Instagram tips for artists

Everyone knows now that Instagram is a potential game-changer for emerging artists. Because it allows artists to build a large follower base and convert them to collectors. In 2022, Instagram still has a disruptive power: it can cut through the structures of the art market. It became an almost mandatory step for artists we needed to work on those Instagram tips for artists.

Any questions or suggestions? Contact us on our IG account. Let’s start:

How to use Instagram as an artist

Instagram is the most influential social media for the traditional art market and for the digital artists, illustrators… in fact every kind of image-based business. There are many online miraculous methods on how to succeed with this social grail. Yet, stay cool-headed, it’s about common sense:

Your art hashtags 2022

Basically, you need to research hashtags in the art niche related to your style and medium.

You need to find:

  • 10 hashtags with 10-30K posts
  • 10 hashtags with 30-50K posts
  • 10 hashtags with 50-150K posts

If you spend the time making this hashtag research, you will get at least 200+ likes per post. This will generate some extra engagement. Not much because they’re small hashtags but it can boost your post to go viral on the explore page. Interested in this method? This hashtag tutorial might be interesting for you.

Why you shouldn’t follow it

For three reasons:

  1. The algorithm is adapting: it detects and counters those methods with time.
  2. If you the same hashtags for every post, it will be spammy. So you will have to make constant research.
  3. The time spent on optimizing your hashtags is taken away from your creative time!

What we are forgetting about social media

In social media, there is the word “media”. It means the stuff between you and your audience. This is contrary to immediate.
So it is the same as a book, a monument, a tv series: it is media: Instead of focusing on a method for hashtags, you should know yourself and know your audience. There isn’t any simple method for that.

Instagram tips for artists

Peter Ibsen art collector gallery owner, Sunday-S Gallery in Copenhagen

Posting art on Instagram

The evidence in 2022: If you want to grow on Instagram, you have to focus on video.

With the algorithms in 2022, Reels and videos get 135% more organic reach than still image content. Plus Reels is now also shared on Facebook worldwide. You can allow it on the settings and link your Facebook account with your IG account settings.

instagram tips for artists facebook sharing

How to post art on Instagram

Artist or not, you will have to please the IG’s algorithm, artist or not. For this, you will need to define and follow a content strategy. Combine two of the styles below and stick with it:

  • Inspirational: Artivism, artist lifehacks…
  • Educational: Painting tutorials, how-tos…
  • Entertaining: painting with music, talking while painting…
  • Promotional: Trying and selling art products, promoting art events…

Instagram algorithm for artists

Remember, if you don’t focus on video content you can just forget about the algorithm:

  1. Add hashtags with the idea of categorizing your content. It tells the algorithm which niche you are in. 2-3 Hashtags need to be relevant to the category, 2 relevant to your niche. We will describe this step later.
  2. Use Instagram as a Free Enemy: to grasp what really Reels is, you need to be a fan and use it daily. Plus, you need to engage by leaving comments to others. If it’s free you are the product! 
  3. Re-use your content: Make a reel, then post it as a video to Instagram, then turn the structure of the ideas into a carousel post. This way you optimize your time and you will reach different audiences.
  4. Tell a face-paced story: Your exposure time is short, be dynamic.
  5. Use captions (15% of people watch Instagram with sound on)
  6. Put a strong hook in the first 2 seconds of the video. How to do that? Watch videos and ask what pulled you into this video. Try to apply that to your content.
  7. Build anticipating content: content that suggests something about to come.
  8. Add a call to action to suggest people follow you (“follow to get more art like this!”)
  9. Integrate post-production techniques (Overlay, moving background, glare…)
  10. Consider Creating a loop to the beginning of the video (increases the number of views)

Reels ideas for artists

Everyone says you should use Reels…

How to make art Reels on Instagram

If you already have an IG account, investing some extra time in making Reels is a great idea. Get your audience interested in your art-making process and gain more exposure. Keep in mind the 5 things when making your first Reels videos.

