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When we wrote Spotlight on Seamus Wray, one thing that stood out about Seamus is that he’s been using Reddit to promote his artwork for several years. It’s probably because of Reddit that he’s recursive portrait series achieved virality. But, for other aspiring artists is promoting art on Reddit viable?
Because there’s no blueprint detailing how to market art, emerging and aspiring full-time artists struggle with promoting their art. Sometimes it’s not as simple as joining a site like Society6 or Threadless; to increase your exposure you need a community of loyal patrons. You need a mixture of stans, admirers, and art fanatics who enjoy reveling in your art in particular.
You shouldn’t have to spend most of your time learning basic marketing principles. Therefore, understanding how an artist like Seamus Wray increases his following using Reddit is the perfect solution to develop your strategy.
UNDERSTANDING REDDIT’S ECOSYSTEM
Before you begin promoting your artwork on Reddit you need to understand Reddit’s ecosystem.
You know what Reddit is if you’re reading this, but in case you don’t, Reddit is a forum of forums. People can engage with various subreddits (niche categories) within Reddit about topics that fascinate them.
Like other forums, Redditors earn points (karma) and can receive awards from other Redditors, especially if their participation is valuable. The easiest way to gain exposure on Reddit is to receive upvotes. The more upvotes you receive, the more likely other Redditors in the subreddit will see your post.
This is a basic explanation of how the Reddit ecosystem works. Conclusively, going viral on Reddit is about receiving more upvotes than downvotes.
PROMOTING ART ON REDDIT:
WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM ARTISTS LIKE SEAMUS WRAY
In our last post on Seamus Wray, I highlighted the three principles that shaped his viral success. Most of that success is due to his Reddit strategy, which you can uncover by going to his Reddit profile. Examining his profile, you’ll notice a pattern:
- He only uses Reddit to draw attention to his art
- He posts the same painting in several different subreddits
- He’s had the most success in r/pics and r/nextf*ckinglevel
Wray’s strategy is very straightforward to replicate. Whether you’ll have the same level of success is questionable.
Another excellent feature of Seamus Wray’s strategy is that it takes five minutes to replicate, especially if you read this first.
Here’s how he did it, and how you can too.
1// Creating An Exclusive Art Promotion Account
If you go through his user account history, you’ll recognize that soon after joining Reddit in 2015, he began posting. First, it was fan art, paintings depicting H3H3 and Gus Johnson, with Danny DeVito featuring in his artwork on more than one occasion.
In the very beginning, he wasn’t as focused on publishing paintings as he is now. You could find an odd post about his van or his closet filled with paintings.
Although many Redditors enjoy niche topics, you’ll find they’re active in other subreddits and conversations that don’t revolve around their primary niche.
However, when you examine Wray’s account you might speculate that this is an art account created with the intention of promoting his art.
For aspiring artists this is an excellent way to draw attention to your art, because you have a timeline of artwork newcomers can peruse.
2// Reposting Work in Different Subreddits
Seamus reposted his fabled recursive portrait series several times in a variety of subreddits. But, even before that, he tends to post in a few subreddits.
The subreddits he had the most success with are:
- r/IASIP (it’s always sunny in Philadelphia)
Usually, his posts follow a specific upload sequence. He’ll begin by posting the painting in either r/pics, r/art, r/painting, or r/drawing, a combination of these, or all three, and then follow it up by posting to subreddits that apply to the type of painting. As an example, he might publish to r/pics, r/painting, and the r/dundermifflin if the painting depicts a character or scene from the show The Office.
Because his posting to more subreddits his gaining more exposure.
3// Finding Your Successful Subreddits
In the beginning, Seamus primarily focused on art and creative subreddits, but as he progressed you can see he developed an understanding of how to promote his artwork.
Now, he tries to focus on the subreddits he had the most success in, which include r/pics and r/nextf*ckinglevel or r/dankmemes. He’ll usually post to one of these three categories whenever he’s promoting new material.
4// Pinning Your Store
Going to his Reddit profile, you’ll see that his Threadless store is pinned. This is the first post people who take an interest in his work will see, likely increases traffic to his Threadless artist shop.
5// Selecting What To Post on Reddit
Scrolling through his Instagram and even Threadless artist shop, you’ll see that not every painting is published to Reddit, just ones that are exciting to the Reddit demographic. Paintings like his “green & yellow flower girl” or “abstract colour stripes on paper” haven’t made an appearance on Reddit.
IS REDDIT AN EFFECTIVE PLATFORM TO PROMOTE YOUR ARTWORK?
The short answer to whether Reddit is the place and platform to promote your artwork is yes. Reddit is the largest close-knit community on the internet. Seamus’ most popular post on Reddit has 129,000 upvotes and over 3,000 comments which is a testament to the reach Reddit has.
The key to success on Reddit is to understand the Reddit community and what they respond to. You may not see immediate success the first time you post something, yet posting it a week later could have wildly different outcomes. In Seamus’ case, he saw that he’d had success posting recursive images in the past and replicated them on a larger scale, managing to replicate the success as well.