YouTube for Artists
YouTube, the second most used search engine, It means that if, as an artist, you want to show your art to the right audience, may it be a fan, a collector or even a gallery, Youtube might be the solution. Furthermore, few artists can correctly deal with video making. Consequently, compared to Instagram, an artist has a higher opportunity to get an audience.
How to start a YouTube art channel
5 steps before starting an art channel
There are a few things I wish I knew before starting my channel. You can also read our last article about defining your art channel method.
#1: Define Your Niche
A niche is a special market segment. Imagine your art video is a product, who would like to consume this product? Obviously, your art or art videos are not for everyone. Trying to promote your art channel to everyone, you will end up with no one interested. Can you describe your art content using 3 words? For example “watercolor animal tutorial”. Just try your best to take the 3 most representative qualities of your future videos.
Narrow your niche
When I started this channel, I wanted to make art business advice. In fact, I could have narrowed down this niche further. Our channel would be more successful if I would have just talked about social media for artists, or sell art online, or get gallery representation. I felt like my niche was too big, like a snake trying to swallow a rabbit.
#2: Know Your Competition
Although your art is unique, your art channel still has a lot of competition. More and more artists have started their channels on Youtube in the past decade. Learn from your competition! Do your research and write down a list of your competition. You have defined your niche in the last step. Write your niche in the search bar on Youtube, and see the channels on the first page. Install TubeBuddy (the free version)
- See who is the most successful
- What tags are they using?
- Read the comment section: what kind of things people ask?
#3: Research Keywords
As a small Youtuber with very few subscribers, you will have to rely on the keyword search to give you traffic. Those keywords could be from Youtube or Google search. 40% of our internal traffic is from YouTube search and 50% of my external traffic comes from Google search. As a small Youtuber, likely keyword search is going to be the number one source of traffic.
How to rank for your videos?
You want your videos to rank on the top of the search results when people search for keywords in your niche, you need to mention these keywords throughout the video. Include them in your title, put them in the description and tag them as well.
#4: Schedule Your Uploads
Uploading constantly is the key to success. I recommend at least upload twice a week, e.g. Wednesdays and Saturdays. Reserve some time for your video production. Find it hard to squeeze more time from your already busy schedule? Bring your camera with you every day so you can film yourself doing things, such as visiting an art exhibition or going on a trip. Becoming an artist Youtuber is a commitment. Scheduling will help you keep organized and productive.
Bonus tip: Add Value
Ask yourself, why do people want to watch your videos? Are you telling them something they don’t know? Are you teaching them something? Are you funny? Make your videos worth their time, that’s the value you are giving. List a few bullet points that are the most valuable.
You might want to follow your heart when it comes to showing your art. This isn’t the best way to start especially if you are a small Youtuber. If very few people are interested in your subject, there is no way you can grow quickly.
Artist Youtuber studio setup
Welcome back! Are you excited to make your first Youtube Video? Here we go! Bring out all your gears and let’s do an easy setup in 3 simple steps:
- light check
- camera setup.
Starting a YouTube channel or documenting your creative process in 2021? If you are new to this, you might find this task a bit daunting. The Covid restrictions make it even more difficult for some artists who live alone. Here is some equipment I personally recommend. They are easy to operate for solo artists on a budget.
#1: Cameras for YouTube
The best camera is the camera you have with you. Your smartphone camera should be sufficient if it is produced in the past 2 years. The iPhone 11 Pro’s price dropped when iPhone 12 came out, making it even a better budget purchase in 2021.
What’s it for: Making vlogs, timelapse in small spaces, without having to purchase a camera.
Potential Problem: Some models might have mic connectivity issues, limited internal space
Price: Under $700 for iPhone 11 Pro
I bought a DJI Osmo Action in 2020 and I never thought I’d use it this much. It can get into small spaces and attach to a drone.
What’s it for: Capturing outdoor timelapse in a dusty environment or harsh weathers on a tight budget.
Potential Problem: The built-in mic is not good for voice recording. You will need an external recorder and perhaps an adapter/rig.
