Instagram for artists

Why and how to use Instagram for artists.

Your Instagram account should be the portfolio of your work and a window into your creative life. You can be the curator of your own socially engaging gallery.

Instagram for artists is one of the most powerful marketing tools.

How to be a professional artist on Instagram, social media, question and answer

11 basic why and how answered

1. What should my name be on Instagram?

When you select a name for your account, make sure your real name is also visible, additionally to your user account name.

Otherwise an art lover who has heard of you by name will not be able to find you, and if you have a very common name like John Smith, I would add Artist.

2. What should Images look like?

Your images must be top quality! Look at other accounts for inspiration. Be sure to use more than one image (Close up, from the side, on the wall) especially for available artwork that is on sale. Remember the key to making Instagram such a success is the visual element.

If you are not achieving striking pictures with your old camera, then it's time to invest in a phone or camera that takes excellent photos.

You don’t need anything too expensive. Today, there are all kinds of price ranges for smart phones with very good cameras.

For your photos, figure out the best lighting, try to aim for homogeneous backgrounds, and try to post high quality images. Oh, and please don’t use Insta filters for your works of art. The viewer wants to see the piece of art as accurately as possible.

3. How can I share someone else’s images?

Ask for permission when sharing someone else’s image. If you share without asking that would be an infringement on their copyright.

Asking for permission is the perfect opportunity to exchange with someone you admire over direct messages.

Once you receive permission, don’t forget to tag, giving full credit, listing their name as well as linking to their IG account, do this early in the post and not at the end.

Do not change others images in any way without consent.

4. Should I separate my private from my professional IG?

If you want to go about things professionally, then yes I suggest you get a second account.

I asked collectors and gallerist friends who use Instagram to scout talent, what advice they would give artists on Instagram.

Many said they preferred accounts that were not overloaded with pictures of family events. They found it annoying and time-consuming to filter through private images that had nothing to do with the artist’s work and their artistic practice.

There are 3 accounts options you can choose from:

  1. Turn the private account into your art account

You can also always turn your existing account into your art account. This way, you don’t have to start from scratch with followers.

2. Get a Creative account

When first introduced, to access the creative account, you had to have 10,000 followers or more. Now any one can. It’s definitely the best account for creatives. But if you want to sell your art online, I recommend a business account.

3. Business account

Allows you to sell on Instagram or connect to your website’s online store.

*Don’t make your account Private, if you want to connect with art lovers, collectors, and galleries, because that is where they are scouting!

5. How can I be engaging?

Interaction is the key here! If someone comments on your work, it is common courtesy to acknowledge it. If you like someone’s post, say so, interaction is key to community.

When someone else features you on their feed, thank them if you are pleased. Don’t forget to monitor and respond to the comments directed towards you, even if it’s a repost.

If you cant say anything nice when going over a fellow artist’s accounts, then scroll on and keep your negative comments to yourself.

Aim for supportive relationships.

6. How do I create valuable content?

Quality over quantity

Valuable content is offering the viewer insight into your artistic practice. You can post images of your work in progress, studio, exhibitions, inspirations, and of you. You can post and share stories as well as films. Add information to your artworks, the size and medium are always good things to know.

7. To grow should I follow for likes?

For organic growth and genuine targeted followers, you start by following those you are interested in and admire, such as art publications, art magazines, galleries, art directors, fairs, and fellow artists. If they follow back, then you have valuable followers.

If you just follow for likes, you can easily be unmasked as someone who is socially unreliable.


Don’t buy likes, it becomes very obvious; you start off with loads of followers; the likes are huge at the beginning of each post, then gradually fewer. You have an account with 14k followers and end up with 20 likes. That only spells out bought followers. That’s a no go! It damages your social proof.

Instagram will block your account if they if they catch you and not always with a forewarning.

8. Is it okay to unfollow those who don’t follow back?

No it is not! Not at all.

But it happens a lot, and its really obnoxious!

Examples I keep stumbling upon:

- I follow you, so you should follow me and if you don’t, I will unfollow you.

If a 6-year-old does that, then it’s cute.

If an adult does this, it’s embarrassing.

-I follow you so you follow me, and as soon as you follow me, I unfollow you.

Not much I can say on this kind of tactic, because seriously, I don’t get it!

-There are also those that follow and unfollow recurrently

Signaling that if I wont follow back you will leave, but then give me a second chance, a third, a fourth.

Its a very simple rule just FOLLOW people because you are interested in them and what they do, not for what you believe they should do for you. If they notice you and follow you back, then great. If not, its not the end of the world, as you can still continue to enjoy what they share.

Instagram Etiquette? Yeah! there is such a thing!

Be nice

Small businesses and artists supporting one another result in organic growth. Instagram offers all of us this opportunity for free.

Sharing and liking, shows support, in return, others will like and follow you. I like to call it Insta Karma!

9. Should I use Hashtags

Do use hashtags, but don’t use hashtags that have nothing to do with your work. Using irrelevant hashtags and tagging other users completely unrelated to your person, art and practice, are irritating for all involved.

DO the research and find the right ones for you. The right hashtag will direct the right people to you.

10. How often do I need to post?

Show up regularly. The more the better. 2–3 times daily is ideal.

There are many programs such as Later that assist you to pre-schedule your posts. You can schedule in advance your posts for Facebook, Linkedin, Tik Tok, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram and additionally add a custom link in Bio that connects to your website and store. I love it because its very user friendly and its free!

Accounts that engage are the most successful and have more loyal followers. Not posting regularly can cause your followers to forget you and unfollow you. Posting keeps your account alive, making you more real and accessible.

Build a genuine relationship with your audience and engage with them. It pays off in so many ways.

11. Dont Spam

Follow an account before asking for something. Don’t just apply blindly everywhere. Do your homework first. Check if your work is in harmony with the work being featured. Not following and leaving a public message “check out my work” is bad manners. Find out who is the best person to contact, approach them professionally, emailing is the preferred way to contact a gallery, art association, or collector. I honestly prefer to DM, but it really depends on the situation.

Put together a short to the point proposal. If they don’t accept, don’t unlike, just because you may feel rejected.


As my work includes discovering and sharing, I have crossed many an account that follows none of the above suggestions. My team and I skip and dismiss such accounts. As we work together with the artists for a short period during their feature, and its a lot of work, we want to make sure the people we work with are professional about what they do in every way. Makes life so much easier. And so do collectors, gallerists and potential buyers by the way;)

ALL this even if it comes across as tedious, should not be strenuous, it should be FUN and it will be as soon as your hard work fruits, as the saying goes

The fruit of your own hard work is the sweetest!

Also read:

How starting an online art magazine changed my life

13 Reasons why every contemporary artist should be on Instagram