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  • Writer's pictureIlias Patlis

Instagram For Artists

A Healthier approach to social media

Im taking it you're an artist frustrated with Instagram and its algorithm like I was a few years ago. You put so many hours in creating your content and it gets seen by no one

*Cricket Symphony*.

You find yourself spending more time trying to get likes and new followers to notice you rather than focusing on your art.

So what if I told you that one piece of art could be turned into at least 7 pieces of unique content!

You could have a weeks worth of content out of a single piece of art. Spend 80% of your time creating and 20% promoting on Instagram.

To good to be true? Maybe ;)

If reading isn't your thing you can always listen to this all over the place offensive episode of my podcast Sketchbook Heroes talking about all the stuff mentioned above ;)

Why are you using Instagram?

Do you want to be a famous artist? Influencer? Find potential clients? Teach? Build a community?

Knowing what you want will help you leverage the platform to reach your goals.

The Instagram tools

Instagram offers some great tools for us to utilise

to create a varying array of content. Here are a few tips on how I engage with my community with the help of these tools

  1. Stories, 15s behind the scenes, let your community get to know you! Shoutouts, Selfies, coffees, lunch, art, gym selfies, Art tips, sneak peeks, Podcast promo and other silly stuff.

  2. Posts, Final art, Text Posts, Giveaways

  3. Reels, making of videos, Timelapse's.

  4. Live, Going live and talking to your followers while you draw(or not) is a great way to deepen your relationship and build that community. Also Q&A + Singing while you draw ;D

Followers vs Community

Forget the word Followers and start thinking community! Having a big number of followers looks nice but it loses its charm real fast when no ones commenting or liking your work. Build a community around your work and invite people to be part of it. E.g: "Help me name this character". Take care and engage with the followers you have and not the ones you wish you had.

They changed the Algorithm, again!

There are things we can control in life and there‘s the IG Algorithm. So why worry so much about it? Why waste so much time trying to hack, break, fool the algorithm when you could be creating your next piece, two even! Try instead:

  1. - To post consistently over time

  2. - Post content worth Bookmarking/saving (tutorials/Advice).

  3. - Engage with your community even if its a small one.

  4. - Its called social media, so be social. Follow artists(not only famous ones), leave genuine comments and like stuff. Focusing on lesser known artist and artist around the same following as you will increase the chances of them actually replying and engaging back.

Creative Process VS The Instagram

This is a BIG one friends. This is where a lot of us mess up big time. This is where that 80% focus on creating really comes into play and not messing about trying to fool the algorithm and ending up looking at cats for 3 hours.

First rule of fight club... wait no. First rule of creating is we dont create for Instagram, at least that's not why I started drawing. So whatever reason you have for drawing, tap into that and have fun.

Instagram is a mental trap. When your first thoughts are " I need to draw so I can post on Instagram" you're trapped, they've got you. Thinking like that can have a very negative effect on your creativity and no one needs that added pressure.

Instagram shouldn't dictate when and what you draw.

So how do we create content in a healthy way?

Healthy Content Creation

Part 1 - The Content

To minimize stress and create some breathing room for ourselves between posts

we can split our content into several pieces of content.

When we create a piece of art there´s usually several steps before we get to the final stage.

Those steps are all valuable content for your followers, sometimes even more than the final product itself.

  1. Sketch - Post of the initial sketch or sketches

  2. Inking - post the inked version of the piece

  3. Color - Post the coloured version

These are all distinct and very different stages and your followers will love that you're sharing your process. We just split one image into 3 pieces of content, amazing!

But we aren't even done yet. What if you filmed all three stages?

Say Whaaaat?! Exactly, more content equals even more breathing room and less stress.

  1. Sketch - Record it and post snippets in Stories/Reels

  2. Ink - Record it and post snippets in Stories/Reels

  3. Colors - You guessed it! Record it and post snippets in Stories/Reels

  4. Cut it all together in a video app of your choosing and post that as a regular post.

So now we have at least 7 pieces of fun and distinctly different content to share with our community from that one piece of art. So while they enjoy all that you can happily move on to your next art piece :)

Part 2 - Recycling

Making new stuff is fun but quite time consuming for most of us. If you've been on Instagram for a while chances are you have quite a collection of old artwork collecting dust.

Reposting old artwork can be a great way to introduce some more of your work to your new followers + a nice little reminder to some of your old followers who found you through that certain post.

