Is That a Trick Question in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Another reader writes in, with only one sentence:

“What practical everyday advice do you offer? ”

Hmmm… I wonder if that’s a trick question.

Maybe she’s not happy that I send emails everyday and it’s a way to express her dissatisfaction.

Or maybe she doesn’t’ get how in each email I send, there’s always some practical advice – whether it’s to do something, or to think about something, or to ask yourself a question.

But, it could be a genuine question, as in:

What would I advise an artist does, every day, in a practical sense.

And if that’s the question, the answer is… well, do something businessy.

Yes, of course what you do matters but at a basic level, anything you would choose to do could be helpful.

Just so long as the goal of the activity is first to grow your visibility, second to grow your list, and ultimately to get you more sales.

And if you pick an activity – any activity, really – that qualifies for those three goals, all you need to do is spend 30 minutes on it, every single day.

Will 30 minutes a day be enough to grow a healthy art business?

By itself probably not.

But I guarantee that if you make a habit out of it, and you keep it up for a few months, things will start to change for you.

It all ads up, you know.

You can fill a bathtub with just a drop a day.

Sure it’ll take a long time, but in the end it’ll be full.

So the question is, really, how fast do you want your art business to grow?

If you’re driven, committed, and you really want to grow that baby of yours, you could also start emptying cups, or even buckets into the tub.

Meaning, spend an hour, or two, or… well, however fast you want to grow, really.

And what then should you do, during that daily business time?

Can be anything. For example:

•    writing emails to your list

•    curating content on social media that your audience will like

•    getting in touch with previous buyers

•    researching your buyer’s psychology by creating a survey

•    actively connecting with your target audience on social media and growing your following

•    Installing optin forms on your site (Sumome is a great WordPress plugin) and offering a freebie when people sign up

•    contacting the press about the message that goes along with your art and getting exposure that way

•    teaming up with a local charity or joining online forums/local communities and becoming a valued peer

Any of those ideas resonate with you?

Then pick one or several and install them as habits in your day.

Keep at it, and growth will be inevitable.

But tell me: which business habits have been most effective for you?



Freud Was Here: How to Make Lemons Out of Lemonade (Instructions Inside)

This past January, a bunch of things went ‘wrong’ for me.

A visitor falling ill and needing emergency surgery, followed by an impromptu trip to Switzerland – right when I was about to start my busiest year ever.

Not quite what I had planned for.

But in my view, things don’t ‘go wrong’.

Things simply change, and then it’s up to us to either end up in a tizzy and freak out – or to adjust our attitude and decisions.

It’s a type of practical agility, I suppose.

Like they say: when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

A reader told me the other day that he really likes that attitude, and that from now on, he will also ‘make lemons out of lemonade’.

Oops. Freudian slip, anyone?

If you manage to make lemons out of lemonade, you’ll definitely be the life of the party.

But, it’ll also take the party out of your life.

I mean, what do you do, how do you react, when stuff happens?

When things break, or people stop replying, or a buyer disappears right when you thought they would proceed to get your painting?

How, indeed, do you deal with ‘stuff happening’?

When psychomologists tell you that ‘it’s all in your mind’, that right there is a mighty and powerful tool, you know?

You can control your reactions, if only you want to.

You have the power to decide what something means, in your life.

You, my friend, are empowered to say ‘crap, this is lemons’ or ‘rocking, let’s make lemonade’.

Don’t dismiss this.

It’s the difference between living a life of struggle, or dancing elegantly through whatever life throws at you.

And if you think you don’t need to work with it, think again.

Because things are bound to go wrong, sooner or later.

Point is that deciding right here and now to take it in stride and use whatever setback or unfortunate event as a building block for something new, will shield you from stress and frustration.

So tell me, how do you live:

Do you make lemons from lemonade, or the other way around?



Music and Paris, and Nothing to Follow Through With a Brand New Fan

Kahina OualiI’m in Paris, with a 4 hour wait until my next train.

