By Marcus Winter – The Sand Man


I’ve always had a love of art, the challenging part has been – how do you make a living from it?

Part of the inspiration began when I saw street artists creating amazing artworks in minutes – and the art sold instantly!  People loved not only the artworks – but how they created the artwork!  I was instantly mesmerised and hooked – I wanted to do that!

I bought some spray cans and began working away in the garage, and when I was ready, did my first street art in an alley way at the Otara Fleamarkets – and they were terrible!  But I sold my first artworks in that humble alley – to some poor soul who I thought maybe felt sorry for me!

But I felt a buzz – for the first time I felt I could actually create something for people from my own hands and get paid for it!


But the challenge still stood – heres some talent and some skill…now how do I make it viable?

In 2009, I was at a cross roads – whether to choose a ‘secure job’ – or try out this ‘art thingee’ full time ( I didn’t know what to call it).  At the time I had no idea how to make it more viable – my mentor could see I was talented – but at the time I needed to make this art idea more feasible.

I didn’t know what to do.  Do I follow a traditional secure job?  Or follow this something-I’m-passionate-about but have-no-idea-how-it-will-work?  Security vs Passion?  Known vs Unknown?

My mentor said, “I think you should try this art thingee – you have something.  If it doesn’t work out – you can always do that other job any day.”

So my leap of faith began.

I chose my passion, the scary unchartered waters of art – at the time I had no idea how things would eventuate, but it was a defining decision that would shape my career.  The sink or swim moment.

I needed a framework (in the way of a thorough business plan – which my mentor helped me craft) to start to shape ideas and give art some legs to see viable options and push forward in the most efficient way.


In 3-4 years of pushing, trying, testing ideas – a few key things came together, which over time found me living somewhat sustainably as an artist.  I felt more secure with the idea of being not secure!  Trying many creative projects, I found what really worked and where I wanted to focus my energies – it’s a never ending process keeping afloat.  I am still developing ideas and how to be better and be sustainable as an artist.  I love the challenge of a changing business environment and being able to adapt to change.


Knowing that my art can make a difference in the world – it’s that feeling when you know ‘this is what you’re supposed to be doing.’  I want to help more people through art, to add meaning, to help create awareness, change perceptions, move hearts and add value to others.


Overcoming my own self limiting beliefs – is a big challenge, I am my biggest enemy and my biggest critic!  (I think we all can be)  I’ve always felt I’m not the best – but one thing I know is that I’ll be the hardest working!  I know that hard work can beat talent any day!

I know everything begins as a thought or an idea, and I can only achieve as much as I believe or think I can.  Self belief is so important – I believe its 90% of the battle!  Going from painting on the streets to performing on cruise ships – was more belief than anything else – sounds cliché – but that is the power of having a strong belief – you don’t have to exactly know how to get there – just know that you will if you keep going, pushing relentless in your desire to succeed!  (‘If you build it, they will come’).


One important thing I learned is how to deal with failure.  And it sucks!  And it happens more than anything, get used to it…but don’t let it define you.  Things won’t go the way you want – many times – it’s something you’ll never learn at school or from a book – the harsh reality of rejection, failing again and again – learning how to respond to set backs, getting perspective, keeping focused – learning from it and persevering, I think you call it emotional intelligence.  I really admire people who despite the odds, continue to push forward – it takes a lot of determination and guts!


This year I’ve focused on creating quality content and learning to produce my own videos – this has given me more flexibility and opened up a lot more opportunities.  My beautiful wife Ngaire has jumped onboard with me this year to assist in various administrative roles, so I’m freed up with projects – and to make sure I don’t forget the small stuff like not losing my passport!

Within the next 1-2 years I am looking forward to growing the Sandman brand in the following ways:

1) Provide teaching services online: Build an online learning community teaching art techniques, and offer workshops as well.

2) Create a new Sand Art Show: Train up new artists for the cruise line industry to perform.  There is huge demand onboard around the world for quality acts – I currently turn down 50% of cruise ship work because of schedules – I would love to give pathways for those who love performing art, this is an awesome opportunity.

3) Online Content: Creating subscription based models and providing visual resources for the education sector and general public.  I’m really passionate about artists being sustainable and protecting their intellectual property – I think there is a way in which art (be it music, dance, painting, digital, etc) can be used in a way to provide artists more avenues for being sustainable.