“We have the most beautiful job in the world… we can realize dreams together with talented performers to touch the audience’s soul!
I am a dancer that never learned to dance, not frustrated but inspired, positively jealous. In my mind I see beautiful things… I am privileged, surrounding me are highly talented people that can help me bring those dreams to life.”
Steven MARTIN I Brasschaat, 10-07-1971
Artistic director, show producer, event specialist and all-round creative motivational source of energy
Steven was born in 1971 in Brasschaat close to Antwerp. Child of soon to divorce parents, he had a difficult childhood growing up in a life of poverty and a struggle for life in the streets of Antwerp. Thanks to the hard work and never lasting optimism of his mother, he grew up with a positive and realistic mind state and he got chances to make his start in life better than would be expected from his background.
Already at the age of 11, Steven started ‘building’ ghost attractions in the hallway of the house he and his mother lived in… even using lamps and sound effects made with a tape recorder to create the ‘ideal’ illusion. He was an imaginer even before knowing that such a thing exists.
Soon after during his teens, he started organizing parties for local youth organisations. At the age of 16 he was an experienced deejay and he continued this activity till his early twenties in several well-known dance temples at the time in Belgium, unfortunately at this time the deejay stardom hype was not yet a ‘thing’.
After high school studies of Science and Biotechnology that he successfully ended, a friend in a tram on his way told him about Communication Management as a ‘job’. Enthusiasm for this world of marketing, communications and applied creativity came quickly, and Steven entered at the PHICOM (currently Hogeschool Provincie Antwerpen). During the 4 years he was there, he worked an average of 60 hours a week on communication projects, having only 32 hours of classes. Remaining hours were voluntarily invested in photography studies, graphic design (with 3 years as editor/graphic designer of the School Newspaper), video recording and editing (for several events) and sound editing (creation of jingles). He was one of the editors of the school newspaper.
Step by step he had already entered the universe of event and creative production, although he was not aware at that point that this was a real job.
His final paper and the connected ‘live production’ were called “DREAM: The Festival of the Young Artist”, a benefit social event for the Make-a-Wish Foundation Belgium. For the creation of a one weekend event Steven together with 7 fellow students invented, created, produced and organized an experience allowing a large audience to discover different art forms, new hobbies, new talents. All partners were voluntary and an appearance in “The Dream Factory” a popular TV show at the time even helped them get some famous Belgian artists.
As he got his degree of Master in Communication Management in 1995 at the age of 23, Steven started quite soon working for De Kie Communications, an Antwerp based advertising agency. After 6 months he got the opportunity in absence of the agency’s event manager to produce the 10th anniversary event of FilmNet (pay TV) and the launch of a new thematic TV station SuperSport. No less than 700 press, sport and TV prominent guests were at this event, with a complete show, themed buffets, very special invitation, fashion show… all presented by Geert Hoste, at the time a starting comedian, nowadays well known and successful.
This event with a very pleased customer as result, opened soon the doors for Steven to relaunch the event department at the agency. DE KIE Events revived and started working for the agency’s main accounts like Microsoft, Apple, Neckermann Postorders, Panasonic… He was part of the launch team of Microsoft Windows95 with the creation of the huge multimedia stunt campaign.
But the main project of DE KIE Events was already since years before, the Belgian promotional roadshow at the Belgian coast for DE LIJN, the local public transport provider. With the baseline “Zonder Zorgen, Zicht op Zee” which roughly would translate to “No Worries, Just enjoy the Sea View”, a 42 day roadshow visited all Belgian coast cities, each time for a 3 day entertainment program. No less than 8 partners joined each year to bring fun animations and live performances to the Belgian coast tourists, always promoting public transportation and the partners. Fun games were invented and were played with the audience, nice gadgets were distributed, and samplings/tastings were managed.
During this roadshow Steven met in his promo team, the mother of his eldest daughter Enid Martin.
The year after a lot changed and the advertising agency seemed to consider the successful events department as ‘Spielerei’ more than a serious communication specialty. This frustration made Steven look for another employer that was completely focussed on events and events only. Expecting to first enter a small Antwerp event agency, then growing up to a bigger one, after that moving to a smaller Brussels agency and once again growing towards his final professional goal: ANY PERFORMANCE. Any Performance was at the time the most professional and largest Belgian event agency, that really proved their baseline “the know how to show” on an everyday basis.
Against all expectations, and in the beginning even hard to believe, the first to respond to Steven’s quest for a new agency, was Any Performance. After 3 meetings with the managers they felt the connection and Steven joined the team. It soon would turn out that it were exactly all the non-class hours that he spent at school that got him the job. Any Performance being a top agency, they were quite ‘weak’ on a technical point of view, with only the partners having this experience. This edge got Steven the possibilities and opportunity to grow very quickly in the agency and after less than 2 years he was a Group Manager with a team of 4 event officers. He was 27 at the time and worked all over Europe.