So obviously I went to savour a bit of the city.

And, call it luck or a blessing, but it was all just perfect.

I walk into a friendly-looking place, and right there is a young woman, with a mic and a piano.

And she sings, and plays, and her voice sounds like milk and honey.

Seriously – Rumi would have written poetry about her.

But anyway.

I sit there, relishing the experience and drinking in the energy.

Afterwards, I ask her if she has any CDs out.

Which, sadly, she doesn’t.

I’d LOVE to play her music on my stereo, and it doesn’t matter that it’s not her own compositions she plays.

Just the whole energy, and tone – it’s perfect.

So I tell her:

“Why not?

“Why not record a set of songs, just as you are now? The music you played tonight?

“Stick it on iTunes, Youtube, share it on Facebook…

“I’m not saying you’l be rich tomorrow, but even if it earns you 10 or 50 Euros a week, that’s extra money.

“Right now you live from playing nights, and that can’t be easy.

“All it takes is a decent quality recording, and you wouldn’t just raise your profile, you’d also stand to earn more.


She smiles.

“Yes! It’s a good idea!”

And that, my friends, is how simple it can be to make use of what you already have as an artist, and use it to become more professional and more visible, and, yes even if it’s in small increments, more prosperous.

Think about it: right now, people dine and enjoy and then they leave.

But if she has something out there, a brand, a few songs, something people can either buy or listen to online, she has a way to retain those people.

I heard her, and I’m a fan. But right now, there’s nothing extra that she can give me, and for an artist of her calibre, that’s a crying shame.

And if you want to know more about things like exposure and keeping people’s interest, then you would do well to sign up for the 3-hour art marketing seminar I’m giving next Saturday.

Details here —>



Hey, Want to Buy Some Freedom?

Just had a very inspiring meeting with an accomplished Dutch sculptor by the name of Ad Haring.

Sadly we had only a few minutes, but he did give me a gem.

See, Ad has been lucky. Basically from the start of his career, he’s had people bringing buyers to him.

Not something that befalls every artist, and he’s aware how fortunate he’s been.

At the same time, it’s not been down to only luck.

He’s also made commissioned pieces, and not just one or two.

When I asked him how that works in terms of true artistic integrity versus selling what a buyer or market wants, he told me something that every artist should take to heart:

“Commissions allow me to buy my freedom”.

Think about that.

Sure you have your own inspiration, and of course you don’t want to sell out.

But you don’t have to.

You can have the best of both worlds: Time to create what really is truly your art, and the money that you can get from creating something that people already told you they want to pay for.

And yes, there’s a sliding scale right in the middle of a gray area.

Some ‘gigs’ might really not interest you, whereas others have enough overlap with your true art to make it worth your while.

But the attitude that I see with a lot of artists, where they flat out refuse to take on any commissions or adapt to what a buyer is wanting to pay for:

Does that really help you?

Should you keep your artistic integrity so high and undiluted that you can’t pay the bills?

Or in other words: Is that really worth it?

Hefty questions, to be sure.

But then, that’s what you get when you go out and have conversations with interesting people.

Which is a lesson in disguise and, if you can’t see what I mean I’ll spell it out for you:

Please, go out and have more conversations.

It’s good for business.

Next, tell me about yourself: what do you do, how do you balance true inspiration with gigs or commissions?

Let me know, I’m curious.



Self-Awareness | Lemons | Pivot | Here and Now

Some days, you just want to chuck your computer under the train.

For example, when you’re on the train to Holland, and your computer crashes and just won’t come back to life.

Yes, more lemons for Martin.

But then again, why fret?

I arrived in Holland, got a good night’s rest, and first thing in the morning downloaded software to get stuff fixed.

While Mac OS was being reinstalled, I called up my client Anook to see if she was up for a coffee.

Turned out, it was exactly the right moment because I’m only here for a few days, and next week both she and I will be busy: hard to find a match in our schedules.

So I went over and we had lemonade.

Well, tea – but you get the point.

