Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Word of Advise: Don't Help Other Artists

Had a coaching session with a local artist the other day.

This one has never done anything to sell her work, other than rely on galleries.

So we talk, and I give her my best, and one of the things I suggested is that she join the La Conca Arts Club, here on the coast.

That’s it’s so great to have a supportive network.

“Oh no”, she says. “Artists don’t support each other!”

Which is interesting, because each time there’s a do or an exhibition, all the artists on the coast rally round and show up.

Tonight, Emma Plunkett has a private viewing up in Granada, and we’re all going up there to attend.

Roberta (founder of the club), me, my painter friend Sue, and that’s just the people I spoke to in the last 24 hours.

I’m pretty sure I’ll see half the club give acte de présence, bringing their friends and all.

So who says artists don’t support each other?

Only the people who think that way, who feel that there’s scarcity and competition, that you need to be protective –

That’s the kind of person who doesn’t believe it.

All the others, they are like a sea: Together they are a rising tide, and they lift all ships.

Now obviously other artists won’t directly get you more sales.

An artist isn’t necessarily an art buyer.

But the people they know and bring along, those folk just might buy from you.

Or they might talk about you.

Or sign up to your newsletter, or follow you on social media and share your stories and new work.

So yes, there’s definite benefit to associating yourself with other artists.

It increases your reach, visibility, the amount of conversations you have, and the luck surface area of your art business.

And as for competition and protectiveness?

I wouldn’t worry about it.

Your art is unique, and if it’s not right for Jimmy Art-buyer, he’s not going to take it home no matter how exclusively you shield it away from ‘the competition’.

There’s plenty to go round for all of us.

But only if you get out there yourself.

And, you’ll need to be utterly clear about who you are, what you stand for, and what sets you apart from other artists.

And that has to do with much – MUCH – more than just your art.

Which you’ll understand on a deep level after you read LEAP 17 – the branding issue.

She goes to the printer’s in just a few days, so best not dally but get ye on board –>



Stupid is in the Eye of the Beholder

After that email yesterday, where I was having some fun telling you why not to listen to the excellent interview with Owen Garratt, I received a few replies.

One stood out.

Some chica, writing back:

“Stop bothering me with your stupid email”

Obviously, I didn’t waste a second of her time or my time, and scrolled down to click – I must say very courteously – her unsubscribe link for her.

Because dude, that’s just how nice of a guy I am.

Don’t understand why she didn’t do it herself, instead of risking another stupid reply from me, but hey.

Next, I thought about it, and then I started writing this what you’re reading now.

Because I’m happy that she wrote in to complain.

I’m glad she let me know she’s not interested.

First, because I don’t mean to bother anyone.

Second, because it gave me a cue to explain something to you.

Third, because it means I’m doing something right.

See, I’m not for everyone.

I don’t need a million friends, and I don’t need to have the entire art-making world love me.

I just want a couple of very interested people, folk who are like me in some way or other.

Because those are the people I can help.

The right kind of people, those are the ones who benefit from my work.

And that’s the only kind of person I do this for.

Polarising people is a good thing.

If you try to please everyone, you’ll be bland, and you won’t really truly matter to a lot of people.

But if you stand out, have an opinion, your own voice, that’s when you see some people turn away, while other people get excited and passionate.

And as for her calling my email[s] stupid, ask me how much I care?

If anything, it says something about her, not about me or my emails.

After all, several people wrote back to say they liked the email, and some told me they were very grateful for the interview.

She calls it stupid, while others tell me they get so much out of them, that it’s like therapy but cheaper, and that I should keep up the good work.

Stupid is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder.

So, don’t try to be Wonderbread.

Be the best dang wholegrain rye and spelt sourdough loaf that you can be.

With raisins, if you like – or nuts, if you’re like me.  .

And, cheer when people don’t like it.

Because that means that other people will really REALLY like it.

Some people call it repulsion marketing.

I just call it comfortably being yourself.

Learn how to use it in your art marketing in the LEAP newsletter –>



The Single Most Important Word in Business

Shall I tease you a bit, and write the intro first?

Or shall I just give you the word now.

Choices, choices.