Price: under $300
Mirrorless Compact Camera
‘Mirrorless’ and ‘compact’ cameras usually fall into different categories: Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens (EVIL) cameras, Micro Four Thirds (MFT) cameras, bridge cameras, compact cameras etc. The ones with flip screens are typically called ‘Vlogger cameras’. The most famous is the Sony ZV-1.
What’s it for: Making tutorials, vlogs, travel videos for complete beginners.
Potential Problem: Short battery life, can’t perform well in low temperatures.
Price: ranging from $250 to $1500, Sony ZV-1 Kit costs about $850
DSLRs are getting cheaper and cheaper. They are not only a great workhorse but also a good creative companion. I recommend any camera with a horizontal flip screen and can record 4K videos.
What’s it for: Recording high-quality photos and videos for experienced users.
Potential Problem: Some models are weather-proof, but not waterproof. Keep it away from dust and water.
Price: ranging from $800 to $2500
#2: Light tools for YouTube
Light is the most important thing.
Tip with no tools: Luckily it can be done completely for free if you record in a bright place with natural light. You can use the window light in your room. If you don’t have a lot of light, try to stay and put the camera as close to the window as possible, always face the window if you are recording a video of yourself. If you have too much light, then you can put a curtain over it to reduce it and have nice diffusion.
(Lume Cube Panel)
What’s it for: Lighting up a small area as an accent light or hair light in portrait photography without a wall plug.
Potential Problem: If you want to use it as key light, you might want to combine several units. Limited battery life.
Price: ranging from $80 to $150
(random softbox brands)
What’s it for: Making indoor tutorials or timelapse with stable power supply.
Potential Problem: Difficult to travel with, occupy a large area, generate heat
Price: ranging from $20 to $50
What’s it for: Filming vlogs or timelapse in a small space without heating up space
Potential Problem: Strange reflections on glossy surfaces such as eyeglasses and glossy surfaces.
Price: ranging from $20 to $100
(lightsaber, random brands, bent 90 degrees, over the table)
What’s it for: Overhead shooting in a small space, creative lighting such as light painting.
Potential Problem: It’s usually over 70cm long, hard to fit in a suitcase.
Price: ranging from $50 to $100
Light at night
If you record during the night, you need to add some artificial lighting. There are several options in the market, the LED panels, the tubes, the energy-saving bulbs. Use the cheaper ones, it does the job.
You need to ideally have 3 points of light, two on each side of you and one behind you. It’s called a hair light. Of course, if you have hair.
#3: Sound tools for YouTube
What’s it for: On camera mic for interviews, vlogs and tutorials.
Potential Problem: It captures lots of reverb, wind noise etc.
Price: ranging from $50 to $150
Wired Lavalier Mic
What’s it for: Perfect for interviewing a small group (one mic for each speaker) in a noisy environment.
Potential Problem: Limited mobility in front of the camera, tangled cables.
Price: ranging from $20 to $50
Wireless Lavalier Mic
(Rode Wireless Go)
What’s it for: Perfect for vlogs, reporting and recording an interview while moving in front of the camera.
Potential Problem: Radio interference, loss of power when the battery is dry.
Price: ranging from $150 to $500
What’s it for: Recording music, voice-over, interview, off-camera as a backup. You can replace the on-camera audio in post-production.
Potential Problem: Extra equipment to carry, extra work in post-production.
Price: ranging from $70 to $250
#4: Camera support for YouTube
SmallRig Pro for Mobile
What’s it for: Mobile rig allows you to mount the mobile onto the tripod, and/or mount camera accessories onto the mobile. The camera rig helps you add more accessories to your camera and protects you from drops and scratches.
Potential Problem: Rigs are typically designed for specific models or sizes. They are not compatible with your new equipment.
Price: ranging from $10 to $200
(DJI Osmo Mobile 4)
What’s it for: For active artists who record walking or running shots. Also for face tracking if you move a lot in front of the camera.
Potential Problem: Mobile stabilizers and camera stabilizers both have a strict weight capacity. Limited battery life. Prepare to change batteries or charge as you go.
Price: ranging from $100 to $500
Wearable camera mount
(random cap with GoPro mount)
What’s it for: For fun. It frees your hands so you can experiment and get comfortable behind the camera.
