Art marketing 101: How to promote your art.

March 24th, 2022
Art Marketing 101: How to Promote Your Art

Making art is the fun part, but getting it out there can be a bit more challenging. Not sure how to market artwork online? No problem—we have all the tips and tricks to help you learn how to promote yourself as an artist. By the end of this article, you’ll love lots of actionable ideas to get your art noticed by a wider audience.

Start art marketing with an amazing online portfolio.

Building an online art portfolio is a crucial first step in effective art marketing. Whether you’re networking with a new contact, applying for a project, or submitting your work for an art competition, you must have a place where you can direct people to see your best work.

It doesn’t matter if you’re marketing fine art, your tattoo portfolio, or anything in between: if you want your work to be seen, an online portfolio is a must.

Since your portfolio often serves as your first impression, it’s important to put some thought into it. Here are some key features that will make your portfolio shine—and take your art marketing to the next level.

Use a time-saving website builder.

Save yourself time and money and use an online portfolio platform that allows you to build your site in minutes. Choose one that gives you a free trial, so you can see if it’s the right fit for your needs.

Choose a layout and template that are attractive and easy to navigate; when it comes to fine art marketing, you want something that reflects your brand and immerses visitors in your digital world. You can do this by maintaining consistent use of fonts, colors, and other brand assets.

Curate that content.

While it can be tempting to show off all your work on your online portfolio website, you should be a little picky when choosing what to include.

Visitors are less likely to sift through a portfolio with too many examples. If your portfolio has too many examples, some of those stunning pieces in your portfolio may never be seen, leaving visitors overwhelmed. For most portfolios, 20 to 30 of your very best images is the perfect amount. 

You can undermine your art promotion efforts by including pieces that don’t represent your best work. Plan to review your portfolio once or twice a year to keep it fresh.

Ace your artist statement and about me page.

Make sure to add your artist statement to your website. An artist statement describes how you work and what your art means.

Learning how to write an artist statement is another important aspect of art marketing since you’ll be asked to do it many times throughout your career. You’ll need it to submit your work to art competitions, and to provide to any media outlets writing about your art. It’s also a cornerstone of creating your brand identity as an artist.

The About Me section on your portfolio is a good place to put it. Make sure to fill out the rest of your About Me page with engaging content about yourself and your practice; prospective clients want to get to know the artist behind the art.

Start blogging.

Adding a blog to your online portfolio will go a long way in marketing your art, since creating unique content for your site regularly will help improve its search rankings.

Blog posts also allow you to show off your artistry. Information-packed blog posts demonstrate your expertise and position you as an industry leader.

Sell art online.

Wondering how to market artwork online once visitors have landed on your portfolio website? Selling your pieces or prints is an excellent way to boost your revenue.

You’ve already got your visitors interested in your art, so setting up an online store ensures you don’t miss out on potential sales. Once these pieces are on the walls of collectors and clients, they can spark interest in other buyers, effectively doing more art marketing for you.

Pick an online portfolio platform that offers online store functionality and a way to sell your prints. By selling directly to clients, you can avoid archaic finder fees (derived from in-person gallery fee structures) that are typical of some online marketplaces.

Enter art competitions to get on art promotion websites.

Entering competitions is excellent for artist promotion. If you manage to win, not only will you earn some attention for your art, but having the award under your belt can help you start building a reputation as a great artist.

Even if you don’t win the competition, entering can still help with marketing your art, as many competitions will show off some runner-ups, honorable mentions, or recently submitted entries on their art promotion websites.

Some annual art competitions worth checking out include:

Offline art promotion: Throw your own art shows.

While promoting your art online can be very effective, don’t forget the power of art promotion in real life. People who interact with your work in the real world are more likely to remember it than something they scrolled by online.

Organizing your own art show is a wonderful way to learn the art marketing ropes—and it may be easier than you think. Here are some tips to help your show go smoothly:

  • Think of a theme to tie the whole show together. While it’s not required, a theme can give a sense of focus to an art show and help you decide if there are other artists who you want to feature.
  • Consider making it a group show. More artists mean more art marketing for the show! Each artist will be able to put the word out to their networks of friends and fans, increasing the reach of your artist promotion.
  • Don’t stick to the traditional options for venues. Sure, if it’s in your budget, renting a formal gallery is great. But any place that is open and accessible could work. Some examples include hotel lobbies, restaurants, and music halls. There may even be opportunities for public art installations, but you will need to coordinate with your local city hall to obtain the required permits.
  • A great show poster will go a long way in marketing your art. Here are our best tips on how to make a poster that will capture your future clients’ attention. 

