Instagram is the best marketing tool for visual artists, in my opinion. With some effort, a professional artist can create an online portfolio of their work on Instagram which can undoubtedly engage more visitors than that same artist’s personal website. Instagram’s reach is so vast, it’s worth spending some time learning best practices for this platform.


If you’re already on instagram, but hoping to improve, please know that it’s never too late to start using my tips. You can even change your handle if it’s not the best handle for your use. After reading this article, it may also be beneficial to go through past posts on your feed and delete any posts that aren’t winners.

These 5 tips are specifically related to instagram accounts for professional artists. My clients get the full article emailed to them, complete with pictorial examples and inspiration. Email me for a 'First Hour' consultation!

1. Present a uniform ‘look’

When you open an instagram page, it shows your most recent photos in a grid. This grid should be representative of the brand you are creating as an artist. It should have a mix of post types, but overall convey a uniform message. A viewer should be able to get a good idea of what you do by looking at this page at any given time. This should also create an appealing look to draw followers. A good presentation provides a cohesive set of imagery while showing work in progress, studio views, the artist at work, finished work, and inspiration images. A viewer will know at first glance what this profile will be about, and will know if they want to follow.

2. Decide your personal style

Get Personal: If it feels right for your personal ‘brand’, include some posts that share intimate details of your artist life: studio shots, pets/kids, inspirational imagery, home life, or images of you at work. These posts can be sprinkled into images of your finished work, and can help create engagement with your followers

Or, Make Instagram More Formal: Rather than present personal imagery, it’s also appropriate to treat Instagram like a more formal artist portfolio. Showing images of finished work, along with some process shots, and artwork details (title, size, medium, etc) can make a cohesive page for followers. You have to decide how much personal information you want to share, and what feels right for you. Deciding this from the start will help create a seamless experience for your viewers.

3. Be Consistent

No matter what style you decide on, try to stick with a basic schedule of posts and relatively regular posting. This refers to how often you post, what type of content you post, and the general aesthetic of your posts. Post consistent content that aligns with your particular message and aesthetic. You may not consider yourself a “brand,” but you do have a style that people have chosen to follow you for. Stay on brand. Stay consistent with your posting activity so your followers not only get to know you, but depend on your content.

4. Edit your photos:

Not just any photo will do. Your photos must be bright, and have true-to-life colours. This is a visual medium, so the first step is a bright, focused, well-composed photo. Even if there is a great story behind a photo, if the photo isn’t top notch, it shouldn’t be shared.

DO NOT use instagram filters, just use their editing tools within the app to increase brightness, contrast, etc. Smartphones offer many great apps for editing photos.

5. Connect with your audience:

Captions on photos: Captions on your photos are crucial. A caption should help tell your followers what is happening in the photo. If it is a work in progress, you may want to explain a little about what you’re working on. If it’s a finished piece of art, share a bit about why you like the piece, a challenge you faced during it’s creation, or where to purchase that piece. Above all, captions should be authentic, honest, and in your own voice. Imagine you are speaking to your followers in person.

Tagging Photos: Instagram allows you to tag people or companies right in your image. It may be beneficial to tag any brands or products shown in your photo. Engaging with products that you like/use could mean that the brand re-posts your image, which could help with follower count. Mention anyone pictured in the photo, or any instagram users that inspired you, or who you feel compelled to connect with.

Comments and likes: Make an effort to ‘like’ images that you genuinely like. When you have an interesting comment to make, comment away! Comments should be on accounts that you actually follow, and should add value to the post. When a follower comments on one of your photos, be sure to respond. That type of reciprocal engagement will increase follower count, and the quality of your feed. engaging and that offers value.

Hidden Gem.jpeg
 

Artwork shown: 'Hidden Gem' from Lindsi Hollend's new 'Tapestry' series which will be unveiled at the Toronto Artist Project, 2018