“How do you get people to notice your artwork online?”
The Internet is the best thing that ever happened to visual artists in terms of getting their work out and seen by a large audience. I honestly don’t know how emerging artists got noticed before the internet came along, it must have been hideously difficult to have been limited to print media. One of the major advantages about the internet is that it’s all in your hands, waiting for you to take the initiative to make things happen.
I wish I could tell you to just make amazing artwork and that would be enough to get your work noticed online. Unfortunately, whether or not you get noticed often times has little to do with the quality of the artwork. I know a number of amazing artists with incredibly compelling work that goes unnoticed online, and I also see a lot of crappy, gimmicky art that gets posted all over the internet. It can be a hit-or-miss situation and you can never predict what kind of images will catch on. I have one drawing of mine (see below) that has been reblogged over 50,000 times on Tumblr, while many of my other works have gone relatively unnoticed on the same site.
Figure Study, lithographic rubbing ink, Clara Lieu
The best thing you can do is position yourself in as many places as possible where you can get noticed. Be prepared for this to be an enormous job, and don’t underestimate how time consuming this process can become. I frequently find myself devoting more time to marketing and promotion that on making the actual artwork. Some of you may find that depressing, but it’s the reality of being an artist. After all, like the tree that falls in the woods, does the artwork exist if no one sees it?
There are several concrete actions you can take to get your artwork seen by a broader audience online:
1) Be on several social media sites
I now have my artwork on the following sites: WordPress, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. All of these sites are free, and each one provides a slightly different kind of audience. Experiment with each site and see which one gets you the results you’re looking for. In my experience, the most important ones to have are a main website (preferably with your name as the domain name), a blog, and Facebook.
2) Post on a consistent basis
This is hands down the number one most important aspect of getting noticed online; it doesn’t matter how many sites you’re on if you’re not active. People only follow websites that have strong, consistent activity. You will never build a loyal audience if you don’t supply new content. Make a point of posting consistently; there is no point to having a blog if you only post once every five months. On the other hand, don’t post three times a day, your audience will quickly get annoyed from being bombarded with your posts. When you write online, don’t be whiny, self-deprecating, or self-indulgent in your writing. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty good description of what most artist blogs are. Be the exception and write about things in a professional, engaging manner about meaningful topics that will be of interest.
If someone has taken the time to comment on your work, take the time to reply. Interaction is key to sustaining a following. Readers are more likely to frequent your sites if they see that you are responsive to their comments and questions.
3) Curate what you post
Always represent yourself in the best manner possible, it doesn’t matter whether you’re showing your work on an obscure website or on the New York Times. Once you’ve posted your work online, it’s pretty much there forever, and is therefore accessible to anyone who might want to repost the work elsewhere. This is not to say that you shouldn’t show works in progress or sketches, as the pieces that demonstrate your creative process can be highly engaging to your audience. Many readers enjoy seeing a behind-the-scenes view of an artist’s process. Curate your work and focus on images that will demonstrate some aspect of your creative process.
4) Shoot excellent photographs of your artwork
This may seem obvious, and yet when I browse art portfolio sites, I can say that for many people it is not obvious. Invest the time to shoot professional, high caliber photographs that represent the artwork accurately. This means using a high quality camera, (a smart phone is not good enough) having your artwork properly lit, making sure the photograph is in focus, etc. Invest the time to correct the images in Photoshop by adjusting the contrast, brightness, color, cropping, etc. You can read this article I wrote about how to photograph your artwork.
5) Submit your work to other sites
There are now many online publications that do features on visual artists. Some online publications I’ve submitted my work to have included Lost at E Minor, This is Colossal, Hyperallergic, Juxtapoz magazine, and Artist a Day. The major advantage of getting featured on one of these sites is you get exposure to a new audience that is already established by the publication.
6) Do interviews
Getting featured in an interview can be a great way to draw attention to your work. Don’t wait for people to come to you; take the initiative to contact online art and culture publications asking if they would be interested. The worst thing they can say is no, so you have absolutely nothing to lose by inquiring. Half of the interviews I’ve done recently were because I approached the publication myself.
ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to art education for people of all ages and means.
Be notified of our early 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.
Portfolio Video Critiques for Art Students & Artists
Prof Clara Lieu offers 30 minute video critiques on 8-20 artworks for students working on a portfolio for art school admission, and for artists of any age working on their artwork. Watch a sample below, and get more info here.
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories, and post select submissions on our Instagram and other sites throughout the month. Use #artprofwip and Prof Clara Lieu might just stop by and give you some feedback! We have a special prize for art teachers who assign the Art Dare to one of their classes. More info is here.
Ask the Art Prof Live was a weekly live video broadcast on our Facebook page where Prof Clara Lieu provided professional advice for art students and professional artists. Ask the Art Prof began as a written column in 2013 and was featured in the Huffington Post from 2013-2015. See the full archive of columns here. Prof Lieu discussed being an artist today, art technique & materials, work strategies for artists, career advice, teaching art, and more.
Youtube Playlist: Video Critiques on Art School Admissions Portfolios
Youtube Playlist: How to Draw a Portrait with Charcoal and Cross-Hatching
Youtube Playlist: Crit Quickies, 1 min. critiques on artworks
“How do you know when your artwork is good enough to show to the world?”
“When is it too early to start promoting your work on the Internet?”
“How do you retain the integrity of your artwork while promoting it?”
“How do you get to the top of the art world?”
“How can I get into art exhibitions?”
“Is the Internet necessary to being a successful artist?”