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

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

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 —>



The World Upside Down: The Galleries Need You…?!?

You do not need galleries.

In fact it’s totally the other way around:

The galleries, they need you.

If there wouldn’t be artists, galleries wouldn’t have a business.

Without the artists, galleries simply do not exist.

Whereas without the galleries, you are still an artist.

You’re still able to create, and to find an audience, and have conversations, and sell your work.

But the one thing that a gallery can’t do without is you: the artist.

See, sometimes an artist tells me: “Hey, gallery so and so contacted me, they want my work!”

Which is of course terrific, and definitely follow up and see if they’re serious.

But when something like that happens, it proves my point: They need you, they want your work.

Which puts you in control, gives you the power.

Yesterday an artist chirped that she’d been contacted.

But, that this particular gallery usually wants the work at lower prices.

My reaction?

Be the boss: it’s your work, your prices, the value you put on it.

And if that particular gallery caters to a lower-price market, should you really be the one to suffer the discount?

Hell no. If anything, the gallery, if they really have to sell at lower prices, should slash their commission.

But that’s IF you accept selling your work at lower prices.

And I don’t know that you should: Should you really devalue your work, just because of someone else’s business model?

I don’t really think you should.

Of course the choice is always yours, but it’s definitely a bad idea to accept terms like that, if it comes from the erroneous perception that you need the

You don’t, because they need you.

You’re in control, you have the power.

Wield it wisely.

Now obviously, if you don’t have galleries you do need to have your own audience and your own buyers.

Otherwise you have nothing but unseen and/or unsold art, which, I have it on good authority, appears to be a whole lot of no fun.

And I’m all about fun – and selling art – which is why I’m laying down an entire art business and marketing seminar next week.

It’s a live event in Spain, but you can get the videos too if you live elsewhere, if only you click this link and register –>



Watch Me Get Corrected By An Artist

Watch me get corrected by an artist

That email yesterday, about commissions and buying freedom?

My client Paula Mould wrote in, because apparently I missed something.

Says Paula:


“Commissions ARE inspiration. This is where artists make mistakes in attitude. An artist doesn’t have to take every commission. And they are not selling out.

You missed the most interesting aspect of commissions in my mind: injecting fresh energy into an artist’s work.

I actually  wrote about that today because my latest commission moved me so damn much. And the ones that don’t, I’ve learned to say no to. Because it’s not fair to me or the client.

Fresh energy for an artist, new ideas, people watching paintings come to life. These are the things that commissions bring. Anyone who refuses them is missing out.”


Put THAT on your easel and paint it.

You might want to check out her blog at, btw.

Now there’s a chick who knows how to show her work, and the way she writes about it is pretty damn masterful too.

Pretty good example to learn from.

You’ll find gems like this, for instance:

There’s the whole story artists tell about how making money from art means selling out to the establishment or whatever horse crap they’re shovelling.

Here’s the thing: we all need money to survive. It’s a form of energy we exchange for various end results.

It is not evil.

And earning it with art is not a sell out.


Couldn’t have said it better myself.

But then, she’s been a diligent student for years.

Besides, when you find the right people, and you facilitate their own decision to buy, you’re actually doing them a favour.

You ever bought something, because you really wanted to own it, and ownership was more important than keeping the money?


It feels good to make that decision.

Which means that if you don’t try to find your ideal buyers, you’re actually doing them a disservice because you’re preventing them from having the pleasure of owning your work.

Anyway, I need to get moving – or rather, I already am.

Currently on a train back to Zurich, for more – wait for it – conversations.

In the meantime, go here if you want my 3-hour art biz seminar on video or in Spain –>



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.



What to Do When You’re Swimming in a Sea of Competition

She’s a very talented artist, and she’s been at it full time for years.

But, the art market is fickle, if you don’t have your own platform and audience yet.

Will that gallery pick you up?

If they do, will they sell you?

If so, can you be sure that they’ll still carry you next year?

Impossible to predict.

Which is why every artist, no exception, should work on building out their own audience and email list.

