There’s a reason why Vogue called Instagram, “the world’s most talked about new art dealer,” back in 2014. They weren’t wrong. It was quite a statement to make, but nowadays, it’s a statement that no one would argue with because it’s never been truer.
Remember when galleries used to be the huge deal?
Ever since we’ve officially landed in the era of digital everything, art connoisseurs are gravitating more and more towards highly visual social media networks that could satisfy their eagle eye when it comes to appreciating fine art. Visual social media networks like Instagram is a nest thriving with artwork that’s being mostly showcased for free.
Think about it. 52% of art collectors have purchased artwork from a fine artist they discovered on Instagram.
Artwork Selling on Instagram
Instagram is one of the largest visual platforms in the world. And I’m sure you’ve noticed how Instagram profiles are laid out. It’s your own online exhibition platform. For this reason, it’s highly visual appeal has worked well to attract an engaged base of users.
And for artists, the social media network has provided a more accommodating channel to showcase their work. Instagram is the place for artists to display work on a pre-built platform while simultaneously growing a devoted audience.
But despite all these opportunities, another question lingers just below the surface…
These feats of selling artwork for big bucks on Instagram may be attainable for the likes of Kenny Scharf, KAWS, Os Gemeos, but what about the fledglings? What about the newcomers to the fine art industry who are trying to have their efforts recognized online?
The fortunate answer is ‘yes.’ And this post will provide insight on how.
7 Practices for Selling Art on Instagram
Being an artist in this day and age isn’t just limited to creating art that boggles people’s minds or gives audiences a burst of inspiration, or even triggers epiphanies. The real challenge lies in actually being noticed. Because, as you know, your magnum opus is useless if no one knows about it in the first place. You can’t appreciate the magnificent work if you don’t know that it exists.
For this reason, creating art and promoting it is essential and is part of your formula for artistic success.
The internet is a double-edged sword for budding artists who want to make it big. It’s extremely easy to publish high-quality pieces on the internet nowadays and most sites (especially Instagram) offer you a place to showcase for free. But on the other hand, there’s a whole bunch of other people to contend with.
So, how do you get your work in front of the audiences that you want? How do you rise above the crowd and not just fade into obscurity?
#1 Be a Stickler for Visual Quality
Let’s say you’re shopping in an online store. You click on a product page, and as you go to scrutinize a picture of said product, it’s massively low-quality. Doesn’t that leave you with a bad impression? Like the seller couldn’t even be bothered to cater to your need for details by posting low-quality pictures of the work.
That goes for you showcasing your art on Instagram too.
You may not be running a full-fledged an e-commerce website, but you’re still looking to attract buyers for your artwork. Also, the quality of your images, whether you care to admit it or not, will leave impressions on your viewers.
Plus, it should go without saying that lurkers on Instagram expect high definition photographs. It’s not like you have a shortage of means to make your photos look great either.
A couple of tips for great Instagram visual quality are:
- Use your phone’s camera: This face is even more emphasized if you know that your smartphone’s camera is better than the Instagram apps’. Most smartphones come with High Dynamic Range functions, providing you more leeway to take photos with various exposures.
- Instagram photos are square: It used to be either landscape or portrait. But Instagram’s layout — your profile and your feed — have a 1:1 ratio. Placing your subject at the center works well.
- Consider composition: Yes, your artwork is the center of attention, but it’s Instagram and you’re promoting yourself and your art. So don’t forget to consider picture composition. Make sure that your subject is isolated from the rest of the background so it stands out in the frame.
- Take advantage of natural lighting: Light is one of the most important elements of photography. Don’t rely solely on post-production. Make use of natural light whenever possible.
#2 Write Good Descriptions and Captions
Image Credit: @kennyscharf
Everyone knows that being on Instagram means telling stories and conveying messages through visual means which are largely comprised of images and videos. So, it goes without saying that one of the best ways to market a good piece of artwork on Instagram is through an interesting caption coupled with high-quality images.
You might be an artist who fancies leaving the interpretation of your pieces to your viewers. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you have a goal to sell and to attract more attention, you need to leverage the power of each element as much as possible.
A photo of your finished pieces is the chance to tell a story or build one around it. You can talk about what inspired the piece, how grueling the process was, the challenges you went through during its creation, your ups, and downs, etc.
Instagram is a place to spark conversation and generate engagement (more on this later).
Yes, pictures speak a thousand words. But you need to remember that you’re not the only artist showcasing their work on this social media platform. If you want engagement and hype around your works, you need to do more than just put up pictures of your pieces.
Recall how I mentioned that gorgeous work is useless if no one knows about its existence.