The main partner of Any Performance, ACCOR, decided to refocus the strategy of the agency towards incentives, which resulted in the sub top in the agency leaving all within a 3-month period. Also, for Steven it meant that he would need to refocus his professional future, as he never expected to leave the agency, he appreciated so much. Would this decision not have fallen he most likely would still work there.
Steven started with a colleague from Any Performance the event agency The EVENTERPRISE which got an amazing start ending up in the Belgian top 5 within the first year of existence! The agency opened a second office in Antwerp, called EVENTERPRISE Vlaanderen and doubled its business results and client database within the next year. Major international and national accounts found their way to The EVENTERPRISE Group.
The EVENTERPRISE Group was based upon a vision of Event Puzzle Management which is very common nowadays, but which was quite revolutionary at the time. They had a small but very experience team in-house and always added freelance top experts in the required profiles and fields of activity. A term and vision Steven launched for the agency and which today is taught in many event productions courses.
It was in this period that he decided to focus his attention to the creation of live experiences and show production. The years of event production made him master the logistic side of the job, it was time to start finding his added value elsewhere. His passion for show, theatre and the creation of emotional moments made him choose for the artistic side of the event world.
However, like they say all good stories come to an end, and in 2002, Steven had to leave the company after discovering a lot of irregularities he did not agree with. A hard period, but it also made him meet his ex-wife and mother of his youngest daughter Mayline.
His first supplier/partner from his DE KIE Events period, TWINS I Event Producers, picked him up with a mutual benefit proposal, as the owners of the company were very busy producing the musical “Tintin and the Temple of the Sun”, they asked him to take the management of their event agency. Almost 2 years at TWINS followed until unfortunately and not unjustly, the production company TABAS&CO of the musical went bankrupt, due to a bad and unreliable partner in France. This meant that the small TWINS team suddenly had 2 extra managers, so Steven decided to leave his manager chair to its rightful owners. In this period the business result of TWINS practically doubled, and the team was well trained. One of his team members took over after he left and is now a leading figure in Belgian event business.
Steven decided to continue in freelance work and started producing creative and show events for different Belgian event agencies, using the name IMAGINEERING. Where since 2015 everybody claims ‘storytelling’ as a creative unique selling proposal, already in 2004 Steven based all his creations on this, already claiming imagineering, emotioneering and emo-marketing (storytelling) at the time.
An important partnership with a Tollegem based event agency A First Impression started, for whom he also re-created the corporate mission statement and philosophy, the term RED which stands for RATIONAL EVENT DEVELOPMENT got created. It already was the corporate color for the agency but now also got an important meaning. This term and the idea behind it, is currently used in Belgian (and even some Dutch) event production courses and higher eductations.
During one of these events, the Belgian dealer launch event of the Peugeot 207 with the theme “Intense”, he got an offer he could not refuse. D-Side Group, a large integrated services agency offered him after the great job done for the Peugeot event, the opportunity to start D-Side Show. Some major international show events were produced in Athens, Hannover, Marbella, Ancenis…
End 2004 as the economic crisis started to claim its first victims, D-Side Group decided as a precautionary measure not to further invest in D-Side Show at this time. Steven’s department as well as a lot of other creative services were closed down and Steven turned back to the freelance market this time ‘rebooting’ with the label ArchitectofEMOTION, which is up to today his leading activity.
With AoE Steven came in contact with a lot of new communication agencies, event agencies and event creative producers like TV and theatre. His focus was over 80% on and around the stage and creative experience concepts. His knowledge of sound and light, theatre technology and the world of dance, his graphic skills and through self-study developed 3d designing skills gave him the possibility to offer one stop shopping solutions for event production companies on one side and to present full concept shows for the artistic world. Finally, after all those years two worlds seemed to merge for him allowing him to fully use his experience and skills to assist those looking for emotional experiences in their events and communication.
End 2004 as the economic crisis started to claim its first victims, his employer at the time decided as a precautionary measure not to further invest in the show department at this time. Steven’s department as well as a lot of other creative services were closed down and Steven turned back to the freelance market this time with the label ArchitectofEMOTION, which is up to today his leading activity.
ArchitectofEMOTION is a name chosen very specifically as an architect is no artist, even if he is very, even extremely artistic, he will still have to respect the laws of physics of the planet. These cannot be tampered with as they are the foundations of every movement and energy on this planet. On the other side they use these laws in the most ‘bent’ creative ways to develop new and surprising possibilities. What Steven does is identical, but with emotion, one of the most powerful energies for man, differentiating him from the animal kingdom. There are rules (theatre) that theoretically explain how theatre, emotion… any live experience works. You need an architect of these theories to bend these possibilities to the maximum.
In this period, he worked for different agencies producing very large and also very small events, but always with one main focus: the live experience of the audiences (whether it is during a conference, a dinner show or any other type of event)!
He also represents the LED light dance performers GROOVY LIGHTS and the Belgian Michael Jackson impersonator Christ’OF and his new live band LEGACY for the french and international European markets in partnership with MOVE 4 Events.
