From beginners to professionals, artists and art galleries have embraced social media platforms as powerful tools to enhance their creative endeavours and promote their work. In this multi-post series, we are going to deep dive into the original visuals-oriented platform, Instagram! In this series, you can expect practical tips for setting up your account, creating content (writing captions, scheduling posts, creating reels, etc), growing your audience, and much more. We focus specifically on the nuances and considerations of visual artists and art galleries using Instagram as well as provide up-to-date best practices for the platform in general.
Table of Contents
Getting Started: Should Artists and Art Galleries Use a Creator, Business, or Personal Instagram Account?
1.1: Choosing an Instagram Username
1.2: Your Instagram Name (Sometimes Called a Headline)
1.3: Artists and Art Galleries: What Instagram Category Should You Use?
1.4: Writing a Successful Instagram Bio
1.5: Choosing an Instagram Profile Picture for artists and art galleries
1.6: Leveraging your Instagram Link In Bio
Extra Credit: More Info about Personal, Creator, and Business Instagram Accounts
Getting Started: Should Artists and Art Galleries Use a Creator, Business, or Personal Instagram Account?
When setting up an Instagram account for your art practice, you can choose a “Creator,” “Business,” or “Personal” account. Creator and Business accounts offer a much broader range of tools for those wanting to grow their following, including analytics, follower and engagement information, the ability to advertise, and more.
Instagram Creator Accounts are best suited to individual creators, such as artists and public figures.
Instagram Business Accounts are best suited for art galleries that want to display their address and offer more robust contact options.
You can read more about the differences of personal, creator, and business Instagram accounts at the end of this guide. If you’re not already familiar with the Instagram platform, here is the step-by-step guide to setting up a Creator or Business account.
1.1 Choosing an Instagram Username
When selecting a username, it’s crucial to choose a name that’s representative of your business, or personal identity as an artist. For example if you create art as Jane Smith (your real name), your Instagram username should be as close to that as possible. If you’re an artist and your name is not available, you could add art, artist, or another relevant word such as paintings or ceramics. If you are an art gallery and your business name is not available, you could simplify the name, or add your location.
Examples of good user names for artists:
Examples of good user names for art galleries:
Another good practice is to keep your username concise. Instagram usernames are limited to 30 characters, so a shorter name is easier to remember and type. Also, opt for simplicity and avoid complicated or special characters that may be hard to recall. In general, it should be easy to spell and devoid of underscores, especially at the beginning of the username. (However, this “rule” could bent if it means you can snag a username closer to your real name or business name).
Examples of usernames that may be hard to find, type, or remember for your audience:
Finally, consistency across social media platforms is important. If you use other social media as well, try to maintain the same username or a close variation if possible.
1.2 Your Instagram Name (sometimes called a Headline)
This part of your Instagram account is small but mighty, because it is searchable on Instagram (as is your username). Though only 30 characters in length, you can add keywords to the “name” field to help interested people find you. Some helpful keywords can include the city you live in, your medium, or any other words that people might be searching for that are related to your niche. You can be more general and include words like “art,” but the examples below will give you a better chance of appearing higher in the search rankings of your niche:
Examples of keyword-rich Instagram names for artists:
Toronto Artist + Illustrator
Ceramics & Paintings
Examples of keyword-rich Instagram names for Art Galleries:
Ceramics Gallery | Vancouver BC
Contemporary Art Gallery
Art in NY + LA
1.3 Artists and Art Galleries: What Instagram Category Should you Use?
If you are using a Creator or Business Instagram account, you have the option to select and display a “category” on your Instagram profile. Categories can be useful for many reasons, including:
Enhanced Discoverability: By selecting the appropriate industry category, artists and galleries make it easier for users interested in art to find and follow them. This categorization can attract a more targeted and relevant audience.
Relevant Recommendations: Instagram’s algorithms use industry categories to recommend accounts and content to users. This can help artists and galleries appear in the feeds and explore pages of users who are more likely to engage with their content.
Credibility and Professionalism: Associating with a specific industry category adds a level of professionalism and authenticity to an artist’s or gallery’s profile.
Visibility in Explore: Posts and accounts within specific industry categories are more likely to be featured in Instagram’s Explore tab, expanding their reach to a broader, art-interested audience.
Targeted Advertising: For businesses, such as art galleries, these categories enable more precise and effective advertising to reach an audience interested in art.
So, which categories should you use? The most relevant to your area of practice would be best for discoverability. For artists, “Artist” is generally the closest, unless you prefer the simpler “Art.” If you want to get creative or humourous with your category, we won’t stop you… but just remember that it will be harder for folks to find you. For art galleries, “Art Gallery” or “Museum” can be appropriate. You can review a list of current Instagram Categories here.
1.4 Writing a Successful Instagram Bio
Your Instagram bio serves as a short representation of your online identity as an artist or art gallery. Because your bio must be 150 characters or less, clarity is key! Creativity plays a pivotal role as well, especially in the arts. Infusing your bio with your own personality can help make your account more memorable.
It’s good practice to keep your bio current, updating it regularly, especially if you have ongoing promotions or events. Many artists and galleries update their bios to reflect their current or upcoming exhibitions or news.
