10 Tips for Promoting Yourself (and Your Art) on Instagram
Learn from the best.
It’s no secret that for those in the art industry, being Instagram savvy can pay off. Leonardo DiCaprio recently purchased an artwork that he spotted on Instagram, which had been posted by Copenhagen-based Gallery Poulsen when they were at the Pulse Fair in March (see Leonardo DiCaprio Buys Art on Instagram at PULSE Fair). Zach Feuer got calls inquiring about a 3-D bust by Jon Rafman when he posted a picture of it being unpacked at the Armory Show in 2014 (see Chelsea Gallerist Zach Feuer Sees Sales Bolstered by Instagram). Supposedly even Sotheby’s and Christie’s employee people to, among other things, monitor Instagram accounts of wealthy collectors in search of people who don’t yet collect (see Auction Houses Troll Instagram for Fresh Meat). Need any further reason to hop on the bandwagon? Here are some tips on how to sell yourself on Instagram:
1. Blue is the warmest color
According to a study by Curalate, blue-hued images get 24 percent more “likes” on Instagram than ones that are predominantly red or orange. So if you spot a work from James Turrell‘s “skyspaces” series, make sure to ‘gram away.
2. Crapstraction fares very well
Just take a peek at Stefan Simchowitz’s Instagram, he is the king of using the social media platform to create “heat” and “velocity,” according to a recent profile in the New York Times Magazine. In that story, Simchowitz said when he uploaded a photo of Kour Pour’s paintings, he got a furious 2 am phone call from a billionaire collector demanding why he had never had an opportunity to buy them (see Christopher Glazek Annotates His NYT Stefan Simchowitz Story). The posts with the most likes on his account are images of easily consumable colorful abstract paintings such as those by Petra Cortright and Marc Horowitz. Artists looking to get spotted—take note!
3. Tout your celebrity connections
Instagram is a platform very well-suited to flaunting what you’ve got, celebrity connections included. Viewers will find celebrities-a-plenty on MoMA PS1 director and MoMA chief curator-at-large Klaus Biesenbach’s account. Familiar faces often gracing the handle are Marina Abramovic, Lady Gaga, and James Franco. Expect to see thousands of likes on these pictures.
4. Post furry animals with attitude
Artist Andrew Kuo’s Instagram account @earlboykins doesn’t have any images of his artworks, his friends, the food he’s eating, or his whereabouts. What? You might wonder what he’s doing on Instagram at all. But his feed, which consists of nothing but a visual diary of cute furry animals—specifically cats with attitude—has 106,000 followers. Clearly he’s doing something right.
5. Post pictures of people posing in front of art (especially with a cute child or an attractive woman)
Collector Stafford Broumand has a young man, who appears to be his son, stand in front of expensive works of art including those by such artists as Nate Lowman, Rob Pruitt, and Richard Prince. Meanwhile, Artsy specialist Elena Soboleva always gets more than 100 likes when she posts images of herself posing in front of art.
6. Post big, ridiculous objects
If Kara Walker‘s massive installation at the Domino Sugar Factory didn’t induce every single visitor to take a selfie, we don’t know what else could. As we gathered last summer, people like ridiculous enormous things (see Kara Walker’s Sugar Sphinx Spawns Offensive Instagram Photos). But what we’re continuing to learn is that smartphones and social media may not be hindering our engagement at all, but causing it to evolve (see Are iPhones a Blessing or a Curse for Art?).
7. Interact with “Immersive” artworks and see the likes roll in
This year, Oscar Murillo decided he wanted to take his canvases off the wall and throw them on the floor for people to play with (and wear) at MoMA. However successful this idea was (social media-wise), it may have been almost too successful. As artnet News broke the story earlier this year, one of those canvases went missing from the display. It had been stolen off the floor, though it was eventually returned (see Oscar Murillo Painting Goes Missing From MoMA—Was it Theft?).
8. Nudity, salaciousness, and profanity go a long way
Jerry Saltz is the master of posting borderline offensive photos. His medieval images of beheadings, girls being spanked, or the classic nude model, always gets north of 1,000 likes on his account. Plus (bonus points!), he’s also witty with his captions. While his racy posts got him kicked off Facebook (see Jerry Saltz Got Banned from Facebook—About Time), his Instagram feed raged on unabated.
9. Match your outfit to the art
Get more followers (if your bank account can handle it), by snapping pictures of yourself in a curated montage in which your outfit echoes the artwork on display. Blogger Pari Ehsan has made something of a name for herself doing this (and racked up 206,000 followers on Instagram in the process) (see artnet Asks: Blogger and Instagram Darling Pari Ehsan). Who says fashion and art are so different after all?
10. Create a Parody account
If you don’t follow @Freeze_de, you should probably do that right now. The hilarious art world parody account is seriously on point. And what better way to measure your success in the art world than counting the times you’ve been made fun of? Some of our favorites include an image of a forlorn white cat with a pink leg (cue Pierre Huyghe); or the meme of Steve Buscemi as a mid-career artist showing up at New York hotspot China Chalet for an afterparty; or its matrix of images representing art criticism through the decades (fittingly, the image for “present day” is the headline of a listicle).
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