Reflections on art and leadership

I use my art to reflect an artist and a senior manager in the financial services industry. I notice that the deeper I understand myself the more I succeed to impact others; in both art and work.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Second Prize Amsterdam International Art Fair (AIAF)

The Amsterdam international Art Fair at the monumental Beurs van Berlage was again a great experience, organised by Joelle Dinnage's Global Art Agency, with hundreds of participating artists and more than a thousand art works.
It also has an award ceremony, where a recognised jury picks the best artists of the whole exhibition.
Last edition my exhibition partner Anna-Lisa Unkuri became third,  and I felt that this year contributions showed even more craft and ideas, so my expectations were managed. The award ceremony was exciting and jury chairman and famous sculpture Ruurd Hallema honoured many artists, mentioning their striking skills, their wonderful artistic themes and personalities. And then the awards…
Third prize for… Jan Aanstoor & Laura Rominu
Second prize for…. Maurice van Tilburg - Glimne
And while I was still digesting things on the podium the winner was announced: Steven Thoelen.

Great to have such recognition by the jury.

Of course extra special in a time where I am still having a busy job as CEO of the Amsterdam stock exchange, where I again became father some 3 months ago of my 5th child, my wife has helped me by supporting my artistic dreams, my oldest son Mart helping me build the stand and composing the wall-of-drawings that was so successful. Feels like new doors are opening, especially knowing that many of the previous winners had an international career afterwards.
GAA CEO Joelle Dinnage, jury chairman Ruurd Hallema, jury member Gena Johns 
and all prize winners showing their Outstanding Award Certification
Winning an award is thrilling and as an artist can be important recognition.
Yet most important is the opportunity to exchange ideas and insights with other artists and art connaisseurs.
It was most inspiring to meet and have long conversations with Yvonne and Ruurd Hallema.
I felt an enormous click when exchanging about the concepts, and I feel admiration for what they have achieved in their gallery and sculptures respectively.

The wall-of-drawings showing freely made street art drawings as part of the Creative Spam concept was highly successful. Many people were attracted by it, and after striking a conversation they were very open to the more complex concepts like Hidden Sacrifice and Decomplexify. 
It was great to have Ruurd & Yvonne Hallema as well as Gena Johns very interested by the drawings, and I was happy to allow them picking a drawing as a souvenir. The drawings were for sharing anyway.
All in all a successful and inspiring event which we finished by posting many Creative Spam art works between 0:00 and 03:00 in the night in beautiful Amsterdam.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Join the streetart posting night in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Art Fair
31 August 2019
Start @BeursVanBerlage
23.45 until all art works are posted

Creative Spam is an award winning streetart concept where we place art works at random places in the city for people to discover...and take home.
Making Amsterdam and everyday life of people just a bit more beautiful.
For more details on the art concept please visit

Join us at midnight after the Amsterdam Art Fair and help spreading more than 50 original drawings in the city of Amsterdam.
Join us for a lovely midnight walk along the city canals, and help finding nice and surprising places to post the art.
Imagine all the people waking up that Sunday finding an original piece of art.

Artist that want to join Creative Spam please contact me at

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Amsterdam Art Fair 30-31 August 2019 - invitation to my exhibition

Picture of the previous edition, people looking at my Hidden Sacrifice art works

The picture-perfect city of Amsterdam is playing host to talent from all around the world when it stages the fourth Amsterdam International Art Fair from 30-31 August 2019.
Amsterdam Int'l Art Fair is the international art fair in the Dutch city that brings over 150 exhibitors from around the globe for Amsterdam to enjoy! Attracting art galleries, cultural institutions, art critics and collectors. Offering over 3,000 art pieces on display for exhibition and sale, this is a prime opportunity to immerse oneself into a rich collection of global art either as investor, dealer or purchaser. 
A rich and wonderful mix of talented artists presented by international galleries from over 30 countries that will be filling the prime located Beurs van Berlage – Amsterdam with an incredible display of art.
Fri 30th Aug 2019
VIP Private View and Vernissage  18.00pm - 21.00pm 
Sat 31st Aug 2019
Free entry 11.00am - 17.00pm (Global Art Awards Ceremony at 16.00pm)

(Official website, where you can also get tickets yourself)

I am happy to confirm that I have been selected to participate. For all participants please see the website
Let me know if you want to be kept up to date on the exhibition or if you would like me to provide you tickets.
Also let me know if you want me to get you tickets for the VIP opening Friday 30th.

See you there !!!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Preparations of my Barcelona exhibition July 2019

After having developed my new Decomplexify concept I have prepared for the July exhibition of ContemporaryArtStation. This takes place from 1 to 31 July 2019 and is situated in the subway station of Passeig de Gracia where some 2,5 million visitors pass each day.