Potential Problem: You can not see what you are recording.
Price: ranging from $10 to $25
What’s it for: Essential for interviews, timelapse, speed painting, vlogs.
Potential Problem: Check the maximum weight capacity. It could be dangerous if the weight is not managed (especially outdoors).
Price: ranging from $20 to $200
Because Tripods are very important, we will develop more about them below:
Best Tripod for YouTube videos
Many artists on Youtube use strange solutions, from a stack of books to a light stand, mic stand, bookshelf… for their camera stability. There might be temporary good solutions, but you are putting your camera and your artworks at risk. It’s not worth the risk you are taking. Let’s have a look at what are better solutions to fix your camera at the desired angle, such as overhead shooting.
There are several types of tripod legs: mini tripods such as Gorillapod, photo tripods and video tripods. Gorilla tripods are great for your phone or travel, but not ideal to shoot your art. Especially if you want to take your photography or videography to the next level, you will find many ‘shortages’ of these tripods.
Photo or video tripods
Now we are left with two choices: photo tripod, which is like this with 3 legs that are separated from each other, independently adjustable; video tripod, which has 3 legs joined together by foldable horizontal bars. If you plan to take photo and video of your art, I would totally recommend you to take a photo tripod. It’s more flexible and versatile.
Some tripods have this horizontal centre column, which is great for shooting overhead shots. For example, you want to shoot from above your desk. If you use a DSLR, you do need to use a counterweight: this function is a lifesaver for many artists.
Once you have tripod legs, now you need to choose a tripod head. There are 3 types of tripod heads:
#1: The Ball head
The most common tripod head. When you purchase a photo tripod, likely it will come with a ball head. If you are shooting a lot of photos quickly in different angles, get a quick-release ball head, which is commonly known as a joystick. It allows you to use one head to operate while the other hand to adjust your camera settings.
#2: The 3-way head
Great for fine-tuning, especially if you shoot certain kind of artworks that requires precision. You can adjust one of the axes individually with more control over during the setup. It’s normally used for studio photography and macro photography. The 3-way head tends to be cheaper. At the same price point, it can hold heavier cameras.
#3: The video head
Also called a video fluid head. It allows you to make very soft movements during your video recording. But it doesn’t allow you to tilt your camera to the side. If you want to make a vertical photo or video, this is totally useless.
The best choice for tripod legs would be a sturdy photo tripod with a horizontal center column. If you would like to use it as an easel sometimes, you also make sure you buy a heavier one. The most versatile tripod head is a ball head. If you photograph a lot of art in a short time span, make sure you get a joystick. Totally you are looking to spend $150-$250 but it would be money well spent.
Learn by trying
When you see a movie, you see a long list of crews. It is because there are many specialists in different domain working together to achieve this amazing quality film. If you want to make your video professional and nice, you need to spend time and learn. It can take you a few hours to try different setup and upgrade gears for optimal results.
Coaching: YouTube for Artists
with Mo Li
Get a coaching session with the author of this article.
Check the availability on Patreon
Best YouTube art channels
How to start an art Youtube channel by showing some very successful artists on Youtube.
Style of content
Before making your first video, you need to make a brainstorm (alone or with others) on the kind of content you will make. It can be a vlog or tutorials, or anything you think can bring value to the viewers at the same time you enjoy doing. Perhaps you can list all the topics and kinds of videos you would like to make, and ask a target audience to point out which ones they think most helpful. Narrow it down a little more to a small niche. You can start making some and slowly find your way.
Youtube video content made by artists:
#1: ‘Draw with me’ type drawing chatting
‘Draw with me’ is usually personal stories combined with a time-lapse of drawing. I like the channel of Minnie Small (416K), an artist based in London. She usually draws at the same time talks to the camera. She films from above the timelapse while talking about her life and the story behind the pictures. I like her calming and natural, very straightforward personality. It makes you feel she is already your friend after watching a handful of her videos.
Peter Draws (928K) is another more outgoing crazy version of drawing and chatting. He is also talking about what happens in his life and make a lot of interactions with his fans.
