When Erin Przekop and Tom Critchlow were first conceiving the idea that would become their online art boutique Fiercely Curious, they didn’t realize they were going to be starting a creative family. “We were hiking in the Andes and Erin was trying to get out of fashion, so we were trying to figure out how to combine our talents to create something new,” says Critchlow, whose background in tech lends to the digital aspect of their gallery concept. Fast-tracking to March 2015, Fiercely Curious is celebrating its one year anniversary as a tight-knit community of Brooklyn-based artists recruited by Przekop to promote and sell their work through what Przekop calls their “curated collective.”
Fiercely Curious is honoring the occasion with a one-week popup show in the industrial Brooklyn neighborhood Gowanus—running 28 February to 5 March 2015—which will act as a physical manifestation of the boutique’s generally online presence. The show also features Przekop and Critchlow’s newest concept, Fiercely Made, which extends their initial artist network to include makers and designers. The popup thoughtfully places Fiercely Curious artists alongside complementing Fiercely Made designs, creating a fluidity to the space that illuminates the potential every piece has for its future home. It’s clear that Przekop and Critchlow planned the layout with intention, creating a realistic atmosphere for their pieces that the gallery world generally lacks.
At first glance, Fiercely Curious + Made is not a wholly unique concept; the online art market is busting at the seams as digital galleries and independent artisans alike are selling through the web. But Prezkop and Critchlow have taken an uncommon approach to the idea, fueled first and foremost by working only with creators that call Brooklyn home, just as they do. It wasn’t their initial intention to stay exclusive to the famously hot borough, but more a matter of happenstance. “We were sitting at our favorite local bar discussing our online gallery concept when our bartender says, ‘Hey, I’m an artist,’ and then the same thing happened at our favorite coffee shop,” Przekop says. “Suddenly we realized that we were rubbing shoulders with artists everyday in our own neighborhood. It only seemed natural then that we should get to know our neighbors.”
Sticking close to home allowed Fiercely Curious to do a lot more than prop itself up on the idea of supporting local makers; it’s also helped the team develop intimate relationships with each and every one of their makers. In turn, the partnering artisans have opened their studio doors to potential buyers who find their work on Fiercely Curious + Made. In fact, Przekop will personally accompany clients on studio visits, believing that client-artist relationships are far more valuable than simply representing the artist’s work alone. She says, “If someone shows interest in a piece at one of our popups, I can say, ‘Oh, do you want to check out the artist’s studio? It’s not that far!'” The artist has become such an integral part of the Fiercely Curious method that Critchlow says they have actually lost sales if the artist isn’t present at an event that features their work. “Meeting the artist is part of our allure,” he explains.
This studio visit experience is also a major element of the duo’s online galleries, with an interview and photoshoot accompanying every artist’s page on the site. It gives makers a chance to get involved with the way they are represented, all while giving Przekop and Critchlow a deep knowledge of the artist’s inventory. “By understanding the artist—their process, what they have in their flat files, their concepts—we can connect them with buyers that may not have considered them otherwise,” says Critchlow. “A buyer may ask, ‘Hey, do you have anything with a skull on it?’ and I’ll know exactly who I can show them.” The team has also made suggestions to artists and designers based on client feedback, which has helped them hone in on making things that are guaranteed to sell.
From its current success, it’s hard to believe that Fiercely Curious had no ties to the gallery world prior to its inception. “We had no connections to collectors,” confirms Przekop, “it’s all been a hustle.” But their incredible enthusiasm and eternal gratitude for their makers seems to be worth far more than industry connections, as both their artist and client base continues to grow. And though Fiercely Curious + Made does sell internationally, the team likes it best when they can link sales up close to home. “I get most excited when we sell locally,” says Critchow. “We think it’s important to know where things come from.”
The Fiercely Curious + Made Popup Show (317 3rd Ave, Brooklyn) runs through 6 March 2015. Join the makers on 6 March for the Spring Cleaning Boozy Bazaar, where artists and designers will be offering inventory pieces at deep discounts.
Images by Gabriella Garcia