How To Exhibit Your Art Online For Free (Or Very Little!)
Showcasing Your Art: A Guide to Free Online Platforms by UK artist and e-commerce entrepreneur Kerwin Blackburn
In the digital age, showcasing your artwork online has become a crucial aspect of being an artist. When done effectively, building a strong online presence can be an efficient and scalable way for any artist or aspiring creative to accelerate their career and achieve their artistic dreams.
Not only can building your online art presence expose your creations to a global audience, but it also provides a platform for networking, collaboration, and even potential monetisation.
While navigating the internet and knowing how exactly to showcase your art online can be a daunting challenge, the good news is that you don’t have to break the bank to get your art seen.
Artists should showcase their art online for global exposure and networking. Free platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, DeviantArt and Saatchi Art offer visibility. Engaging with the art community, blogging, and creating website enhance online presence. Monetise your work by selling prints & merch.
In this guide, as a UK artist and e-commerce entrepreneur I’ll explore various free and budget-friendly platforms where artists can showcase their work and build a thriving online presence. I used some of these very platforms to build my own art brand, By Kerwin, through which I have sold hundreds of pieces of artwork across the globe.
Read on to get started on building, or to help you boost, your online art presence.
Why Should Artists Showcase Their Work Online?
Artists should showcase their art online for global exposure and networking. Free platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, DeviantArt and Saatchi Art offer visibility. Engaging with the art community, using blogging sites, and creating a personal website enhance online presence. Monetise through selling prints, accepting commissions, or crowdfunding for added opportunities.
In the digital era, showcasing your art online is not just a luxury but a necessity for artists. It opens the door to a global audience, allowing your creativity to transcend geographical boundaries. Online platforms provide unparalleled opportunities for exposure, connecting with fellow artists, and establishing a digital portfolio. Many of these platforms can be utilised for free.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or an emerging talent, the virtual stage offers a dynamic canvas to share your unique perspective and build a thriving artistic community. Explore why artists should embrace the online realm and discover the myriad ways to elevate their work in the vast landscape of the internet.
I. Popular Free Platforms for Art Display
Instagram, the visual-centric social media powerhouse, has become a go-to platform for artists worldwide. Setting up your artist profile is a breeze, but the real magic lies in the strategic use of features. Utilise hashtags to make your art discoverable, engage with the vibrant art community, and explore the potential of Instagram Stories and Reels for dynamic content that keeps your audience hooked.
More than just a place for recipes and home decor ideas, Pinterest is a visual discovery engine that artists can leverage to organise and display their work. Create boards to categorise your art, optimise descriptions with keywords for enhanced discoverability, and don’t overlook the power of collaboration. Engaging with other artists and joining group boards can significantly broaden your reach.
DeviantArt, a long-standing platform in the art community, offers artists a space to showcase their portfolios. Take the time to set up a comprehensive artist profile, participate in groups and communities relevant to your style, and explore the option of offering prints and merchandise directly through the platform.
D. Saatchi Art
Saatchi Art bills itself as the world’s leading online gallery and platform for artists to showcase and sell their work, whether in original or print form. It is free to set up your profile and artist’s page and to add your work and bio. Anyone around the world can then discover your art on here and purchase your work.
I set my Saatchi Art account up early on into my By Kerwin journey, to give me helpful online exposure and to help with SEO. I sold a few prints through this platform early on (Saatchi Art then take 35% commission on any artwork sold, which is pretty high), which they handle completely – I didn’t have to do anything apart from receive my funds.
While there is limited flexibility around the pricing of your work on there and the types of prints you can offer – and I found sales were actually very few and far between – Saatchi Art is still a good starting point for aspiring artists.
These platforms not only allow you to display your art for free but also provide opportunities for interaction and engagement with a diverse audience. In the next section, we’ll delve into niche platforms tailored for specific art forms.
II. Niche Platforms for Specific Art Forms
Behance caters primarily to graphic designers and digital artists, providing a polished platform for showcasing portfolios and projects. Take advantage of this professional network by creating a compelling artist profile, showcasing your best work, and actively participating in the community. Behance is an excellent place to connect with industry professionals and potential clients.
For both digital and traditional artists, ArtStation is a powerhouse for creating stunning portfolios. The platform encourages artists to showcase their work in a visually appealing manner. Beyond this, participating in challenges and contests can elevate your visibility within the art community and even catch the eye of industry leaders.
Dribbble is a haven for designers and illustrators, allowing them to showcase their work in a “shot” format. The emphasis here is on the visual impact, making it an ideal space for those looking to display snippets of their creative process. Engage with the Dribbble community by sharing your shots and exploring the work of fellow designers and illustrators.
These niche platforms offer a more targeted approach, connecting you with like-minded artists and potential collaborators. In the following section, we’ll explore broader avenues for building your online presence, including blogging platforms, YouTube, and the importance of a personal website.
III. Building Your Online Presence
A. Blogging Platforms
While visual content is crucial for artists, don’t underestimate the power of words. Blogging platforms like Medium and WordPress provide an opportunity to share more about your artistic process.
Consider creating engaging posts that offer insights into your creative journey, share behind-the-scenes content, and discuss the inspiration behind your artwork. This not only adds a personal touch but also helps you connect with a broader audience.
(TIP: My own website is a WordPress site – I moved onto this platform in late 2022 to enable me to launch my blog section.)
Video content has become increasingly popular, and YouTube is an excellent platform for artists to showcase their work in a dynamic way. Create art tutorials, time-lapse videos, or even vlogs about your artistic journey.
Engage with your audience through comments and consider collaborations with other artists. YouTube’s visual nature allows you to build a strong community around your art.
