The Secret To Selling Art 2017


the secret to selling art 2017 a master class in design 

The secret to selling your art in 2017

I have always loved art ever since I could hold a crayon. Apparently I was one of those children who found it funny to adjust the visuals of newly hung wallpaper by daubing something over it usually by picking up a permanent marker. I don't remember doing this, but for many years my parents kept reminding me just how much new wallpaper cost. 

I do remember drawing an old BSA motorcycle on the back of a leather chair though, and I seem to remember that I was about six or seven. I remember it plain as day. Again I did this with a permanent marker. 

I was obsessed with leaflets too. I remember about the same time going to boat and caravan exhibitions each year in Birmingham at the National Exhibition Centre and my parents would end up transporting dozens of carrier bags packed full of leaflets picked up from every exhibitor at the show. So those are the few things that probably got me fascinated in the art world, and for the past 30-ish years after leaving school I have been doodling, designing, painting, and generally trying to be as creative as possible. 

The thing is I even have some of those leaflets I collected during the 70's and 80's and often take a look at them. Everything from marine engines to tents, and my how tents have changed since 1976. 

It was inevitable that I would try and follow a career in the arts, although I still have a very non-art related day job too, but when I started selling my work at the age of 16, no one told me that being an independent artist was going to be difficult. In fact, they just advised me to get a real job. 

I wasn't until around a decade or so ago, blissfully unaware that to be an independent artist meant that you also had to be a marketing guru, advertising executive, CEO, Director, Producer, accountant, chief cook and bottle washer, and a cleaner, if you want to go it alone and sell your work. Modern day independent visual artists are some of the most entrepreneurial people you will ever meet. They have to be skilled in a range of things that go together with making a living from your art, except nobody really tells you before you start. I'm only 30 something years in, so I'm still learning. 

It's no wonder at all that Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime,  Red Vineyard at Arles. This painting now resides at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. The rest of Van Gogh's more than 900 paintings were not sold or made famous until after his death. The icing on the cake was that this guy didn't even have the internet to help him sell anything and anyone who relies on selling through print on demand sites will know that promoting your own work is difficult even with the interweb. On the upside, anyone who has already sold two or more works is arguably more successful than Vincent was when he was alive. #StayPositiveFolks

The internet changed everything for artists. On one hand it removed some of the gatekeepers of the art world, on the other hand it not only gave millions of new artists an opportunity to get their work seen, it also meant that those artists had to learn new skills once carried out by the gatekeepers. 

Many of you probably rely on some form of electronic communication to build collector databases, be it email, newsletters or social-media posts. But how many times do you send something out only to get zero return? If you don't get many you are not alone and you need to read on. 

I receive many newsletters via email and whilst some are really good, others are really bad. The whole idea of sending out a newsletter to your fans and collectors could be to keep them informed about what you are working on, or to continue to engage with your collector or fan base, or ultimately it is a way to promote your work and hopefully get sales. Well that at least should be the plan.

So this week we will be taking a look at good design principles which will help you convert those who redirect your current offering to the trash bin and turn those same people into buyers of your work. We will also be having a look at how you can tidy up your social media posts and hopefully get a few new likes, loves, and wows.

A good newsletter will at least get read, a great newsletter on the other hand will engage your audience and will excite them enough to answer whatever your call to action is.

The call to action is a term that is often used to describe a way of getting people to do something online. Social-media posts with a clear call to action are a proven way to get people to interact more.

Often simple things like asking people to share your post is a call to action, generally you have to tell people what you want them to do because all too often, we are all guilty of being overly subtle when it comes to asking anything of anyone. In the art world, honestly I have found that artists love helping other artists, it is the most wonderful business to be in because artists are beautiful people. Well my friends, followers, and occasional stalkers are anyway. 

I want you to share this post. Right there, is a call to action and it will be interesting to see how many of you actually do. Newsletter calls to action are really no different to online calls to action, except that not too many people actually add a call to action, or at least they do not do this well when they send out a newsletter.

Everyone expects a call to action when using social-media and whenever people sign up to newsletters they expect a call to action too, yet so many people bury the call to action deep within the content because the sender feels a little guilty about giving the reader a prod. Readers, viewers, buyers, and collectors need a prod occasionally. Stop being so shy because I know you are not. 

There are many resources online which will give you a few pointers about online calls to action, many of them will suggest using what they term as “action” words. Sign up now for free access to my eBook, or click here to get a code for a massive discount, or don’t miss out on your chance to, is another popular term used as a call to action utilising action words.

