Instagram For Artists


The way art is discovered and sold is changing rapidly and social media is a crucial part of owning your own art business right now and moving forward. 

·        It’s an easy, free, relevant and immediate portfolio (as important as having an artist website). People can and will stumble on your account, whereas they probably won’t just happen upon your website. You can also start making and selling artwork NOW even without a website. 

·        Massive online art community of collectors, peers, business’ and galleries. 


·        Username (your name or variation of your name + art is always best. 

·        Password (use a password generator if possible and change regularly).

·        Security: turn on two-step authentication

·        Profile Picture: professional picture of you, picture of your art or logo

·        Bio: creative and short artist statement, concise description of your art, slogan, or nothing if you’re already an IG star. 

·        Link: Insert a link to your website, email newsletter sign up, or storefront. Change depending on whether you temporarily have another link you’d like to send people to i.e. press or an event. You can also use Linktree or Lynxinbio to have all your links in one place and not have to change them out.

·        Personal vs. business account. Pros: analytics and specific features. Cons: It lets IG know that you’re a business!


Number one, most important thing! People will decide to follow you within the first 5-10 seconds of finding you, so top-notch images and a well curated feed really matter. 

It doesn’t make you less of an artist if you’re working towards cleaning up and curating your feed. 


·        Cropped artwork, close-up of an interesting part of your painting, flat-lays

·        Artwork in interiors: casual corner, straight-on, close cropped photo of framed art on wall.

·        Art styled in interior spaces, artwork in your studio, angled unexpected shots of a corner or detail, play with shadows, think outside the box. 

·        WIPs (works in Progress—usually most effective as a video or slide)

·        Studio shots

·        YOU aka the artist in her natural habitat. Statistically pictures with you in them do much better, people want to connect the face behind the art. Think about creative ways you can show who you are and how you work. Document yourself at art shows and events etc. I generally keep pictures of myself in my feed pretty professional, and save me at my art shows etc for my stories. 

 VIDEOS: Really effective for growth if they gain traction. Make sure to edit (both appearance and content. Edit any superfluous content and make sure the action starts right away. When you post be sure to select and interesting frame for the cover. Video editing apps: Splice and A Color Story.


Really great to tell a more complete story of something—an exhibit, close-up details of a larger work, in-progress shots along with the finished work etc.

 EDITING: the most impactful thing you can do to visually elevate your feed is to take quality photos in good natural light. Adjust perspective, brighten light, adjust white balance, contrast and be consistent. You don’t want your work to look like it has a filter on it (gasp!), but every photo you post should look professional. 

 CAPTIONING: a strong second when it comes to improving your engagement!

·        Use a conversational voice and HAVE FUN! Be creative, be deep, but don’t take yourself too seriously, unless that’s your thing!

·        Avoid long intros, cut out the wordiness and superfluous details. Start with the most interesting part of a story first, then work your way to any necessary details. Long or short, you don’t have to always talk about the specific piece of art to add appeal and connection to the artwork. All about enhancing your brand, aka the meaning and themes behind your work.

·        What is your CALL TO ACTION>> do you want people to go to your website? Comment? Share? Buy? Let them know! 


Think of your feed like you would a solo show—it’s a creative challenge! Not just about the individual pieces, but the overall impact, themes and messaging. How are you going to stand out? How are you going to push the envelope? Instagram is so saturated, never try to just do what you’re seeing other people do, try to do something they’re not doing. How can I stand out?

·        Be aware of how all your content looks together, keep things consistent and interesting. Apps like Plann or Planoly can help you visualize how your feed will look before posting.

·        There are so many ways to approach your feed, some people post only cropped artwork, others pepper in studio shots and wips, some are extremely stylized with limited color use etc, some don’t seem to be trying at all. Wherever you are in that mix, you can always think of something to improve—a new type of post to try, a new way to photograph your work, better flow, better photos, better captions. 

 STORIES: More casual and fun and probably important as far as reach and engagement. As much or as little as you want, think of it as a way to really let people get to know you and your work. Stories can be a bit overwhelming but a little goes a long way, people will think and feel like you do more stories than you do!

·        Process vids. 

·        Studio tours

·        Other hobbies

·        A little bit of family life

·        Headspace, what you’re thinking about your art. 

·        Having fun with stickers like polls, quizzes, group chats, sliders, questions and gifs, Get immediate feedback and have fun.

 What are some of your favorite types of stories? What artists do a really great job with their stories?

 HASHTAGS: Pound sign + specific phrase, Instagram’s organizing system. Quality is way better than quantity and specific is more effective than generic. So you need to be very clear on your WHO. Who is your audience, and where will they be hanging out? Four ways to find effective tags:

1.   Search by location. Location specific tags will help build your local following. (Always use your geo tag locator in each post). Type in the most obvious tags like #utahartist and then use the suggestion algorithm to go tag fishing to find more. 

2.   See what your A+ highest-engaged followers are tagging. Go to their feeds and check out what hashtags they’re using, what are they posting about and what are they interested in. If they work for your branding (your themes and values) add a few in. Look at who else they are following, what other kinds of accounts they follow and what tags those accounts are using.

3.   Look at your competitors tags, Many who are doing really well are using tags that reflect their community, location, content and messaging. Don’t just copy and paste, but do some market research and find the tags that will help you and your target audience find each other. 

4.   Create a specific and branded hashtag to create intimate engagement within your community. #carveouttimeforart, #cotfa, #cotfaflow. Make a specific hashtag for your art and use it every time you post so people can follow your account and your tag. 

 Instagram penalizes the use of tags that are not relevant to the content of the photo using image recognition technology. Make sure your tags match up with your post!