1. Reels is a format for another audience

Don’t edit down your existing videos thinking it would save you some time. It is a very different kind of content. You need to change the mentality to cater to your new audience on Reels.

2. Don’t squeeze too much content into this 15-second long video

If you are making educational or informative videos, don’t get too ambitious with tips and tricks. Take it easy!

3. Think of it as free advertising

If you want your art to show in front of people, usually you need to pay for advertising on Google or Facebook. Now you can use this opportunity for free. It’s another way to get free traffic to your profile.

4. It’s branding, not sales

Usually, people watch the first 2 seconds of your short videos. Don’t think about making a sale in 2 seconds – even an elevator pitch is 60 seconds! How can you even convert in 2 seconds? It’s not realistic.

5. Always backup

When Reels are not here anymore, you want some raw content to work with, for your website or other social media. Not the Reels content, because it has copyrighted music.

Instagram tips for artists

Reels video ideas for artists:

  • 1. Quick studio tour. I would recommend using a camera stabilizer to reduce the shakiness.
  • 2. Timelapse of preparing for an exhibition.
  • 3. Show a texture over a painting, or rotate around a sculpture.
  • 4. Shipping an order? Show the boxing process.
  • 5. Snap your finger and pop some texts on painting tips.
  • 6. Show your lifestyle as an artist, such as what you wear to your studio.
  • 7. Are you a vegan? Minimalist, anyone? Show your personality and how you live your life.
  • 8. Something fun? Dance moves in your studio.
  • 9. Add Augmented Reality to your art
  • 10. Show your art within a striking context (Nature, architecture) with the music setting the ambience.
Instagram tips for artists

“I think an artist always needs an adventure they are on, to pull their followers with them.” Ali Cavanaugh

Instagram for artists do’s and don’ts

Make Art, Not Content

When it comes to promoting your art on social media, the feeling is very mixed. You know it’s necessary at the same time you feel reluctant. There are 1 billion monthly active users on Instagram. Even if you are not a fan of social media, you still need to get your art out there. Here are some common Instagram mistakes so you can have a kick start:

Don’ts

1. Too many hats

“Proud mother of two”, “Artist and Musician”, “Artist and Actor”…
It’s amazing that you have a lot going on, but you are wearing too many hats. It’s best to say which artist you are (painter, sculptor, digital artist).

2. Boring Bio

“Hi, my name is Mark. I am an artist. I have been drawing since I was ten years old.” You are 30 years old now and nothing has happened for the past 20 years? You are not defined by when you started painting, but by how you develop as a human being. Mention something interesting: Why do you want to paint? What is the news happening in your career today?

3. Mixing Work / Life

Do you want to share some amazing honeymoon moments, cool parties, or the first baby steps of your child? You might want to share them with your fans: I would not suggest doing so. You would appear to be unprofessional. Especially when you share photos of alcoholic beverages…

4. Depending on Professionals

I talked to an artist about why not updating his Instagram for a long time. He told me that he was waiting for a professional photographer to come in and shoot. Timing is everything! You should choose now between having a decent photo today or a perfect photo tomorrow. Don’t wait on the professionals, learn how to take photos yourself so you can react fast.

5. Not Engaging

Many artists are using Instagram as free cloud storage to safe-keep their photos. They are not doing a lot to attract social interactions. The title of the art? Untitled. The description? Oil on Canvas. Comments? No replies. This is not engaging! You are not stimulating dialogue between you and your fans.

6. Too many hashtags

I have seen artists who are using up to 30 hashtags. Please don’t. You can put 5-6 relevant hashtags at most, otherwise, you look desperate. It’s the opposite of “not engaging”. Less is more. Consider posting the hashtags in the comment section (it has the same effects on the algorithms).

7. Paid Following

I asked once an artist: which artworks received the most likes on your social media? He said: ‘The ones I spent most promoting.’ You got me.