The collaboration with MOVE for Events started in 1996 and never ended since. The personal friendship and professional experience with Patrick De Coninck allows Steven to use MOVE and the in-house dance squad The GROOVIES as a creative experience lab, creating a couple of new show concepts annually, like “The Image catchers”, “The Glass Cube Mime”, “Holovision” and many more under development.
In the period of 2013 to 2014 he also was the Artistic Director for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 SPECIAL OLYMPICS European Summer Games Antwerp. A job with a two-year preproduction period coming to its apotheosis on the 13th and 20th of September 2014.
His activity AoE developed into a focused creative service offer and all tailor-made show creations and productions got signed with a new brand: The Cintamani Stone. For specific requirements, he has an impressive team of worldwide based top professionals in any field of creative and technical event show production. More and more he works as creative and artistic director. His interest in travel and beautiful places and cultures of the world makes him a good go between of the European way of working with local implementation, and the knowledge of the different cultures, result in a smooth on site collaboration.
More and more Steven produced full shows and on top of that, with 2 years of Main stage show direction for Tomorrowland (The Tree Of Life and Amicorum Spectaculum) he deep dived into the unique world of mass festivals.
Producing shows and concepts worldwide using a self-setup database of talents worldwide, gave him an extensive experience in the creation and scripting of live experiences. International he is represented by the same talent scouts who work for Cirque du Soleil, Dragone and similar mega premium show production companies.
Specializing in emotioneering (the art of programming experiences, into a theme park attraction approach) gave him an edge on scripting and story writing.
In 2017 The Cintamani Stone launched VOGUE Arabia in the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha with a 360° immersive video mapping show experience with 24 projection surfaces and concert by Lauryn Hill (former Fugees). At Tomorrowland DreamVille for Tiesto and Budweiser he created a show in 2017 which became the new worldwide Budweiser commercial “Infected”.
IN 2019 he worked for DB Video as operational video director screen content for the EUROPEAN ELECTIONS 2019 as well as for the PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE 2019. The same year he produced no less than 8 award shows. He did several projects working together with local TV station VTM and radio station Q-Music as Creative Spin Doctor, also producing the 2019 edition of the FOUTE PARTY.
Steven is exclusively working on creative concepts and experience, supported by his commissioning agency clients or freelance partners with AoE. TCS on the other side is a full tailor made productions solution provider for worldwide show creations.
Running no less than 11 shows in 2019, the AoE/TCS teams are very busy, however the top-notch teams get the jobs done in top quality keeping the promises. They claim the commercial line to never have ‘more than 5% difference between promises (3D, visuals, sketch) and reality) and can prove this with numerous cases. The first weekend of September we managed no less than 3 large shows simultaneously.
Today, at the age of 48, Steven is pitching mostly on the international markets (EMEA, US, Africa, specializing more and more in the Middle East and US region), battling against major worldwide players, which obviously is not an easy task. But positive thinking and enthusiasm makes any dream possible!
Together with a series of international partners like FilmMaster Events, VICE, The Planners Doha, and projects starting up with OLC South Africa & Namibia, Art Vision Entertainment, Scarlet Entertainment… he is available worldwide for creative show productions.
Beginning 2020 after an amazing extremely short preproduction period of less than 8 weeks, the TCS-AoE teams produced together with The Planners the opening show of the Aspire Zone eSports WEGA Global Games in the Khalifa International Stadium by Truxtun Capital in Doha Qatar.
Steven is a single yet very present dad for his two princesses, Mayline being a figure skater (we see her growing into an architect as she is extremely creative and mathematic at the same time and loves to create anything from scratch) and Enid a passionate dancer (hoping to study child psychology).
Although the elaborate bio, he always says that he “has never worked a day in his life, it was all pure enjoyment”, making him a very happy and passionate professional breathing creativity at every heartbeat.
His life quote:
Creativity is seeing what everyone sees yet thinking what no one else thinks.
PALMARES & BIGGER REFERENCES
A large open air show for 10.000 Kortrijk spectators celebrating the 700th anniversary of the Battle of the Golden Spurs, together with Dirk Decloedt.
A large show for 12000 nurses of Familiehulp to celebrate their 65th anniversary.
“Believe” & “Hope”
Special Olympics EUROPEAN SUMMER GAMES Antwerp 2014
Opening & Closing ceremony
VOGUE Arabia launch for Place Vendôme & VOGUE
“The Elixir of Life”
Tomorrowland Mainstage 2016 show direction with Soul15
Tomorrowland Mainstage 2017 show direction with Soul15
Tomorrowland, Budweiser & Tiesto
Show creation and direction of live opening show at DreamVille and commercial worldwide by VICE
“To the Uttermost Ends…”
14-18 Commemoration show in Ypres, Belgium for the New Zealand Embassy.
Many more references on:
ArchitectofEMOTION click here with active internet connection
The Cintamani Stone click here with active internet connection
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