 “Shadow banning—means that IG is trying to discourage inauthentic methods of growth and bots, so it will block your content from people who don’t already follow you (you won’t show up in hashtags or search). Check by using a really uncommon tag and having people who don’t follow you search that tag. If you don’t show up then you may be shadow-banned. 

Reasons for being shadow-banned:

·        You’re using bots. Don’t!

·        You’re using irrelevant tags to your content, or the same tags over and over. You should have different tags for each post depending on content. 

·        You’re using really huge older tags that have been overrun with inappropriate content and have thus been banned.

·        You’ve been following, posting or responding to comments to quickly and IG thinks you’re a bot. 

·        IF you you’ve been banned, google which tags have been banned and stop using them. Take a full two day break where you don’t even open up the app to reset. 

 It’s worth it to spend an hour or two one day coming up with some good hashtags. Try to use a mix of smaller and larger tags but avoid tags with 2-300k or more. It’s better to use a handful (5-7) of really targeted tags than 30 that are generic or not related. 


·        Search several relevant hashtags, go hashtag hopping, and like and comment along the way. The more authentically you engage, the more likely people are to check you out and connect in a real way. 

·        Golden rule—make your own user behavior the way you want people to engage, people will engage how you engage. 

·        Ask people to share your work if they love it (host a giveaway)

·        Find curated or community-based art feeds that jive well with your art, and tag them in your post photo to get their attention and possibly get featured. 

·        Collaborate. Find artists to collaborate with that have different mediums but similar aesthetics and pitch a creative collaborative project. 

·        Promote a post (I’ve never done it, and there are definite risks).

·        Ultimately, growth is about putting out really great content; people will tag and share when what you do brings them value i.e. knowledge, information depth, beauty, laughter, joy.


·        Separate storefront account i.e. @miriamsartgrab

·        Labeling work as AVAILABLE as you post, marking it with a red “sold” emogi when it sells. You can navigate the sell via DM and have them pay via paypal or Venmo, or make a custom listing from your site and send them the link. MAKE SURE TO COLLECT CONTACT INFO AND EMAILS FROM IG SALES. 


·        How often do you want to post? Decide what works for you and try to be consistent (although in my experience it isn’t the end of the world if you’re not). 

·        You can plan and schedule content in batches to save time. Apps: hootsuite, plan, planoly. 


·        Trivia question: should you follow someone who follows you? If you genuinely want to follow them, but you should feel no pressure just because they followed you. 

·        Direct Messaging—do your best to respond to people’s comments and messages in a timely manner (within reason! Don’t let IG rule your life!)

·        Managing your DMs—consider keeping sales or business comments in your ‘General’ message tab. You can also keep action items ‘unread’ and flag important messages. 


·        We don’t own our audience on IG, we all know too well how abruptly things can change in the digital age, including apps just closing up shop without warning (hello Vine). Do everything you can to capture the contact info of your audience and collectors aka GET THEIR EMAIL. 

·        Turn every interaction you can into an invite to subscribe. “Hi I’m interested in this piece is it available?” “No but it will be on this date, my newsletter is the best way to stay on top of my sales, I’d be happy to add you just let me know.” 

·        Use the Question Sticker to ask for subscribers, don’t be afraid to ask often. (Tip: when you manually add people it is better to have their first and last name as well as email so that it doesn’t get sent to spam.

 INSTAGRAM and MENTAL HEALTH: The Great Instagram Depression

It’s tough to put your work out there! It can feel so discouraging when posting feels like you’re shouting into a void. Working towards a healthy relationship with the app is crucial, it’s so important to keep things in the proper perspective.

 What instagram IS:

·        An important tool in running your own art business. Even on the worst Instagram-is giving-me-CRUMBS days, social media makes selling our art, making connections and running our art business’ easier than it’s ever been before. 

·        You can find people all over the world who will absolutely love and want to buy your art. Not everybody will love your art, but SOMEONE WILL. 

·        An easy and accessible way to build your art business

What it’s NOT:

·        A consistent, stable, or perfectly fair way to build your art business. We don’t own our feeds, and have no control of how the algorithms change or the platform works. That’s why we use it as best we can to build a business that we have more control over. Your followers are only yours if you can reach them regardless of IG (again with the email list!)

·        An accurate reflection of the quality of your art. Likes DO NOT equal quality, and all LIKES are not created equal—the dice are loaded. The algorithms reward trend driven, youth-oriented and colorful imagery. Don’t compare your art or response to your art with anyone else’s, and focus on creating meaningful connections with your audience rather than wracking up likes. If one person loves your work, receive that with gratitude. Know THAT EVERYONE’S POSTS ARE TANKING. It’s not you, it’s Instagram. Put what you have in you, out there with joy and then let it be. 

 Don’t look to instragram for critical, quality feedback. Constructive criticism is an important part of being a working artist, but you can’t allow the algorithms to be your sounding board. Find a real life person that can give you real-life feedback. If you don’t have anyone you feel is being really honest, ask them to be. 

 While it’s true that Instagram doesn’t reflect how good your art is, I do believe that people will respond to what we’re truly excited about. Maybe not every post, but overall—if people can tell you’re really excited about your work, they’ll pick up on that.The most meaningful thing we can do for ourselves and our art is to put our heart into what we’re making. IMO, the best way to navigate IG is to not take it too seriously! If you’re feeling stuck, try shaking things up in some way. Experiment, try out a new post or story ideas, or even take a break for a while. Instagram requires some perspective and patience, but is worth the effort to help build your meaningful and successful career.

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