Art is a powerful tool. It can not only evoke emotions but can also make something commercial transcend the everyday.
Kelly Beeman’s striking paintings feature stylishly stressed women against a variety of backdrops from the outdoors to well-appointed and intricate rooms. Her work has garnered her a passionate and sizable following of fans, including more than 95,000 followers on Instagram.
Her works have also been featured in high fashion publications such as Vogue China, Vogue Korea, Marie Claire Italia, InStyle and Interview Magazine, and Beeman counts big name designers such as Jonathan Anderson, Tory Burch and Elie Saab as clients.
Beeman first started using Instagram to share her work with friends. But after she shared her work with J.W. Anderson founder Anderson, things began to take off.
Beeman is fascinated by the impact of trends, fashion and appearance in modern culture. She says that while Instagram is a valuable tool, especially for those who want to get their work out to a broader audience, for artists, the important thing to remember is that the work comes first.
Entrepreneur spoke with Beeman to get her take on using Instagram to showcase your work and reach potential clients and fans.
How did you get your start with Instagram?
I started using Instagram in 2013. I was living in Argentina at the time and a very good friend of mine encouraged me to start using it to share my artwork with friends. I had a very small following and posted every so often and then gradually it just started to grow more.
I shared a post with Jonathan Anderson. I had been creating drawings of figures and wanted to clothe them, so I started looking through collections. JWA really stood out [and]the clothes seemed perfect for the figures I was drawing, so I used them. Then I read a little bit about the brand and about Jonathan. So I finished a drawing and posted it to Instagram, tagging him and the brand.
It was the first time that I had really reached out to someone that I admired via Instagram and it occurred to me in that moment I really should be using this more because it’s a great way to connect with people.
I really didn’t expect such a positive reaction, but I liked what I was doing and felt compelled to share it, and thought maybe they might like it too. But I never even thought about potentially working with them — I am not a planner and don’t think that far ahead — so I was very pleasantly surprised and shocked when someone contacted me from the company the next day. Very quickly we started working together — I began making artwork for their offices, and did a portrait of Jonathan for Interview Magazine, and various other projects over the past couple of years.
What is your best advice for other artists who want to use Instagram to highlight their work?
I would say that if you’re an artist sharing your work on Instagram, the most important thing to remember is that your work is always going to be your top priority, not your Instagram. So as long as that’s your focus and you’re concentrating on that, the quality of your content will improve. I think if you are just thinking about this and strategy or making yourself appear a certain way or whatever, you won’t achieve that.
What’s a misconception many people have about Instagram?
Sometimes people feel that their popularity on Instagram implies something about themselves or their talent. But I think that you have to recognize who you are and what your abilities are outside of of social media and be really honest and true to yourself and use it in a way that makes you feel good about yourself.