In this month’s Vastari Conversations, we sit down with recent collaborators and fellow industry disrupters ARTIQ, to learn more about their history, recent projects and hear about their innovative take on the art world.

Founded in 2009, ARTIQ was created with a unique vision to bring great art into great spaces and to make sure that artists were fairly recompensed for their work. We recently sat down with Founder and CEO Patrick McCrae to learn more about the origins of the company and their recent exhibition and charity fundraiser, Queer Frontiers.

Vastari (V): Hi Patrick, where did the idea for your own company come from?
ARTIQ (AQ): I decided to set up ARTIQ after leaving university. The idea came from a desire to create a company that worked on engaging businesses with art, culture and artists. I wanted to create an arts economy that was both fair and sustainable for artists. I had grown up surrounded by the arts and business, going to my mother’s shows and listening to my father’s stories of business over Sunday dinner; it’s there where ARTIQ and our art rental service was born.

(V): What inspired the idea behind ARTIQ?
(AQ): I realised that there was a gap in the market that needed filling. The landscape of arts and culture and the way that we consume it is changing. I saw the chance for disruption in the industry, and the ability to create an environment that not only gives artists better roots for financial stability but also enables businesses to unlock the benefits of creativity, such as wellness, patronage, placemaking and enhanced creativity.

(V): When did the idea for Queer Frontiers come about, and what inspired you to launch the programme?
(AQ): Queer Frontiers was founded in 2018 to champion LGBTQ+ creatives and to raise awareness of causes close to the community. As an LGBTQ+ entrepreneur I wanted to give back to the community and to showcase the incredible art by those within it. ARTIQ are a diverse workforce, with 25% of our team identifying as LGBTQ+, and we are passionate about supporting and promoting rights for the LGBTQ+ community so through team effort and passion, Queer Frontiers has become one of our calendar highlights! The arts have made a huge contribution to social progress over the years, and as always art holds up a mirror to our society, profiling the work of LGBTQ+ artists and raising money for charity seemed the perfect way to both support and champion the community.

(V): How has the programme developed since its conception?
(AQ): Initially, for the first ever Queer Frontiers event, ARTIQ took over a pop-up space on Old Compton Street during, and with the support of, Pride in London. This year, Queer Frontiers came back bigger and better than ever, with judging assistance from The Whitechapel Art Gallery and new sponsorship from specialist insurer and arts patron, Hiscox. We undertook a week-long exhibition in a gallery space on Brewer Street, with thanks to Soho Estates, where we shared the work of over 30 LGBTQ+ artists and allies with the public and special guests. There was also a programme of events offering workshops, talks and of course a few parties! We raised over 25k for LGBTQ+ charities, Switchboard and akt, with either 50% or 100% of artwork sales donated at the individual artists’ discretion.

(V): How did you select artists?
(AQ): Queer Frontiers was set up to showcase artists from across the globe, so we always start with an international open call as well as reaching out to artists that we would love to specifically be involved. The final curation for this year was selected by ARTIQ’s Artist Liaison, Sara Tenti as well as other representatives from ARTIQ and Hiscox alongside judges from The Whitechapel Art Gallery. Artworks included sculpture by Sam Shendi, photographic images by leading Italian photographer Paolo Raeli and artist Teo Robinson; artworks by Helen Beard, Bernard Fournier, textile artist Henry Hussey and leading street and installation artists Sickboy and Maser alongside some of the most exciting up and coming artists.

Thanks to Patrick and the team at ARTIQ for chatting to us this month. Keep an eye out for news of Queer Frontiers 2020, and in the meantime learn more about ARTIQ and read about the success of this year's Queer Frontiers.