Are your Artist Instagram Posts “Blah”? Learn to Make Them Shine.

By Jessica Craddock | Instagram for Artists

If you are struggling with the imagery in your artist Instagram posts, you are not alone. Good posts have a bit of a learning curve, but are totally do-able if you practice and study up a bit.  

This post will teach you the basic concepts of what not to do, 15 styles for eye-catching posts, and 10 of my favorite editing apps. 

Common Mistakes in Artist Instagram Posts

Common Mistake #1: Bad lighting​

Bad lighting is the #1 way to make your feed look unfollowable, unprofessional and unappealing. Do everything in your power to remedy bad lighting.

If your home is hopelessly dark, you may be forced to take your work to another location for a photo-shoot session or outdoors on an overcast day.

Some of these posts could be really good with a little lightening up, but instead the darkness overtakes them.  

bad lighting artist instagram posts
Bad Lighting Solutions

To make the most of poor lighting indoors, find the room with the most doors and windows. Set your art facing the light to help illuminate the details. Shooting backlit art will inevitably wash it out.

If you are using an iPhone, set the exposure lock on your phone. Tap the subject you wish to focus on and your phone will do its best to set the lighting for that particular spot. If the exposure is still too dark, put your finger on the screen and slide up to increase the lighting. 

Never zoom in bad lighting. Zooming will only increase the graininess. You can always crop after you get the shot or simply walk closer to your subject.

When you have really bright lights and dark darks in a photo (such as a blowout from a window), trying shooting in HDR. This will generally help level out your photo lighting to be more cohesive. iPhones have this feature as an on/off switch in the camera app. Artists using professional cameras can follow this tutorial for creating HDR images.

Edit the photo's exposure, contrast, saturation, highlights and shadows using a computer app like Lightroom or an iPhone app like VSCO. 

If all else fails, you can create a cheap and easy lighting solution like this one from Artist Market Co. member, Paint & Letters, using lamps and foam board.

Common Mistake #2: No white space

Make sure to include white space in some of your images so your feed gets some breathing room when you are looking at all of your posts together. 

If you don't, your feed will feel very heavy and not as appealing to look at. I recommend every second image has some white space, but at least every 3-4 images.

You can do this by shooting your art on a white wall, putting a white border around it, or angling your shot so it includes a lot of white. 

no white space artist instagram posts

Common Mistake #3: Inconsistent filters​

This example is from my very first Instagram account in 2011. I was having way too much fun experimenting with filters to realize my feed looked like a hot mess. 

If you choose to use filters, make sure you use the same one (or two at most) over and over to create a consistent feel. 

Find a style you like and stick with it. If you decide to switch it up down the road, that's fine. But don't mix and match all at once. 

Search Pinterest for boards with "VSCO cam filters" or your editing app of choice. You'll find lots of inspiration for color palettes that fit your personality. Try this board by A Human Being to find a style you like.

inconsistent filters artist instagram posts

Common Mistake #4: The same boring shots over and over

If your grid is starting to look consistently "blah", you probably need to mix up the types of shots you are taking.

I've listed 15 different types of shots to help you come up with your own ideas below.​

THE "SCAN"

This style is essentially taking your artwork, laying it flat and shooting straight on from the top. It is the same look as if you've scanned the image and is probably the most popular style for artists.

flat lay artist instagram post
flat lay artist instagram post
THE "SET UP"

This style shows your full artwork, but styled in a way that it shows what your art might look like in a room setting. 

staged artist instagram posts
staged artist instagram posts
THE STUDIO

What does your studio look like from day to day? Showing some interesting aspects will help your audience see your 'not so perfect' moments and make you feel like a human being. Or they'll drool over how dreamy your life looks. Either way. 

studio shot artist instagram post
studio shot artist instagram post

You get SUPER bonus points if you inject life (people, plants, animals) into your shots. These tend to get tons of likes.

person in studio artist instagram posts
studio shot artist instagram post
studio shot artist instagram post
WITH YOUR TOOLS

Show off the tools you use to create your work! You art doesn't have to be included in these shots, but it's a bonus and helps demystify your process.

artist tools artist instagram posts
artist tools artist instagram posts
YOUR INSPIRATION

Especially if you are looking for commissions, give some shots with your reference material. This will help a viewer see through your artistic lens. 

