say to me “print is dead” I politely nod, acknowledging their opinion, but inside I’m full of emotion. The child inside of me wants to scream at them, Print will never die! People crave touch. Tactile experiences can be some of the most emotional and everlasting. Believing all of this, I wanted to help Nick share his work with the world in a physical way. Create tangible pieces that weren’t locked behind a screen or stuck in two dimensions.

Long story long, when the Renaissance Hotel offered up their ballroom space for a pop-up gallery show, I was ecstatic for the opportunity. The pre-function space was so clean and white, it already screamed gallery – and the newly renovated ballroom space was modern and spacious. Both spaces provided an excellent backdrop for bold pops of color. After our walk-through we didn’t know much, but we knew the pieces had to be BIG to make the impact we were seeking.


After years of working in marketing and advertising I still preach that printing is one of the most challenging things to get right. There are SO many variables. Specs, color space, file size, bleed, trim, material, finish – it makes my stomach turn just writing out that list. But, where there is a will there is a way! And our “will” required massive fabric prints.

Specifically, each photograph needed to be printed at 6 feet 4 inches by 4 feet 10 inches. How did we stumble upon that dimension? IKEA. You’re probably thinking, “What? IKEA? How?” Well, months earlier, before this project was even a blip on our radar, we had been bumming around IKEA. And as I’m sure you know, IKEA notoriously snakes you through every nook and cranny of their sales floor until you have no other option than to surrender and recharge on the most satisfying, tiny Swedish meatballs. It was after said noshing fest that Nick and I came across these massive DIY frame kits. The whole concept seemed pretty rad. You pick out your stock photo option of choice (think: standard beach scene, typical urbanscape, something abstract, etc.), cart the narrow, yet very long, cardboard box to check out, load it into your car and assemble at home. Voila! You now have a massive piece of art to cover that blank wall that’s been driving you nuts for years.

But what if said ‘stock images’ didn’t fit your fancy? This is when the lightbulb went off. Why can’t we print one of Nick’s photos to these specs and make our own giant artwork? So that’s exactly what we did. We bought a test frame. Researched large-scale printers in Chicago, and before we knew it we found ourselves on all fours assembling our first ‘masterpiece’.


Fast forward to the night before the gallery show… We had a system. And anyone who knows me knows I love a good system. I seek out efficiencies in nearly everything I do in life. It’s a habit that could drive some people nuts. But when you have 14 boxes of disassembled frames sitting in front of you, and 14 massive prints to stretch, finding efficiencies is a welcome obsession. The night before the show Nick and I worked together for nearly 5 hours assembling all of the pieces. And although we knew which pieces we had selected for the showcase, it was with childlike excitement that we flipped over each completed piece, exclaiming “WOW!” It was incredible to see the photographs, so big, so vibrant, so real.


After assembling the 14 pieces we were exhausted. Hanging was the next step and that needed to be done day-of. So off we went for a good night sleep, eager to return the following day – the day of the showcase!

Compared to the steps leading up to it, hanging was relatively easy. And it was a tremendous feeling to see all of the pieces hung in place – the gallery started to take shape. The spaces were serene and tranquil allowing the viewers to take in the art at their own pace. My favorite part was watching the reaction on the faces of people who were seeing it for the first time. It was during those moments that my conviction of print still being very much alive was confirmed. Even more fun was seeing people return to the spaces multiple times over the course of the show – as if they needed to see it just once more in order to burn it into their memory forever.

We had a blast producing this show. And I can only hope it’s a sign of more to come. If you’re interested in staying in the know about upcoming news, gallery shows (perhaps even a book release – hint, hint) you can sign up here.

Until next time – print on!

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