I could have stressed about my primary tool breaking down, but instead I just decided to pivot, and as it turned out, that what had seemed a disaster was actually a blessing in disguise.

So very often, that what goes wrong is a useful or even needed break from our plans and expectations.

It’s all good and well to plan things, but how much control do you really have?

Depends how you look at it:

When it’s about circumstances outside of yourself: pretty much zero control.

But your reactions, your attitudes, your emotional responses, and the decisions you make as a consequence of what happens with, around, or to you: Those are all things you can control.

Not always immediately, but you do have the ability to train self-awareness, to learn how your mechanisms work, and to gradually develop a bit of meta-perspective on that little bundle of perceptions and mechanisms called ‘I’.

That meta perspective which stems from self-reflection and self-awareness, that’s what will enable you to be more in control of the inner world goings on.

And the more you contemplate the default reactions you have, and get to understand how they work, the more you can recognise occurrences for what they are, in the right here and right now.

In retrospect, you’ll easily be able to see how whatever kind of disaster was a blessing in disguise.

But it’s when you can allow for that possibility right when things go wrong, that you get to pivot.

Mindstuff, yes indeed.

Because success is made up of more than strategies and tactics and social media and galleries.

Success starts on the inside, starts with how you think about yourself and how you think about your thinking.

Have you ‘learned yourself’ yet?

Worth your time to try.

Obviously, getting to know and understand yourself gets easier when you also learn about how things around you work.

Which is why I don’t just talk mind-stuff, but also practical things, like methods and strategies and tactics for marketing and exposure and communication and pricing.

If you want three hours of that, either live in Spain or by video, here’s where you can register for my 30hour art-marketing masterclass –>



Ain’t No Lemons in My Life – Only Lemonade

I hadn’t planned for this trip to Switzerland.

When this year started, I had a full 3 months planned out, with a book launch and a seminar, and another two books in February and March

But before the year even started, the plan had been rendered dead in the water.

But what can you do?

If a friend falls ill, you step up and take care.

So my friend and his girlfriend, they didn’t leave on Jan 3rd as planned.

Instead, she had emergency surgery and came back to my home to recover.

Her mother flew in from the USA, and I – staunch fan of solitude – suddenly had a small family in my home.

So, I asked a friend permission to work in her house, given that she’s in the UK.

Set up my office there, got back to work, got stuff done.

Plan out the window, but progress being made.

So far so good.

Then when my friend’s girlfriend had recovered, she and her mother flew back to Switzerland, and my friend was left with me, a car, and 2000 Kms to drive.

Which he didn’t want to do on his own, so I joined him for the ride.

And instantly, I made lemonade out of the lemons life gave me:

After all, it would be a great opportunity to meet some clients I have in Zurich.

And, because of their connections, it would also give me a chance to give my masterclass at the Zurich Art Academy.


Ain’t no lemons in my life – only lemonade.

Except that car I bought a few years ago. That one was definitely a lemon.

But for the rest?

I observe a situation, difficult or otherwise, and get creative on that sucker.

Oh, things change, break?

Cool. Let’s see what I can do with that.

There’s always something you can do with circumstances.

But only if you want to.

It’s down to mindset again.

Last night we booked a hotel room while on the road, only to receive a call one hour later: “Sorry, booking conflict, we’re canceling your reservation”.

So I just went online, found another hotel, and booked. Problem solved. Lemonade, because the second hotel was closer to the motorway.

When things happen you can lament and stress out about changes, but I can also decide to just make something out of it.

Zurich, here we come.

No guarantee I can speak at the Academy, what with it being holidays there now.

But we’ll see.

If that doesn’t happen, something else will come of it, I’m 100% convinced.

And whatever happens, I’ve got my lemonade with me.

Meanwhile, the one masterclass that’s definitely set to happen, and which will be filmed, is on the 6th of February.

And if you can’t make it or live to far away, you can get the videos.

Three hours of how to build and grow a healthy art business.