Many calls to action also create a sense of urgency but this is often a case of the boy who cried wolf. If you have offers running every week there really is no point in creating a sense of urgency. In the UK we have many furniture shops who advertise on TV, and every week it seems that the sale ends this Sunday only to be replaced on Monday with new seasonal sale.

For a few years I really thought that one of those furniture shops who advertises all of the time was actually called Sale Ends on Sunday, when it actual fact it was called DFS.

People get used to offers and this presents you with a few issues when you constantly run them. Firstly it loses the urgency you are trying to convey because people get to know that you will have another offer running this time next week.

Secondly if you are constantly offering heavy discounts on your art people are more likely to wait until an offer becomes available for a piece of art they particularly like. I made this mistake a few years ago when I first joined Fine Art America. Every weekend I would offer three new works at a reduced price and because at the time I hadn’t got a portfolio uploaded that was anywhere near as big as it is today, people would know that the offer would return in a few weeks.

The upshot of this was that it really hampered my full price sales. People were buying the art when it was on discount and just waiting a few weeks for another offer and the same piece of art. Eventually everyone who wanted to purchase that particular piece had done so for around 50% less. If you continue to do this week after week, sales eventually dry up no matter what the offer, and you might as well just reduce the price of your art to start with.

If you want to create a real sense of urgency a better way to do it is to not run too many offers each year, and then make them a little special or tie them in with specific life events or holidays. If you are only discounting by the cost of a Starbucks it is unlikely to make a difference to people who really want your art, offers have to hold some value.

Thirdly there is a more serious issue around offering art at really low prices and it is an issue that affects the art market in general. It devalues what you do and it devalues art in general.

Even today in the economic mess the world is in, the art market is still relatively buoyant. If people who collect art and have the means to continue doing so they will buy it if they like it, and no matter what the art looks like there will be someone in the world who likes it as much as you do, or likes it because it was made by you.

The final issue is that is devalues your work in general. This is a real problem for collectors who paid top dollar for your work. The moment it gets put on sale for $3 instead of $300, those collectors will not only feel duped, you have essentially just set the value of your future work to $3.

If the collectors were hoping to sell on your work in the future, that value comes down too. Many collectors buy to invest, if the investment is guaranteed to drop they will stop investing.

I think the moral of this is that sometimes the right strategy even if you are not selling a lot of work is to actually increase prices even if it is only a few percent per year. If collectors see prices of your work increasing they feel as if they really did grab a bargain maybe at the start of your career by buying an early work and they are much more likely to remain as collectors. This also creates a sense of urgency because new collectors will join in knowing that your work will cost more next year too. In summary, this is business as well as art.


So for our newsletter we know that creating a sense of urgency can work but only if it is not abused, and that you really need to tell people what you want them to do, and you will need to convince them to do it. We will come on to that last bit later.

However, there are very few differences between a newsletter and a social-media post. Think back a few minutes to the time you were on Facebook. How many posts did you actually skip on your timeline, and how many emails did you delete when you last took a look at your inbox?

Chances are that there were more than a few because you were looking out for the names of the key people you follow or know. If you stopped to read every post and email you wouldn’t have a spare minute in the day.

This essentially means that your social-media posts really have to stand out amongst so many others and they have to compete with the key people your readers and followers are following. Your emails shouldn’t make people swipe left or click on delete either.

A strong call to action, maybe a sense of urgency if you have a very limited time offer, are two methods you need to include, but you also want it to stand out above all of the other emails and social-media posts too.

Images are vital when you are selling anything and even more so when you are an artist. It is said that humans process images thousands of times quicker than they do words and I believe it is true. If an image grabs my attention I am much more likely to read on, if it is just text, it depends on just how much time I have and usually it is very little.

You can use images to reinforce your call to action because if you don’t manage to stop someone scrolling past or making them want to read the email in a sea of hundreds of other emails, then you really aren’t grabbing their attention at all and it becomes a fruitless exercise which may have already cost you hours to prepare. This is where we start having to learn the principles of good design.

Number one on any design list is consistency. I still see a few accounts from some people when especially across multiple social-media channels there is no consistency in design.

If you run perhaps a website, a blog, and have a couple of social media accounts, plus your online stores, you and your brand need to be instantly identifiable. There is no mistaking accounts such as Nike, their accounts all have the Nike swoosh logo and you know that whichever platform you are viewing their posts on there is a consistency in the layout and design even if the actual content is slightly different.