I think I’ll tease you a while first.

Hint: you’ve already read the word four times now.

Ok fine: the most important word is: You.

It’s something that lots of people get wrong.

They ignore the audience – the buyer, the reader, the listener – and make everything about themselves.

My art, my story, my paintings, my life and my kids and my brushes.

Me me me.

But that won’t fly.

And you know that.

You don’t want to be self-involved.

You don’t want to talk yourself up.

And you ought not to.

At least not in a self-absorbed way.

But here’s the thing.

For people who have this kind of modesty, it’s very often the reason they don’t do any marketing at all.

Or they try to sell without selling.

So how do you reconcile that?

After all, I’m the guy who always says that people buy the artist as well as the art.

So how do you tell your story, without being self-involved?

I wrote about that extensively in the September issue, (available on back order for subscribers) but I’ll tell you this:

You invite people into your world, by going into their world.

You become the bridge between the art and the buyer.

You cross that bridge, into their world.

And there, you pay attention to them.

You listen and you observe which things matter to them.

You get to know them as much as you can, even if it’s in a 5-minute conversation.

And you appeal to their interests by sharing those parts of your story that you intuit will resonate with them.

That way, you serve them in their search for inspiration, or beauty, or fulfillment or whatever it is they are looking for.

That way, you use your own story and personality as a way to be meaningful to them.

The most important word in business (and in life, and relationships) is ‘you’.

Bloody difficult, isn’t it?

Not really.

How to make use of this attitude, and how to listen so that you can explain, ask and prosper, that gets shared in detail in the next LEAP.

You can sign up for it until Thursday, right here –>



Whatever You Do, Don't Listen to This Interview

Seriously, don’t.

That interview with Owen Garratt?

Don’t watch it.

You won’t learn a thing.

You’re not going to enjoy it.

You’re going to be absolutely bored out of your mind.

You won’t enjoy giggling at my bad haircut.

You’ll waste two hours that you’re never getting back.

It’s not going to show you novel and tested ways to find art buyers.

Especially not your own perfect audience.

You’ll learn not one thing about how to build your list and sell at the same time.

You won’t learn the tested strategies that helped Owen sell $1mln worth of art in one year.

Honestly, it’s a complete waste of time and a perfect example of everything that’s wrong with the internet.

It won’t help you get more art sold.

So whatever you do, do not click the link.

Really, I mean it.

I’m as serious as a shark bite about this.

Don’t click the link.

I’m sure you have some procrastination that urgently needs to happen.

And besides, that reality show on TV isn’t going to watch itself.

So just file this email away under ‘later’ and let it quietly disappear.

If you can’t help yourself and click anyway, just make sure you don’t click the play button too.

You’re not going to get anything from it, other than the desire to go to bed early.

It’ll do nothing whatsoever for your art business.

Well, maybe put it to sleep.

But it won’t make your business grow and it won’t help you sell more of your work.

If you don’t believe me and you just must do what you’re told not to, here’s the link.

But I’m telling you, you’ll regret clicking it.

Nobody Will Ever Care About Your Career As Much As You Do – So Watcha Gonna Do?

The year is 2006. A young and terribly talented singer songwriter called Terra Naomi starts uploading videos of herself and her acoustic guitar to YouTube.

Before long, people start to notice and she becomes a phenomenon: the first indie musician to ‘make it big’ under her own steam, using nothing but her talent and a computer.

At some point, she sells 5000 copies of her self-produced album each month.

She is on the make.

Then, a record label gets in touch.

They want to sign her up for a record deal.

Big money shines on the horizon, and dude: Just imagine the exposure that a big company like Universal Island Records can generate!

The folks at YouTube tell her to wait with signing: they’re building a system that allows artists to monitise their YouTube fame.

But Terra signs anyway.

Gets the $250K cash advance.

And thinks she’s got it made.

Except that’s not how things turn out.

Corporate decides she should be less accessible to the fans.

Tells her the new album should be radio ready.

And Terra ends up recording an album she doesn’t like, alienating her fans, and ultimately sells a measly 25.000 copies.

And gets called a sell-out by the fans who used to love her.