#3 Include CTAs in Your Captions
Image Credit: @alfredcabillonart
Effectively managing and setting your Instagram account for interested buyers means making the most of what you have and effectively turning it into an opportunity — a road to bigger and better things for your business.
Some may be skeptical to do this because it might reek of shameless plugging. But in all complete honesty, you have nothing to be ashamed of. And if you’re in doubt, just check out your favorite influencers’ profiles.
Besides, there’s no formula that says you have to direct people towards your official website (if you have one) at all times.
You can invite your interested viewers to special events or gallery openings that matter to your career or point them towards describing to your mailing list so they’re constantly updated about every recent development from you. Even better? You can direct them to your YouTube channel (if you have one) by showing videos about how you did the whole process.
You don’t want to direct your interested audiences to your feed and have them go, “Okay, I’ve seen your art, now what?”
This is why a call to action matters for you if you are an artist promoting your work on Instagram. The more information you can provide potential customers through that one line of CTA, the better it is for you and your interested clients.
Some best practices you should take into account include:
- Use strong action words: With CTAs, you want to be clear and concise. While Instagram provides you with a lot of leeway for length, you have to always assume that your audience is in a rush and will not read through a two-paragraph invitation to go to an art event that will feature you. Start your CTA with what you want your audiences to do.
- Inspire emotion and enthusiasm: Using power words or phrases are essential; words and phrases like, ‘amazing,’ ‘great,’ ‘authentic,’ ‘guaranteed,’ ‘behind the scenes,’ etc. Another effective element — though minimal, is to add an exclamation point at the end of your announcement. Maybe something like, “10 VIP tickets to my artwork showcase to the first 10 people who like and share!”
#4 Cater to Audience Requests Once in a While
The need to make a buck out of your creations borne out of blood, sweat, and tears is understandable. You work hard on your creations, so it’s only right that you’re getting what is due to you if someone wants your art really bad.
Giving out art for free like candy may be unsavory for some, but the act of delivering giveaways, announcing discounts, and offering up art commissions can actually work wonders for your follower count.
Make no mistake. We’re not advising you to give away a masterpiece that took you well over five months to finish.
Rather, you can start by offering up small sketches or prints for free. And accepting art commissions is another great way to show your audience that you’re willing to cater to their tastes.
#5 Be Transparent and Authentic
Image Credit: @osgemeos
Instagram is your mobile gallery. So, aside from showing off high-quality photos of your artwork, you should take it a step further. Don’t limit yourself to just posts of artwork. Take a page out of famous influencers’ books and showcase yourself — the artist.
By showing snippets of yourself on your Instagram, you subconsciously show people the brains and the hands behind your masterpieces — that it’s not artwork created by something impersonal.
Share the process of your artwork. And if you’re working on a masterpiece (that isn’t supposed to be kept under wraps), show how you’re going about it from time to time. And on that note, it’s well worth noting that a tastefully edited video will do well too — to show how the finished product undergoes creation.
Also, when you showcase your own face in your Instagram feed once in a while, you establish a connection between you and your thousands of followers. Not only does it bolster your popularity, but it also gives you exposure and a good chance of interacting directly with other followers.
#6 Showcase Social Proof from Clients
Image Credit: @panelwallart
Social proof is founded on the idea of normative social influence. It states that people will conform to be liked. Just think about how you are when you shop online for something. Don’t you check the reviews first before hitting the purchase button? It’s the same when you sell your artwork on Instagram like for example what Panel Wall Art has done to its Instagram.
Share testimonials and pictures from your previous buyers and show them off to your customers. It’s like saying, “Hey, these people loved my art, and you really can too!”
92% of people trust peer recommendations better, and 70% will still trust recommendations from people they don’t even personally know. Doesn’t that sound advantageous to you?
#7 Interact with the Art Community on Instagram
Let’s not forget the main goal of social media — to build an audience through engagement and healthy relationships with other people. So, to make your art career big on Instagram, it’s advised that every artist must actively participate in the art community.
It’s all about supporting others the way you would want to be supported. Plus, seeing great works from other people can give you a burst of inspiration and can help you build connections with a lot of them.
So compliment other people’s work, ask questions, tell them what you love, and for sure, they will return the favor.
Time to Get Instagram Marketing
Social media contributes plenty to the success that you can have in your art career. And while there’s no set formula for success, what you do have at your disposal is a bunch of practices that have worked wonders for other famous Instagram artists, and for you as well.
So don’t hesitate to show your process, build relationships with followers and other artists, and even showcase pictures of yourself at events and your pieces of art that aren’t so great.
Despite how your Instagram profile is evidently all about selling your art, it shouldn’t be the only focus. Use your Instagram account for nurturing your community and building a portfolio online for future opportunities.