Art Business 101: Social Media

In my last post, I presented 5 ways to promote your art show. One of these methods, Social Media, deserves further attention.

In order to use social media effectively for promotion, you need to gain a following. Without a dedicated following, your posts will be like a tree falling in the woods with no one around to hear it. So how do you gain a following?

Body Building

The most fundamental thing you need to do is offer a body of content that is relevant to your brand. Take lots of pictures of your work to give potential followers a taste of what they can expect from your feed. Include not only finished pieces but works-in-progress. Fans will enjoy getting a glimpse of the work that goes on behind the scenes in your Art Boxes gridstudio.

As with physical bodybuilding, building your social media body requires moderation. Post or tweet regularly, but don’t over-post or over-tweet — followers who see a glut of content coming from you might interpret your feed as annoying spam and unfollow you. There’s no absolute rule as to how many posts or tweets are “too many”, but I personally limit myself to about 3 per week.


A hashtag is a word or group of works preceded by the pound sign (#). These tags act to categorize tweets or posts based on topic. In other words, when users add the hashtag #drawing to posts, the posts will come up in a search for “drawing”; and clicking on a hashtag in one post brings up a list of posts using the same hashtag. This handy tool makes your content searchable and therefore discoverable by potential fans. You will gain followers simply by including hashtags in your tweets and posts.Best 9 grid

There are a few rules for hashtags. If you want to make a string of words into a hashtag, don’t include spaces. For example: #LifeDrawing is the correct format for a post about life drawing. Capitalization doesn’t matter, but many users capitalize the individual words in a hashtag to make them more readable. (#LifeDrawing is a little easier to read than #lifedrawing .)

Numbers work in a hashtag, so you could post something like #MyTop10Artists , but punctuation does not work. Omit punctuation, even when you would normally use it. For example, the topic Dean’s List would become the hashtag #DeansList .

Most social media platforms support hashtags, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. There are slightly different “hashtag rules” for some of the platforms. For example, many Twitter users limit themselves to 2 hashtags. This is due to the fact that Twitter is text-heavy, and lots of hashtags can make for difficult reading. Instagram users, on the other hand, frequently include 10 or more hashtags in a post. This is due to the fact that Instagram is image-heavy, and the accompanying text is often skimmed or ignored.

Follow For Follow

This rule can be summed up with the old saying, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” If you like someone’s content or follow their feed, their social media app will notify them, and they might return the favor. Basically, users are more apt to “like” your Self Portrait gridtweets and posts if you like some of theirs, and they are more likely to follow you if you follow them first. So how do you find these potential followers?

Remember our old friend, the hashtag? Do a search on your preferred social media for artists who are doing work that is similar to yours. If you are a pop artist, try searching for #PopArtist . Follow these artists and begin to cultivate a network of like-minded and mutually supportive creators. Next, choose an artist’s post or tweet that shows work that is most like yours. Follow all the people who liked that post or tweet. They will receive a notification, and they might follow you back.

Building a following takes a long investment of time. When I was first getting started, I would literally spend entire evenings looking for people to follow. If you put in the time, your commitment will eventually pay off.

Best App for Artists

In my opinion, Instagram is the dominant visual platform — at least right now. As an image-heavy app, it is the ideal platform for artists to share and promote their work, ideas, and events. In fact, I notice a lot of younger artists using Instagram in place of traditional websites.

It is not a bad idea to diversify your online presence with accounts on multiple platforms. You might reach completely different audiences that way. But if I were to recommend the best place for you to invest your time and energy, I would point you to Instagram.

Art Business 101: Writing Your Bio

Tell Me About Yourself

Nearly every time you participate in a show, you will be asked to provide a Bio or Artist Statement. While it can be hard for some people to write about themselves, this gives you the perfect opportunity to describe your brand in your own words and make your Dean portrait with Our Ladyintentions clear. You should also include some form of a Bio or Artist Statement on your website and social media profiles.

An Artist Statement describes a specific body of work and the techniques and thought process you employed. They are often posted beside an exhibit of your work to give the audience a way to contextualize what they see. You must write your statement in first person, e.g. “I am exploring the phenomenon of signification, or the representation of ideas by way of simplified signs or icons”.

Read through my current Artist Statement for an example:

I am exploring the phenomenon of signification, or the representation of ideas by way of simplified signs or icons. Using cutout and collage techniques, I examine sacred and secular iconography, calling attention to their archetypal underpinnings. I continue to feel the pull of a childhood devoted in equal parts to the Bible and Marvel Comics.

Alumni on 5 ExhibitionA Bio describes the story of your career, including exhibits, commissions, and creative roles you filled. Was one of your exhibits a clunker? Include it anyway! Readers don’t need to know the details behind the event — they will simply be impressed that you had a show. Only include personal information where it is relevant to your brand. For example, your education history is not appropriate unless you attended a major art school. Finally, you must write your Bio in third person, e.g. “Dean Johnson studied fine Art at Columbia College Chicago….”

Take a look at my current Bio for an example:

Dean Johnson studied Fine Art at Columbia College Chicago, where he earned his Bachelor Degree. He serves on the Board of Directors for Chicago Publishers Resource Center and is its Arts Coordinator. He was named a Top-Rated Teacher by Dabble for his art workshops. He is a co-founder of Northside Independent Artists (NIA), which produces and curates art shows. He was Lead Organizer for Art on Ashland, the East Village Art Walk. Dean’s work has appeared in the Alumni on 5 exhibit, at Catholic Charities Gala of the Arts at Navy Pier, and in a long-running show at Natural Elements Salon. Dean’s commissions include numerous portrait paintings, as well as postcard designs for theater companies TUTA and Darknight Theatrical Productions; flyer designs for rock band Arch Visceral Parlor and DJ Elle Madelyn; logo designs for Souls Journey Life Coaching and Athletic Souls; and illustrations for author John Wawrzaszek.

You may not feel like you have much of a story to tell right now, but your story will write itself as you continue to work in the art community. Stick with it, and before long you will have many accomplishments to write about!