These days, she’s back on top of things, but she admits signing the record deal was a mistake.

“The most important thing to remember is that no one will ever care about your career as much as you do.”

~ Terra Naomi

I’m not telling you this in order to tease you, or promise you that you can sell the equivalent of 5000 albums a month.

The girl was lucky: The right artist at the right time, just when YouTube was beginning to get big.

But I do want you to take in what can happen to your art and your career if you don’t take control.

If you let the gatekeepers and shareholders decide where and how your art gets sold, who knows what will happen.

In many cases, nothing much, is what will happen.

How many pieces has your gallery sold for you lately?


Like I’m fond of saying: It’s your shop, you determine the rules.

It’s your career, you get to build it the way you want.

Or not, as the case may be.

If you do however, and you want to learn how to + get personal help and guidance, go here –>



Proof That People Buy Art for Its Own Intrinsic Value, Not Just as an Investment

Remember what I wrote the other day, how a reader named Rodrigo is adamant about the reality of art being bought as an investment?

I partially agree with him: it is indeed a major motivation for a lot of art buyers.

But as I was preparing the email to send you the exchange (it’s the one with the headline ‘Art as bullion’, in case you haven’t read it)

This came in, from a reader called Margaret:


I just have to reply to this because I’m buy more art than I make.

When I buy an artists work it’s because it has a deep emotional and visceral impact on me and I want to own it and live with it for a long time.

Some of it is inexpensive and some I’ve paid several thousand for.

I think there are some “art investors” but a lot of us who collect art do so because we have to. [emphasis added]

I’ve never regretted any purchase even though I don’t expect any of it will appreciate much in value.

I own it because I value it.


There you go.

While Rodrigo is correct, so is Margaret.

Two faces of the same art-buying coin.

Two completely different motivations for buying art.

And you know what’s not different?

The fact that both kinds of buyers will only ever buy from you if you show up.

In other words: If you develop a plan to promote and market yourself, and you put it into practice, and you keep running and refining it.

Until the point that you reach critical velocity and your art sales start happening.

And when that happens?
Then you keep putting your name out there, and raise your rates.

Because whatever the reason people buy from you, you deserve to make a good living from your art.

This here helps –>



How to Show Up to the Perfect Art Buying Audience


To learn more about Marketing Tools for Artists, check out Owen’s site:


Ever hear of Owen Garratt? He’s famous for selling $1mln worth of art in one year, without the use of external galleries.

Who says an artist can’t live from their art, hm?

I’ve just received the link to the video interview I did with him last week, and you gotta watch this.

No, but seriously. It’s good.

It’s my second installment in the Art Marketing Experts Interview series, and did I mention it’s real good?

You’ll hear:

• Why Owen is proof that can’t ever let up on your promotion efforts – but if you keep it up, you can earn well – or even very well indeed

• Owen’s tried and tested, systematic approach for showing up in front of the right people over and over again

• Why you must keep being active and stay ahead of the changes

• Why for some artists the actual art making is less than 10% of being in business as an artist, and why that’s ok because:

• Artists need to understand that the marketing is every bit as creative as making art

• After all, creativity is the ability to solve a problem

• You’ll hear Owen explain why the promotion of art is about education, validation and communication

• An interesting thought: why the artist is the bridge between the art and the buyer

• Why Owen believes in personal responsibility

• Getting in front of the right people – including OPA (other people’s audience)

• Why you need to figure out ‘who you are’ so that your message is clear

• How you can tap into memories and find the right audience

• Why Owen thinks luck is a mix of preparation and hard work

• How to use different venues to build relationship and a list

• Why marketing and courtship are almost the same (I’ve said that too)

• How to use a drawbox to sell your art

• How to use an email drop to build your list

• How to give away your art without devalueing it and get more sales that way (I hadn’t thought of that yet)

• Why and how Owen uses a newsletter pounce

• Why you absolutely don’t want to have something for everyone

• How to earn money from upsells with frames, and how that works out cheaper for the buyer than if they’d go to a professional framer

• Why you don’t need to show your entire inventroy

• How to be the right artist, with the right art, at the right time, in the right environment

• Think like a buyer: why and when are people looking to buy what kind of art

• Why commerce isn’t free and why that’s a good thing

• Why you must show up so you can interact with the buyer directly

• Why you get more results the more systematic you get, and why being systematic isn’t boring: it’s liberating!

