Marketing for Artists: Zero Budget Social Media Hacks

Social media is an exceptionally powerful marketing tool for artists. It gives you a way to share your art with the world, to connect with and be inspired by other creatives, and to get your art in front of a massive audience of potential buyers or curators.

“I’ve discovered so many new artists who inspire me every day just from their social media posts,”

— illustrator and Marvel comic artist Jen Bartel

Never before have humans been so connected. Remember that social platforms are still a way for people to engage with people not for people to promote their agenda. The most successful marketers and influencers cite authenticity as one of the most important aspects of social media success.

Social media’s not going anywhere. And it’s NOT too late to start.

There’s a mysterious assumption that it’s somehow “too late” to build a social media following on a popular platform. That’s not true. Every day, there are thousands of new artists getting thousands of new followers, likes, and upvotes through organic discovery.

Yes, it takes time to build a following. But it’s not impossible. As they say, “the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, but the second-best time is today.” Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back!

“Our best selling exhibitions have without fail been those where the artist has a decent social media following, posts regularly, and engages in an authentic way with their followers. The exhibitions that have sold the least have been those where the artist isn’t on social media, or is but didn’t use it to promote their show. This has become important enough that I now take an artist’s social media presence into consideration when deciding whose work I will show — something I didn’t do when I first started the gallery.”

— Kelly Heylen, Curator

There are two core pillars to growing on social. Sharing your own original content, and resharing the content of other creatives.

To attract and gather a following, you can’t selfishly promote your own art the entire time. The whole point of social media is to build connections with other people. You need to strike a careful balance between sharing your work and sharing the work of others.

Original Content

  • Photos of your finished art
  • Closeups of your finished art
  • Works In Progress (WIPs)
  • Videos of your artworks
  • Video or photo walkthrough of your studio
  • Photos of your exhibitions (bonus points if you’re with a fan!)
  • How-to’s or tutorials

Other Content

  • Artworks by your favorite artists
  • Art-related blog posts
  • News that affects the art industry
  • Local exhibitions you’re interested in

Getting in early on a social media platform or app

If you get in early on a new social media platform or art-related app, it’s much easier to build and grow a following. For example, early users on our app D Emptyspace (curate virtual galleries of your art in 3D) have a much higher chance of being interviewed, highlighted in our newsletter, and even curated directly in the app’s featured artist section.

By joining an app when they have fewer users, you can get more exposure from the start, quickly gaining traction and rising to the top of popularity charts. Plus your desired username or handle will probably still be available.

Click here to download D Emptyspace now and get in early!

The Most Popular Social Media Platforms

You can find a bunch of social media platforms online. There are no rules with how many platforms you should be active on. However, some have time-saving overlaps where you can share the same content over multiple networks (Twitter and Facebook connect particularly well). If you need help deciding which platform to focus on first, check out this guide.

Here’s a quick overview of the most popular platforms.


By far the most popular platform. To use Facebook effectively, you’ll need to create a “Brand Page”. A brand page is very different from your usual Facebook profile. Features like audience demographics will help you get a better understanding of your fanbase. Check out this comprehensive guide on Brand Pages and learn how to use them.


Twitter is a great way to connect with other artists and curators. Most users on twitter engage with others as a way of forming professional connections, so there’s a high likelihood you can build a good network

The key to success in twitter is to engage authentically with others. It’s appropriate to share personal struggles related to work, and some even garner traction by posting radical viewpoints.

Here’s my ‘no time wasted on Twitter’ game plan to get the attention of curators:

  1. Build a list of 10 curators, dealers or and collectors you think would be interested in your art.
  2. Put the list onto a spreadsheet (here’s a template you can download and use) and identify which curators are active on twitter (active is posting around 2 or 3 times a month at a minimum).
  3. Go through the twitter profiles twice a week (using the spreadsheet) and like, comment, and retweet relevant posts.
  4. Respond to any engagements you get back.
  5. In a few weeks, email the curators with the subject line “We’ve been chatting on twitter” and request to chat about a project together.


Instagram is pretty intuitive for most artists. In a nutshell, you post your art, like and follow the art of others, and leave the occasional comment. The trick is in the hashtags (this symbol: #). By using hashtags effectively, you can attract new followers who’ve never been exposed to your art.

Check out how Daniel Stuelpnagel and Cande Aguilar are using hashtags to promote their work.

#barriopop #nyc #borderartists#latexsuitesandgardens

View this post on Instagram

Summer sketches! #summersketches

A post shared by Daniel Stuelpnagel (@kumokuchuni) on


Here’s a list of hashtags categorized by art style. Next time you post on Instagram, include hashtags in your description along with a brief explanation or context of the photo.


Think of Pinterest like your personal scrapbook. You can build boards, share ‘pins’ with others, and get quite an impressive amount of engagement. An estimated 90% of the users on Pinterest are female — something to keep in mind when deciding what to post.

Read a full guide on selling your art on Pinterest here.

Being active on social media vs having a digital portfolio

Not having a website won’t hurt your chances of being successful on social. A website is where you showcase your portfolio of work and introduce yourself in detail as a professional artist. It isn’t necessarily how you build a following online (although in some cases it helps).

If you’re meeting with curators, having an online portfolio (such as a website) will add to your respectability as an artist. Having a large social media following will imply your exhibition has a high likelihood of becoming a commercial success.

Beware of: getting stuck in the technicalities of building a site, wasting your time, and growing frustrated. An easier option is to build a portfolio on sites like DeviantArt or Tumblr (click here to see a full list).

A note on being popular…

Likes, shares, follows, upvotes, hearts, or any other form of social media isn’t an indication of your talent or success. Social media is a tool you can use to better your career and deepen your connection to the artistic community. Be aware that overusing it can be addictive and damaging to your quality of life.

