Instagram Stories: How to Use them to Promote Your Art

Instagram Stories are an essential tool for any artist who wishes to thrive in the digital age. Our guide will help you use the feature like a pro.

by Chiara Lewis

Instagram Stories are an essential tool for any artist who wishes to thrive in the digital age. According to TechCrunch, in 2019, there are 500 million daily active Instagram story users worldwide (with that number rapidly growing by the minute). Thus, with this feature, any artist can easily promote their brand and artworks. Within the world of social media marketing, among all the social platforms, Instagram is where people engage the most, and it is crucial to have a strategy in place for sharing content on Instagram Stories to gain more followers and to grow a more extensive reach with potential buyers. Any successful artist will have to invest time in creating Instagram Stories to open communication channels with future buyers, build relationships with current clients, and discover and comment on other related content.

Why use an Instagram Story to promote your art?

An artist can use Instagram Stories to promote events, invite individuals to a new exhibition at a gallery, showcase a recent series, sell their work, and most importantly he/she can reach new collectors. Instagram Stories help any artist interact better with their buyers, as well as reach new ones. Although the feature only lasts for 24 hours, everyone who follows an Instagram account will be able to see them, and since the Stories are discoverable, users who don’t follow an account can also access them by following related content, i.e., contemporary artists. An artist, though, can also save the most important stories he/she already posted to a highlight.

Agora highlights
The highlights on Agora Gallery’s Instagram page

A highlight allows anyone who visits an account to view already posted Instagram Stories after the 24 hour period. Highlights can be created and divided by series, exhibitions, etc. To create a highlight click the white circle underneath “Edit profile” on the main page of the account.

Instagram Stories give artists the ability to share exclusive artwork details and ask followers questions through polls, creating direct digital engagement between the artist and the buyer. Once an account hits 10k followers with an Instagram Business account (to get an Instagram business account go to account privacy), it gets automatic access to swipe-up links, which makes it even easier to drive traffic to the account. Swipe-up links allow an account to link a website to an Instagram Story.

Also, Instagram released the Instagram Story ads feature for all business accounts. This option lets an account use targeting and reach capabilities, that way an ad will be shown to a specific group of users who are more likely to buy art, i.e., art collectors, real estate developers, interior designers, curators, museums, etc.

How do you increase your Instagram engagement while promoting your artwork?

Instagram is one of the best places to market any brand online visibly and nicely, to gain a loyal following, and to build a community that supports an artist’s work. To boost an Instagram account’s engagement significantly, an artist should first create an Instagram bio that it is both concise and captivating. Second, an artist should post fun stories while maintaining a scheduled routine to when and why a story is going to be posted. For example, after work-hours are best. Do not forget to add a location or a geolocation sticker to all Instagram stories and to reply to all the DMs received (you never know who could be a potential buyer!). Third, use branded hashtags, then take a look at the analytics of the account, and create an ad for most Instagram Stories to reach a greater audience.

Danny Johananoff Instagram
Agora artist Danny Johananoff grew his Instagram account by posting constantly and engaging with his followers

How do you upload an Instagram Story to an art account?

First, tap the camera button icon in the top left-hand corner of the screen to access the Instagram Stories camera. Then, there is an option to either take a photo or to tap and hold to record a video. To choose a photo from a phone’s library or gallery, swipe up anywhere on the screen. Also, Instagram provides multiple options to create precisely the photo or video wanted to promote and share an artist’s artwork. For example, go live (feature that takes a live video that will be broadcasted on the social media page as one’s recording), record a boomerang (feature that takes a short video, usually 3 seconds), or tap to write (feature that allows after capturing a photo, video, or boomerang, to use Instagram Stories’ editing tools to draw, add text or a sticker, add a filter, or tag people). Lastly, a story can always be deleted by clicking the undo button or saved by clicking the done button before being posted, both in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

Essential: Keep your pages updated with regular posts. Sharing artwork images, event news, or other updates brings in new fans (or “followers”) and keeps your current audience engaged. Even if you haven’t created new artwork recently, you can post about upcoming exhibitions, fairs, and shows, “brag” about awards you’ve received, or share updates about artwork sales.