I don’t care if you’re in a gallery, if people flock to buy your work, whether or not you’re wealthy: if you don’t have your very own permission-based list of contacts, any change in external circumstances can put you out of business in an instant.

It’s a risk you don’t want to run.

So this artist in particular, she’s an illustrator and a damn good one.

And while she’s building up her audience, it would make sense to do some illustration work.

You know, to earn some money dayjob style, but also to expand her network.

Who knows, maybe it’ll even get her in front of people who want to buy her originals.

“But”, she says, “it’s difficult. There are so many illustrators out there”.

Fair enough – competition is something you need to reckon with, especially if you’re offering something service-based.

Even more so when your offer is business-to-business.

But competition doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

It just means you need to be clever and strategic.

And that means you shouldn’t compete on price.

If you go that route, you might as well stop and get a dayjob at a library or office or whatever.

Competing on price is a race to the bottom, and only very large companies can do it effectively.

No, if you’re an independent creator, you want to compete on quality, not on price.

Don’t try to be the cheapest illustrator for hire – be the very best they can get.

That’s healthy competition, and that’s what will enable you to create things (illustrations, design, logos, interiors, whatever it may be) that pay the bills and leave you with enough money to invest.

And, it’s a lot more fun too.

Would you prefer ten clients who pay too little and ask too much? (Odd how those two tend to go together.)

Or would you rather have one client who pays well, respects your work, and whom you want to go all-out for?


But how do you find such clients?

How do you, actually, compete on quality, and get paid the rates you deserve?

That will be a whole lot clearer after you watch (or attend, if you’re in Spain) my upcoming seminar ‘How to build and grow a healthy creative business’.

For this seminar, the ticket price is $25.

But that’s a one-time only offer.

Three hours of hard teaching is worth more than that, so if you want in at this rate, the deadline to get it is February 6.

And here’s where you can go to get it



Your Goals: How Ambitious Are You, Really?

“So what do you want?”, I ask her.

She tells me: “To live comfortably off my art”.

I tell her it’s not a very ambitious goal, and that while a bit of modesty certainly isn’t bad, having a modest ambition is going to make it difficult to reach that level of comfort and stability she wishes for.

See, it’s easy to have the wrong perspective on money.

Money isn’t evil, it’s just something you can use.

It’s a tool for other things: investments, buying time, training and materials.

On another level, it’s a scorecard.

When you make a lot of money, it means you have your systems nicely tuned and your art business ticking along.

But it’s not a measure of success on an artistic level.

Your artistic success is measured by how accomplished you are as an artist.

If that goes together with a high income, then it’s a measure of how accomplished you are as a professional artist – one who owns and runs a creative business.

And if that’s what you’re aiming for – if you really want to live from your art and not have to worry, you’ll need to set your goal high.

You’ll need to be ambitious if you want to reach financial success or independence.

They say that there’s far more tragedy in setting the bar low and reaching it, than there is in setting the bar high and not reaching it.

If your goal is modest, your choices and actions and opportunity-spotting will be tuned to that modest goal.

Which means you’ll work towards that lower level of success – and you might reach it but you might just as likely fall short.

In which case you won’t get to live from your art.

But if you set your goal high, if you’re ambitious, your entire business will be reformed to reach that higher goal.

And while you still might or might not reach it, at least it becomes much more likely that you’ll reach a level of success and income that will actually pay the bills.

Your mindset, your choices, your ambition and your results:

You choose.

What have you chosen as your goal, what do you aspire to?



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 –>



A Few Thoughts on Discounts

“She asked me for a quote, and I told her 100.

“Haven’t heard from her since, and I’m wondering…”

Talking with a friend in Zürich, who creates bespoke clothing for women.

I have one of her skirts in my hand, and I’m thinking: this is really high quality work, worth much more than 100 CHF.

She goes on: “Should I contact her, tell her she can have a skirt at a lower price?

“At least that way, I can stay busy tailoring”.

My answer?

She shouldn’t give a discount.

Certainly not after stating a price.