It is a great way if you don’t have a lot of time to make videos. Your filmmaking is not taking more time than making art. One stone two birds! And because it’s personal, you can make a more engaging community, which leads to Patreon patronage.
Making tutorials is like a no brainer idea for a Youtube channel idea. If you are not very outgoing and funny like Peter, you can make tutorials like Katie Jobling (339K). She is quieter just sit there and make art. But don’t get me wrong, I am not saying she doesn’t work much. She does a lot of post-production cutting in and out of her canvas to show the details.
See how Bob Ross (4,7M) nailed it. He had a deep quiet sexy voice and a lot of his audience watched his videos to relax instead of learning how to paint. I don’t think you should copy Bob Ross because he was the very first established television artist, and you will be under his shadow. I’m trying to say you don’t have to be a clown to get views attention, as long as you establish your own style.
#3: Art school Vlogs
If you are an art school student, and you want to use your schoolwork and school life as a part of the video content, then you can see this video made by JelArts (426K) from Canada. She shared some of her art school projects and some of her practice draws. Even when you think you are only an art student while not yet ‘ready’, you can already start making videos, and there is a market for it! Also, it can serve an online portfolio for any potential employer or business partner to see your progress at school, so they know you work hard towards your goals.
#4: Art supplies reviews
Hulloalice (323K) makes all kinds of videos, including fine art material and digital gadget reviews. She has even made a playlist for each subject matter, and it’s very well organized. Making reviews can help you get sponsorship from brands if you are looking for an extra income (and plenty of free samples to try out).
Perhaps you have seen this video called drawing 24h straight recently by ZHC (20M). It’s one kind of challenge videos, you can have also draw everyday challenge, or draw with eyes closed challenges etc. It can be a good way to keep yourself motivated and keep raising the bar.
#6: Artist Tips
Apart from the tutorial you can share some of your best practices with fellow artists. For example, how to not be scammed by people who pretend to buy your art and paying fake cheques, a video made by Lena Danya (759K). Among other content, these artist tips videos I found most popular and helpful.
#7: Art Comedy
Artist life can be a source of humor. Yes, it is! Checkout Robin Sealark (452K), she has many videos just very funny.
Slowly but surely
Perhaps seeing all these huge accounts makes you feel intimidated. Don’t worry, you can start from just a few videos and slowly grow. Once you have a couple of thousand followers you can already make a living on your Youtube channel. For example, Djamila Knopf (13.8K) told in an interview that she could cover her food and rent using Patreon thanks to Youtube and Instagram.
You can see all of the examples above are quite successful, and their image qualities are superb. They are mostly filmed on a DSLR. So you do need to master your camera skills apart from your content ideas.
How to start your first youtube video
Here is a walkthrough of your very first youtube video production. There are four simple steps you need to follow in order to produce high-quality videos that reflect your personality and provide useful information to your viewers.
#1: Write a script
The first video I suggest you make is your introduction video, which will be your channel cover. It can be set to play automatically whenever there is a new visitor to your YouTube channel. In your script you might want to include:
- Who you are?
- Where you live?
- What do you do?
- What kind of art do you make?
- Why you make this kind of art?
- What will you be doing in these videos?
- What you can bring to the audience?
- Then call-to-action: ‘Please subscribe and like this video’!
Now you are ready to make your very first video? Excellent. Before actually recording it, there are a few things you need to do:
#2: Find your SEO keywords
For every video, you need a keyword strategy. Why? Because your video alone cannot be found. Unless you have an enormous amount of social media following elsewhere (Instagram or Facebook), otherwise you don’t have followers on Youtube who will discover your videos. Find some keywords that best describe your video and enter them in the Google search bar. For example: ‘abstract artist’ or ‘abstract art paintings’. I use some SEO tools to verify the keywords. My favourite tool is Keywords Everywhere (Update: not free anymore we will propose another list of tools) it’s a web browser plugin that gives you data on search volume and competition.
For example in this case below, there are 2900 persons per month searching for “abstract artist”, the cost per click (CPC indicates that the investment on Google Ads is pretty high, and the Competition is from 0 to 1, so it would be better if you start to find out closer to 0 than 1. We will make an article on SEO for artists later.