Including a well-crafted call to action or “CTA” in your Instagram bio also encourages audience engagement. The CTA can encourage follows, link clicks, or more (more about links in section 1.6). Here are some CTA ideas for artists and art galleries:
Follow for daily inspiration (encourages people to follow your account)
Explore our artwork (encourages people to click your link in bio)
Shop new paintings (encourages people to click your link in bio and browse artwork for sale)
Examples of Instagram Bios for Artists
New Raku Works, Oct 23–Nov 16 2023
The New Gallery, Toronto
Follow for new available work
Self-taught painter from Boise, Idaho
Follow for oil painting tips and inspiration
Painting, sculpting, and drawing most days
Listen to the latest podcast episode below ⤵️
Examples of Instagram Bios for Art Galleries
Current: New Raku Works, Oct 23–Nov 16 2023
Upcoming: Group Exhibition, Nov 23–Dec 16, 2023
Read more ⤵️
An exhibition space focusing on contemporary American ceramics
RSVP for upcoming events ⤵️
Vancouver’s first sculpture gallery
Follow for behind the scenes content from our curatorial staff
1.5 Choosing an Instagram Profile Picture for Artists and Art Galleries
When selecting an Instagram profile picture, several critical considerations come into play. First and foremost, prioritize clarity and quality. Instagram’s profile picture size is small, and you don’t want to have a complicated or unrecognizable image representing you.
For artists, the most relevant options are a photo of your face, your artwork, or a logo. Photos of faces have been proven to encourage a more memorable and emotional connection online. If you feed comfortable using a photo of yourself, this is a great way to connect with your audience. An image of your artwork is also a great option, especially if you have a recognizable style. A logo works well if you already have branding established, and want to be consistent in your online identity.
For Art Galleries
For art galleries, branding is important. Your profile picture should reflect your gallery’s existing online and/or in-person identity. Many galleries opt for their logo, or a simplified version of their logo (for instance, the gallery’s initials). Consistency in profile pictures across social media platforms is also an important consideration.
For both artists and art galleries, avoid frequent changes to your profile picture. Staying consistent here helps maintain your online recognition.
Spend a lot of time deciding what to post on Instagram? Check out the Ultimate Caption Helper for Visual Artists, 29 jam-packed pages of pre-written content and prompts specifically created for visual artists.
1.6 Leveraging Your Instagram Link in Bio
Since Instagram doesn’t allow clickable links within post captions, Instagram’s “link in bio” is the primary gateway to external content. It’s a versatile space to share your website, news, online store, and more.
In the past, many people chose to link the main page of their primary website in this space. Now, to maximize this one link option, there are many services available that allow you to build your own list of links. By building and regularly updating your link list, your audience has easy access to a list of all current events and relevant info. Some links you can list include:
- Your website
- Specific pages on your website (Artwork, Contact, Exhibitions, etc)
- News articles or reviews
- If an artist, your representing gallery
- If a gallery, your represented artists
Some free link in bio / link list builders include:
If you manage your own website, you can also create a similar looking link page to these free services. The advantages of this are that your link page can more easily match your branding, and that your website gets more traffic.
Extra Credit: More info about Creator, Business, and Personal Instagram Accounts
If you want to dig deeper into the differences between Instagram’s Personal, Creator, or Business accounts, read more below.
Personal Instagram Accounts for Artists
Some people prefer to represent themselves through a personal account, as it gives you certain options such as:
- The ability to have a private account, where the public can see your username and bio, but people must request to follow you to see your posts.
- A more straightforward and simplified experience on Instagram, though this also means access to less useful features.
Though it’s difficult to gauge either way, there is some anecdotal evidence that personal accounts on Instagram offer more visibility and reach.
If you are actively looking to promote your artwork, a professional Instagram account (either a creator or business account) offers a number of benefits, many of which are very similar. However, a creator account is most suited to individual artists. It offers artists more specific category options (such as “artist” or “public figure”) and includes all the benefits of a business account, except for certain business-specific features such as including a physical address in your bio.
Benefits of an Instagram Creator Account
- Access to Insights: Business accounts offer analytics and data on post performance, audience demographics, and more.
- Category Selection: as an artist, you can specify your industry category, helping Instagram better recommend your profile to relevant users.
- Scheduling Tools: Some third-party apps and services offer scheduling tools, which are typically available to business accounts, making it easier to plan content in advance.
- Contact Button: Business accounts have a “Contact” button that facilitates direct communication with followers, which is an excellent tool for artists who are seeking sales and other inquiries.
- Promotion: Should you want to go down this route, having a business account give you the ability to promote posts to reach a wider, targeted audience through paid advertising.
- Instagram Shopping: Artists can tag their artwork for easy shopping through a number of common commerce managers (including Shopify, Wix, etc), making it convenient for potential buyers to make purchases directly.
- Credibility: A business account adds professionalism and credibility, crucial for artists looking to establish their brand.
Overall, a Creator or Business Instagram account equips artists with tools to grow their brand, connect with their audience, and effectively market their art, making it a more powerful platform for their creative endeavours compared to a personal account.
Instagram for Visual Artists: A Complete Strategy Guide by The Practical Art World
Instagram offers an expansive and diverse audience that artists can tap into to showcase their art. It provides an accessible space for self-expression, enabling artists to share their artistic journey, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and personal stories, fostering a deeper connection with their audience. Instagram and other social media platforms can also facilitate collaborations and networking. As an inherently visual medium, it can serve as a virtual gallery. Artists can display their work, host virtual exhibitions, and even sell their art directly to a global market. It’s a space to stay updated on art trends, engage in artistic dialogues, and explore new techniques.