Instagram tips for artists
Everyone knows now that Instagram is a real game-changer for emerging artists. Because it allows (or gives the illusion) artists to build a large follower base, potentially collectors. It has or had a disruptive power by cutting through the structures of the art market. As it became an almost mandatory step for artists we needed to work on those Instagram tips for artists.
Any questions or ideas? Contact us on our IG account
How do you make a successful Instagram art page?
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. And because it is the trend, there are many articles explaining a miraculous method in order to succeed with this social grail.
One Instagram growth method
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
Even if your account hasn’t any followers, 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. If you are interested in this method, this hashtag tutorial might be interesting for you.
Why you shouldn’t follow it
For three reasons:
- The algorithm is constantly changing, detects and tries to counter those methods with time
- If you the same hashtags for every post, it will be detected as spammy. So you will have to make constant research.
- All this time you are spending is taken on what is most important: your creative time!
What we are forgetting about social media
There is the word “media“, it means the stuff between YOU and your PUBLIC. The contrary to immediate.
So like a book, like a monument, like a tv series, it is a media. And then instead of focusing on a method, the way has always been the same: Know yourself and know your public. There isn’t any simple method for that. That’s why in the next chapters of this we will focus on the relation between you and your public through this media.
It means with storytelling, photography, your style, your psychology, your message…
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:
Source: Adam Mosseri’s tweet
Since IGTV, Stories and last year Reels, Instagram is moving into a more video-centric approach, and 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 ‘sugary’ and fast-paced emotional Reels, like for TikTok, (IGTV is, for now, a complete failure) and it suits some artists, not all of you, and not us.
Never base or be totally dependent on one unique social media, diversify. As a business, if you are concerned about growth, it is clear that Instagram isn’t going anywhere in terms of a platform for you to share images on.
Twitter vs Instagram for artists
Diversify, don’t solely depend on one social media. There’s a big artist shift on Twitter ( We will work on an article dedicated to Twitter for artists). But most important: own your website so you won’t be at the mercy of one platform that follows the market trend. Be flexible with your feet on a stable ground (your website).
2020, Reels for artists
Everyone says you should use it
How to use Reels as an Artist
If you already have an IG account, investing some extra time in making Reels might be a promising idea. You can get your audience interested in your art-making process and gain more exposure. If you are new to this short video format, I have some tips for you. Keep in mind the 5 things when making your first Reels videos.
#1: Reels is a new format for a new audience
Don’t edit down your existing IGTV videos thinking it would save you some time, because 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
Especially 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 just another way to get free traffic to your profile.
#4: It’s branding, not sales
Usually, people watch the first 3 seconds of your short videos. Don’t just think about making a sale in just 3 seconds – even elevator pitch is 60 seconds! How can you even convert in 3 seconds? It’s not realistic. It’s just a way to show your personality and lure people into following you.
#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.
TikTok vs Reels
Reels was clearly created by Facebook as an opportunity while TikTok is being impacted by a geopolitical context.
TikTok, partly acquired by an old inadequate B2B company, Oracle, will slowly become the shadow of itself. And because it is from China, it won’t be as impactful as before if not banned (look at Huawei). But it is a Standalone App (Reels is just an option within Instagram and won’t be as powerful (IGTV tried to compete with YouTube 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.
The Internet, following geopolitics, is getting less and less global, more and more polarised. So try to think local too, less bubble. “Internet is a table for two” try to get direct contact with the others outside of the social media. Think community instead of just yourself. Otherwise, you are being the one used.
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 rotating 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.
2019, Instagram Bans Faked Images
Advice to help you with this change
The Verge titled: ‘Instagram is hiding faked images, and it could hurt digital artists’. I have just seen similar news so it caught my eyes. From the article, I learned that since December 2019, Instagram is hiding photoshopped images from its Explore page to combat misinformation.
The Impact on the Artists
In Instagram’s info center article, it did not state what exactly qualifies as ‘misinformation’ but I would interpret it as 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 around the world to promote and market their art. Banning retouched photos without prejudice will hurt the creative freedom of many artists. Hiding retouch photos might have detrimental effects on the careers of many emerging artists.
