Throughout the ages, artists have been known to be solitary creatures. They spend hours upon hours, year after year, creating works of imagination, whether through painting, drawing, sculpting, or some other medium of expression. For most of us, we love learning when it comes to our medium of expression, yet for most of us, social media as a form of expression is not high on our “gosh, I love this” list. Nor is the thought of learning all the newest, latest and greatest trends, apps, and software involved with social media. And if you’re like me, you feel that takes time away from painting.
Now, please don’t take this wrong. I love connecting with other artists, my students, fans of my work, and collectors. But keeping an online presence takes time. So, how do you “get social” without going down the rabbit hole of lost time?
You analyze your needs, research the options available, make a social media plan, and commit to your plan for enough time to determine if you need to make changes. And asking other artists about their social media strategy helps you research and plan. So, here’s what works for my business.
I’ll start with the easier one. For me, Instagram was a no-brainer in deciding what I wanted out of this platform. After researching other artists’ accounts, I decided this platform would be a gallery of my work. I post photographs of my finished paintings and awards my art has won. I use my Facebook tradition (I’ll get into this process in the Facebook section) of posting my work in process. Typically, these photos entail close-up details of the painting in process. I take the close-up photos with my phone, which differs from the photos of my completed paintings which are professionally scanned.
I hashtag all my posts and reels making it easier for my posts to find more exposure (hashtags have their own page). Some of the hashtags I use on Instagram are #fineart #oilpainting #portraits #portraiture #artist #portrait #artoftheday #figurativeart #artistsoninstagram #artwork, and of course, #artisttinagarrett.
Using Instagram reels (short videos), I post snippets of interviews I have given to art magazines or companies involved in the art industry. I also create short videos highlighting a painting with a trending sound that fits the mood of the painting. Video allows my posts to be multi-dimensional and not just static photos. Reels also give my account a larger viewing audience because the Instagram algorithm shows reels to a broader audience than just your followers.
Instagram, for me, is a very large gallery where my art hangs for all the world to view. A person looking at my profile on Instagram knows instantly I’m a painter. They know I paint figurative art and can get a taste of the style of art I create. What they’re not going to find on my Instagram account is anything of a personal nature like my kids, husband, pets, or anything outside of my business as an artist.
Facebook is where the bulk of my social media time is spent because I use this platform in a number of different ways.
First, I have two accounts – a personal account and a business account. Both are used for business, meaning I post my work- and business-related items on both. Why do I have both types of accounts if I use them both for business? Well, Facebook limits the number of “friends” you can have with a personal account to five thousand, whereas a business account is unlimited. Years into my journey as an artist, I hit this limit. So I opened up my business account. Yet my friends have been an integral part of my artist journey, so I continue to post my business information on my personal account.
When I started my journey as a painter, I posted my work in progress on my Facebook feed. I used photos and short videos, my following grew, and I sold most of my paintings “off the easel.” This is the Facebook tradition I mentioned above. I continue this approach as I’m a firm believer my paintings sell themselves. I never know who my next collector will be or where they will see my work, but Facebook posts have created a number of my sales. Use this as food for thought when planning your social media strategy.
Now let’s get into the meat of how I use Facebookâ€¦ Groups. I have somewhere around 12 groups. They’re a mix of free and paid groups. Let me explainâ€¦
The first group, Tina’s Students Only Page, is free for anyone who has taken a class from me. This group allows my students to post their work for open critique, questions about painting, and to share their successes. For my part, this group takes very little monitoring, and the feature of receiving free critique from me and other students, at any time, is a value -add for my students.
Secondly, I have mentorship groups that require a monthly paid membership. These groups include painting instruction and lectures which are broadcasted monthly. The group feature lets me easily tailor my teaching to specific needs and/or experience levels. Facebook’s group settings allow each of the students to access the broadcasted content at any time, from any place as often as they like. Students also have 24/7 access to all articles, quizzes and other content. Students can also network with one another and can pop in to ask me questions 24/7. In these groups, the student is never on camera and can easily share what they are working on and receive feedback from me and other students at their convenience.
Then there’s the social side of my social media. Facebook is where you’re going to see posts about the personal side of my life. Are there pictures of my dogs, Romeo and Juliet? Yes. My hubby? My kids? Yes, and yes. My painting trips? Yup. Facebook is where you’re going to see a more rounded portrait of me and my art journey.
Yes, I’m on YouTube as well, but in a limited way. YouTube hosts the videos I use for my website. Also, I’ve made a few trailers/teasers for my instructional videos, and you’ll find them on YouTube. But for me, this platform is a hosting site for videos I want to showcase somewhere else. In my business model, if you want an instruction video, I have them for sale on my website as well as streaming on FASO/Boldbrush.
TikTok and other social media sites
Check back with me in a few months. I’m putting some thought into joining this platform. It has a diverse following, and artists are building a serious follower base. I know some artists who have generated income from their posts by way of small commissioned works. Though the opportunity to gain followers is huge, I’m still investigating to see if TikTok is right for my business plan.
For me, sites like Reddit, SnapChat, Houseparty, and Clubhouse, don’t align with my business model. Either the platform’s target age doesn’t jive with the target age of my business model, or the platform uses voice only. Since I’m a painter, my art is visual, and a platform without visuals doesn’t work for me. Do they work for other artists? I’m sure they do in some cases. But I have limited time and energy for social media, so I need to invest that time and energy with intention.
Now you’ve had a peek into how I use social media for my business. May I suggest you take a look at the social media accounts of other artists, especially the artists where you love what they’re doing on social media? Make notes of what you love and don’t love, then look at your own social media accounts with a critical eye. Think about what changes you would make to move your online presence forward. Then take a deep breath and remember your social media is a work in progress, just like your art.