Marketing your art by networking.

When it comes to promotion for art, one of the main skills to master is networking. Here are some of the best ways to build those art-world relationships:

Attend art exhibitions and fairs.

You’ll be able to meet art lovers, professional artists, gallery owners, and agents. Making these contacts is extremely important. People you meet can keep you informed about new opportunities – like which art galleries are accepting submissions – and help you market your art by sharing your artwork on their social feeds or by suggesting popular artists you could collaborate with.

Don’t forget to bring your business cards, and hand them out to everyone you meet. It sounds like a small thing, but something as simple as a well-designed card can really help with artist promotion.

Join artist organizations.

Besides offering tons of networking opportunities, these organizations can often provide workshops, artist promotion and advocacy, resources, and more.

There are many artist organizations based in specific states or cities, so take a look at any local organizations you might like to join. There are also a variety of national organizations.

Some examples include:

Community-minded artist marketing: Get involved in local initiatives.

This is an awesome way to get your art out there and do a little good for your fellow artists at the same time.

Some community-based art marketing ideas include providing artwork for charity auctions, participating in community art projects like murals, and volunteering to teach at community centers.

New to the city? There are still lots of ways to get involved in the artist community and start building that network—and marketing your art.

How to get art noticed when you’re new: Collaborate on an art project.

It’s a common question for new artists: how to get my art out there when I’m just starting out and have no connections? Finding other artists to collaborate with is a great artist promotion strategy for new artists.

Having another artist involved means more people will be aware of your collaborative work. All new artists face the problem of how to get their art out there, and it’s easy to forget that you don’t have to navigate the art world completely alone.

While finding other artists who work in the same medium as you is a reasonable place to start, if you think outside the box, the opportunities are endless. For example, you could find a band that needs cover art for their next album.

Apply for grants.

An art grant can help you gain recognition as an artist. Some art grant organizations like to promote the great artwork they’ve supported, so it may result in some media coverage.

There are a lot of art grants available; look for ones that are the best fit for your work, and get to writing a killer grant application.

Place your art in film and TV projects.

Some artists make a living creating artwork that appears in film and TV. This artwork can range from a painting that will be hanging in the background to a business logo or a storefront.

If you’re successful in getting your art into a movie or TV show, it will result in a lot of eyes on your work and your name in the project’s credits.

Start by contacting local production companies or, failing that, local film and TV students. While having your work in a student production likely won’t launch you into stardom, it is a way to start demonstrating your ability to meet the unique requirements involved with film and TV production.

Submit your work to art posting websites.

We’ve talked about submitting your work to competitions and grants, but another way to promote your artwork online more regularly is to submit it to art websites. Even when there aren’t active competitions going on, sites like these can still display your work to a new audience:

Before submitting, make sure you check out if they’re looking for any special themes or types of art.

How to get your art noticed on social media.

To get the most out of your social media presence you need a solid content strategy, an understanding of your account analytics, and techniques to regularly reach a wider audience.

When learning how to market art online, go through each of the steps outlined here to make sure you’re being strategic and effective. Social platforms have become the key to artist promotion, and while you don’t have to use every single social channel, try a few to find out which ones get you the most traction.

Create a strategy for marketing art online.

Before you start marketing your art on social media, make sure you create a strategy. If you don’t have concrete goals in mind, it’s harder to assess your progress and identify areas where your artist self-promotion isn’t delivering results.

This is why you should start by creating a social media strategy for how to promote your artwork online. It should include things like what you want to get out of your artist promotion campaign, what type of audience you want to target, and which platforms you are going to use.

Set up business accounts on Facebook and Instagram.

Use business pages on Facebook and Instagram instead of personal social media pages to promote your art online. Your artist promotion will look more professional, and you’ll have access to more analytics tools to improve your social media marketing. With data, you’ll be able to see exactly which pieces of content were most effective in the past.