The actual exhibition - First on the left my art work "With the tribeswomen"

A question I often get is - how did that all work? So sharing some background here.

Step 1 - applying, when and why

As I am frequently exhibiting and have a public artist profile I more frequently get approached for exhibitions. Always important to do some background check as nowadays it seems a good business model to play on the eagerness of arriving artists and earn loads of money.
For example, I get approached frequently for being part of books, at a certain cost. In general I do not feel these books play any role in getting seen as an artist. Some of these books ask you for a few hundred dollars to be featured; this is great money for them as printing of a book nowadays is not so expensive.
Also some people approach you with 'you have won a prize with your art'. Of course playing on the ego, yet in several cases turned out to be an expensive way to get into a book and a mediocre exhibition.
So, first step is to look at background of the event, look at previous years, look at which other artists were participating and how your art would look between these other art works.
Here you find the other exhibitors of the Barcelona exhibition.
Cost - If it seems a good way to exhibit, then look at the business model of the exhibition. Different types of galleries targeting different types of artists have their own model. Interesting read is The $12 million stuffed shark - The curious economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson.
In the end you shouldn't consider the cost in the light of direct sales and revenues, as sales are uncertain, especially for non-famous artists.

Of course the gallery will review entries based on quality, so if not selected good to compare with the people that got selected. What did they do better, does it look different, are there similar art works, etc.

Step 2 - Selecting art works and uploading
Having had limited art works yet from my new concept Decomplexify I just uploaded all. Yet, good to realise that within the concept I have already thrown away quite a few, so to keep the quality of a certain standard.
Although I do not make my art primarily for the viewers, I have considered which ones would be more suitable for that type of exhibition. Basically every art work gets displayed on a 2 by 1 meter surface, will be printed (as hanging delicate art in a subway station would not really work). It has to stand out and appeal to a broader public.
I actually asked my son Mart (18 years) which work he liked most and he chose "With the tribeswomen", which was already in my mind to pick for the exhibition.

The composition is nice and dark, yet has some good contrast and people should find it easy to recognize some forms or patterns in it.

In addition you have to provide information about yourself and about the paintings. This is a bit tricky when having just developed a new concept, as you haven't found the best words for it yet. Actually, exhibiting is a good way to force yourself putting words on your concept and make it 'simple'.
You can find my info on this part of their site.

Step 3 - Interviews
In general for these exhibitions you can opt for multiple types of exposure. I chose for interview as it would allow me to zoom in on my art in general and this theme in particular.
You can find the full interview here. As you can see I reused the profile picture that I created last year for The Global Art Awards.

Step 4 - The exhibition
Having little time I have just done the basics; sharing through social media and approaching specific friends that could be in Barcelona in July. Always good to see what kind of feedback you get...not to change your art, but see what others pick up around style, symbolism etc. And a good reason to explain others your concept and sharpen your story and the storytelling.

Well hope you enjoy watching it and let me know any feedback you have.
Now up for preparing the next exhibition 30-31 August in Amsterdam, more about that soon.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A new concept : Decomplexify

Both in personal life and at work I have a clear preference to understand the topics I work on or that are important to me. Whenever I do not understand issues or what I am yin’s to achieve, I will dive deeper.
In many cases his is good, and for example at work it helps to solve issues, learn how things really work, coach others and ensure targets are met. In personal life it means I am always interested in how hints work, always assuming that whenever things go wrong it is linked to my lack of understanding or capabilities.
That way, over time, I have learned there are no easy solutions to complex issues. And by default I have an allergy for people oversimplifying the challenges...heading straight for disaster.

The challenge
But, where in many cases this is useful, it can harm in other situations. Too much focus on detail might blind your high level judgement. It is easy to get stuck in a war, yet at some point to discover you have been distracted from more important goals. Or, you lose your audience when using too many words to explain where you want to go... influencing people sometimes equines ability to illustrate your point in 3 sentences.

A House half Built

In art...

The same applies for art. It is great to master complex subjects and compositions. But risk is you overcomplicate the painting, continue too long and losing expression.

The concept
In this series of paintings I force myself to be bold. Strong colors and large brushes prevent me from too much detail. Also limiting the colors to primary and very strong secondary colors, where key 
shapes are made with black and white. Still building on he earlier concept  SubconsciousPower,where I eliminate my ratio and force myself to dive into my feelings.
Roof of my mouth
Finally it is important to realize that research shows that a) making 100 paintings in short timeframe , gives way better art works than b) working one month on one art work. This has to do with the fact that too much focus on making things perfect drives us to putting too much elements into one art work. And with that losing power and ending up with a rational compromise complexified painting.

Kangaroo in the
What were the results?
I already made quite a few. And I threw away quite some that did not meet the standards, often because they were too rational, too much designed.
Find some examples below and feel free to comment which ones you like most...