#3: Search your competition
Now you can see a list of people making a video or writing articles on how to draw anime. They are your competition. Do thorough research on your most competent competitors and see how you can ‘beat’ them. Perhaps you can make better videos? Or a longer video explaining more things? Or very different videos? Make sure you bring more value to your viewers.
Now you can hit the REC button and start recording. Practice makes perfect! Probably you won’t get it right the first time. Don’t worry you can do several takes and later in post-production, you can mix different takes. Just wear the same outfit and same hairstyle so you don’t make your videos ‘jumpy’.
10 tips to grow your YouTube art channel
and reach monetization ASAP
#1: Start your channel today.
The best time to start a channel was yesterday. The second best time is today. You don’t need to upload any videos yet. Just give your channel a name, make a logo, write a few lines of ‘about me’, then you are all set! If you plan to Livestream, make sure you get your account verified.
#2: Show yourself.
Many artists did not want to show their faces on camera because they are camera-shy. But if you truly want to make engaging videos, it’s much better to show yourself and tell your story. It’s hard to paint and speak to the camera at the same time. If difficult, you can record a voice over when you finish editing your video.
#3: Think about the size of your audience.
Do you want to make videos for other artists, or for art collectors? What is the format? What languages will you speak? Every decision comes with pros and cons. Consider the size of your audience. If you choose to make videos for your collectors, you might not reach that 1000 subscribers in the next few years.
If you just like making watercolor paintings, it is alright. But it would just attract watercolor lovers. If you make watercolor cockatoos, you attract people who like watercolor AND cockatoos. It’s much better to begin with two groups of audience than one.
#5: Bring value to your audience.
Ask yourself: do you consider your videos valuable? When your viewers finish your video, would they learn or feel something new? If you can bring value and help people, you will receive the rewards in return.
#6: Make longer videos.
Many small art channels have videos that are very short, like 1-3 minutes. Artists might still have this ‘Instagram’ habit. On YouTube, watch time matters because you will need 4000 hours to reach monetization. The longer videos you have, the fewer videos you need to reach monetization.
#7: Mix video sources.
Influenced by my film school training, I hesitated to mix in video clips from an action camera or a webcam. I wanted to use the same camera model to get a harmonized visual style. But I have to admit that it was unnecessary. Many big channels use a webcam, action cam, mobile videos to tell their story (e.g. The Dodo). If you have a good story, it shouldn’t matter how you’ve recorded it.
#8: Don’t use music outside of YouTube.
Purchasing royalty music could be expensive. Using other people’s music without license would end up being very expensive (if you get into legal trouble). I recommend you to use the YouTube free audio library. It’s easy to access: enter your ‘YouTube Studio’, you will find the ‘Audio Library’ on the bottom of your left side panel.
#9: Don’t make content for kids.
After 2020’s COPPA rule, it is much more difficult to monetize making videos for kids on YouTube. You can easily get demonetized if you can not reach their ‘standards’, or even when you can monetize, your income will be lower than a normal channel.
#10: Don’t use YouTube as an advertising platform.
Many artists come to YouTube primarily as a way to promote their art. It’s okay to mention it from time to time, but not in every video. Treat your first 1000 subscribers as friends. Would you be promoting your art or merchandise to your friends every time you meet them? They come to your channel to spend quality time with you. Don’t take too much of their time for your own profits.
What do youtube stars use to edit videos
Why Premiere Pro?
In the past, I was using a different kind of software to edit my videos. Now, I mostly only use Adobe Premiere Pro. The reasons I switched from Final Cut to Adobe Premiere are:
- it works better for teams
- works natively with other Adobe CC software
- it works on both PC and Mac.
There are many more options for hobby filmmaker today and they are not bad options. However, if you are an artist, you totally should learn Adobe Premiere because likely you are working with Photoshop already, and you might do a video art project in the future. It’s a great tool if you have some time to invest.
Now I will show you how I do my editing, and show you how easy it is to make your own videos.
#1: Make a New Project
Launch your Premiere. You will see a welcome screen. Look for the ‘New Project…’ button and hit that. You will see the settings for your new project. Make sure you save this project in the desired folder and make the naming according to your own naming convention. I name it numerically, and this is the video 073 of ‘Art Money Talk’. You don’t need to set anything else, just hit the OK button.
