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A beginner’s guide to Instagram for Artists & Designers

A beginner’s guide to Instagram for Artists & Designers

Using Instagram to get your work out there can be a great tool for any artist, but getting started isn’t always the easiest task, in this guide we’ll go over the basics of getting started with Instagram and also how you can grow a following on Instagram as and artist, designer or other creative page.

There’s plenty of Instagram guides out there but I’m going to try and give you my insight as an artist, because having a creative page is much more different then being a  regular influencers or bloggers that other guides often focus on.

I’ll also do my very best to give you specific advice that you can use right now.

Instagram guide for artists
Instagram feed

What to post

I’m not going to go into much detail on the topic what you should post because I believe you shouldn’t overthink that, post your work that you’re proud of and you’re happy with and I’m sure other people will love it too.

One thing to remember is that Instagram is a mobile platform, the work you’re posting will be displayed on a small screen, and work with a lot of details might be hard to see on a tiny screen. Sometimes zooming in on your work might be a good idea to make it easier for the viewer.

Get Instagram post ideas

If you ever get stuck and don’t have any ideas what to post next I have a guide that can help you get some ideas for your next post. (click the button to check it out)

Instagram Post ideas for Creative pages (Artists, Designers, Illustrators)

How often should you post?

Posting new work regularly on your page is key to grow your page, if you stop posting for months at the time chances are pretty high your followers will forget about you.

I’d suggest creating a posting schedule and by that I don’t mean you have to post each and every day, how often you should post is totally up to you and you should decide that yourself, it’s something that differs so much from artist to artist, it doesn’t matter if you decide on posting work once a week or once a day, make a schedule and be consistent with your posting, and that consistency will be key for our growth.

Growing on Instagram can be a slow grind, for most artist you’ll see a slow but steady growth in followers if you just keep posting great work.


Picking a username on Instagram

Usernames are quite important for an artist Instagram, the username is often one of the first things a visitor going to see before visiting, that being said you shouldn’t overthink your name (and it can also be changed later).

To help you decide I’ll be showing you the 3 most common ways for artists to pick their username, and from that I let you decide what’s best for you and your Instagram.

Have your name as your Instagram username, which is by far the most common option for artists on Instagram. If you have a really long name it could be a good idea to try and use a shorter version of it so it doesn’t become a hassle for people to type. (example @jonas_welin, @linn_warme, or a shorter version of your name like @ida_gust)

Use your name and then add a word what your page/work is all about, that could be art, illustration, design or anything ells that would help people understand what your page is about before they even visited your page (examples @dengdeng_illustration, @jameslipnickasart)

Have a artist, brand or nickname for your artist page, it’s good to be consistent with what username you use with other platforms if you go with this option, otherwise it can get quite tricky to find you if you have different usernames for different platforms. (examples @yukfunwow, @flygfisk)

Profile picture

Just like your username your profile picture is one of the first things people will see before even visiting your page, and a profile picture can be a great way to show what your page is about or at least create a interest for your page.

The profile image on Instagram is very tiny so we don’t have much to work with but here are some pointers.

Instagram profile pictures

As mentioned above the profile picture is tiny, have that in consideration when picking yours. Having a clean & clear picture helps.

Many artists choose to have a hand-drawn picture or self portrait as their profile picture, it’s a simple way of showing people what your page is about.

Upload and test your profile picture on the Instagram app, see if it works in a tiny format.

Look for other artists on Instagram with great profile pictures, study those who stand out and collect ideas how you can make something similar. Ask yourself what makes you like their picture more then others.

Our hashtag guides

Hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags are a good idea to use when starting out on Instagram, tags won’t do any wonders but you’ll get a few extra pair of eyeballs on your work if you use relevant hashtags, and I emphasize on relevant because that’s one of the most common mistakes I see on Instagram when artists use hashtags that’s not relevant to their work.

When you’re choosing what hashtags you should use you should try and pick as relevant and specific tags as possible, I’ll give you an example.

You made a cat drawing and you need a couple of good tags for it, instead of going with tags like #cat #pets #cutecat, that are way too general I’d go with tags like #catillustration and #catdrawing instead, by going for tags that are more specific about our content we’re more likely to attract people that are actually looking for content like ours, oppose to when we pick too general tags like #cat where people might rather see cute cat pictures instead of our drawings.

Don’t use too many & don’t over-use certain tags

I would advice to be moderate with your hashtags, there’s a limit of 30 tags/post, but using that many will look very spammy, so I wouldn’t go for the limit. Instead I would go with anything under 10 hashtags, but there’s no perfect number of hashtags, that’s up to you, just don’t over-do them.

Another tip when it comes to hashtags on Instagram is to switch up your tags for every post, you don’t want to have a bunch of tags that you’re re-using over and over again for every post, if you keep doing that repeatedly Instagram might stop showing your posts in the hashtag search.

You can also check out any of our hashtag guides if you want to get a quick start on ideas for hashtags for your posts.

Get your work featured

There’s plenty of pages on Instagram that feature other artist’s work, having your work featured on a big page can be a great way to grow your page.

To help you get started with finding pages that feature artists on a regularly basis I made a collection of some of the biggest featuring pages on Instagram, if you’re interested you can find the whole list over here,

Instagram pages that can Feature your Work

How you can get featured on these pages varies a lot, but sending a polite message with some of your work to them (via Instagram or email) is a good start. Other pages ask that you use their hashtag, getting noticed via a tag can be hard though, especially if it’s a large page.

Paying to get featured

Many of these kinds of feature pages will charge you money if you want to get featured on their page, that’s nothing I would recommend doing, especially from someone just starting out on Instagram.

I had very mixed results when being featured on big pages and it’s not always that you’ll see a lot of followers coming in from being featured. Your work and the page’s content has to be a good fit otherwise there’s a good risk the followers of that page isn’t going to be that into your work.

Another concern is that most pages have very high prices for their features, they know artists are desperate to be featured and they know people will pay for it. The feature might lead to followers and likes but it still  has to be worth the money.

instagram sign up

Instagram business account

In your settings there’s a option (available for everyone) to convert your current account to a business account, doing this is a good idea for many artist out there considering you’ll get a access to a bunch of features that you wouldn’t have otherwise, like stats, contact button, ads and more.

Added features (stats, ads, contact button & more)

The best thing a business account has to offer is the ability to see statistics about your page, you can get insight when your followers are the most active, where they’re from, gender, age groups and more. You can also see what content is doing good and other stats about your post, from where people are finding your work or how many likes and views your content gets and much more.

You’ll also get the option to add a “Contact” button on your Instagram profile where people can click to easily send you a mail.

If you want to start using Instagram ads to get your work out there you’ll get access to that by converting your account to a business one. (I don’t have much knowledge about Instagram ads though, so I won’t go into that)

Helpful Instagram tools

There’s plenty of tools to help you manage and grow your Instagram, in the past I made a collection of my favourite Instagram tools when it comes to scheduling posts, creating content and other useful service that can make your time on Instagram more enjoyable, you can find the guide below.

10+ Instagram tools to help Artists & Designers to grow their page - Free Scheduling tool

My top recommendation would be, it’s a free tool that let’s you schedule & auto post your work to Instagram.

It’s a great tool especially if you’re the type of person that don’t browse Instagram every day and you want to be more hands-off with Instagram. What I do is that once a month I schedule all my posts for that month, it’s one days of work and then I don’t need to think about Instagram and what to post.

Later has a free option that let’s you schedule 30 posts/month if you want more then that you can upgrade but that’s going to cost you a monthly fee.