On Twitter they may post videos with a 140-characters of text, on Instagram they will be using the same video or will be posting arty photographs of their products or the people using them, and on Facebook they will be posting videos and the photos will more than likely be in a different aspect ratio. There is consistency in that the key optics must stay the same but maybe the format is slightly different.

One of the biggest problems for many of us is time. We tend to gravitate towards one social-media platform and that is where we hang out. Usually it’s Facebook in the art world, and we see the other platforms as not quite so relevant.

That will be the second mistake. We create a banner for Facebook and on Twitter we either use the same banner which presents at a different size, cropping the image in the process and losing part of it, and on Twitter our profile photo is a bird. If you are engaging with any social-media platform you need to get the basics right straight from the off. Keep everything consistent even if you have to resize or reproduce images to suit alternative size layouts.

Same with emails. You need something that identifies you and your brand. Having a clear logo which identifies either who you are as a person or who you are as a brand is certainly something you should consider. When you have a logo, use the same logo across all of your social-media channels and within your emails.

Your logo doesn’t have to be the traditional kind of logo. It could be a profile banner which says what you do and how people can engage, and maybe a call to action too.

First impressions are the most important and before you start your rebranding or any new first-time branding in some cases, consider who your audience is. Your newsletter along with your social media posts should be aimed specifically at those people.

If you already send out emails do they actually generate leads and sales, and if they do, do you follow them up? So many people send out a newsletter which says “I have new work which I want you to buy”, and then they never follow up.

They might use many words to ask the reader to buy and in most instances the “I have new work which I want you to buy” becomes lost in what the industry calls waffle.

If this is your current approach and it works, well done you are special. But if this is what you already do and you are not getting the leads and sales, you will stand more of a chance of “I have new work which I want you to buy” working by just stating “I have new work which I want you to buy”. Except I doubt that will work because you haven’t convinced them that they should buy your work. You also need to tell them why they need to buy the work.

Moving aside from the social-media posts, email newsletters are a golden opportunity for you to get the attention of the reader more often than a social-media post. People do check social-media more frequently than ever, but most people check their emails even more.

Out of every ten emails I receive after signing up to email lists, I delete and unsubscribe on average to nine of them. They either come too frequently, or they are just not relevant, and I include some of the big names and brands in both respects.

Remember you are an artist so why do you send out poorly designed emails? This reflects on you even if it is subconsciously.

First thing to do is to make sure the content is relevant to your audience. Have a think about what you would really want from an email. It could be an exclusive offer for signing up, or it could be access to free knowledge, or it could be that your buyers love your work so much that they want to be the first to own a piece of your artwork?

You need to grab attention in either social media posts or emails and images are a great way to do this.

design an email newsletter campaign  

Many images used in email campaigns are the same images used in other campaigns and they usually come from free stock image sites. If you have to use these images then try to at least make them more relevant by both changing the text or get the camera out and take your own photographs which will offer some uniqueness.

When using images remember that people now also view emails on mobile devices such as phones which might not render the images as you want them to appear. Use a maximum of two images in an email because you need to avoid clutter, and you also need to be conscious of the bandwidth available to the reader. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting for images to load and some people will have turned receiving images off in their email settings.


Have you ever received an email with so many text styles it looks like a dictionary of fonts? Never use more than three different text styles and try to at least keep some consistency between the font choices. Going from Arial to Comic Sans for example is a really bad idea because you know I detest Comic Sans, and a lot of other people do too.

You will want to make the email look appealing and just because you shouldn’t use Comic Sans next to Arial Narrow doesn’t mean that you have to be boring. Use contrast to distinguish separate parts of the email structure.

Use something like Arial Bold for headlines, and Arial for the text of the body. You can also enlarge your images or utilise drop-caps to add further interest.

White space is also important. Having plenty of white space will help to keep the email clean and uncluttered. Using extra wide margins or gutters to break up areas of dense text because this allows much more information to be absorbed quickly.

“You might want to utilise pull quotes too!” And centre them on the page.

Remember that when you are sending emails as opposed to posting on social-media, you have a choice of font styles more akin to what could be found in a book. It’s the little details like this which can be used to convey a different kind of message.