  1. Simple repost of an old piece.

  2. Make a carousel post(several photos in one post) of a certain character, pencil sketches, portraits, characters etc.

  3. Then and now comparisons :D

Part 3 - Community

  1. Repost/shoutout another artist you admire once a week <3 Sharing is caring!

  2. Post a question! Check in on your community

  3. Social events like Top 9 or Art vs The Artist. Low effort posts.

  4. Take one of your characters and make a Draw This In your style Challenge for your community. Then repost your favorite 3.

Part 4 - Summary

Just to summarise we can break down 1 piece of art into at least 6-7 pieces of content and probably more if you get creative. We can recycle old artwork and do fun things for and with our community. Which gives us another 7 ways to create content while you work on new cool artwork without having all that social media stress haunting you. WOOP WOOP!

Posting on Instagram

Part 1 - Preparation

Well look at you, you've just finished your latest creation and you're ready to show the world.

Its a few minutes past midnight and you place your artwork next to your brightest light source and snap a shot with your phone and post that on Instagram, Yay!

Well not exactly for 3 reasons.

One being the time, is anyone awake to see it?

We all have times where are posts perform better, post at that time, no need to rush.

Second reason is your lighting and the quality of your picture. If you dont have good lighting waiting for daylight is your best option. Present your hard work properly :)

Thirly, when you post content you should be there to engage with your community. Dont post and run. Its Social Media, so be social for about 20-40 min. Reply to comments in the post, reply to comments on a previous post you might have missed. It will raise the engagement on your post and also teach your community that you are engaging back.

Part 2 - Caption

Captions are a great tool to share your thoughts and get to know your community. Make genuine connections and make them feel part of whatever it is you're creating.

Does your new character need a name? Ask your community!

Struggled with a certain part of an image? Share your thoughts. Ask if anyone can relate perhaps? Chances are they also struggle with drawing hands ;D

Bought a new Sketchbook and you're afraid to ruin it? It's very relatable stuff. Write about it!

Love or Hate the Sketchbook? Write about it.

There's tons of things to write about that other artist also go through and relate to. So writing about your success, struggles and fears and might make someone else feel less alone in their struggle. We also love new pens and sketchbooks :D

Part 3 - Instagram Hashtags

There are a lot of contradicting theories and strategies out there on Hashtags.

What I will say is Instagram allows up to 30 and you will never get punished for using them all.

Just make sure they are relevant to your post, and not banned hashtags.

There are small to giant hashtags, The big ones are really hard to compete on if you have a small account with little to no engagement. So make sure to vary the size on your hashtags. E.g.

  1. A few in 10-25K range

  2. A few in 25-50k range

  3. A few 50-150K and so on.

Experiment a little and see what works best for you and your account.

So now remember In the beginning when I asked "Why are you using Instagram?".

Who are you trying to reach with your content? Is it to build community,

potential customers, get discovered by brands? If you know the answer to this question you have the beginnings of a hashtag strategy.

If building community is your jam, then make sure to join different different drawing challenges and trends. Like "The Draw This In Your Style", Inktober, Swordtember and so on.

Or check hashtags that apply to your artwork/style and connect with other artists posting on those hashtags.

If you want brands to see your work they usually have their own hashtags that they check regularly. So if you use products from a specific brand make sure to use their hashtags.

Some final tips regarding hashtags is go to the explorer page on Instagram and do some research, write down the best hashtags that apply to your strategy and account size.

Time to post!

Woop! We finally get to post so we need to make sure its an optimal time to post. That means when people are awake and when you have time to be social on social media. For me its somwhere between 5-9:00 pm Swedish time, for you its probably something else, so experiment a little! So here are a few tips that I use

1. Reply to any incoming comments(if any).
2. Reply to comments on a previous post that you may have missed. Also make sure to mention you posted an a new piece :)
3. Use stories to tell your followers about your latest post, tease them with a little preview, post a rough thumbnail. Also give them a quick way of getting to the post by tagging yourself :)


1. Spend 80% of your time creating art, 20% on promoting!
2. Take care of the Followers you have not the ones you wish you had.
3. Start breaking your art down into to several pieces of content.
4. Involve your community and be social
5. bla bla bla im tired ;D

Thank you!

Thank you for taking the time to read through this post!
If you found it helpful feel free to like comment and share it with your friends <3
Got questions or feedback? Drop them down in the comments!

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1 Comment

Nov 29, 2021

Super helpful for anyone like me that is a total noob at the social media thing. Also haven listened to the SBH episode (also talking in it) this is a great summary of all the gold nuggets there. Also great tone of voice in the post plus well put together with the wrap up in the end ✌🏼 Great job ❤️

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