C. Building a Personal Website
While social media platforms are great for exposure, having a personal website acts as a centralised hub for your art. It provides a professional image and allows you to curate a diverse portfolio.
Include a bio, contact information, and links to your social media accounts. Having a website not only showcases your commitment to your craft but also makes it easier for potential clients or collaborators to find and reach out to you.
My Own Art Website – www.bykerwin.com
My own website, www.bykerwin.com, is also an online shop (powered by WooCommerce to be precise, which is the shop function of WordPress) – setting up a shop function on your website is easy in the modern era. For the first couple of years I used BigCartel to host my website and online shop – this is a very good and easy template-based shop website option for artists.
I migrated from BigCartel to WordPress/WooCommerce in order to start my blog – BigCartel doesn’t allow you to add blog-style pages, so it has limited reach. But it’s still a good starting point for new artists. BigCartel subscription starts at $9.99 per month, with which you can list 50 products. You can register your own website domain from GoDaddy for $10.99 per year, to start building your professional presence.
Building your online presence involves diversifying your content across different platforms. In the next section, we’ll explore ways to engage with the art community, fostering connections and expanding your reach.
IV. Engaging with the Art Community
A. Commenting and Interacting
Don’t be a passive observer on these platforms – actively engage with the art community. Comment on the work of fellow artists, share your thoughts, and build connections. Genuine interactions not only contribute to a supportive online environment but also increase the visibility of your own work. Remember, art is a conversation, and participating in it can significantly boost your online presence.
B. Joining Forums and Online Communities
Beyond social media, there are various forums and online communities dedicated to artists. Platforms like Reddit and specialised art forums offer spaces to discuss techniques, seek advice, and share your work. Joining these communities allows you to tap into a wealth of knowledge, gain feedback on your art, and make valuable connections with artists who share similar interests.
C. Participating in Art Challenges and Collaborations
Art challenges, where artists create work based on a specific theme or prompt, are prevalent on many platforms. Participating in these challenges not only provides a creative spark but also exposes your work to a wider audience, especially if the challenge involves a hashtag. Additionally, consider collaborations with other artists. This cross-pollination of audiences can lead to new followers and potential partnerships.
Engaging with the art community is a two-way street. As you contribute to discussions, seek feedback, and collaborate, you’ll find your online presence growing organically. In the following section, we’ll explore how to monetise your art on these free platforms.
V. Monetising Your Art on Free Platforms
A. Selling Prints and Merchandise
Many free art platforms offer the option to monetise your creations by selling prints and merchandise. Platforms like DeviantArt and Instagram allow you to showcase your art and offer prints for sale. Invest time in creating high-quality images of your artwork and set reasonable prices to make your prints accessible to a wider audience. Additionally, consider expanding into merchandise such as homeware, stickers, clothing, or digital downloads.
If you have your own website and online shop (which you really should be aspiring to – as discussed above), you can sell your prints and merchandise through your own website. Meaning no more commissions to pay to hosting platforms. How exciting would that be?!
B. Accepting Commissions
Once you’ve established a presence on art platforms, you may start receiving inquiries for commissions. Whether it’s creating custom illustrations, portraits, or design work, commissions provide a direct way to monetise your skills. Clearly outline your commission guidelines, pricing, and turnaround times to ensure a smooth process for both you and your clients.
C. Crowdfunding and Patronage Options
Explore crowdfunding platforms like Patreon or Ko-fi as additional avenues for income. These platforms allow your fans to support you through small donations or monthly subscriptions.
In return, you can offer exclusive content, behind-the-scenes glimpses, or personalised artworks. Building a loyal fan base through crowdfunding not only provides financial support but also creates a community invested in your artistic journey.
Monetising your art on free platforms requires a strategic approach. Balancing the promotion of your work with opportunities for financial support ensures sustainability in the long run. In the concluding section, we’ll recap key points and emphasise the importance of consistency and engagement in building a successful online presence.
In the expansive world of online art, showcasing your creations for free or with minimal investment is not only possible but can be highly rewarding. As we’ve explored various platforms and strategies, it’s essential to recap the key points and reinforce the principles that contribute to a successful online presence.
A. Recap of Key Points
Diversify Your Platforms: Utilise a combination of mainstream and niche platforms to maximise your reach.
Engage Actively: Comment, interact, and participate in challenges to foster connections within the art community.
Build a Central Hub: A personal website acts as a professional portfolio and makes it easier for interested parties to find you.
Monetise Strategically: Explore options like selling prints, accepting commissions, and engaging with crowdfunding platforms.
B. Consistency and Engagement
Consistency is the key to maintaining a thriving online presence. Regularly update your profiles with new artwork, engage with your audience, and participate in discussions. Building a community around your art takes time, so be patient and persistent in your efforts.
C. Your Artistic Journey Matters
Remember that your online presence is not just about showcasing your art; it’s a window into your artistic journey. Share your process, your inspirations, and your challenges. Authenticity resonates with audiences and fosters a deeper connection.
In conclusion, getting your art seen online for free or with minimal investment is an achievable goal. By leveraging the power of social media, niche platforms, and strategic monetisation, you can create a digital space that not only showcases your talent but also provides opportunities for growth, collaboration, and financial support.
Start by implementing these strategies, adapt them to your unique style and goals, and watch as your online presence flourishes, bringing your art to a wider and more appreciative audience. Contact me if you’d like any further advice about getting started online as an artist.
Which is the most helpful tip in this blog post about building your online art presence? I’d love to hear from you
Explore my full range of Jackson Pollock-inspired music paintings and prints in my online shop, www.bykerwin.com.
My full range of Jackson Pollock-inspired acrylic paintings can be viewed at www.bykerwin.com – the originals and prints of these are available to purchase, with worldwide delivery. You can follow my art progress on Instagram and Facebook.