By Kerwin Boxpark Shoreditch Pop-up Art Exhibition 2021

Is A Boxpark Shoreditch Pop-Up Worth It? Tips From A Trader

UK artist Kerwin Blackburn exhibited in a Pop-up at Boxpark Shoreditch in London in 2021 – here he reviews his experiences as a trader

This blog post explores the dynamic world of London’s Boxpark, a collection of urban hubs where commerce meets creativity, and innovation thrives. As a former trader who appeared in a pop-up exhibition at Boxpark Shoreditch in November 2021, I review my experience and ask whether a pop-up there is worth it.

For traders seeking a spotlight in the heart of one of London’s bustling commercial districts, and particularly those looking to test the waters on a temporary basis, a pop-up at Boxpark can be an ideal solution.

For those familiar with (and a fan of) Shoreditch’s gritty, urban feel, the allure of Boxpark Shoreditch is undeniable – and in late 2021 I took the plunge and exhibited my By Kerwin artwork there for a week in my first solo London exhibition.

Boxpark is an innovative retail hub in London, using shipping containers for retail shops and food and drink vendors. Boxpark Shoreditch offers pop-up units for traders seeking exposure in a trendy, high-traffic location, ideal for engaging diverse audiences and making a unique brand impact.

In this article, I’ll dissect the Boxpark phenomenon, analysing its appeal and examining whether the investment for a pop-up is justified. Join me on as I evaluate the merits of a Boxpark pop-up, with insights from a trader’s perspective based on my first-hand experience from my 2021 pop-up exhibition.

What is Boxpark?

Boxpark is a collection of unique pop-up retail parks, made out of repurposed shipping containers and each home to a different retail trader. Boxpark Shoreditch was the world’s first-ever pop-up shopping mall when it opened in 2011. It brings high-street shopping, fashion, food, and events under one roof.

Boxpark has opened further London sites appearing since its initial Shoreditch location – in Croydon and Wembley. At the time of writing, it also has plans to open sites in Liverpool and Birmingham.

Home to a mix of permanent and temporary retailers, Boxpark at its Shoreditch site has a few units available to rent as pop-up retail spaces for a duration ranging from one week to three months. These pop-up retail units are where I exhibited and are the focus of this blog article.

By Kerwin pop-up art exhibition at Boxpark Shoreditch, London | Kate Moss
By Kerwin at Boxpark Shoreditch, 2021

Why is Boxpark Good?

Boxpark is an innovative retail hub in London, using shipping containers for retail shops and food and drink vendors. Boxpark Shoreditch offers pop-up units for traders seeking exposure in a trendy, high-traffic location, ideal for engaging diverse audiences and making a unique brand impact.

Boxpark’s allure lies in its dynamic fusion of commerce and creativity. As a retail concept, it ingeniously transforms shipping containers into vibrant, temporary spaces that house a diverse array of independent businesses.

This curated marketplace not only capitalises on the trendy atmosphere of its Shoreditch, Croydon and Wembley locations but also attracts a diverse and engaged audience. The carefully selected mix of shops, eateries, and events creates an immersive and ever-evolving experience.

Boxpark’s innovative approach to retail ensures constant foot traffic, fostering a sense of discovery and excitement. Its ability to seamlessly blend commerce with community makes it an appealing platform for traders seeking exposure and connection in London’s competitive market.

The diversity of its traders – ranging from food to shopping to live music and events – means visitors can spend a good few hours at Boxpark, making it a destination venue in itself.

Why do a pop-up at Boxpark in London?

Doing a pop-up at Boxpark in London is a strategic move for traders seeking visibility and a unique brand presence. Boxpark’s prime location in the trendy Shoreditch area attracts a diverse and trendy demographic, ensuring a steady flow of foot traffic. It’s sites in Croydon and Wembley also have similar audience appeal.

The innovative use of shipping containers as retail spaces creates an unconventional, eye-catching environment that naturally draws attention. Additionally, Boxpark’s reputation for curating a mix of eclectic brands and hosting exciting events enhances the overall appeal.

For traders, this translates into a valuable opportunity to tap into a ready-made audience, test new markets, and make a memorable impact in a dynamic retail landscape.

