(Photo by Tyler Woods)
A Gowanus-based startup wants to change the way the art market works.
One of the most popular startup ideas is the past decade has been to create new markets. People love markets! Vayable is a marketplace for unique experiences; Getable is a place for on-demand construction equipment; Geekatoo is Uber for tech support. AngelList has 4,787 companies listed under “Marketplace startups.” Though there has been an explosion in markets, the art market has been slow to change.
Since launching last year, Fiercely Curious has been chipping away at that, by pulling back the curtain on the artistic process.
To a large degree, Fiercely Curious aims to be a means of distribution as much as an art market for the 21st century. The site documents the labor that goes into the works they sell. That vision also encompasses Fiercely Made, the company’s vertical for showcasing Brooklyn makers and artisans (rather than artists).
Fiercely Curious founder Erin Przekop goes on visits to artists’ studios and records conversations about their works, she shares on the site and on Instagram photos of the works in progress, the machines producing the art, and the programs and code used to make things, giving the consumer a window into the creative and technological process of the works for sale.
“One of our founding principles is to make art very accessible,” explained cofounder Tom Critchlow.
The three of us met at the Williamsburg Starbucks, where Fiercely Curious had brokered a piece. It’s a wall of three dimensional magnets resembling skrimshaw, each with part of a page of Moby Dick pasted on the back. (Starbucks has as its namesake the God-fearing first mate from Moby Dick, Starbuck.) Another Fiercely Curious artist has a piece across the street, in 16 Handles.
“We’re trying not to create a stark gallery model, but see the process, smell the paints that are used,” Critchlow said. “A lot of that is usually taken away when you go to an art show.” This allows the buyer to feel more connected to the item, Przekop said.
For most of her career she was in the fashion world. She lived in Italy and France for six years working for Rick Owens, and then came back to the states to work for Diane von Furstenberg. Over time she became more and more alienated by the constant consumption these companies encouraged. Not even broken down into fall season and summer season, she was designing for each month. Moreover, the people who were physically making the clothes she designed were overseas and out of reach.
“I was working with companies that were producing a lot of the clothing in China and I was struggling with a lack of relationship with the people who were making the clothes I was designing,” she said. A breakthrough came for her while she was on a vacation hiking the Inca trail to Macchu Picchu with Critchlow.
“I realized I wanted to surround myself with things that were well crafted and real,” she said.
A video posted by @chrisklapper on
The other advantage of the documentation of the process of the work is that it’s interesting in a “How It’s Made” sense as well.
Critchlow is not an artist himself, he came from the advertising world and most recently Google, which aligns him closer in mindset to the potential buyers of the pieces.
“It’s not just an exploration of digital works but also of how these people make the works,” he explained. “It’s never been easier to connect the dots between a book someone read or what inspired them.”
The pair is hosting an art and design show in Gowanus called “Technology As Hands.” For the show, Fiercely Curious will be going in-depth with each of the 30 participating artists. Critchlow described the show as being about the making of art and objects with technology, where machines and programs take the place of the artist’s hands in manufacture, but the pieces are still very much made by hand.
Technology As Hands will open Oct. 23 and close Oct. 30 at Sky Gallery.
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