• Why you shouldn’t subsidise the decorating budget of other businesses

• Why Owen prefers to avoid galleries, because you still need to bring the audience – but you don’t get to own the list

• Why you should never be the beta tester for any venue or event. Ever.

• Why you need to find the right facet of the gem that you are, so that you get to be more interesting

• But, without having to make a documentary about yourself

Yes, it’s a lot.

In fact, the dude was on fire, and I had to cut him short after two hours because he can talk the legs off a donkey.

The good thing though is that almost everything he says is smart, useful, and tested.

So, grab a cup or glass of your fav, and enjoy this interview with Owen Garratt.

Hey Psst: I Rewired My Brain For You. You're Welcome

And I ain’t even joking.

When I decided last year to focus exclusively on working with artists and other kinds of creatives, I knew I had to learn a lot.

As you may know, I never used to truck with art.

Not until I was in Dublin and I finally got art, and made the big decision.

I already knew a lot about the psychology of sales, but I had to learn specifics about selling art.

And so I started listening to podcasts.

LOTS of podcasts.

At some point, it all went too slow, so I speeded up the audio.

First 1,2 times as fast, then 1,5 and up and up.

At the moment, I listen at 2,8 times normal speed.

All so that I can learn more, and faster.

Which has turned my mind into a bubbling cauldron, a sort of lava lake of ideas.


Useful too.

You can throw any problem at me, and I’ll come up with some sort of idea.

That’s my creativity, right there.

Not always a good idea, per se. Not always directly applicable.

But always a way out, a new look, a way forward.

It’s because by listening at high speeds, and combining it with exercise, my brain has physically changed.

It’s called neuroplasticity, and it simply means that your physical brain mapping changes based on what you feed it.

Add the good hormones that get released when you exercise, and it goes even faster.

All so I can better serve you.

And all those ideas, the strategies I learn, the experiences of successful artists such as Owen Garratt (the interview should be in your inbox later today)

… I pour all of that into the monthly LEAP newsletter.

You can change your brain too.

Study, listen, learn.

Get smart.

Be strategic.

Like the old MTV ad: “Books. Feed your mind”.

Oh yeah Bob.

Anyway, the next LEAP goes to the printer’s in a few days, and it’s another good one.

It’ll include strategies that you can use to show up in front of OPA.

Which means: Other People’s Audience.

If you get on board the LEAP system, you also get to throw problems at me.

Art marketing problems, that is. I don’t do relationship counseling or what have you.

LEAP, and you’ll never walk alone, because I’ll be here to answer your questions.

Watch your inbox today or tomorrow, for the interview with Owen.

I think you’ll like it.

Meanwhile, go here to sign up for the LEAP program –>



Art As Bullion? Just Make Sure You Keep Your Ears

A reader named Rodrigo writes in with a poignant point:


I  really appreciate your clear eyed,  and optimistic approach to the business of art.

However on this last one I have to bring up a point you made, that teeters on wishful thinking.

“… in my opinion future returns are not what art is made for, or should be bought for.”

I my heart I completely agree with you, but in this day and age, the truth is that investment is THE major part of the art buying equation.

Blame  it on  The Antiques Roadshow ( popular american TV show) or plain old capitalism, just think that if one is going to try and solve this puzzle of selling art,   you cant just skip over the glaring reality.


Fair point. This was my reply:


It’s a good point you make, but there are two things to keep in mind:

First, the opinion regards what I consider how things should work.

It’s not necessarily wishful thinking, moreso the importance and value that I  ascribe to art.

Secondly, and more importantly: I don’t know if it’s true, what you say.

That is, it very much depends on who is the artist and who is the buyer.

If we’re talking about well-known artists, then yes, you might be right  that the majority of sales are related to investment.

But at the same time, there are countless artists who sell their work  without great fame, and without the sale being a wise investment.

Art still (luckily!) gets sold because of its own, direct, inherent value.