Already a successful retail experience, Boxpark achieve further exposure during football’s Euro 2020 tournament (actually held in 2021 due to the pandemic). Boxpark’s Wembley site became famous for the site of fans lobbing pints in the air after England goals, demonstrating its diverse and multi-faceted use.

Kerwin Blackburn exhibiting his Jackson Pollock inspired pop art music paintings and prints at Boxpark Shoreditch London

Choosing to exhibit By Kerwin at Boxpark Shoreditch, 2021

For me, Boxpark Shoreditch represented the ideal location for my first solo London exhibition in 2021. I chose to do my pop-up here as my pop art style of art seemed to fit well with Boxpark’s creative and vibrant appeal. There was also no other artist trading there at the time, so I knew I would be complementary to other traders and stand out as an artist.

The ability to hire there space for just a week allowed me to dip my toe into the London market in a cost-effective way (more on the costs below).

Where can you do a pop-up at Boxpark in London?

At the time of writing, and to the best of my knowledge, Boxpark Shoreditch is there only London venue with a specific retail pop-up shop focus, available to hire from just one week. Their Croydon and Wembley may have other short-term tenant hire options, but I believe these are more focused on food and drink vendors.

Boxpark Shoreditch has more of a general retail focus that can be tailored to any type of non-F&B retailer (their pop-up units are literally empty converted 40ft shipping containers and therefore blank canvases). In Shoreditch, Boxpark appears in a long line down Shoreditch high street. The ground floor, opening onto the pavement, is dedicated to retail spaces; the upstairs is all food and beverage vendors (and live music/DJ spaces to accompany these).

How long does a Boxpark pop-up last?

At the time of writing, and when I hired the space in 2021, the Boxpark Shoreditch pop-up units were available from one week to three months. As a solo artist business getting off the ground, I chose one week.

How much does a Boxpark pop-up cost?

When I exhibited in November 2021, the cost of the Boxpark Shoreditch pop-up unit was £1000 plus VAT for one week (so therefore £1200). This represented a fairly cost-effective way of hosting my own solo London art exhibition compared to the hire of many dedicated shops or small gallery spaces.

I’d suggest visiting the Boxpark website and contacting their team directly for the latest availability and cost information.

Behind-the-scenes video of setup of my Boxpark Shoreditch pop-up exhibition, 2021

Is a Boxpark pop-up worth it? By Kerwin Boxpark pop-up exhibition 2021 Pros and Cons

As I mentioned above, choosing to do a pop-up shop Boxpark Shoreditch in late 2021 was an ideal way for me to exhibit my By Kerwin art solo in London for the first time. It was a very exciting project to design, manage and execute, and I knew the Boxpark brand would add gravitas next to my own brand name, and be a great achievement to add to my reputation as an artist.

My Boxpark pop-up exhibition and shop provided many great photos and great feedback for me and my art. I met hundreds of visitors over the week I was there, and was really proud to see my art brand I’d created appear alongside so many established traders in one of London’s trendiest commercial hubs and districts.

Appearing in a pop-up at Boxpark Shoreditch certainly enhanced my artist CV and brand reputation, too as I thought it would. It was a fun week and I could feel the community spirit amongst traders there, and the Boxpark office and security team were friendly and helpful.

What was Boxpark Shoreditch like for sales?

However, the actual sales I generated during the week were not as high as I envisaged, and this surprised me. I was focused on selling prints and merchandise (and not the original paintings in particular), and despite much interest, conversions were not as high as I’d hoped. It felt like people were often rushing or too busy to actually make the purchase (many people visited while on the way to a separate destination).

Also, the sheer volume or traders and other competitors for attention in London is so vast. There is simply so much going on – including other art, and other pop art too – that is also competing for people’s attention, so standing out and actually remaining memorable is a challenge (much more than when I exhibit in Norwich, where there is nothing like the art that I exhibit to the public).

