Let's Talk About Social Media

Actually no, let’s talk about Instagram. There is no denying that the social network app has completely changed the art industry. Instagram allows artists to sell works themselves, nudging out the dealer while demystifying fine art and increasing accessibility; challenging what has long been seen as an industry shrouded in pretense and exclusivity.

“It used to be impossible for an artist to reach a massive audience directly. What is happening to art is comparable to what happened to music: The cards have been reshuffled. Musicians don’t necessarily need record companies to distribute their work anymore—anyone can put an mp3 up on SoundCloud or video on YouTube and reach millions. Similarly, Instagram gives artists the ability to control the way their story is told, and find people who want to hear it.” Kenneth Schlenker, the CEO and cofounder of Gertrude.co.

The social media platform is not only launching the career of emerging artists, it is providing the world with an entirely new way to access art. Where artists once had to gain the support of the art world elite—critics, galleries and big name collectors, today artists use Instagram as their own virtual art gallery, playing both dealer and curator while their fans become critics and collectors, witnessing the creative process in real time.

What are their negatives involved with using Instagram to promote your work?

As I always say, you need to make a decision about the direction you want to take your art at the very beginning. Taking the fine art road is means you need to be careful with the way that you portray you work - traditional gallery owners want exclusivity and don’t generally support artists openly selling their work online. In this case, you need to be very specific about your instagram feed and remember who your audience is. 

On the other hand, non- traditional fine artists can freely use social media networks so grow an audience, exposure and sales. More and more artists are moving away from traditional representation and hiring themselves to represent their work. Social networks are free and allow artists to connect with clients in a world that is so visual, putting themselves out there, allowing them to tell their own story in a way that if someone likes it they can follow, if they don’t they can unfollow. 

"I think an artist’s work speaks for itself, whether it’s seen in a gallery or on an iPhone feed! If it’s good, it’s good,” Gordon Stevenson, Artist.

Ask The Professionals

Art and social media can be a hard mix. When you’re still an emerging artist you don’t want to come across to available or commercial as gallery owners and curators want artists who’s work is exclusive and harder to find. 

On the other hand, when you’re an established artist and you’ve already cracked the art industry, the more followers the better as it generally leads to more sales and greater hype around your work.

So how to you find a balance and grow an organic following of people who are genuinely interested in your work?

We spoke to Kaylene Langford, founder of The Start Up creative, a network and online platform that assists entrepreneurs with launching and growing their business dreams. Kaylene is an amazing coach, writer, podcaster who provides support and direction to hundreds of start up businesses across Australia (including The Arthouse Collective). She is a social media wiz and has help brands grow from hundreds of followers to thousands of followers with a simple set of rulesfor what and why to post of social media. 

The Interview

1. What are the best ways to organically grown my followers on Instagram?

Be consistent. Social media is very much based on algorithms. The more you are posting, genuine, engaging content the more likely you are to pop up in peoples feed. The trick here to keep the content quality. Make sure you are posting high quality images, crafting engaging captions and added value to peoples lives. No one likes spam and people can tell when you’ve just slapped something together. If you do it right, social media will do wonders for your online sales so be sure to invest time and effort into it just as you would any other aspect of your business. 

2. Do you have any suggestions for artists in particular?

Collaborate. You don’t have to go it alone. You might choose to get together with like minded peers or perhaps completely different brands. Just be sure to work with people who are talking to  a similar target market as you. If you collab with people just because they have a lot of followers, yeah you might get lots of followers out of it but you may not get the right engagement and eventually sales. Keep your collabs on brand and closely aligned to what you are trying to create with your business. 

3. How do you make your instagram authentic and personal without taking away from your product (or artwork)?

Be real. You might not want to share what you are up to on a Friday night but be sure to share you’re creative process of where the work has come from, what inspires you and your progress along the way. People are nosey and want to know what is going on BTS. Give us an insight of what it looks like to be an artist and we’ll be sure to connect with your art on a deeper level and be closer to purchasing from you! 

Kaylene has also grown her business through providing amazingly helpful ebooks and live podcasts via Facebook where she collaborates and interviews business owners who give great insight into their business successes and failures. I can’t recommend her work enough. She’s a no-nonsense, helpful inspiration who provides so much knowledge to start ups and small businesses mostly for free.

To find out more about Kaylene and her work, go to her website www.startupcreative.com.au , check out her marketing 101 ebook www.startupcreative.com.au/ebook/ or follow her on Facebook to see her Facebook live sessions www.facebook.com/startupcreativeau/