So what we have here is a brilliant way for an artist to choose on whom to focus, when trying to find their ideal audience.

So thank you for the inspiration. Definitely something to think about.


Not one to take it laying down, Rodrigo replies:


I do agree that  thinking of art as an investment becomes much more important for more well known ( and expensive)  artist, but  I must make the point, that  even when buying work from a complete unknown for under 50 dollars, the buyer always has the hope in the back of their mind, if not in the front, that the piece will someday will be worth more than what was paid for it.

I think thats simply what art  means  to most people right now…

As Robert Hughes put it:

” The new job of art is to sit on the wall and get more expensive…

…art’s principal social role is to be investment capital, or, in the simplest way, bullion ”

This sounds terribly cynical but its an honest assessment of the times

And should be given weight in  the art sales equation.


Now wait a doggang minute.

Art as bullion?

I don’t know where Robert Hughes came up with the idea, but –

Hey wait a minute…

Art as bullion… that’s actually not a bad idea.

After all, there’s museums full of art that only goes up in value as the years go by.

Problem is though, a lot of it was made by artists who never earned a living while they were still alive.

I mean, have another bandage, Vincent.

So yeah, it’s good to look for people who want to invest. Sure.

But I disagree with Hughes’ statement that investment is the first and foremost purpose of art.

That only depends on the buyer.

I maintain that the creation and definition of culture is as important, of not more important.

And besides: whether or not you sell to an investor or an art lover, the same thing still applies:

You have to find the audience, build up your fame, and there’s nobody but you who can do it.

It doesn’t have to be a slog though, especially when you get LEAP and you get my direct help –>



"People Aren't Stupid" vs Making it Easy to Give You Cash

“I didn’t like the website they made for me”, she says.

“It had buttons all over the place, and “click here” and so on.

“As if people are stupid!”

I see what she means.

People are indeed not stupid.

Well, not all of them.

Even so, you do want to make it easy for people to do business with you, and that means telling people ‘here’s what to do next’ is essential.

You want to give them the easiest possible route to go from “Huh, nice paintings” to

“You know what? I’ll take the nude in blue. Where do I pay?”

And no, that doesn’t mean you should treat people as if they’re stupid.

But you do need to make sure people take action after they see your site.

Whether that’s contacting you to inquire about a commission, or buy a painting or print, or sign up for your newsletter.

The problem with the attitude of the painter in question is that it’s based on an assumption.

And it’s an assumption that has driven quite a few people out of business.

The assumption (an erroneous one) is this:

“If they want it, they’ll decide on their own to buy or not buy”.

But it just doesn’t work that way.

At least not well enough to keep you in business.

And all you need to do is ask: “Do you want this?”

Sure people will know and understand that your work is for sale.

But if you don’t look open for business, if you don’t suggest or recommend or invite people to take an action, not many visitors will.

Whereas if you ask people to take action, many more will do so.

The trick is in finding the right tone, the right approach.

No, you don’t want to be all ‘buy me – buy me – buy me!’

You’re not a infomercial salesperson, for crying out loud.

But you can very reasonably ask people to do something, to take an action of some sort.

There’s nothing wrong with an invitation.

And in fact when you do put the right call to action in the right place, people will take you more seriously.

It shows them that you’re not just an attic painter, but that you take your work and your sales seriously.

And that instills confidence and trust, and that helps you get sales.

And let’s face it: we all want people to buy our work.

We just don’t want to be ‘selling’.

And you don’t have to, at lest not in any spammy or pushy way.

See, selling isn’t a question of forcing people to do something, or manipulating, or cajoling.

Selling means facilitating a purchase.

And marketing, that’s not a matter of blasting messages at people.

Marketing is what you do when you can’t go see someone face to face.

Doesn’t look quite as bad that way, does it?

Remember: sales are the consequence of a relationship, and they happen in the context of a conversation.

Your website is an invitation to start that conversation.

And if you don’t ask for an action, it’s very likely that the conversation ends when they close the page, and stays one-sided and unrequited.

Whereas if you ask for an action, they’re very likely to reply and they’ll be glad you asked.

The choice is yours.

To learn how you apply this approach to your own art sales, go here →



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