Available here, wherever you live in the world –>



Weird? I Really Want to Own One, and I’m Not Even an Art Buyer

Just got off a coaching call, and something really interesting occurred to me while in that conversation.

See, I don’t need any more art.

I rent my apartment from a friend, and he’s a fervent art collector.

And since he’s my friend, he left all the (extremely impressive) here, for me to enjoy.

So even if I’d want to buy a painting, I wouldn’t know where to hang it – the house is effectively full.

And yet…

A few weeks ago, I was in the studio of Jessica Shepherd, a botanical illustrator.

That chica is GOOD.

I already knew that, because last summer at the local gallery, I admired her paintings.

But once I was in her studio, and I saw how she paints on vellum, and I saw all the sketches and the pre-work and her setup, something changed.

The click happened when she brought out a little tool – a wooden stick with a smooth stone on it.

Don’t remember if it’s quartz or amber or whatever – but she said she rubs it over the painting, forcing the paint into the paper, before doing the second layer.

The moment she showed us, and I saw the movements she made, that’s when I fell in love with her work in such a way that I want to own one of her paintings.

So, possibly, this year I’ll move one of my landlord’s paintings into storage, and hang one of hers on the wall.

The moral of the story:

Show your work.

Share your progress, the way it goes together, where you get your inspiration – share it with people.

She didn’t even try to sell anything and yet I walked away wanting to buy.

Show your work: that’s all the marketing you really need to do.

Studio visits, shows, youtube videos, email marketing: pick the method that works for you and that you enjoy, and make it a habit.

And your art will, indeed, sell itself.

But only if you actually communicate with people, and share, and do it persistently and relentlessly.

If email marketing is what you want to do, then I’ll train you on how to do it right.

Details about the program are here –>



Last Chance, for the New Year is Nigh (Also: Sometimes I’m a Dumbass)

Here’s me, telling you that in order for your website to convert, it needs to be just right.

The copy, the design, the placement and font size and what have you.

It all needs to check out.

Telling you that if you want people to sign up or buy your art, they need to know you, like you, and, absolutely indispensable: trust you.

So I set up a page with a special discount offer, to help you get everything right.

And what happens?

I get careless with the copy, don’t check the dates (it was the same page I used in September, modified), and launch it.

Start sending you the link to check it out, and wonder…

How come fewer people than expected are taking up this offer?

Until yesterday, when a helpful reader sends me an email, saying there’s some weird stuff on that page, that the delivery date is in the past.

Hence, my saying that sometimes I’m a dumbass.

How are you going to trust that I actually know how to improve your copy and your site conversion, if my own salespage for it is riddled with errors?

That right there is a total trust-breaker.

And trust is so subtle, and so important.

The slightest mistake or missing element – something as silly as a comma in the wrong place can confuse a reader, and when there’s confusion, there’s less trust.

So, don’t do as I do.

Check your pages, and don’t be hasty.

I’ve learned my lesson, so maybe you can learn from my mistake.

Meanwhile, the offer still stands, until the New Year arrives.

And whether or not you grab it, I wish you so much luck and prosperity in the New Year.

I thank you for reading me, for your support and feedback, and above all:

I honour you for wanting to become better and more professional at running your art business.

Here’s the corrected page, if you happen to trust me enough to deliver the goods and that they’ll be good –>

Happy New Year!


Letter to Santa (What I Want for Christmas)

Dear Santa,

I know that life hasn’t been easy on you lately.

Lots of people no longer believe in you, and I can’t imagine how awful that must feel.

Aside from that, Amazon and online retail in general must be terrible competition.

And what with hypes like Cybermonday and Black Friday, do people even want stuff anymore, come Christmas?

Oh right, I forgot: some people always want more stuff.

But, don’t you think things would get easier if you get with the times a little?

I mean, all that flying round in a sleigh – doesn’t that wear on you?

At your age, I imagine the cold must be a real drag.

And speaking about drag: reindeer and a sleigh are hardly aerodynamic, are they?