8. Instagram as a Website

We did a survey on our Instagram and out of 400 artists, 60% did not have a website. They used social media like Instagram as their online portfolio. This is very risky! You can lose your social media account and you have no way to get it back.
You should have your own website instead. This way you can rank on Search Engines, make an online store, and join all the social media together. Plus, your website is protected by law as your private property.

 

instagram tips for artists

How to photograph art for Instagram

Do’s:

1. Choose your aspect Ratio

When you frame your shot, think about aspect ratio. You can take 1:1 or 4:5 (longer photos, 1080px by 1350px) depending on your art. If your artwork is even longer, it’s better because it occupies more areas of the screen. But, if your artwork is horizontal, don’t publish like that. Among other square photos, it looks like a banner. Make a passe-partout white space around it, and upload it as a square photo.

2. Show multiples

You can upload up to 10 photos in the same post. It allows you to show some details, such as close-ups of your painting, as one of these many photos. Yet, make sure your main image is the “passport photo” of your painting.

3. Use props

Use items to tell your story alongside your painting. It is ok to include some fine art supplies, plants, or anything. For example, you can use seashells to decorate a painting of the sea. Use color or light contrast for example, and make the image pop, and play with the composition. Don’t overdo it. If the props are too attention-seeking, it will distract your viewers’ attention.

4. Include yourself

After seeing your art, people would like to know you. Show yourself making art in the photo. You can be either in front, behind, next to it, holding it. Try to find a stylish way to present yourself. Imagine this is the “behind the scene” photo of your art creation. If you are a bit shy, put it as the second photo in a series of multiples. You will get used to showing yourself later!

5. Add a background texture

It’s ok to have textured background like wood, sand, concrete or fabric as long as it helps to reflect the work.

6. Use a Frame

Frames can make your work look more expensive. Include a frame especially if you give the option for the collectors to buy framed art. Also, it helps you to convert a horizontal image into a square one, in an elegant way. Make sure you take out the glasses

7. Use Grids

Use 9 photos to showcase a large canvas. Make sure your original photo is at least 3240 pixels on each side (3 x 1080). You can do it in Photoshop, also there are some Apps for mobile. Take care: Most of these apps come with a watermark.

8. Steal like an artist

Look at the top ones in your niche and see what they do.

9. Create your style

Research, experiment, and find your style. It can be a certain theme, look, or vibe. Once you find your visual identity, be consistent with it. Imagine your account is like an art collection, you are the artist and the curator of this collection. You want to show your progress but stay within the same line of work.

# Bonus tip

Send your work to an influencer (that you know) with a handwritten note. Or get a local influencer to stand in for a shoot so you can tag them and get their followers.

 

Don’ts:

1. Partial subject

Either the photo is cropped wrong. Sometimes the missing part is so small that you might not even notice it when you shoot. Show the whole thing and only then you can share details.

2. Messy composition

Showing your dirty laundry or random items in the background can be distracting. Don’t include anything that does not carry your message. Don’t rely excessively on photo editing tools to take care of the mess. It’s always better to get it right at the beginning. (would you wanna be born pretty or through plastic surgery?)

3. Glare

Take your art out of the frame so you can avoid reflections from the glass surface.

4. Instagram filters

It’s cool to take portraits with a filter, but not your art. You need to show your art as it is. The main reason is that if someone buys it, he will need to get what he saw.

5. Co-Starring

Showing your art among other things, or showing too many pieces of art at once can also give confusion. Make sure your art is the star, not the co-stars competing against each other for attention. Publish the other artists’ artwork you shoot or repost on a different account.

6. Watermarks

Don’t put big ugly watermarks! If someone steals your work but you communicate it well, it will be easy to find you via reverse image search. So this is a free advertisement.

7. Awkward angles

Avoid shooting your main image with awkward angles (actually any angle at all). It doesn’t render well your art. Especially if you have a dark frame, it shows very well how unnatural it looks. Take your main photo square like a passport photo. It might not be the most creative way to show your work, but it’s the safest way.

