Nou Wave I: The Old Biscuit Factory

Below is a detailed project review of the first pop up from Nou Wave Gallery a project created by myself and the artist Constantin III. In it, I go into lots of detail behind delivering a large project like this with no financial investment in a month. I hope that it helps you, the reader, and gives some insight into the type of challenges that one will face. This write up will take you through the whole project, from naming, deciding on branding and creating the website, writing the open call, receiving and shortlisting the artists (including insights into our administrative "back end", which I get a strange kick out of), securing sponsors, creating the sales catalogue and finally promotion and the opening night. A collaboration between Christopher Spring, the creator of Corridor Gallery and Art In Brighton, and the artist Constantin III – Nou Wave is a pop up gallery born in the UK with the first of many shows at the renowned Old Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey on the 15th - 21st November. The second of our open calls "Nou Wave II: Illusions" can be found on curator space as well as on our website: www.nouwave.gallery The first event had an initial concept meeting on the 5th October, with the opening night on the 15th November. It had 55 artists picked from over 200 submissions, including 3 performances. We welcomed over 400 people on the opening night with an overwhelmingly positive response to the project with more in the pipeline, including an international programme. You can see the full sales catalogue below - all sales enquiries should be directed to nouwavegallery@gmail.com but I personally can be reached on chrisspring@hotmail.co.uk for feedback or work requests. I loved project managing this and would love to be more involved in projects like this again: https://issuu.com/nouwavegallery/docs/catalogue_nou_wave_1_the_old_biscuit_factory_onlin

Above 3: A mobile phone shot of the crowd at the opening night, the landlord commented that he had "never seen The Old Biscuit Factory this busy before."
Above 2: A still from Josh Hoffman's performance at the opening of Nou Wave I. He combined contemporary and break dancing with paint to create pieces inspired by Jackson Pollock.
Above 1: the final result as pictured upon taking down the exhibition. [It was very cold that day!]
THE CONCEPT
We wanted to create a pop up gallery with contemporary and bold branding that showcased the cosmopolitan nature of Chris (staunch pro-remainer, experience in Calais working with refugees directly in the jungle, artist) and Constantin III (Romanian, artist, creator, multiple exhibitions and commissions for clients in and around London) - but also would reflect our aim to promote new and exciting artists. The eventual name "Nou Wave" reflected this.
The logo was inspired by our shared love for Jean Michel Basquiat "NW" combined into one stroke to form a "crown" over two circles, but also created a recognisable image that could be easily replicated across media.
All of this came relatively quickly with the website, branding and the open call written within 3 days of the initial meetings. This included a new Instagram and Facebook page (which received a combined 1500 followers in the month) and Mailchimp account and newsletter for promotions. (More on that later).
BRANDING
The company description we settled for is below - and as you can see we were adamant to welcome unconventional entries from the start. My background in music provoked an active call for alternative entries to the classic 2 dimensional/classic sculptural work people are used to in galleries:
"Nou, Romanian (“New”); produced, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time; not existing before.
Wave, English; a sudden occurrence of or increase in a phenomenon, feeling, or emotion.
Nou Wave is a pop up gallery focused on elevating the most exciting artists in the UK.
“Nou Wave” is a fact finding mission to find the next wave of great artists living and working in the UK. We celebrate creativity in all of it’s diverse forms.
We accept everyone. We have no qualms about questioning the status quo.
We challenge the conventional wisdom of a white wall gallery by asking: what else could go in there?
Join us via our Open Call."
THE OPEN CALL:
With a background as a trained journalist (including 100 wpm shorthand) I wanted to create a distinctive open call that would appeal to the visually artistic, but also show that there is more than one way to write English prose.
Replicating teeline shorthand on a conventional keyboard struck me that it would provide an unnecessary focus on digital art due to the nature of how you write the words. Woman = Wmn; Stuck = Stk or stc – there is plenty more to the language, but that’s the basic idea.
Also, Teeline's stoccato nature proved to be cumbersome and too ambiguous, so I looked to morse code and contemporary poetry for layouts for inspiration. We tested it on various programmes and screen sizes to ensure that the call out’s unusual look and rhythmic spacing was preserved whilst still understandable.
We launched the open call on the 10th October (5 days after the initial meeting), publicising the following poster and text across 12 platforms, with submissions tracked via Google Analytics and simply asking how artists found us to ascertain which were most effective for future exhibitions and call outs.
TEXT:
"We are flooded by imagery.
We want to – -----------
experience - something
Different
- ----------- -
- -
Is a new visual .-.. .- -. --. ..- .- --. .
[Language]
possible?
Or
…not?
We have found creations that bring us joy or evoke emotions made in the midst of this political s***show across Europe.
And we want to show them to you.
Great Art does not have to be political
Great art doesn’t even have to be visually spectacular. Duschamps proved that. Doris Salcedo proved that. Martin Creed too.
And the reactions to a life changing piece can be just as subtle:
A smile
A knowing nod
A quiet tut

