Posted 29 May 2019

Use your feed as an online portfolio: Helen Parker on social media and self-promotion

The thought of self-promotion can send shivers up many a creative spine. But it doesn’t have to be an altogether frightful affair. With so many ways to represent yourself and your work online, there’s a lot of room to find out what really works for you. According to founder and director of production agency, Everyone, Helen Parker, a few small changes to how you use online platforms can make all the difference. Here, she shares some tips to get you thinking – from committing to a name and maintaining consistency across all channels, and using your Instagram as a curated portfolio space to participating in physical exhibitions, too.

Promoting yourself shouldn’t feel like a daunting task, and at the end of the day your work will always speak for itself, but with so many more ways to present yourself online, showing it in the right places is essential.

Choose a name and stick with it for all promotional purposes
It might sound obvious, this includes your web address, Instagram, Twitter and email. It’s a good idea to Google yourself (this isn’t a joke) before confirming the name you use. Two of my artists share names with famous people – Robert Hunter with a former member of The Grateful Dead and Tom Cole with the US Representative for Oklahoma’s fourth congressional district! Both artists have adapted their names as a result, ensuring they are always easily traceable.

Create an Instagram account
It goes without saying that Instagram is by far the most effective self-promotion tool. It’s also where I have found many of the artists that I now represent (like Cécile Dormeau). Use your feed as an online portfolio and mainly showcase your own work. If you are addicted to selfies and holiday spam – we’re all guilty of it – then it might be worth setting up a separate personal account too!

Use your Instagram as regularly as possible (within reason)
It should feel like your digital sketchbook. People are likely to respond to work that is witty, has an idea, or has social or political commentary. However, don’t feel any pressure to always be making a point; just post stuff that you like and others are likely to like it too.

Make sure you use hashtags, so that you and your work will be searchable. It’s also a good idea to hashtag your name and also words or phrases that link to the content and nature of your work. You can also tag or mention people, or direct message anyone who you’d really like to see it – even brands and clients if you’re feeling bold!

“Your Instagram should feel like your digital scrapbook.”

Make your work really jump out from the page and have a good flow
Try putting different flat colours behind images that were originally created on a white background – you’ll be amazed at the difference this can make. As an example, take a look at how the Everyone Instagram has been curated. You can also give black-and-white line drawings a colour background by reversing the line out as white.

Use editorial commissions as essential personal exposure
The budgets can sometimes be small, but the reach in people seeing your work is worth it. The weekend papers are the obvious choice, but look also to smaller publications too that will be appealing to niche but far reaching audiences in fashion, music, sport or food.

Take part in as many group exhibitions and shows that you can
It’s all promotion at the end of the day, and you will probably meet some lovely people too. Many of the artists I have signed I have discovered at shows (Sam Dunn for instance was part of a fantastic show at KK Outlet; Print Club also put on great shows). Follow the exhibitors on Instagram to be the first to hear about open submissions!

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