Artists are Affected
Instagram’s banning of retouched images will have more positive outcomes such as body positivity, or it would hurt creative freedom instead? This is a debatable question. But Instagram has all the rights to do so. It is a company, not a government organization. Besides, you are not paying anything to Instagram as a regular user. When you don’t pay, you have very little say in this.
How to Respond
As an emerging artist, you can certainly 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 CGI computer effects, such as the 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! Check out artist Liu Bolin’s works. 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 are taken down, you have another channel to promote your art.
Lachlan MacDowalls scholar of graffiti, stret art and digital culture. Book: “Instafame, Graffiti and Street Art in the Instagram Era” (October 15, 2019)
Instagram Mistakes to Avoid
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. Today we want to help you avoid some common Instagram mistakes so you can have a kick start.
#1: Too many hats
‘Proud mother of two’, ‘Artist and Musician’, ‘Property investor’, ‘Artist and Actor’. I think it’s amazing that you have a lot going on, but you are wearing too many hats. It’s best to just say you are an artist (painter, sculptor, digital artist).
#2: Boring Bio
‘Hi, my name is Mark. I am an artist, and I have been drawing since I was ten years old.’ But 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 how you develop as a human being. Mention something interesting such as why you want to paint, and what is the news happening in your career today.
#3: Mixing Work / Life
You want to share some amazing honeymoon moments, cool parties or first baby steps of your child? You might want to share them with your fans but I would not advise doing so. You would appear to be unprofessional, especially when you share photos of alcoholic beverage.
#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! Between having a decent photo today and having the perfect photo tomorrow, you should choose now. Don’t wait on the professionals, learn how to take photos of 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 really 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 hashtags at most, otherwise, you look desperate. It’s the opposite of ‘not engaging’. You can use some social media tools to look for the most relevant hashtags. Less is more.
#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.’
#8: Instagram as 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. You can rank high on SEO, you can make an online store, you can join all the social media together, and your ownership to your website is protected by law as your private property.
Peter Ibsen is an art collector and gallery owner
Sunday-S Gallery in Copenhagen
Instagram image mistakes
Now I will show you how to take better Instagram photos apart from basic photography mistakes, such as underexposed photos, image noise, blurs and low resolution. There are plenty of other mistakes artists make without knowing. Let’s see some examples:
Either it can be cropped wrong, or the photo was taken like this. Sometimes the missing part is so small, you might not even notice when you take the picture. Show the whole thing and only then you can share details.
#2: Messy composition
Showing your dirty laundry or random items on the background can be distracting. Don’t include anything that does not help you transmit 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?)
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 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.
Showing your art among other things, or showing too many pieces of art at once can also give this confusion like ‘where should my eyes land?’ 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.
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
Try to avoid shooting your main image with awkward angles (actually any angle at all). It doesn’t faithfully render your art. Especially if you have a dark frame, it shows very well how unnatural it looks. Take your main photo square on like a passport photo. It might not be the most creative way to show your work, but it’s the safest way.
Ergo Josh is a digital artist and YouTuber
Instagram tips for artists (photography)
‘My 570 posts on Instagram only got me 520 followers. What have I done wrong? Can you give me some advice on my photos?’
This kind of question pushed me to write these tips: I’m going to share some good practices and give you…
9 tips on how to take better photos of your art on Instagram
#1: Aspect Ratio
When you frame your shot, think about aspect ratio. You can take 1:1 or 4:5 (slightly longer photos, 1080px by 1350px) depending on your art. If your artwork is slightly longer, it’s even better because it occupies more areas of the screen. However, 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 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 multiple photos. However, 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 really. 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. Just don’t overdo it. If the props are too attention-seeking, your views can be distracted.
#4: Include yourself
After seeing your art, people would like to know you. It’s great to show yourself making art in the photo, 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: 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. Just 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. You can do it in Photoshop, also there are some Apps for mobile. Most of these apps come with a watermark. There is a free one called 9 Square is free, on Android.
#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 e consistent. Imagine your account is like an art collection, you are the artist and the curation of this collection. You want to show your progress but stay within the same line of work. You can achieve this by customized presets in Photoshop, so you can achieve the consistency by just a click of a button.
# Bonus tip
Send your work to an influencer (that you know) with a handwritten note. Or just get a local influencer to stand in for a shoot so you can tag them and get their followers.