Instagram for Artists?

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

By Team IMA

A common frustration we encounter from artists is around social media. Either not having the time, not knowing what to share (or how much), agonising over follower and like numbers, to outright rejection.

For some artists, Instagram seems so effortless, like the platform was specifically built for them to share their art. But we know that isn't the case, but they seem to have cracked the code; have they found the right way to present their work? The right combination of hashtags? the right balance of video to image?

Maybe. Maybe not.

IMA's own Mark Tamer (@unreelcity) cuts through the noise and gets right into the nuts and bolts of Instagram for artists.

Why should artists use Instagram? Well, you don’t have to but you are missing out on a large audience for your work and potential future opportunities.

So are you on Instagram? That question comes up all the time when you meet someone and mention your work. For many, it’s a way to make a quick connection, to see the artist’s work and perhaps a little of their process. For artists, it offers more than an out of date website, or a link to an interview they did last year. It is a changing window onto their work, their interests, their personality. If your goal is to reach more people then this is a good way to do that. If you are uncomfortable showing yourself then make it about the work.


Remember Instagram is social media. You need to be sharing not only your work but your thoughts, your comments etc. You need to be responding to others. It is not a platform for just throwing your work out there as if it were a shop window. People expect a little more than that. If you just post your finished work you are saying look at me but you are not interacting.

This interaction can be viewed as a positive - a chance to engage with others, to build more of a relationship with those that like your work. Like off-line life, online connections are what lead us to opportunities. I’ve been contacted with requests for appearing in festivals and exhibitions as well as for prints and books. I’ve also met up with some Instagram connections in person or gone to see their work. It’s just an extension of the art-world community and one that has become much more important for artists in recent years. Often, it is the first port of call when connecting with an artist’s work.

Posting your work on Instagram and getting a “like” isn’t the same as putting your work in a bricks and mortar gallery and having an audience come and visit. But of course, the work, albeit in a neutered form, potentially reaches many more people than it would on the gallery wall. If getting more eyes on your work is important to you then it’s worth giving some thought to how you use Instagram.

Photo credit: Mark Tamer (@unreelcity)

Here are four things I’ve found when using Instagram:

It’s not a