For example, once you have a business page, you’ll be able to use more analytics tools and create Facebook ads. You should start with setting up your Facebook business page, since it’s required to create a business account on Instagram.

Get your followers to promote for you.

Peer-to-peer promotion is one of the cornerstones of a good social media strategy. That means finding ways to get your followers to promote on your behalf.

One way to do that is with contests. For instance, some companies offer free products as prizes and ask participants to enter the contest by making a post that mentions the company or product.

As an independent artist, you likely won’t be able to offer an expensive grand prize. However, if you get creative, there are plenty of ways you could entice people to participate.

For example, you could task the participants with creating a post about their favorite piece from your portfolio, and offer one of your artworks as a prize. Participants will be able to market artwork online to their networks. This is a simple artist self-promotion idea that you can use on a regular basis.

Cross-promote with other artists.

There are lots of artists out there in the same position as you: they’re also looking for ways to promote their work. So, one easy way to get some artist promotion is to agree to cross-promote with another artist. It can be as simple as making some posts that highlight the artist’s work and what you like about it, with an agreement that they will do the same.

It’s an art marketing win-win: you’ll both get some more eyes on your work. And since everyone’s taste in art is different, you can cross-promote without worrying about sending potential clients to a competitor.

Track your progress with analytics tools.

Tools such as Facebook Insights and Instagram Analytics can help you see how well your social media promotions are working. These tools can tell you things like how many views each of your posts attract, and how many of those visitors clicked through to see your online portfolio. By comparing the performance of your various posts and social media strategies, you can get a better sense of which art marketing efforts work and which don’t.

While the tools that are built into Facebook and Instagram provide enough info to get started, when you’re ready, there are many third-party analytics tools that go further.

Be inspired by your fellow artists online.

Study the social media accounts of the artists you look up to – or any artists that have mastered artist self-promotion. You should examine everything about them; from the types of images they post to their posting schedule. By learning what makes these social media accounts so successful, you’ll gain some insight into what you can do better.

Use post-scheduling tools.

Consistently posting fresh content to your social media is important. It’s a great way to keep your followers engaged and attract new ones. However, it can be a pain to stay on top of it day after day.

Luckily, there are a variety of scheduling tools that can take the stress out of it. These tools will let you create your posts at your own pace, and then schedule them to be automatically uploaded at specific times.

These tools make it easy to post at the best times. As your analytics will likely show you, time of day can be a major determining factor in whether or not your art marketing is seen by your audience.

So, if you’re interested in learning more about the scheduling tools that are out there, here’s a list of the best Instagram scheduling tools.

Start a Facebook Ad campaign.

You might assume you’d have to spend a lot of money to get any return from advertising on Facebook. But that’s not the case. You can start by spending as little as $1! (mind you, $1 won’t get you very far, but we all have to start somewhere.)

Facebook Ads offer a lot of flexibility. You can start small and scale up as needed. You can also test different art promotion formats using Facebook Ads, such as photo and video ads, to see which ones pique your audience’s interest. Another great feature with Facebook Ads is that you can get very detailed with the audience you want to target, based on everything from age group, to geographic location, to their particular interests.

Now what?

Congrats—you’re on your way to mastering how to promote your art. If you put these methods into practice, you’ll find your reputation growing and new opportunities arising.
Skillful artist promotion and art marketing can even help you get your art into an art gallery. Once you start marketing your art the right way, anything can happen, from gallery representation to booming sales. It’s time to get out there and share your work with the world!

Born and raised on the East Coast, Eliina is currently settled in North Carolina and can frequently be spotted trekking into the mountains. Drawing from her BFA in Illustration and professional background in Small Business and Fine Arts, Eliina has been supporting Zenfolio members in meeting their website and E-commerce goals since 2019.

*Promotion valid until July 31, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Promotional discount off the subscription price of a new ProSuite, PortfolioPlus or Portfolio annual plan will be automatically applied at checkout with code SUMMER2022. Discount applies to the first year only. Cannot be combined with any other promotion. Portfolio, Portfolio Plus and ProSuite plans are currently available to customers in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia only.

Create your photography website in minutes.