We suggest you block out time for social media marketing as part of your ‘job’ as an artist rather than constantly checking to see how many likes you got on your latest post.

“Never play to the gallery. Never work for other people in what you do. Always remember that the reason you initially started working was there was something inside yourself that, if you could manifest it, you felt you would understand more about yourself. I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations.”

— David Bowie

Are you struggling with social media?

Leave a comment and we’ll get back to you with some personalized marketing advice!

Download D Emptyspace for iOS:

Android version coming soon!

Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!

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I Bet MoMA Wishes They Had This Gallery Space

I Bet MoMA Wishes They Had This Gallery Space

New York’s MoMA, or Museum of Modern Art, recently reopened after a $450 million renovation. Since then, art writers and critics have used at least $4.5 million worth of ink to share their thoughts. In essence, there are two schools of thought — those who thought the smaller, more intimate MoMA was better, and those who celebrate the added room to display the museum’s impressive (and growing) permanent collection.

At D Emptyspace, we’re not taking sides because we have no problem housing our expanding collection of artwork (being a virtual gallery app and all). If you’re unfamiliar with us, the D Emptyspace app*, you can use it to quickly create virtual galleries using your artwork without the limits of physical space.

So, in celebration of modern art and being free from physical bounds, here are some of the most striking art galleries that artists have curated on D Emptyspace so far.

*on iPhone only, Android on the way!

@fifteensixteen: Acrylic Pour/Resin Finish

“The first 4 are acrylic pours with a resin finish. The last is alcohol ink on Yupo paper I’m just getting into……more to come.”

See Acrylic Pour/Resin Finish on D Emptyspace

@ sheneeses_pieces: Sheneese’s Pieces

“My work explores the relationship between both order and chaos, both fiction and nonfiction all while holding to a sense of pure freedom of expression. Exploring many different and unlimited possibilities of creating art without the rules of boundaries other than the physical boundaries of the canvas.”

See Sheneese’s Pieces on D Emptyspace

@tommyanthonyknudson: UNTITLED

“I have different forms that I pursue when I start to create. Thinking out the box is a simple way to put it.”

See UNTITLED on D Emptyspace

@rachida_art: Mash Up 2

A unique mash up of digital, acrylic and oil paintings

See Mash Up 2 Gallery on D Emptyspace

@varoujanart: Observations

A new series of encaustic paintings completed between January and August of 2019. Varouján Hovakimyan is a visual artist living and creating in Los Angeles, California, USA.

See Observations on D Emptyspace

@riccioart: UNTITLED

“The acrylic added by a resin finish gives his work a stunning visual effect. A deep essence and a hypnotic effect that awaken the mystery emanates from his paintings. Riccio allows you to enter the fantastic world of contemporary, futuristic, impressionist and figurative art.” — Source

See UNTITLED on D Emptyspace

The Surprising Reason Art Giveaways Can Make You Money

The Surprising Reason Art Giveaways Can Make You Money

Whether you’re a designer, a digital artist, a painter, or an artist of any kind, you’ve been asked at least once (probably many more times) to give away your artwork for free, in return for “exposure”.

This wouldn’t be acceptable in any other field, and asking for free work is just plain unethical, right? Well, I recently spoke with two artists who managed to change my mind — at least partially — on this. The key is, if you’re an artist giving away your work, you have to have a strategy and make sure you’re giving it to the right people.

While that statement is deceptively simple, it’s a major challenge for artists to put into action. Who do I give the artwork to? Why is this a good idea? When is it a good idea to give away artwork? And when is it enough? After all, you have to start making money off your artwork at some point!

If you’re struggling with this concept, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone.

Those two successful, full-time artists I spoke to gave answers that were seriously surprising.

“The people that fund charities, the people that help nonprofits, the people that have free time to go to these things, are also the people that support the arts because they have the time and money to be able to do it.

I didn’t think about that at the start. People would say “thank you so much for coming out for our cause” and then in the same breath they’re saying “hey, by the way, I like your art and I want to commission a piece”. I think that’s a great way to get started.” — John Bramblit, read the full interview here.

John Bramblit is a blind visual artist who paints using his sense of touch and “cane skills”. When he started painting, he didn’t have a network of galleries supporting him or any big contacts in the art world. But with each charity event he volunteered for, he got commissions in return.

By giving away something for free, he gained access to people who were interested in the arts AND had the money to pay for it.

He went on in our interview to say that pieces at charity art auctions often sell for prices that far exceed your normal range. While art galleries and collectors are aware of this, it still places a higher value on your work, which you can use to your advantage.

“You have to talk to people! Beyond that, it’s all about self-promotion and putting yourself out there. Set up a portfolio, make postcards with your art and go to your local city hall to request public space. Donate art to benefit nonprofit organizations. Use your art to make a difference! That’s something I’m very passionate about — it’s just a bonus that it also happens to be a great way to promote your work.” — Michael Dergar, read the full interview here.

Michael is devoted to creating equality in art. He regularly donates 50% of his exhibition sales and has founded a charity that helps disabled artists make a living. Like Bramblit, he suggests you donate your art to non-profits. By doing this your artwork will either be auctioned or displayed in a prominent public space raising your profile.

Beyond whether or not a gallery owner ‘likes’ your art, they also want to know that your work has an audience that’s willing to pay for it. At the end of the day, a gallery only has so much wall space — and they have bills to pay. By showing that your art has been bought at auctions or displayed by charities, you also prove that you’re a good investment of time.

So to answer the original question, yes, giving away your art for free can make you money. Especially if you donate it to a worthy cause. It’s a win-win situation and proves that if you go into it with a plan, giving away artwork for exposure really can be worth the investment.

Download D Emptyspace for iOS:

Android version coming soon!

Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Download