 

Instagram tips for artists

Instagram changes in 2021

Instagram is no longer a photo-sharing app

It made quite a buzz, you may know about it, yet it deserves to be published as a quote here as it concerns many artists:

instagram tips for artists - Adam Mosseri's quote 2021

Source: Adam Mosseri’s tweet

Since IGTV, Stories, and Reels, Instagram is moving into a more video-centric approach. The still images approach has been on a slow death for a while now.

Artists should use Reels

To please IG’s algorithms, you will need to think of “sugary” and fast-paced emotional Reels. It suits some artists. Perhaps not you.

Or consider posting art on Twitter

Never be dependent on one unique social media, diversify. It is clear that Instagram isn’t going anywhere as a platform for you to share images on. Consider Twitter in that case.

Instagram tips for artists

Instagram changes in 2020

Instagram Reels

Instagram tips for artists

Will Reels replace TikTok?

Facebook created Reels as an opportunity while a geopolitical context affected TikTok.
TikTok is partly acquired by an old inadequate company, Oracle. And because it is from China, it faces many difficulties (pretty well for the moment). But it is a Standalone App, and a well thought one. Reels is an option within Instagram and won’t be as powerful for this reason. IGTV tried to compete with YouTube and is now dead, remember?

And don’t forget: Facebook had 43 scandals in 15 years (political manipulation, personal data leaks…) while TikTok is the 1st social media which shared transparently its algorithms.

Instagram tips for artists

Slowbalisation

The Internet, following geopolitics, is getting less and less global, and more polarised. So try to think local too, less bubble. “Internet is a table for two”
Try to get direct contact with others outside of social media. Think community instead of yourself. Otherwise, you are the one used.

Instagram changes in 2019

Instagram photoshopped photos

 

Instagram tips for artists

The Verge titled: ‘Instagram is hiding faked images, and it could hurt digital artists’. Instagram is hiding photoshopped images from its Explore page to combat misinformation.

Instagram hides photoshopped photos

Instagram’s info center did not state what exactly qualifies as ‘misinformation’. It can be anything forged and deceiving, including fake news and wrong body ideals. The intention of Instagram is good. It might have considered the outcomes in the creative industry.
Instagram is the number 1 social media for visual artists to promote and market their art. Banning retouched photos without prejudice will hurt the creative freedom of many artists. Hiding retouched photos have detrimental effects on the careers of many emerging artists.

 

Instagram tips for artists

Artists are Affected

Does Instagram’s banning of retouched images have positive outcomes? or does it hurt creative freedom instead? This is a debatable question. Nonetheless, Instagram has all the rights to do so. It is a company, not a government organization. Besides, we are not paying anything to Instagram as regular users. We have very little say in this. Let’s see then how to respond:

Instagram photo edit tricks

As an emerging artist, you can fight this policy in the long term, but right now you need to react to it in a smart way. Use this as a tendency for your interest.

1. Show behind the scene videos and photos on Instagram

Then show your art at the end. You can show people your creative process at the same time showing them how you used Photoshop to make art. It eliminates the chances of being mistaken for fake news.

2. Learn visual tricks by using the right gears

You can achieve realistic ‘retouched’ images in real life. Many old Hollywood movies could achieve a realistic look without using computer effects. Did you watch Planet of the Apes (1968)?

3. Find a new art style following this tendency

For example, artist Liu Bolin would paint himself in real life and become ‘invisible’. That’s better than Photoshop! If you can find an art style without needing Photoshop.

4. Don’t rely on Instagram

Choose another social media and make your own website too. You don’t want to put all the eggs in the same basket. If your account or your posts is down, you have another channel to promote your art.

Instagram tips for artists

Lachlan MacDowalls scholar of graffiti, street art, digital culture. Book: “Instafame, Graffiti and Street Art in the Instagram Era”

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