inspiration artist instagram posts
inspiration artist instagram posts
IN PROCESS

Show some incomplete work or take a video of your creation process. This style can be fascinating to the non-artist. 

work in progress artist instagram posts
THE CLOSE UP

Not every shot needs to show your full work. Close-ups of different aspects of your art will shine a light on the details your audience might otherwise miss. 

close up artist instagram posts
close up artist instagram posts
SOCIAL PROOF

Everyone likes to be a part of something/someone popular. If you have any examples of artist spotlights, testimonials or similar, don't be scared to show them off. It might feel a little braggy, but stepping out of your comfort zone on this one could start a follower snowball. 

social proof artist instagram posts
YOUR JOURNAL

What does your private journal contain? We want to know... I promise! Your journal style is typically a looser version of your completed art and is fascinating.

artist journal artist instagram posts
artist journal artist instagram posts
artist journal artist instagram posts
ON THE WALL

Similar to The "Set Up", this style is simply your work hanging on a wall. It isn't necessarily stylized, but could show scale or add a bit of interest or white space.

wall art artist instagram posts
wall art artist instagram posts
MIX UP THE BACKGROUND TEXTURES

Try to find some interesting textures for the background of some your shots. This will mix things up without taking away from the focus.  

unique background artist instagram posts
unique background artist instagram posts
ARTIST + WORK

Don't be shy to ask someone to take pictures of you with your art. I've noticed some of the artists with the most likes aren't afraid to step in front of the camera once in a while. These artist Instagram posts make you seem much less anonymous. 

artist by work artist instagram posts
artist by work artist instagram posts
artist by work artist instagram posts
SHOW SOME PERSONALITY

Taking it one step further, if you can get some candid shots or show off your personality a bit, people will have a much easier time connecting with you.

If they decide they like you, they'll have a much easier job trusting you... and trust leads to sales!

Related: The #1 Reason People Aren't Buying Your Art​

artist personality artist instagram posts
artist personality artist instagram posts
artist personality artist instagram posts
YOUR PACKAGING

What will your art look like when it arrives at someone's home? Small personal touches can mean the difference between someone wanting to order original art from you vs. a pottery barn print.

Show them what their package will look like and they'll be excited to receive it from the moment they order!​

art packaging artist instagram posts
art packaging artist instagram posts
COLLAGE OF YOUR WORK

The opposite of white space, but very fun visually. Putting all your work together in an interesting layout really shows off your artistic style.

art collage artist instagram posts
art collage artist instagram posts
art collage artist instagram posts

Favorite Apps to Edit Artist Instagram Posts

Now that your mind is bursting with ideas for your artist Instagram posts, you're probably wondering how to execute and make them sooo good. 

I've put together a list of all the apps I use or have used in the past that made the cut. A few overlap in the features they contain but each one shines for a reason.

VSCO

My favorite (if you haven't gathered) of all the photo editing apps out there. It does everything from filters to brightness to straightening skewed images. I highly recommend giving it a try.​

SKRWT

A stand-alone app to correct perspective problems for symmetry lovers. 

TouchRetouch​

Remove unwanted blemishes, dust specks and loose strings that were accidentally captured in your image with just a few touches. 

Canva

If you need a image that looks like you hired a graphic designer, look no further. Canva makes this super simple with tons of fully-customizable designs.

Phonto

Easily add text to your images with Phonto. You can even upload your own fonts to match your branding. 

Mextures

Ever wonder how people get that hazy, rainbow-y ​look on top of their photos? Mextures is the best app out there to add colorful layers, light leaks and more. 

Whitagram

Create white (or colored) frames on your photos with Whitagram. Side frames for vertical and horizontal images create a square layout, or scale the frame to create larger borders around the whole image.

Plann

Create a great-looking feed in no time! ​If you are the type who likes to plan social media posts in advance, this Instagram based app lets you upload and rearrange posts with a drag-and-drop feature until your feed looks like a magazine. Schedule the captions in advance and save hashtag sets within the app. 

Hyperlapse

Create time-lapse videos with Hyperlapse. ​Great for showing your creation of a piece from start to finish in a short amount of viewing time. 

Boomerang

​Create super mini-videos that loop back and forth continuously. More of a live photo than a video. 

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