Interview: Raiko Schwalbe | STROKE URBAN ART FAIR

Stroke Munich is the first art fair we will attend this year from May 3rd to May 6th in Praterinsel in Munich. We will present new & exclusive masterpieces from BR1, SP38 & ALIAS, as well as smaller scale works from VERMIBUS and PROST. At this occasion we talked to Raiko Schwalbe: founder and CEO of STROKE URBAN ART FAIR to get his perspective on the fair, the scene and the market.

But first, let’s start with some background information about STROKE and it’s genesis.

For the first time in human history, the majority of the earth’s population is living in urban residential areas. The urban environment and the corresponding lifestyle can be counted amongst the fundamental sources of inspiration for contemporary culture. The historical revolution of visual forms of expression, in which the designs of the everyday streetscape, with its graffiti, tags, tattoos, advertising or graphic design found their sustenance, define the progression of contemporary art. The urban environment as the literal and metaphorical platform for this development inspires and presents the artists and their work.

The URBAN ART FAIR works as a parallel universe to the inflated classical art market of the“rich and beautiful”, driven by aggressive investment strategies, auction houses and the greed for spectacular prices. The goal is to establish an art-entry-market for both: the artists and the interested buyers.

Passion and dedication are still more important than business plans and projections. Unbeatable participation costs combined with professional presentation and an uninterrupted passion for the art – this is where STROKE sees the starting point for the world’s first and only URBAN ART FAIR.

Within the last two years, more than 47,000 visitors came to see artists and galleries from all over the world (Poland, Brazil, Austria, USA, Italy, France, Chile, Spain, Switzerland or the UK – just to name a few). During the last decade, no other German art fair can pride itself to have reach such a growth and media interest.

Thumbs up!

Stroke Munich Teaser

Raiko, over the last few years you and I have had endless phone and email discussions. I remember we argued a lot in the earl days, but we always managed to find an appropriate solution for each challenge we faced. Also I have to confess before we started our discussion I had a wrong understanding about Stroke as a company. I assume most people have no idea about what’s happening behind the scene & that’s why I’d like you to give us some personal impressions. First I’d like to hear about your background.

I Started the INTOXICATED DEMONS Gallery in Berlin in 2007 together with my brother Marco. We did more than 10 shows a year with international artists in our gallery space. But I am living in Munich and that’s why I suggested my brother to start up something here too – so we did a single Popup show called “Kunst im Tresor” with more than 1.500 visitors in one day – this was the birth of STROKE.

What are your motivations? Why did a friends and family based event turned into an international art fair?

In the beginning STROKE was supposed to be a platform where everybody (artists, galleries and we as the organizer) have respect for each others work, processes and jobs. But after STROKE.01 it was clear that this can not be for ever because many participants don’t want to see us as a facilitator - they see us more as an organization and an infrastructure they pay for.

So we decided to set up the STROKE URBAN ART FAIR as a two event show every year in Germany to give young artists and galleries the chance, to join a professional art fair without paying 10.000€ and more for a participation (like other art fairs do).

What’s you perspective on the scene and the market?

The development of new technologies, and particularly internet technologies has empowered a new generation of artists. I have a lot of respect to all the millions of artists out there which are not “famous popstars” and which are really in “doing art” not just “producing and selling”. Being an artists mostly is a really hard job to make ends meet and I have a big respect for this kind of commitment. That is one of the reasons why I still run the STROKE even though I haven’t earn a single penny doing it until now.

As always the market will “catch” this art and categorize it into “contemporary art” very soon. The actual hype (it’s the third hype about “art from the urban area we are living in”) will end in this way: many traditional art fairs will feature an emerging artists’ area in their regular floor plan to show that they can catch the new trends and are up to date with the market. I hope for the artists to stay on their way of living, thinking an doing ; and not to start to follow this trend.

To conclude this interview, tell us honestly what are you major successes and challenges so far?

We are pride to be the international art fair for the urban art scene, its young artists and galleries. We offer a very professional art fair infrastructure, we attract thousands of visitors, all this on the price level that remains affordable so everybody can afford to participate when they fit in the concept

That being said, none of fifth fairs we organized has been monetary profitable so far – but nobody knows this and most people think we are a cash machine, they just don’t know what’s happening behind the scene. We still have challenges to partner with strong sponsors because they most likely invest into fashion, sports or music festivals.

Thanks Raiko, we hope this short interview will give our audience a better understanding of what STROKE URBAN ART FAIR really is and who’s behind it.

We look forward to coming to Munich again & doing great business.

OPEN WALLS booth is number 27, Füllhalle, Praterinsel / Munich.

More information:

Save the date!

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Private View 7pm to 9pm Vernissage 9pm to 12am

Friday, May 4th & Saturday May 5th 2012 - 1pm to 11.30 pm

Sunday, May 6, 2012 - 1pm to 6pm / 10 EUR