Classic Serif and Sans Serif fonts are usually the best choices but make sure you avoid decorative fonts in emails which are part of the text. The best types of fonts to use are the ones that do not have extremes of height or width. Unless you are writing specifically to a graphic designer, most people will not know exactly which font you have used, so keep them simple but use contrast smartly.

When it comes to text in emails size matters. Ideally stick to between 10 and 14 point sizes, although your headlines can be slightly bigger. If you plan on creating only short pieces of text you can reduce the font size.

You also need to make sure the layout is clean and you can do this by separating the four sections of your email, the header, text body, your call to action, and your footer. Whist this might seem obvious, it’s not always the case. Some emails become so cluttered and there is no split between the sections which have something important to convey.

In the example above you will see how I prepared an email newsletter using three different styles of text which not only makes it easier to read, but also it leads to a big reveal and a call to action.
There is really no right way and no wrong way in graphic design. Essentially it only comes down to two things, effective communication and non-effective communication.

When it comes to those occasional times when you need to use all caps, (NASA, RSVP, PTO), never use decorative fonts at all because they simply don’t work aside from some specific things which utilise an Olde English type font for a specific reason. Generally, they just don’t work but there are a couple of exceptions to that rule.

If you do need to use all caps make sure they are used in things like short headlines, just as I do with each section of this blog to introduce the next section. This gives an appearance of authority and not one of shouting which is usually associated with the use of all caps. It allows the reader to find the next relevant section or to come back later and continue reading.

Mastheads, company names, artwork titles on advertising or other things which serve as embellishments to the message you wish to convey are possibly the only other reasons you will come across for using an all-caps style, and remember that kerning becomes a particular problem with some fonts when two words appear together. Select your font with care, or just go with something simple such as Arial.

What occasionally works is when you produce a piece of advertising for your artwork much as I have done in the example below. You can see I have gone against even my own advice here and used decorative lettering in all caps to communicate the artwork title. What I did was test out different decorative fonts and matched them with the artwork. Again, it comes down to either good communication or no communication and it really is about testing things out and seeing if they work.

New York by Mark TaylorWhen you are creating images to be used in email or on social-media posts you do have an opportunity to add in some relevant text. Again you will see in the example above that both of my primary sites have been identified, the title of the artwork, and the artwork itself. There is still plenty of white space available so that it doesn’t look overly cluttered.

I purposely left out this site because the focus of these adverts is to get readers to visit both my Fine Art America and Pixels site and the call to action is simply to visit those sites. The sales are then made from those sites where hopefully the description and data tags accompanying the artwork will do the rest.

Sometimes readers need more than a slight prod to spring them into action. These are called directional cues and can be used to guide the reader in to almost a funnel where the only thing left is for them to do is carry out the call to action.

Directional cues are like witchcraft. Essentially they are by their very nature subtle (not always) pointers which explicitly guide you to an action. Usually arrows and lines are used, but more subtly a person staring towards a particular action can have the same effect. If you have never noticed some of these subtler advertising methods, you will start to look for them now.

Directional cues are actually hidden persuasions which have been used by advertising agencies since the beginning of time, and it works. The job of an advertising agency is to make you buy the things they get paid to advertise and they do this by taking advantage of our vulnerabilities as humans.

directional cues in advertising  

Humanising a product is one of the many ways used in something called anthropomorphism. The more human a product or service is, the more we feel connected to it. Go and take a look at an advert for Heineken beer and you will notice a slight curvature of the e’s. They are slanted to give the appearance of a smiling face, and that is deliberate. Being direct doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have to be subtle. In the example above I inserted a profile photo, and that's rare because I don't like being photographed, I also added the word human, and placed a directional cue to my call to action which is to like my page. You can like my page here. Please do, I need the followers. 

When people are used in adverts they are usually selected based on a couple of specific criteria. One of those is being able to recognise someone, and another is to make sure that the person being used in the advert has a face which we automatically feel drawn to and therefore trust.


Going back to running those offers, sites such as Fine Art America will allow you to offer discounts on limited time promotions. You can make up to twenty-five pieces of each work available and chances are that you will at least offer 10, or 25. None of those numbers give people a feeling of missing out, particularly when there are 25 pieces available. There is no sense of urgency. So select one piece only. Don't worry that you might miss twenty-four other sales, you'll only mss out if your art is very expensive usually or if you usually sell all twenty-five pieces, or you are now discounting it by a huge amount. 

This introduces something that the advertising agencies like to call the scarcity factor. It is a tactic used on some websites where you will find that only one item remains at this price. Essentially people react to this because they feel that their ability to purchase at this price and therefore their freedom of choice hinges on making a quick decision to buy.

