Essential Questions: Who’s Using Instagram?

Edited by Jane Guthridge

A dealer I was talking with mentioned an artist whose work he was interested in for an upcoming show. “I found the artist on Instagram,” he said, adding that if people liked or commented on his gallery’s work he often would look at their feed. That comment prompted me to put this question to ProWax members: What has your experience been with Instagram? What have you learned and what can you share?

Lisa Pressman I have found Instagram to be a great tool for networking, for seeing connections in my own work, and I just made a sale yesterday. I follow and am followed by artists and galleries. I pay attention to who is responding to the work, for instance a gallery. I have followed up with a personal note through Instagram, Facebook or email. It is a great way to start a personal relationship. The sale I made yesterday was to another artist. A nice surprise!

PWJ.Issue13.Pullquote.Schaller_rightTracey Adams I love IG because it’s only about images, very little text or commentary. There’s a core group of artists from all over the world that I follow, and I enjoy seeing the connections between my work and theirs. I’ve had galleries and art consultants comment and follow my work. It’s the best way to see what’s most current studio-wise. For me it’s more about being consistent with posts and connecting with the right circles rather than making a sale right now. This will evolve as IG evolves. I post other’s work when I’m able to get out to see it and things that inspire my creative process. I’m always discovering new things on IG and expanding my circle. Hashtags are a great way to focus on what’s important, what will come up in your feed as well as the feeds of others. I think this is the most economical and best thing going for visual artists to promote their work!

Howard Hersh There are more artists out there than you can imagine, and the majority are very forgettable. However, by casting such a wide net you can gain exposure that would otherwise be impossible, or at the least, improbable. And conversely, I’m learning more about artists/galleries that have enhanced my daily practice.

PWJ.Issue13.Pullquote.Wagner_leftBeverly Rippel I am eight or nine months into IG now and find my work is being seen in a more global arena. I am beginning to investigate galleries that like my posts. I try to post a photo of my work when it is on a museum or gallery wall with other artists’ work.

Jeff Schaller It’s great to see social networking work! I did sell a painting on IG. It was from a client I hadn’t heard from in years. The nice thing about IG is its use of hashtags. People can search via these [words and phrases]. There are businesses and bloggers that search for them, thus there’s a better chance of getting seen and followed. It’s not like Facebook and shouldn’t be used as Facebook.

Howard Hersh Because I’m active on both platforms, I wonder about etiquette regarding liking or commenting on duplicate posts. I feel like I know most everyone who responds to my posts on FB. I post approximately once a week, trying to make those posts interesting and/or thoughtful about my work. I also have an album, Other Artists, that I post to. On IG, I post daily, with my current work and work in progress, casting as wide a net as I can. Both platforms are satisfying to me, but in very different ways.

Jeff Schaller I’ve heard it described this way: Twitter is what you are doing now, FB is sharing what you are doing with friends, and IG is what interests you.

PWJ.Issue13.Pullquote.Adams_rightKathy Cantwell For my professional development IG is a must. It’s about collecting credible followers and posting regularly so I can solidify my brand. The other benefit is that it drives people to my website. It has taken a few years to develop my followers so my advice is don’t wait, start now. I have found for every post I pick up at least one new follower. IG can become a nice habit, it’s free promotion, and you never know what will come from it. Please note that you can only post from your iPhone or Android and you cannot post from your computer.

Bottom line: IG and FB are equally important tools. FB has been very good to me with sales, opportunities, and allowing curators to get to know me. I believe IG will eventually culminate in sales and opportunities. FB and IG are free powerful self-promotion tools.

Krista Svalbonas I love IG, it’s made some great connections for me to galleries and art consultants that I would not have been exposed to otherwise and vice versa. I pay attention to those who follow or like my work. I comment on certain galleries I’m following. You’d be surprised what is paid attention to. I once had a conversation with a New York City gallery director, I introduced myself, and they said “Oh I know you, you’re following me on Instagram.” I’ve made connections to galleries this way too, letting them know I’m stopping in to see a show they have up, which then leads to a real live conversation at the gallery. I’ve included on my mailing list some of the advisors and galleries that follow me or I follow, too. In fact, one connection may lead to showing work in a New York City gallery (too early to tell just yet).

Jane Guthridge Krista, I noticed that besides posting your own work you post studio visits to other artists, galleries and museums. You comment on other artists’ work as well. This seems to help in networking and developing relationships.

Krista Svalbonas I’ve done a little bit of research on the subject. Feeds that are very consistent—meaning photos that use all the same treatment or feel very unified—tend to get a high percentage of IG followers. Whether your IG follower number makes anything better for you, I’m not sure. My followers are not in the thousands, partly because I choose to have a more random feed [with] my work, work of others, and travel images. I think that definitely helps build a rapport with various artists, and perhaps galleries as well, since I do tag them when I can. But it also makes my feed a little more unpredictable and followers are slower to join. I can’t tell you if quality over quantity is a plus or minus, but I know whatever I’m doing is working OK with me.

Howard Hersh When you really like someone you’re following, look just to the right of the “following” tab. There will be a drop-down with like-minded people. Very useful!

PWJ.Issue13.Pullquote.Hersh_leftElise Wagner I have found the suggestions that pop up of whom to follow very helpful in terms of finding the quality of artwork and subjects that inspire me. I look at everyone who likes my images and follow them if I know them, like what they do, or if they have more than 1,000 followers. I also look at what they follow and go down this whole other vortex of discovery. The hashtags are so helpful and have attracted galleries and art consultants. I also like the messaging feature and how easy it is to use. With each day my feed becomes more refined and specific to my interests. Without buying into the “get likes” or “instafame” scams, I’m gaining 5-10 followers a day. Don’t fall for any of those scams, the likes gained are all bad accounts (porn mostly). IG is addictive. The art world in a hand held device, total genius. Don’t delay!

Cari Hernandez One of the most helpful book I’ve read was Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. It’s simple and to the point, making a case for positive ways for artists to use social media.

Susan Delgalvis Art.Post.Promote is a new private FB group started by AJ Grossman. It’s a great site affording an opportunity for the artist to navigate the world of social media. Ask to join it.


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