How to Instagram like an artist? (Five ways to make the most of Instagram as an artist)

I have been on Instagram since the beginning of it in 2010-2011. I was mainly on it for my travel blog: Arabian Wanderess, but when I saw how well my art posts were doing on it, I decided to start a second instagram account dedicated for my art, which is Islamic Illumination. The art account is only two years old, but I managed to match the number of followers as my older account and I get the feeling that soon the art account will exceed the number of followers and in this post I will tell you how I did it! I know numbers aren't everything but they are an indication of how your art is being received and it also gives the artist visible value to work with brands to start earning a living from their own art. 

Read: Examples of successful art-gramers

First, get the Instagram basics right

  • You need a profile picture that either shows your face or part of you (that's what I would recommend because it establishes a real human connection) or a photo of one of your very popular art works that almost represent you.

  • Add a clear bio telling people who you are. I know poems and mysterious quotes are cool, but if you mean business, then you need to add your name, something about who you are, your art speciality and your website. You can also add one important information maybe about an ebook, an e-course or an upcoming workshop.

  • Make your account public if the purpose is to showcase your art work.

Second, plan your instagram content

I get this question a lot from artists: what should I post on instagram?
Here are some ideas that should help you out

  • Progress posts
    People love seeing the progress of your art. You can start by posting a sketch and caption it with: just starting this new painting and here’s step one. Next step will be adding some colours and so on. It is really fun watching an art creation take shape and get completed.

Islamic art progress
  • Question posts
    Engage your audience by asking them questions like:
    what do you think this painting is going to look like?
    What colour shall I use for the background?
    Do you think green would work if I use it?
    If you don't like taking people's advice then tailor the questions to whatever you want, but it's a good way to open up some discussions and it makes the page more personal.

  • Fact posts
    People sometimes enjoy getting some facts, so you can take a photo of your painting and in the caption you can give a fact on colour combinations, previous artists or methods. For example, I posted a photo with shells and I explained their traditional importance and I think people enjoyed it.

  • Inspirational Posts
    I am not talking quotes, I am talking about other art inspiration that you have seen on travel or art items that you think your followers would love. I posted a photo of some tiles in Portugal and people LOVED it. It was over 800 likes!

  • Time-lapse Posts
    These are everyone’s favourite! (You can download hyperlapse -an app by Instagram that will take a video and speed it up up to times 12). I usually do this for intricate stages of my work such outlining or burnishing the gold and my viewers/readers really enjoy it because it's short and informative.

  • Story posts
    Instagram loves personal stories, so you can include mini stories in your captions with images to tell your audience a little about you or your work. I don't do much of them because I have my travel Arabian Wanderess account that shares a lot of personal things about myself and travels, but a little post here and there is good to connect with your readers/viewers/followers.

  • Recommendation Posts
    Another thing that my readers love is when I recommend art books or art supplies! The book recommendation posts do really well and get people talking. These types of posts are interesting as well because I am always asked what books to read to learn about Islamic art, Islamic illumination and Islamic geometry.

Third, Promote your instagram and keep it organised

  • After every post you do, it is crucial to add relevant hashtags, so other people on instagram can find you. Examples for some useful hashtags: #wip #workinprogress #artist #ArtistinLondon (or wherever you are) #painting #oilcolour #watercolour #acryliccolours #oilpaint #gouache (only hashtag the medium you use not all of them! #gold #goldleaf #brushes #(brand of paint or brushes) #landscape #portrait (tailor the hashtag to the content of the photo). Also a great time saving tip is to save these hashtags in your notes on your phone and just copy and paste them if they are about the same thing. Although, make sure you switch up the hashtags every once in a while.

  • Adding a geographical location is also a great idea. Though, please don't link that to your house! The city you live in or the art supply shop you visited is good enough.

  • Over posting is as harmful as not posting at all! I wouldn't post more than two photos a day and I am actually posting every two days and seeing better results.

  • Comment back when people take time to compliment your work. It's the least you can do to show some appreciation.

  • If you get a negative comment, which all of us get every once in a while sadly, don't engage, just delete it and block the person.

  • Find your people on Instagram. That really helped me elevate my account because my friends and I recommend each other and engage on each others posts. It make the world of Instagram feel like home. Whatever your interest is, find the ones who are into it and be insta-friends with them all! :D

  • By the way, if you don’t feel comfortable posting about your work because you are afraid it will get stolen then watermark it.

Fourth, Study your Instagram stats

If you have a business account, which you should as an artist by the way, then you have great tools in your hand for FREE. Instagram stats tell you everything on how you can improve your Insta game. It gives you the best engaged times for your audience, it tells you where they are from and how old they are. You can also track the most popular posts and replicate them! For example, my friend Samira Mian and I both realised that our hand photos seem to always be popular. It could be the human element. This is just one example and it's good to use all the extra information to give your readers the content they enjoy the most!   

Fifth, Get on the Instagram story game

My stories have double the views and the likes of any of the posts on my feed! It’s helpful if you want to be found because more people are using it now and you can add more frequent updates (up to 10 a day if you like). Afterwards, you can save your favourite ones as highlights in different categories. The highlights I have are WIP, Workshops & Research.  

  • you can start with: photo of tea cup + book and write this on top: just going to have tea while I look for inspiration #art #London

  • you can take a video of mixing colours #paint #fun

  • you can take a video of actual painting or making something #wip #art

Videos are 12-15 seconds and they are more affective than photos. Keep story hashtags to only two maximum 

Hope you find these types useful and doable! Comment below if you have any more tips to get artists noticed on Instagram! :) 

Ps. This post includes affliate links.