The drinks reception will open on Friday 15th November from 6pm and feature performances from dancers and artists alike from 7pm with refreshments provided throughout the night.
The exhibition will be open to the public for the rest of the week and weekend closing on the 21st November at 6pm.
The address is:
2nd Floor
Building F
The Old Biscuit Factory
Bermondsey
The closes tube station is Bermondsey (on the Jubilee Line) which is a 3 minute walk away and South Bermondsey (accessible by the overground) is a 5 minute walk away.
A collaboration between Christopher Spring, the creator of Corridor Gallery and Art In Brighton, and the artist Constantin III – Nou Wave is a pop up gallery born in the UK with the first of many shows at the renowned Old Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey on the 15th - 21st November."
HANDLING SUBMISSIONS
Once the exhibition was publicised we received over 200 submissions from 4 continents and over 34 countries in 20 days. We were unprepared for this sort of response initially, with emails and data initially being missed.
We quickly realised that a decent administrative process was necessary, with automated emails out to submitters to let them know that their submission had been received and a spreadsheet with all of the artist’s biographies and piece information placed into it. From here, we were able to quickly see which pieces we wanted to include and could start accepting them based on certain criteria – with subjective preference just one criteria.
SPONSORSHIP AND PROMOTION
With less than a month between inception and execution of the exhibition, and the slightly isolated nature of the venue, we knew that getting a decent amount of people through the door would be a challenge. We decided to use a highly visual and provocative poster coupled with an effective promotion plan borne out of our shared expertise in Marketing and promotions.
Enter Constantin’s piece for the main poster. “The Creator of Man” [below] - an original painting that is, shall we say, not known for its subtleties. We posted the event across multiple news and event outlets online and in print, including a budget for sponsored posts
Simultaneously we created a focused Instagram and Facebook campaign (with Instagram being infinitely more effective for engagement) where we were posting pictures of every single artist as they were accepted. We also designed assets for Instagram and Facebook which artists could use to invite their followers along to the exhibition by creating a shared downloadable folder for the artists to access and retweet/share as they pleased.
We also started to think about sponsorship opportunities, with London Graphic Centre being our main target because of it’s decent reach, the potential access to stock, but also because both myself and Constantin shop at the Covent Garden outlet regularly. It is a trusted resource for artists and suppliers alike with a highly engaged clientele and supporter of multiple exhibitions and projects in London and the UK alike.
Finally, once we had selected the artists we created a sales catalogue which was printed for the exhibition, as well as publishing it on the online platform Issuu. This was designed and finalised in 2 days (due to print deadlines) so we would have it in time for the opening night before being sent to our subscribers and close contacts including private collectors: https://issuu.com/nouwavegallery/docs/catalogue_nou_wave_1_the_old_biscuit_factory_onlin
The Instagram Stories campaign we created for London Graphics' Centre Instagram profile utilising some of the work from the exhibition.
Pictured (in order): Rebeka Tarane, Eduardo Sancamillo, Marc Standing, Daria Moria, Constantin III.
Below: an example of the Facebook banner we created for Eventbrite and Facebook - and an Instagram invitation - all of which were shared with artists for their personal profiles.
DELIVERING THE EXHIBITION
The artwork came from 16 countries spanning 4 continents with over 55 artists in total which meant using Constantin's studio as a store and coordinating the reception of most of the artwork over 9 hours in one day. This meant a potential logistical nightmare which meant that one of us was “administrator” for the day (i.e. handling and labelling the artwork, ensuring safe storage), and the other was meeting and greeting the artists as they came in through the door.
For site specific artists coming from abroad, we originally planned for artists to be able to install a few days before the installation, unfortunately this didn't work out like this and lead to an overnight exhibition the day before the private view - a less than ideal reality.