Another methodology that is often used is to tap into our insecurities. No matter what the advertising method, hearing an endorsement of a product or service from someone you know is more likely to sway your decision to buy. The more people who say a product is good or great means that we become influenced by others.

I bet you already read Amazon reviews frequently before you buy anything, and you are likely to ignore those who are providing an honest review in return for receiving the product for free (because they don’t have to be honest and they want to continue receiving free stuff), and you will be subconsciously or even consciously seeking out the words at the top of the review which say verified purchase. I know you do this because I do, and I am human too. (Reinforcing this again here!)

This is all hugely different to subliminal advertising which is actually banned in many countries, despite the fact that there is no conclusive evidence that subliminal advertising actually works, although it probably does.

Subliminal advertising is the art of exploiting the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred, or so it says in the OFCOM Broadcasting Code in the UK and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) TV Code which states that ‘No advertisement may use images of very brief duration, or any other technique which is likely to influence viewers, without their being fully aware of what has been done.

There is however nothing about adding in directional cues and that is essentially what every good advert or offer needs.

directional cues for buying art 
In the above example a smiling person is used to convey that they are viewing my Pixels site (they might be?!) and you can see that the person is happy, and has a trusting face. the art worlds best kept secret 
In the above example guess what, I humanised the Facebook like... you really can have fun with this technique. 


I have mentioned that you need to convince people of the need to buy your artwork rather than persuade them. There is a key difference between convince and persuade and that is where some people slip up. Too often we see this in the high street and in malls where there seems to be a culture of persuading people to buy something.

No one really likes being persuaded. Generally people whoever they are don’t much like being told what to do, and especially if they are not convinced that they should be doing something that you have persuaded them to do that they really don’t want to do. Still with me?

The other mistakes often made by those who don’t have the necessary resource or finance to engage a social-media/promotions/advertising teams are that they promote features more than benefits. Benefits convince, features persuade.

Here is an example:

Your fine art print is created using a dye-sublimation process which would be a feature, whereas: Using a dye-sublimation process will ensure that your work will last for generations, unlike traditional ink-jet printing which will fade over a shorter time.

The second phrase still manages to tell the reader about the feature but more importantly it tells the reader how they will benefit by choosing this print method over a cheaper alternative.

Using simple words also helps as well. So instead of explaining that dye-sublimation has an over-coated protected layer and adding in a lot of technical terminology, we could simply say that “we print the artwork using a special process which will guarantee that the artwork will last without fading for generations, whereas other printers use a different process and their prints will fade in a few years”.

This time we left out the jargon and there is no doubt that dye-sublimation prints will last much longer and be far more cost effective.

Reverse psychology is a trick mastered by both advertising companies and my 14-year old daughter.

This is something that is called the theory of inoculation which was developed by social-psychologist William J. McGuire in 1961. The theory explains how attitudes and beliefs are changed and how to keep existing attitudes and beliefs consistent in the face of attempts to persuade. It is essentially a science which is still studied to this day.

In business what this means is that you have to work a little harder. You also have to be totally honest with your customers and never ever make stuff up. If you have a unique selling point that cannot be matched by your competitors, make it known.

In art, perhaps you offer your work on Print on Demand sites and as we all know, many of the POD sites will also sell frames and matting. There is no denying that the quality of the prints, frames and mats from Fine Art America, and Pixels are truly outstanding, but sometimes even with the huge range available you know yourself that a totally different or cheaper alternative might suit a particular artwork or buyer better.

In cases like this it is easier for the buyer to sort out their own frame and just buy the canvas print, or you could go to a local framing service to meet the customers’ requirements. Taking steps like these will offer the customer two other options, and you have set yourself apart from the competition.

It is important though that you don’t give them a whole catalogue of choices. This works the same in restaurants. Any restaurant offering a dizzying array of 25 different main courses will unlikely be a master at any one of them. How do you run a kitchen where you offer so much choice yet still only have two ovens and a set amount of space?

This is related to the paradox of choice where customers can feel higher levels of anxiety when having to choose from so many options. Hence in some of the best restaurants you are likely to only see around seven options from each category, appetisers, entrees, desserts etc.

Although I haven’t done the exact science, I know that offering too much choice does affect sales. I visited a few galleries before Christmas last year and one of the things I noticed was that the gallery with the most artwork hadn’t got anywhere near the number of actual buying customers than the gallery which displayed much less. The queue to get face time with a gallery consultant was much larger at the gallery with less art. 

