June 2022

Interview – Ten questions for Martin Bien from FESTIVALFRIENDS

An abstract yellowish form, as Martin Bien also uses on his website

From now on, we will introduce people on here without whom we would have no work. All those who have put their trust in us. We start with Martin Bien from the great project FESTIVALFRIENDS.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Martin. I do something with theatre, performance and art in the independent scene, something with numbers, forms and organisation.

That's my business brain:

That's my shady brain:

This is my art brain:

This is my dramatic brain:

What are you proud of?

I can't really relate to »proud«. When I think about it, it occurs to me that I am very, very glad that I was quite lucky. My training company, which was still an agency in Dresden at the time, more or less financed my studies by giving me freelance jobs as a copywriter. I got through my studies debt-free and without BAföG. 

I think I replaced pride with gratitude, didn't I? Fits much better for me anyway!

What is the biggest misunderstanding that exists about performance art?

Many people think that because art is about feelings, it is never about money.

How did the cooperation with HENKELHIEDL come about?

As interim head, then later head of public relations for the FESTIVALFRIENDS association, in April/May 2021 I started looking for agencies to consider for the development of a visual identity and website presence. HENKELHIEDL was very convincing in comparison with its bold, poppy styles.

What do you think about the cooperation (and please don't mince words)?

Sometimes I wondered if our project was sexy enough for you or if it posed any real challenges for you – except that you had to work with us :D

How would you describe HENKELHIEDL to a colleague in three words/pictures/GIFs/videos?


(I had not uttered that word since the early 2000s).  


(without that hipster chic, I was a little afraid of that before the collaboration, if I'm totally honest).


Was there a moment when you thought the project might fail? What happened?

When I do, my brain always thinks that projects don't fail because of others, but because I screwed up or didn't communicate clearly enough.

What do you take away from the project for your further work?

I've been working for years to make my reply emails less long. Unfortunately, that hasn't always worked here either – sorry, Bea. Hope you can forgive me! But it's at the top of my take-away list. 

What advice do you have for people who want to start a similar project?

It stands and falls with a good briefing, which has to come from the client. For me, the following principle, which may seem abstruse at first glance, works very well: formulate your own wishes for the design of visual identities and websites as abstractly (!) as possible so that the path the agency takes is ultimately irrelevant. And precisely because the path doesn't matter, it gives the agency as a partner the freedom to shape it and to take you along as a client.

In other words, the more material I provide at the beginning that the agency can draw on and refer to, the better.

Personally, it helps me to have a very detailed briefing that I write down so that the agency can nail me down to certain things in it, because I also make myself binding in terms of content. 

You work both as a producer for theatre performances and as an advertising copywriter and concept developer, so you are very versatile. What do you still want to achieve? And what hopes have you given up?

Do you still have to achieve it? I don't have high aspirations ... at the moment I have to finish an article that I've wanted to write for a long time. But maybe I would actually be happy if I could get something like a book off the ground someday. Let's see how that goes. 

What hope have I given up? I actually wanted to become a teacher for German and... actually only German. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen any more. And I very much doubt that I'll get beyond the beginners' knowledge of Illustrator and InDesign in this lifetime :D 

Thank you! All the best for the future and see you very soon!

PS: www.martinbien.de

Click here to go to the project:
FESTIVALFRIENDS »Self-promotion made simple«.

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