Dealing with Social Media as an Artist / Illustrator

Social media is a brilliant, and often bittersweet format for artists and illustrators to use as a platform to showcase or market yourself, or to socialize with other fellow artists.

Our identity is our brand, we are often our own boss, art director, social media manager, marketer and accountant – which can become overwhelming at times as we have a lot to do outside of making art.


Having interests outside of art and sharing opinions about hot topics is normal, and you should never feel bad for talking about them, however remember that people who subscribe to your feeds / content may have done for a certain reason, most likely because you’re a fellow artist. Though you should remember that not everyone will share your opinion or like everything you post, I, for example can often be found retweeting politics or game related tweets, which aren’t to everyone’s taste, I can often find my twitter audience fluctuate, don’t get hung up on it, it’s not important.

What if someone doesn’t like what you share? Well, remember, they might be talking to you directly through the post, but you should probably avoid conflict, but why you ask? Isn’t that weak? Aren’t I fighting for a better, more reasonable world? – Well no, not really. Most people are unlikely to change their opinion because they had an argument on the internet, even if you make good points. So, do you really want to respond to these bias, vocal and probably unreasonable people, in a very public place no less? Not really. You still have an image to maintain. Put yourself in the position of a famous person who has 5 million or more followers, do you think they respond to every person who said something negative towards them? It would, and often does make news when someone says something either out of turn, or in defense. J.K Rowling often deals swift and smart blows so elegantly put, she deals with trolls exceptionally well, but she also embarrasses them publicly to over 6 million people, so the nutters are usually done after that.

What do you do if someone engages you in a rude manner or something you don’t agree with? The easiest thing to do is ignore, unfollow or block. You don’t need or want a petty argument with someone over the internet immortalized publicly. There’s always private messaging, but getting into it might only make you a public target on their social feed, and you don’t want that either. Ignore, unfollow, block.

Judging yourself on someone else’s success

There’s plenty of talented people out there that do everything better than you, but don’t feel bad about it. You can go on DeviantArt and see brilliant artists half your age with millions of views, or terrible artists with a large community of followers… it’s irrelevant really. The followers you have is relative to your commitment to the social platform. A lot of people who have agents or full time work might not have many followers, which always makes me feel bad and need to share their profile, which is nice, but they don’t really need it.

Every artist has a different approach and idea of success, social media makes their perceived success very public, but doesn’t necessarily make them happier, richer or better.

Constant interaction with other people tends to help gain an audience, over many different social networks, sharing work, ideas and silly things has always helped gain steam. Someone who draws quick, humorous webcomics and shares them to multiple sites on a regular basis is likely to get noticed. But that would never work for every artist, because they might be less vocal and their work takes longer. It would never work for me.

Stop judging yourself on other people’s success, especially if their approach is nothing like yours. Instead, you could look at what people / artists like you do and learn from them.

Make marketing suit yourself

Technically every tweet, retweet and half arsed comment goes towards this public image, maybe you don’t spend enough time on social media to market yourself? Well, hashtags are a great way to extend your reach, even if it’s only by 10%, always try to use them in your art media tweets, or website related ones.

Using Software like Hootsuite will allow you to schedule posts for social networks, this is great to share your content, and new works when you know you’re going to be busy doing other things, like looking after the kids, making dinner or doing other work. You can upload images straight to hootsuite, compose your tweet, use hashtags and schedule it for the best time for an audience. I’m still trying to figure out when is best, early morning, early afternoon and early evening is probably best for weekends, and weekdays after 6pm is a good time for your main tweets, but daytime ones could be good for attracting business, during business hours where the social media person or recruiter might be looking for talent at the same time.

Interacting with people is important, most people are reasonable, enthusiastic and lovely, especially artists. Try creating a list of close friends on your social network so you can interact with them easier. Or maybe save some hashtags for you to check regularly for new things to interact with, especially the associated hashtags for the trends below.

Getting involved with seasonal or regular community activities for your craft is a great way to expand your audience, recently i’ve being doing Colour Collective on twitter which has been lovely, i’ve interacted with tons of new, lovely and talented people. It’s not just about the work I make, but seeing everyone elses work based on that colour is great fun and a conversation point.

Other times of the year have specific twitter trends, like illo advent for Christmas, inktober for ink drawing in October. Things like that, but don’t forget there’s always seasonal holidays that people are talking about, New Year, Burns Night, Valentines Day, Spring, Easter etc etc. Things that people are talking about and holidays that a lot of artists and illustrators rely on to sell their work. Getting involved in these will get you noticed, a lot more in some cases, either way it’s all great for the portfolio.

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