5 Tried and True Methods to Help Your Art “Go Viral” Online

By Justin Crowe in Art Business Advice > Art Marketing Tips

We’ve all heard about those crazy viral ad campaigns that spread like wildfire and reach millions of people all around the world in just a couple of days. Have you ever looked at one and said. . . “I could have done that!”?

Photo credit – Eric Fischer

Well, you can. In fact, as people who are programmed and paid to think creatively, artists are some of the best candidates to come up with viral content.

Unfortunately, if you paint idyllic landscapes, abstract compositions, or pretty much anything that sells in traditional galleries, you may have noticed that your artwork doesn’t get a ton of sharing online. That’s because the web is a different realm with different rules—your landscapes by themselves won’t go viral, but landscapes being attacked by Star Wars spaceships. . . now we’re talking!

So today let’s look at art marketing a little differently. Think of it like a game. . . and here’s how you play it:

To start with, I propose is that you create a small collection of art (or come up with a unique art project) specifically for sharing online. This artwork should not be a part of your formal body of work; it is important that you keep it distanced from “you” and look at it strictly as an advertising campaign.

What’s the benefit of having this small collection get exposure online?

First, each blog that covers your project will link back to your personal website. These “link-backs” are extremely valuable for your website and will increase its rankings in Google and other search engines. The more links you get from other art websites, the more likely YOUR website will be near the top of the search results when people are looking for your type of art online.

Not to mention, of course, that these links will also bring people directly to your website who are interested in seeing and possibly buying your work. Receiving a lot of exposure online could also lead to collaborations, gallery representation, a larger social media following and much more.

As an art and design blogger I have written about hundreds of creative projects for a handful of visual culture news websites. In the list below, I have compiled 5 of the most common traits of Internet-friendly art. Emulating these traits in your own art will help you craft a project that can gain mass exposure online.

1. Create art with emotion

The most effective type of online content is driven by emotion. Creating a project that makes the viewer “feel” is essential when developing a viral art idea. Here’s a list of fantastic sharable emotions:

• Fear
• Human relationships
• Curiosity
• Exclusivity
• Rarity
• Uniqueness
• Hope

And by far, the BEST way to get someone to share your art. . . Make them laugh.

2. Tell a great story

Having a memorable narrative to back up a creative project is important. A story makes it easy for the author to write about your work and it makes the viewer more likely to remember your work. Possible stories include: your inspiration, a reason for making the work, or simply your process of producing the art.

The more unique or touching your story is, the better.

3. Reference popular culture

Using pop-culture as a theme in your viral art campaign is a great angle to take, especially on your first attempt. This guarantees that a specific group of people will be interested in your project.

A few notoriously viral themes include:

• Celebrities
• Star Wars
• Cats (or animals)
• Cult films
• Famous brands
• Legos
• Food

Be forewarned, however, these niche culture enthusiasts will either love you or hate you. . .

4. Showcase your art with amazing photos

This is huge. I can’t tell you how many times I have come across amazing projects that have horrible documentation. Blogs today have a professional clean look and it is essential that the images represented on the site mirror this quality.

Spend a little money and have your project professionally photographed. Don’t let a simple thing like this compromise your success!

5. Make accessing your art convenient

When you reach out to bloggers and ask them to feature your art, you’re really asking them to do work on your behalf. The faster the author can cover your work, the more money per hour they are making and the more likely they are to agree to cover your project.

Have a simple press page on your website that you can easily link to and share with those bloggers. This press page should contain large images (800px+) that they can drag off the page, as well as all of the necessary links they might need and a clear description of your project.

And it might go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway—there are a few things NOT to do when making a viral art project. Avoid creating anything Not Safe For Work (NSFW), anything politically charged, or anything that has already been done to death.

Now that you know these 5 traits of sharable Internet art, I’m sure ideas are already popping into your head. (If so, get started!)

With some creativity, strategy, and luck you will be on your way to great online exposure!

To learn more about Justin Crowe, please visit his website.


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