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Interview with Independent Collector`s team – Christian Schwarm

Contemporary Club Culture

Independent Collectors is an online initiative by collector Christian Schwarm who founded the social platform with his two friends Ulrich Grothe and Uwe Thomas. Independent Collectors is the first network designed specifically for collectors of Contemporary Art. As a collector you can use the platform to create an international network of like minded collectors to upload, share and manage your private collection, to exchange insights and discuss current topics, to arrange meetings at events and to benefit from special offers. Last year the `club` published in collaboration with BMW the `BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors´

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First of all, could you please outline the concept and intention behind the Independent Collectors in a few words?

Independent Collectors is a social network for contemporary art collectors. The members utilise the platform to form a network of like-minded collectors, to upload and share their personal collections in self-curated exhibitions and to exchange insights and tips concerning the art market. Members are able to organize meetings amongst themselves and benefit from so-called ‚Special Offers‘. 

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Who can become a member, and what does an application process look like?

Any collector of contemporary art can apply to become a member of Independent Collectors. Prospective members can apply by filling in a registration form which you can find here: http://www.independent-collectors.com/registration/. Each application is carefully evaluated by a member of the Independent Collectors team. 

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Is a profound knowledge of the arts or even a profession in this field crucial for a membership at the IC? Or what criteria are set for collection statuses of the members?

Crucial to become a member of Independent Collector is being a collector of contemporary art! Independent Collectors is an exclusive network but not elitist. Some of our members are employed in the arts business to a degree but this is not mandatory.  All members are required to adhere to our ethical code stating that they have registered as collectors and will only use IC as collectors. 

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Is the intention to only present and “work” with one owns art collection or could one also present an imaginative collection? 

Members can upload so-called ‚exhibitions‘, which they can curate themselves. So yes, you could say that the exhibitions are imaginary but the work upload should consist of art present in their own personal collection.

If the Independent Collectors Club is for collectors of fine art, will there be any sales?

Independent Collectors at the moment does not facilitate the sale or appraisal of works of art. We are a social network. Die Zeit called Independent Collectors a ‚Facebook for Aesthetes‘ which is an apt description. 

Does this not carry the danger of being misused for the purpose of networking beyond the collectors exchange? How is this monitored?

Members of Independent Collectors connect with each other as collectors. If a working relationship comes out of a chance meeting on IC , so be it. The Noticeboard and profiles are monitored to ensure that members present themselves first and foremost as collectors and to protect members from unwanted advertisement. 

What kind of project services does the Independent Collector platform offer and hence, what advantages does a membership in the IC entail?

Independent Collectors secures VIP tickets to all major fairs for its members which are presented in so-called ‚Special Offers‘. You can find these under the header ‚Sweets‘ as these are the perks that make being a member extra sweet. Besides VIP tickets, we also procure private tours, discounts or free tickets to benefits and conferences. But the main advantage of being a member of Independent Collectors is of course the change to connect with other contemporary art collectors. 

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The traditional format of a members club has its advantages in meeting people who share the same interest, build up a network and socially interact. Hence, it can be assumed that a personal contact is key to the success of such clubs. What is the key to success of a virtual members club?

An Internet platform lends itself perfectly to our goal of bringing art collectors together. Art collections often feature mainly visual work. What better way to share your collection than via the Internet? Unless a collector has a space to show his or hers collection, a private collection is often just seen by friends and family that are able to visit the collector at home. Independent Collectors allows members to share their collection with a larger dedicated audience. Often members connect over a shared interest in an artist or when they both visit the same fairs. Members have the chance to send each other personal messages over the platform or to organize meet ups via the Noticeboard. 

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Does the IC offer events to personally meet fellow members?

Yes of course! Often we organize informal get-together during fairs. But members also take it upon themselves to organize meetings. Our latest event was at the newly renovated Eigen + Art gallery in Berlin. Gallerist Judy Lybke invited members of Independent Collectors to come view the space before the official opening. 

To what extend does the IC interact with art? Is it purely on an intellectual and social level? Or is there a support structure for lets say connecting members besides the virtual connectivity or by helping to establish collections further?

Independent Collectors is a social network with mostly user generated content. The members upload their art and create exhibitions. We do not personally assist  but the amount of art ( over 20.000 uploaded works) itself does serve as a great source of inspiration.

Recently the IC has published the ‚BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors‘. Could you please tell us a bit more about this project and how it came together. Was the intention to present some of the member’s collections? 

BMW has been IC’s global partner since 2009. So they were a logical choice to partner up with for this project. 

There wasn’t really a global art guide for private collections of contemporary art which are publicly accessible. before the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors.  As we are a global network we wanted the guide to be international as well. Our intention was to introduce the general public to a large number of private art collections that might not be so easy to find or do not appear in traditional guide books. And yes, a number of members are indeed included in the ‚BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors‘!

Where do you see the IC developing and what are aims, if there are some? Or is the initiation and running of the club at focus for it to develop on its own?

Independent Collectors will celebrate it s fifth birthday in June of this year. In the past five years we have started the site, relaunched the site, brought out a guidebook and grown our membership for 1 ( our founder Christian Schwarm) to nearly 5000 dedicated members. We have some exciting new projects in the work as we are constantly developing and trying to offer our members a better service. 

Thank you!

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all images © Independent Collectors


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