As for the reindeer: I’m sure you’re a friendly person and you just grew into it, but these days it’s become quite unacceptable to treat animals that way, making them work they way you do.

No, I think you’d be much better off using some technology.

I mean, even Amazon is going to use drones for delivery, so you might want to look into that.

But the real reason I’m writing you this letter, is to ask for my present.

And it’s not a present for me.

What I want for Christmas, this year and onward into the future, is for you to give people more art.

Because really, how many Nike shoes does a kid need?

And how much happier does a marriage become when you give the husband an Xbox?

Think about it: what people ask for might be what they want, but that’s not necessarily what makes them happy.

And you’ll agree with me that behind every want a person may have, the ultimate desire is to become a happier person.

And I don’t know if you’ve read the news the last few thousand years, but the more art there is in people’s lives, the better those lives get.

Theatre, opera, music, painting, dance, sculpture, literature…

All those things make life better and the world happier.

So it’s not that I want to tell you that you’re doing it wrong, but…

The world doesn’t need more toys and iPhones – it needs more art.

So that’s the only Christmas present I want, please: more art under the Christmas tree.

I’m sure you know which kind each person would be happiest with.



Happy holidays everyone!

AMEI Interview: How to Generate Massive Free Publicity for Your Art Business or Your Show

Yet another terrific Art Marketing Expert Interview, showing you how to get free press for your creative business:

In this interview, you’ll hear:

•    Why persistence matters: Luke just kept trying until he made something work, and he discovered that publicity was the thing that got people take him seriously.

•    Luke will also explain why interviews are much more effective than advertising, because they get you attention and authority.

•    Not only that: publicity also gives you the halo effect: it’s like an implicit endorsement

•    Not that it’s a replacement for marketing, but it’s one of the big overlooked opportunities and you’d do well to make use of it

•    Luke will explain why the mental block is the biggest problem for people who want to get press (aka the small poppy syndrome), and the workaround you can use to get publicity anyway.

•    Luke says that the key to publicity is giving a mix of entertainment and useful how-to information, or infotainment if you will

•    The one thing to avoid though when reaching out to journalists, is making it sound like an ad, and Luke will give very specific instructions on how to pitch news outlets with your story.

•    And, he’ll tell you how to get press by working with local outlets and talking about the local economy

•    Here’s another little tip to make it work: get a non-profit sponsor, or work with a local charity, And here’s another trick: if you happen to have a sticks and bricks location, why not become a drop off point for charity?

•    Basically, any event in your area can be a golden opportunity to have the news pick up your story.

•    Luke will share with you his tried and tested formula for getting press, for free, time and time again.

•    He will also tell you his case study, where a local gym owner who had gotten tired of her business and wanted to sell it. She organised an event, got the rapper Flo Rida to show up and rap some tracks, drummed up the press, and ended up selling her business with a big profit.

•    You’ll also hear an experiment I did trying to get some articles printed in the local press, but they were rejected – and Luke’s advice on how to make sure they’ll pick me up next time.

•    In the end, Luke says, it’s not about selling yourself, or even your art: you want to sell the press people your story idea.

•    He will tell you which website to use in order to automatically find reporters actively looking for interesting stories – and that could be your story.

•    Luke also tells you why Paul Hartunian is a guy you must follow and learn from if you want to use publicity to grow your creative business.

•    But, Luke says, if you want to get publicity you need to be very targeted in who you pitch to, otherwise you just spend a lot of energy for little result.

•    In essence, it comes down to your ability to appeal to the vanity of the journalists and news anchors.

•    You’ll hear Luke’s top tips for how to formulate your pitch, and what you must always include and avoid.

•    He’ll tell you about the three levels of radio stations, and how to move up the food chain, and why brokered radio is always hungry for guests.

•    And, Luke will share with you how you can use local events, ride the wave, and potentially get massive exposure and free press.

This interview can make a huge difference to your creative business, and I totally recommend you listen to it, notebook in hand.


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