#2: Edit your project
This is a classic Editing layout. The next step is to Import your video files.
- Locate your video files on your memory card.
- Find the right file you wish to import to your video project and drag it to this area of your screen, or double click this area, or go to File –
- Import and select the files you wish to import. You can hover over the file to see its metadata.
#3: Create a new Sequence
- It’s very easy, you only need to drag a video over. It will create a sequence according to the clip. Now you can Trim your video by sliding the beginning or the end of the video.
- Cut the video by pressing ‘C’ on your keyboard to access the cutting tool.
- To go back to a normal cursor, just press ‘V’ on your keyword.
- You Ripple Delete will eliminate the gap between two clips. You can right click on the gap and this option will appear.
- Now you know how to Trim, Cut, Ripple Delete. You can make videos only using these tools.
#4: Add a Slide
It’s easy to add an image on top of your video.
- You can drag and drop a screenshot, and it will just stay on top of the image.
- You can create a Color Matte as a background for your inserted image.
- Choose a color. You can change the color of this Color Matte later.
- Extend the duration of these clips if you wish.
#5: Add Texts
- You can add texts (title or subtitle) if you want. It’s called Legacy Title. Title 01 OK. Don’t worry it’s quite smart it will fit your sequence setting.
- Now you can point and type some words.
- There is not saving button, close this window and it will be saved. Find your title 01 alongside your other files.
- Now you can drag it on top.
#6: Change Speed
Wish to change the speed of your clip? Select the clip and press Command and R at the same time to access the speed panel. This is very useful when you want to show your painting process but some parts of the video you are a bit slower.
#7: Export your project
- Now I have finished my project. It’s time to export it. When you have everything ready, you can export your video.
Go to File – Export – Media. You will see your export screen.
- Make sure it is H.264, that is the most popular encoding for Youtube videos.
- Now go to Preset. There are a lot of Presets but I tend to use Match Source – High Bitrate for optimal image quality.
- Now you can hit Export.
Now you can relax and make a tea, in a while your video will be made. See how easy it is? In as short as 10 minutes, I am able to show you how to make a video. This is just a very simple tutorial. If you wish to do more, there are infinite ways to make different visual effects.
How do youtubers record their screen
Are you a digital artist? Perhaps you are thinking about sharing your creative process on Youtube or other social media with your fans so you can promote your art and reach more people. Here are two free screen video recorders that work both on Mac and PC. They are different in many ways but they can achieve the same result: to capture your screen for free without watermarks. You can also plug an external source into it for the non-digital painting process for example:
The OBS Studio is the older one, originally designed to make online streaming. Their screen recording function made it very popular as one of the favourites among gamers and artists.
As you can see it has plenty of settings, probably too many! You can see the sources, the layout, the image quality, file format as well as sound bitrate and plenty of other things. Once you hit finish recording, you will have the file automatically generated to the default Movie folder (or the folder of your choice).
I like to set it to MP4 and 25 fps, which works with Premiere Pro flawlessly.
I just discovered Loom screen recorder not long ago. It’s a very handy online screen recorder. I have downloaded and installed the Loom on Mac in less than 3 minutes. It is very easy and simple to set up too.
You have 3 options here: your webcam with a screen, just screen or just the camera. What I really like is the cute little dot, instead of a square, which is commonly seen in other screen recording software. Once you hit the Loom logo again, it will stop recording and the file will be uploaded to their server. You can see a window automatically pop up with the video you have just recorded. Now you can share or download, or even trim this video within this ‘my video’ online folder.
OBS or LOOM for artists
OBS and Loom are very different. OBS is for local screen recording with high sophisticated settings, while Loom is the next generation online recorder that is super shareable and social. OBS has a more steep learning curve but more professional, and Loom has a more friendly interface for total beginners. I guess what you can do, is to get them both and use them for different things. For example, OBS for a longer tutorial with a lot of layers and details, and Loom for a quick tutorial you send to individual students. Go ahead and play with them. Happy screen recording!
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