Doing so would give the other person the message that ‘actually you were right, I was asking for too much. In all honesty it isn’t worth that much.’.

And that’s something you don’t want to tell other people.

And it certainly is a message you do not want to give to your own self-esteem.

Besides: 100 Swiss Francs really is not expensive for what she does, especially in a country like Switzerland, where everything is ridiculously expensive. (Loaf of bread: $6-7)

She would “stay busy tailoring, at least”, she says.

True, but it would be tailoring for a person who doesn’t value her work the way they ought to, and if they come back, it’ll be for more discounted work.

I’d say my friend would spend her time much better by searching for other people, the kind who do value her work, and who are willing to pay her prices.

Because I assure you: they exist.

And if you think they don’t, it’s only because you haven’t found them yet.

So what would you prefer: work at rates that don’t pay your bills for people who don’t value your work?

Or would you rather spend that time hunting for people who see the value and pay you for it?

Difficult questions, but then: decisions is what life is made of.

You know what your work is worth, and you deserve the courage to ask and get paid good money.

If someone else doesn’t see it that way, does that mean it should become your problem, and you get to earn less?

Good question, I’d say.

Here’s another question:

Art biz seminar, or no art biz seminar?

Fly to Spain to attend, or simply watch the videos at home?

Choices, choices, choices… Decision time –>



Do This to Sell More Art: Have More Conversations

Cold here, up in Zurich.

Lovely views though, and such nice people.

And hey, they seem to like my lemonade.

Just now, for example:

A call from a Swiss artist named Martin.

“I heard about your seminar, can you tell me more?”

I give him a quick rundown of what’s going to be in it, and we continue to spend some time talking – or rather: Me asking questions and listening.

He’s got a fulltime job, and his goal is to be a fulltime artist in 5 years from now.

Not easy, but certainly not impossible.

I offer him some suggestions:

“What if you plan a 6-month experiment, where all you do is paint and sell art – no dayjob?

“You’d save up enough money to quit your job (he’s highly qualified so in the worst case he could probably find another job without too much trouble).

“You’d go all out, selling art, and see if it works. What about that?”

“Yes”, he tells me. “But the buyers…”

“Ok”, I tell him, “You’ve done commissions before. What if you start studying the business market in the next few months?

“See if you can get commissions from businesses?

“After all, B2B sales can be a lot easier.

“Companies are actively looking to invest, cash in hand”.

“True”, he says, “I could do that”.

“Right! So you could start identifying companies that you really like, that you’d love to work with.

“Next, you start to research what kind of visuals they’ve bought over the years.

“That’s market research, that way you learn who buys what, and from which artists.

“And if they’ve bought art before, they might do so again – maybe even from you”.

“You can also look for artists similar to yourself, and see who their audience is on social media.

“Any companies in that audience? Then you have valuable data, especially if it turns out that those artists sell to companies.

“Next, after the research, you start to find ways to get in front of those businesses who buy art.

“Commissions aren’t always the most fun, it really depends.

“But at least that way you can gather up the money you need to fund a 6-month trial of selling your purely creative work.”

Through my phone comes the sound of synapses firing.

“This is really great, I’m going to start looking into it”.

Of course he will: His name is Martin, the name means warrior. Folks like us fight.

“Please send me an email when the masterclass date is confirmed”, he says.

“I definitely want to come and learn”.

There you go: helpful marketing.

Look at what happened: I told my Zurich friends what I’m up to, and they told their friends.

I get a call, spend an agreeable ten minutes on the phone having an interesting conversation, and the other Martin takes home something useful.

And without even trying to sell anything, he tells me that he wants to be there.

Again: you don’t need to do ‘marketing’.

You just need to have more conversation.

Without expectations, just in order to see if there’s resonance.

Sales happen automatically as a consequence, as long as you have enough conversations and with the right kind of people.

Want to learn more about how to do that?

Then come to the masterclass in Spain on the 6th of February – or sign up and get the videos delivered to you.

More information and signup right here –>



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 –>



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