It wasn’t that the art was particularly any better, it was I think down to the fact that viewing art in the over-stocked gallery was tiring. I literally felt exhausted after being so stimulated by so many works which also broke up the natural flow. Abstracts were placed in between landscapes, portraits next to photographs of ships, you get the idea.


Going back to calls to action in a way, there are some other specific things that you might want to consider including in either email or social media posts to engage your reader and convince them that they really do need to engage with your post or email or buy your product or service.
One way of being direct with people and not running the risk of hiding your call to action in amongst a lot of words is to write something that offers something in return and writing it very simply.

Register now to secure your limited edition print, get a free copy of my latest eBook direct to your inbox when you sign up, are both direct ways of getting your call to action across without the pushiness associated with some calls to action. You can still be unsubtle without being too subtle.
As long as what you are offering adds some value to the reader they are more likely to share your details, email, or post with others. Consider this as a hook.

Exclusivity is another way to engage with collectors and fans and another way of collating a number of email addresses. When you are using Fine Art America there is a way which allows you to have a password protected folder where you could put exclusive artwork in which is primarily only available to your collectors, or anyone who has received the password from you.

If you purchase a piece of my art you will be given free access to my collectors area where you will be given exclusive access to other pieces which have not gone on general release yet, is another way of harnessing collectors and making them want to see what is hiding behind the protected area. 

Collectors like to get their hands on new works before anyone else, it makes them feel special and it builds the bond between the artist and the buyer. The fact that it says free access when you have purchased a work makes the offer even more tempting.

Essentially it is a psychological driver as is much of what I am talking about today. Maybe you could also give promotional discounts to buyers of your work if they can get in touch with you and give you their details, and in return you will email them a special promotional code.

A friend of mine who actually isn’t an artist (I have other friends too!) decided that he was going to offer a package to his best customers whereby they would pay him an annual fee.

In return for $20 per year, the customers would receive a promotional code to download his app for free (itself worth $9.99), a free consultation over the phone for his services, and 10% off every order.

Most customers purchased from him at least twice per year already so it was an instant no-brainer that they would save money by doing this, and the free consultation was a clever move because he could up-sell his products or offer other services. The results were positive so after the first year he made it available to everyone for free as a loyalty scheme after their first purchase.

Sending out slightly different emails direct to collectors rather than just anyone who signs up for emails is another way of offering exclusivity. Doing this also increases the chances of further sales because you already know that those particular buyers have previously purchased your work.
Some of my collectors get in touch with me which is the perfect scenario. Whenever they do, and if I have their address, I will usually post them a signed art card and a letter of thanks for buying my work.

So by doing a few simple things you can create something which is both exclusive and free and therefore makes the buyer believe they are at the centre of your world, which is exactly where I want my buyers to be.

Calls to action aren’t always easy but following a few of these basic principles will give you opportunities that you will otherwise have missed.


Earlier I mentioned the use of consistent branding and making sure that all of your logos and banners remain at least in the same visual style across everything.

There are a few things you can do that will allow you to add in some visual cues to your profile banner and picture. You will have noticed in my Facebook example up above. 

I will be completely reworking my logo, banner, website header very soon but these are the concepts and ideas I will be following, adding in visual cues, and making sure people know who I am and where to find me and my work. It's going to take me a while, but I know the results will be worth it. I started tonight having created about twenty experimental designs before choosing the one which now appears on Facebook and Twitter. 

The screen real estate allowed for banners and profile photos often changes on social-media platforms. In 2017, the sizes seems to have been relatively stable over the last few months, so if you are reading this article in the future, (because we all know what a flux capacitor is capable of), you might want to recheck if I haven’t updated them. (I will though if you remind me!) your weekly guide to the world of art and technology  


Profile Image – This is essentially your profile photo. Images must be at least 180x180 although it will appear on page at 160x160. When you write or respond to a post, the image size will drop again right down to 32x32 pixels.

The photograph will be representing you or your brand and is layered over your cover photo which is sometimes referred to as the banner.

The Cover Photo – or banner, appears on screen at 828x315 pixels and if you upload anything at a lower resolution than this, it will result in the image being stretched. Not a particularly great look especially if you are an artist. The absolute minimum you can upload is 399x150 pixels.

