How to sell your Art on Instagram

Carlos Fentanes
On the Healing Powers and Pleasures of Bathing or Gabriela in the Bathtub
Ballpoint Pen on Paper, 2022

Last year she was a starving artist working as a waitress and living from tips in a moldy basement and now she’s a successful artist with more than a million followers and showing her work in the main galleries of New York, London and Hong Kong, her work has been auctioned for more than a million dollars in the last contemporary auction in London. All these thanks to my method: “How to be a successful artist and increase your followers on Instagram in 365 easy steps”.

That sounds too good to be true and sadly it’s not my case so I can’t teach you how to do it.

I don’t know where I read for the first time that Instagram and other social media were good to sell your art. I think it was 2012. Back then I remember that I found an e-book at the public library about promoting your art and the author described the steps you have to follow in order to become a successful artist and sell more paintings than Damien Hirst something similar to the 12 rules of life or the 7 habits of the highly effective people . I just remember some of the steps, besides work daily and finish your work.

The steps were something like these: Have a website, Write a blog, Be active on social media, Start showing your work on local galleries and art contests, it doesn’t matter if it is the Tomato Fall Fair in Saskatchewan what matters is showing up.

I didn’t know how to start and if you visit my Instagram account you will see that my first posts are just random photos about my surroundings but not my art, it took me several years just to start showing my art there, maybe I didn’t found something interesting to show or I didn’t like my work or I thought that there were far more better art there than what I could offer but also I didn’t have too much work to offer.

So by now I have been on Instagram for about ten years and my followers are growing organically but it is not too much even if I’m above the average. Sales? None. Messages? Just Scams offering me being ambassador of unknown brands that take advantage of innocent people or about crypto currency and NFTs but nothing serious.

Back then in 2012 Instagram was more about photos, no videos at all. Instagram has changed since then because people had changed too and now the users want more videos than just still photographs.

I consider myself a good artist and at least above the average but in the groups where I’m in, I’m the less successful of the artists in matter of sales, how much did I sold last year? USD$8.00 from a printing on Saatchi Art, that’s for real.

So, Am I the right person to give you an advice about selling art, not just selling art on Instagram or on social media, selling art in general? No, and that’s not what you’re going to find here.

I don’t know what people expect about art, I’m doing art principally for myself and then I show it everywhere in any possible platform, it doesn’t matter if it’s physical or virtual over the internet, I’m happy showing my work so my final goal is not selling art and I’m not exactly worried about sales but I’m worried about how my public perceive my art and one way to measure this is with sales so it seems that my public, my followers are not exactly excited about possessing my work.

For me, Art is good because makes you reflect, think, read. I really hope that sometime, somebody find my art interesting enough so it makes him/her think, that would be the ultimate goal of a work of art.

In the last few years, maybe since the pandemic started I have seen a lot of accounts on Instagram that offer courses, seminars, books about growing your audience and growing your sales, maybe, just maybe if you follow their instructions you will indeed grow your audience and your sales but probably in the meantime you will lose your voice, what makes you different and also you will lose some dollars in the process. I want to keep my voice and make it louder so more people can hear it but I don’t want to change my voice in order to sale paintings.

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