After a small sleep we were back in the studio, creating labels, ensuring final details were ready and briefing performers and artists before the night.
THE NIGHT
Below are a selection of the photos from the opening night which included 3 performance artists including Bold Mama Elle, Irene Fiordellino and Josh Hoffman.
Despite there being small hiccoughs along the way we are delighted with the result and have had an overwhelming response to our campaign, welcoming more than 400 (we stopped counting at this point, but the figure was closer to 550) through the door with a charged and festive atmosphere. We were surprised, but delighted, about the demographic of the audience - a clear early 20s demographic which showed that interest in contemporary art was alive and kicking here. Part of the challenge going forward is attracting an older demographic as well.
THE LESSONS
There were plenty of lessons learnt throughout the process, and part of the plan for the next exhibition has been a full and detailed evaluation and debrief of it. Here are a few that stood out for me as the most transposable:
1. Aim big - Plan for a bigger response than you expect.
Both of us had been part of larger projects in the past, with certain expectations and ambitions for the project but was unprepared for the bulk of entries we received almost immediately. Storing data effectively and tracking incoming messages was an area that we didn't expect to be tested in as much. Though we quickly remedied it, it added an unnecessary stress and distracted us during a period when we could have spent more time promoting the show. Create a decent administrative infrastructure and utilise all tools available to you (Google Sheets and Excel, though unglamorous, are absolute lifesavers) but also, creating and following a process to store data can seem like overkill initially but opens plenty of opportunities down the line with just time management just one (though not the main) advantage we found once we were more organised.
2. Ensure you are being smart with your time.
An obvious one, but writing 25 individual email responses a day is both exhausting and unnecessary. There were a few examples of this but the most obvious piece of advice I can give is to remember that though it is good to be polite, every single 10 minute email adds up. Our automated email we answered every single question we could think of - but realised that people a) didn't read the emails properly or b) had legitimate FAQs that we didn't include in the original email. In both cases we spent too much time at the beginning of the process answering them individually, rather than sending a single email answering FAQs. Later on in the project, "smaller" pieces of work like picking up food and drink dropped down in priority due to the amount we were doing, but still result in consuming at least 3 hours of work if done properly (as well as more out of your budget the later you leave it!)
3. Track everything and evaluate your process.
Probably the most important lesson from the project: everything that you do should be tracked effectively. Whether this be budget, time spent, order of process, incoming artwork, outgoing artwork, packaging (honestly, you wouldn't believe the amount of time we saved by labelling the packaging upon reception of the artwork). By having a full debrief at the end we realised that we spent budget unnecessarily in places, and have made edits to our process going forward to deliver exibitions more effectively going forward. Being effective with your time means more time to relax and get on with your life too. Which brings me too...
4. Have fun and keep healthy.
Honestly, doing projects like this are time consuming, stressful and can be really bad for your health. I got to a point that I was so stressed two weeks before the opening night that I was drinking more than I should and had stopped cycling to work because I was so tired. It was only once I realised that I was doing this and started running, cycling, cooking and playing guitar again, that I felt good about the project. This lull lasted for 4 days, but it was also the worst point of the project. This last point sounds obvious, but it's one that I think too many people forget.

I hope this has been helpful for you all and would love to hear your feedback. I am available for more project management and marketing work, and can be reached anytime on chrisspring@hotmail.co.uk.

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Artist Manager, Gallery Founder, Marketing/Branding.