What apps should artists use to create and curate the best Instagram Stories?

An artist should use the best apps to create and curate the best Instagram Stories. VSCO is a phenomenal app that allows users to edit their photos and videos with various tools and filters. For example, it can sharpen, brighten, clarify, saturate, and contrast photos and videos. Another great app is Unfold. It allows users to create interesting collages with text, filters, and stickers, all with an Instagram Story layout; thus, no cropping is necessary. Lastly, Facetune allows users to blur out backgrounds in photos, as well as define specific aspects or parts of an artwork. Now all an artist has to do is be creative, use an aesthetic photo/video with a meaningful message and never forget that any Instagram Story posted is a direct representation of an artist’s brand and his/her artwork!

Looking to enhance your career and build a presence in New York? Submit your portfolio to us and get the opportunity to present your work to a broad range of national and international art collectors and buyers. Visit our Gallery Representation And Artist Promotion page for more information.

Agora Gallery has invested lots of time and resources in helping artists learn how to promote themselves on Social Media. If you have any specific questions about this or about any question regarding art promotion, let us know in the comments or e-mail us at socialmedia@agora-gallery.com. We’d love to hear from you!


Chiara Lewis was born in New York City and raised in Italy from the age of 3. Surrounded by beauty, her love and appreciation for the arts grew tremendously. Since childhood, Chiara has been fascinated by the universe, the way human knowledge interacts with human curiosity, and the way music defines and relates to our lives, and fuses all of those aspects in her large-scale paintings. She began to express her passion for the Fine Arts through painting and drawing. These interests were cultivated during high school as an AP Art student and further developed at Georgetown University, where she is pursuing a double major in Studio Art and Cultural Anthropology. This summer, Chiara is working with Agora Gallery as a digital marketing intern.

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4 comments

  • questions and comments.
    Hi. I am wondering how to expose my art through whatever means possible”of course” but my dilemma is that I would like to achieve this through means other than myself. What I mean is, I would love to just work. work. work. I’ts what I do. But I need to sell my work to support my life which isn’t sophisticated; only living for it. I don’t want to have to also be the seller. Yes I could talk about my art and yes I could take pictures of it and yes I would love to be on the road showing it, but in all reality I would love to just work on my art as I have for over 50 years.
    So…
    How do I get representation, exposure, recognized and discovered- if I have 0 money but have GREAT art and lots of it?
    I’m pretty sure this is a common thread among artists and I am sure glad we don’t have to try to travel everywhere to try to “find” a gallery but the fact remains; I would rather have the fortune to find someone lucky enough to have a hard working artist and me be lucky enough to have a hard working seller.
    I do realize this would be a dream come true for many of us-after all it worked for Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse, Modigliani and other of the GREAT artists. So dream I shall continue to do.
    I was seeking an answer since you have given me an opportunity to ask one along with a comment.
    I humbly await for a response. And thank you.

    • Hi Martin,

      We understand your struggle and you’d be surprised to see how common it is. There are many artists out there who want to focus on their work and leave the hustle and bustle associated with promotion to other specialists. We also know that the financial matter is important so we recommend starting slowly. Maybe participate in local exhibitions. If you want to go big, you could submit your work for a competition (https://www.nyartcompetitions.com/) and if you are selected, you can show your work in a major gallery.
      Another option is to dedicate a bit of your time to promote your works on social media and build a community. Besides putting your work out there, it’s also very possible to meet other artists who can advise you where to show your work or if there are any grants available.

      Good luck!

  • Hi,
    this is a great Information. Im currently working on my new Insta account and this will be a great support.
    Kind regards from Austria

  • Fantastic! Really informative.
    Thanks.
    GK