When adding text or logos on your cover photo always use the lossless format called .png. You can upload photos in JPG format but whichever way you upload, the image file size has to be less than 100KB.

Shared images should ideally be 1200x630 pixels and appear in your timeline feed with a maximum width of 470 pixels and on the page with a maximum width of 504 pixels.

If you are sharing links, then the image size is once again different. The recommended upload size is 1200x627. Square photos have a minimum of 154x154 in your timeline feed, and 116x116 on the page.

Rectangular shared links require a minimum of 470x246 in the timeline feed and will appear as 484x252 on the page.

Highlighted Images – should ideally be 1200x717 pixels, and will appear on your Facebook page at 843 x 504 pixels. As with all of the other images, do try to upload at the maximum to assure image quality.

YouTube – I actually do have a YouTube channel but I haven’t done anything at all with it as yet though I really should.

Channel Cover Photo – This is where it gets a little complicated because you need to upload an optimised photo for each way that YouTube can be displayed, dependent on the device being used to access it.

Tablet displays – 1855 x 423
Mobile Display – 1546x423
TV – 2560 x 1440

Desktop – 2560x423 however to ensure visibility they need to be at least 1546x423 pixels and a flexible area may also be visible which is 507 pixels to each of the left and right of the safe areas.

Video uploads have to be in the 16:9 aspect ratio and if you wish to offer HD viewing, video must be at least 1280 x 720 pixels, 4K is a minimum of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels.

INSTAGRAM – Your profile image must be 110 x 110 pixels and you must always ensure that you maintain a 1:1 aspect ratio (square). Photo thumbnails are 161 x 161 pixels and the actual images you post should be a minimum of 1080 x 1080 and must again be in the 1:1 aspect ratio.

Beware though, even though your images will be uploaded at 1080 x 1080 pixels, Instagram will downscale them to 612 x 612 pixels and they appear in the timeline feed at 510 x 510 pixels.

Smaller featured images appear at 204 x 204 pixels and the slightly larger featured header images appear at 409 x 409 pixels.

Twitter – Seems like Twitter change their sizes every time President Donald has something to say, it is that frequent. However, currently your header photo needs to be 1500 x 500 with a maximum file size of 10MB but can be uploaded in GIF, JPG, or PNG.

Your twitter profile photo should be 400 x 400 pixels and again in GIF, JPG, or PNG, and should be no larger than 100KB.

In-stream photos are 440 x 220 and the maximum is 1024 x 512 pixels which appears collapsed when viewing the stream at 506 x 253 pixels. File size is capped at 5MB for photographs and 3MB for animated GIFs.

Google+ - Profile images should be 250 x 250 pixels, with an absolute minimum of 120 x 120 pixels, although 250 x 250 is recommended. The cover image or banner should ideally be 1080 x 608 pixels and the absolute minimum is 480 x 270 pixels, the absolute maximum is 2120 x 1192 pixels.

Larger shared images on the Google+ platform should be 497 x 373 pixels, and they appear on the homepage and in some streams at 426 pixels and the height is scaled. A minimum width of 497 pixels is required and when doing this the height will be automatically scaled.

Shared links appear as a 150 x 150 pixel square thumbnail. Video shows on the feed at 496 x 279 pixels.

Ello – Another platform I am dabbling with and have been since nearly day one is Ello. Banner images must be 2560 x 1440 pixels and can be animated GIFs, PNG, or JPG.

Your Ello profile image is 360 x 360 pixels in JPG, PNG, or GIF

So there you go, you should by now be armed with a few more tools that you can utilise to sell your art, create a meaningful email campaign which will produce results, and tidy up your social-media presence so that you can start converting followers to buyers and collectors. Remember that colour plays an important part of your marketing too. Experiment and work out what’s best for you, and I will be soon writing a post about which colours work best when you are doing something specific. I'm doing the research right now!

So why not make a start this week and recreate some of your logos and branding. Take some small easy steps and don’t worry if you can’t do everything at once. As long as your ultimate goal is consistency, you are well on the way. Why not send in your new logos and images and I will feature the best on this site, and oh I almost forgot, please share this post because Google analytics certainly thinks this site is a secret this week. 


M.A Taylor is a UK based artist who sells his work through a number of physical art stores in the USA and Canada, and online here at

He loves deadlines, especially the whooshing sound they make when they fly by, and is the only person on Instagram who doesn’t claim to be a self-help guru. He also flies drones when the weather is nice. 


Popular Posts