Instagram for Illustrators: Here’s How to Make it Work for YOU

As an artist, you can use Instagram to your advantage in your career – but how to make the most of it?


Lucy Mayer from Bright Agency shares her thoughts and offers a little bit of help.

“As I write this, I am thinking about my own account, and have to say, it’s not up to scratch. I do, however look at Instagram accounts everyday, and I see some of the best, and some of the not so good. So for anybody in need of direction and inspiration, here’s some ideas on using Instagram and how to make it show you at your best.


What to post: Your amazing artwork and things about you.
It’s worth taking the time to present things nicely, and Insta really helps with that in terms of filters and the fact that it has a neat frame work already. It’s good to make sure pictures, be they artwork or lifestyle shots, are well framed. Bad examples are when an artist has drawn onto a sketchbook, takes a photo, but the angle is all odd.


How to Post: Design, Palette, balance and content


DESIGN comes into this in quite a big way. If you think of your Instagram as a whole, or if you look at it — is it pleasing to the eye, or a bit of a mess?

Above left is the said bad example, and on the right is a sketch by the brilliant illustrator, Lorna Scobie. The latter is a simple sketch, but it’s framed beautifully, with that brilliant pee and pen detail. The image on the left is poorly framed, at an odd, uncomfortable angle, with a messy background distracting the focus. I guess one way of looking at it, is that your social media platforms (can be) an exhibition of your work. Think of Instagram as being a gallery or a beautiful room, exhibiting you and your art.


For the sake of this blog I’ve volunteered my own Insta account to set a bad example and show how not to use Instagram (!)


Below is a snapshot of my somewhat messy Instagram feed: There are some interesting lifestyle pics in there, coupled with some terrible paintings I did, and a picture I posted twice (quite clearly no idea) and other bits and bobs. It’s not the absolute worst in terms of palette, but it could look so much better.


PALETTE is something to be aware of too, and just like a painting, you want the viewer to be drawn around the whole image. So when you click onto an Insta feed, it needs to catch your eye. It’s like the use of triangles in fine art: Triangles are used in paintings to get the observer to follow solid objects and lead them where the artist wants them to go. Constable was very good at this.


Below are examples of Instagram feeds that are consistent, with an incredible colour palette: from the top, Jane NewlandRichard Jones and Vivien Mildenberger.

BALANCE: A visual lifestyle gallery can also work really well — people who love your work might be interested in your own interests and hobbies. It really needn’t be all static images of artwork. But again, remember that you are sharing photos that everyone can see. So save the best ones for Instagram. Again, think about how you create an illustration for a book, or a card design. It’s about framing, and point of interest.

Good examples of artists who have an account where life and art mix are: Jon Klassen (23.4k followers); Carson Ellis (42.3k followers); David Litchfield (4,302 followers); Benji Davies (22k followers).

Jon Klassen’s account featuring artwork and beautiful photography.


FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT: Instagram can be a way of sharing how you stand on world views, but remember, everyone is watching. A really fantastic example of someone with a strong and moral political stance is Oliver Jeffers. He has a massive following (110k followers) and he writes intelligently and accompanies his thoughts and views with incredible artwork and photography.

And importantly – remember your name! When you set up your account, have a think about your name. If you are not using your own name, whatever you do use needs to be easy to remember and not too tricky to find.


Lastly, keep posting — keep people interested and you are sure to gain a fantastic following.”


Follow Lucy at @luuuucymayer

This article is adapted with permission from Bright. Follow Bright’s Instagram to find out more!

23rd November 2017

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