Freelance Tutorial: How to Grow Your Audience on Instagram

James Lewis shares his tips on how to document, showcase, and share your art in order to build a digital audience

A large part of any creative career isn’t just producing work, but also sharing it. Because of that, social media has become a powerful way for creatives to reach a global audience, collaborate with the larger artistic community, and even find new clients.

Learning how to use platforms like Instagram effectively is a great way for newcomers to gain exposure while building their career, and for established creatives to better connect with their audience.

In this video, lettering artist James Lewis (@jamesllewis) explains how he uses Instagram to promote his work and shares tips about how you can better document and showcase your projects in order to build a digital audience.

1. Document your process

During his career, Lewis has realized that, for his audience, seeing the process is usually more inspiring than the final result. Sharing a work-in-progress can help viewers better engage with and understand your technique, and it also creates more opportunities to communicate, especially if your projects take a long time to complete. Try to keep this in mind while you’re working and document as much as you can.

2. Think about lighting

It’s always important to (literally) show your work in the best light possible, so when taking photos pay attention and avoid dim lighting or casting strange shadows. While colors and contrast can be adjusted later, if you pay attention to these details early on, it’ll make the rest of your process much easier.

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3. Play with angles

When documenting your work, take multiple pictures at different angles and then pick the strongest out of the selection. This diversity of shots not only helps you discover new and interesting angles to show your work, but it also helps keep your Instagram grid varied and fresh.

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Lewis recommends five types of shots:
- One from above, capturing the whole project.
- One from a nice angle, like an upward angle. taken from the bottom corner of the piece.
- Another angled shot, taken from a distance.
- A close up.
- An even closer close up, to showcase an impressive detail.

4. Editing your image

Once you’ve picked the photo you like most, it’s time to adjust the colors. While there is a lot of software available to do this, “using your phone is perfectly fine,” stresses Lewis, who believes that streamlining the process by only using his phone frees up more time for painting.

As you play around with the different levels, keep an eye on the image, going back to readjust if the colors begin to look strange. He recommends increasing the exposure, highlights, saturation, and shadows. Upping the contrast and brightness. Bringing the black point up to increase contrast. Slightly bringing up the sharpness and definition to create more detail, and increasing vibrancy while keeping an eye on the colors — if they become too yellow, simply bring down the warmth.

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5. Share and engage

Now you’re ready to post your work. Besides sharing these images, try to also carve out time to engage with your audience. Beyond answering questions and building connections with people interested in your work, this is also a great opportunity to find out more about what interests them so that you can create more content related to that.

That could be through answering questions, or simply paying attention to the things that interest them and creating more content related to that.

If you liked this tutorial, you can learn more about brush lettering and how to share your work from James Lewis through his online course, Introduction to Brush Lettering.

You may also be interested in:

- The Art of Record Covers: Illustration Meets Lettering, a course by Steve Simpson
- Calligraphy and Lettering for Instagram with Procreate, a course by Nubia Navarro (nubikini)
- Watercolor Paint Brush Calligraphy for Beginners, a course by Lunol


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