Here are a few Pros and Cons from my 2021 Boxpark Shoreditch pop-up experience:

Convenient way to exhibit in London in a solo pop-up shop on a short-term basis (one week to three months)High competition to capture visitor attention – you’re competing with all other vendors at Boxpark, as well as in the Shoreditch area in general
Fairly cost-effective compared to other London venue hirePeople are often just passing by Boxpark, so even if they visit they may be brief as they’re rushing somewhere else
Popular Boxpark brand name and community to tap into – diverse range of vendors so any start-up retail brand will fit inConversions and sales weren’t as high as I’d expected as a result
Good brand alignment to enhance reputation for any upcoming retail brandThe space (the size of a forty-foot shipping container) is quite large to fill so requires a lot of products, materials and signage to fill
Helpful Boxpark staff, and an in-depth pop-up vendor guide was provided in advance to help me design all aspects of my pop-up shopThe doors open directly onto the street, so in November 2021 when I did my pop-up it was cold! Although the units do contain heaters
Constant footfall; access to a large and diverse audience in the trendy Shoreditch areaBoxpark attracts a fairly young audience – so this may not be suited for brands aimed at older audiences
‘Blank canvas’ converted shipping container space – can be customised by each pop-up trader
24/7 security
Trader discount on all of the food and drink vendors upstairs
Wi-Fi included throughout the site
A great way for me to build my artist CV, pull off my first solo London exhibition, and gain brand gravitas and confidence to build on
Good marketing from Boxpark – including a website event page, social media posting and the Boxpark logos to use across your own marketing

Tips for designing your Boxpark Shoreditch pop-up shop? Advice from a former trader – By Kerwin Art

Designing your Boxpark Shoreditch pop-up shop requires a thoughtful blend of creativity and functionality to make a lasting impression on the diverse and trend-conscious audience.

Firstly, leverage the unique characteristics of your shipping container space by creating an eye-catching storefront that reflects your brand identity. Utilise vibrant colours, bold signage, and innovative displays to stand out amidst the bustling atmosphere.

Consider the limited space and ensure efficient layout planning. Maximize every inch with versatile and modular fixtures to showcase your products effectively. Engage customers with interactive elements, such as touchpoints for product exploration or digital displays to convey your brand story.

Take advantage of Boxpark’s communal spirit by fostering a welcoming ambiance. Incorporate seating areas or interactive zones to encourage social interaction and dwell time. Personalise the customer experience with exclusive in-store promotions or limited-edition products, creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity.

Lastly, harness the power of social media-friendly aesthetics. Craft a visually appealing space that encourages customers to share their experience online, amplifying your reach beyond the physical confines of your pop-up. With these tips, your Boxpark Shoreditch pop-up can become a memorable and successful retail venture.

I’ve written an in-depth guide to organising your own art exhibition for artists. This contains many valuable lessons that can be applied to organising a Boxpark pop-up – read this here.

Final thoughts – would I recommend a Boxpark Shoreditch pop-up?

In conclusion, the decision to recommend a Boxpark Shoreditch pop-up hinges on your business goals and target audience. If you crave exposure in a vibrant, trendsetting community and are prepared to embrace the dynamic, temporary nature of pop-up retail, Boxpark is an excellent choice.

The venue’s curated mix of shops, energetic atmosphere, and prime location offer a unique platform for brand visibility. However, be mindful of the associated costs and competition. If your brand aligns with Shoreditch’s eclectic spirit and you’re ready to make a bold statement, a Boxpark pop-up could be a strategic move for elevating your business presence in the heart of London’s cultural and commercial scene.

However, be aware that despite good brand buzz and exposure, sales are not guaranteed and that the pop-up hire fee, while competitive for London, is still not cheap. There are also a lot of components to manage to pull off a successful pop-up at Boxpark, so I’d recommend only considering Boxpark after you’ve successfully executed some smaller pop-up or retail events first.

By Kerwin Boxpark Shoreditch Pop-up Art Exhibition
The promo artwork for my Boxpark pop-up, 2021

But overall, for an up-and-coming and ambitious retail brand looking to take an exciting first step into the London commercial scene, I would definitely recommend considering a Boxpark Shoreditch pop-up as an effective launchpad for you and your brand.

Contact me if you’d like any more advice about taking the plunge with a Boxpark Shoreditch pop-up! Read the full story from my 2021 Boxpark pop-up exhibition here

Explore my full range of Jackson Pollock-inspired music paintings and prints in my online shop,

My full range of Jackson Pollock-inspired acrylic paintings can be viewed at – the originals and prints of these are available to purchase, with worldwide delivery. You can follow my art progress on Instagram and Facebook.

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