Can Artists Be Successful on TikTok?

Stan McLygin
6 min readAug 11, 2021

TikTok is currently the fastest rising social media application. It’s currently available in over 150 countries and has an estimated one billion monthly active users as of February 2021. The platform is ideal for artists who are targeting the 13–40 year old demographic. These individuals open the app an average of eight times daily, spending around 52 minutes per day on the platform.

Thanks to this vast audience, the app generated $500 million in revenue from the US alone in 2020. In fact, its Q4 2019 revenue was 300% greater than its Q4 2018 figures. The money is coming in by waves to the extent that TikTok even pays influencers $500 just to join the app. It’s also started a Creator Fund worth $1 billion to strengthen the presence of its creators. There’s also a Creator Marketplace where brands can search for creators with whom to work.

With its in-platform engagement and user base increasing, TikTok’s top creators are raking in large sums of money. Addison Rae makes $5 million annually through partnerships, while Charli D’Amelio earns $4 million. They are two of only six creators with at least 50 million followers. While it does pay to have more followers, you don’t have to attract these kinds of numbers to succeed on TikTok. Once you find a fan base that will patronize your creations, you can start building your brand.

Turning TikTok into a Business

So why is TikTok successful? It addresses two main concerns: the need for more video content and users’ short attention span. Anyone who downloads the app and creates an account can record one-minute videos of whatever they fancy, provided the content doesn’t violate the app’s guidelines. Given the time limitations, content creators must offer something really attention-grabbing to get noticed.

Social media professionals have predicted the continuous rise of video content because it’s a medium unlike any other. While Instagram, Facebook, and other social media channels also feature video content, it competes for attention with still images or external links. On TikTok, video is king, and more and more people are hastening to participate in this “digital gold rush.”

TikTok blossomed when creators began performing their own versions of famous dances or viral challenges. But lately, businessmen, motivational speakers, and even artists have started using the app to promote their brands. The limited video length contributes to TikTok’s success as the content isn’t time-consuming to watch. If you have just a few minutes to spare, it might not be enough to watch one episode of your favorite YouTuber’s vlog. But with TikTok, you get to be amazed, informed, or entertained in one minute.

No wonder advertisers are paying serious money to promote their products or causes through the platform. Digiday reports that in 2019, brand takeover ads on TikTok ranged from $20,000 to $200,000. Meanwhile, those who initiate hashtag challenges spend $100,000–$200,000 to promote the campaign. Advertisements on TikTok go for as little as $50 per day, but more significant spending translates into a wider reach. Advertisers can also purchase ad credits of a particular value which they can use in multiple campaigns.

However, the biggest creators on TikTok get to dictate their prices for paid advertisements. According to an article from The Telegraph, influencers with at least 2.5 million followers command $600 to $1000 per post. Not bad for one minute’s worth of work! With that kind of money flowing in, what’s stopping you from joining the platform?

Why not register for a TikTok account now? What’s great about the sign-up process is that the app suggests content that you might enjoy. You get linked to artists who are killing it on the app, which gives you the inspiration to create your own videos while taking pointers on what works and what doesn’t on the platform.

Why is TikTok Ideal for Artists?

Compared to other major social media platforms, TikTok is the best in terms of curating content that users want to consume. Therefore, if a user chooses art on their feed, they can enjoy uninterrupted feeds of time lapse videos of artists sharing their creations. This is something that Instagram can’t guarantee due to the irregular number of paid posts littered throughout the field. Meanwhile, Facebook has limited organic engagement, which means artists must shell out money to gain a wider audience.

With TikTok, it’s still fair game for every artist. But those able to attract steady followers are good at selecting the appropriate songs for their artwork. Music establishes the tone for the video content and heightens the emotional connection with the viewer. Likewise, the limited video length leaves room for artists and viewers to subsequently engage in deeper conversations regarding the materials used and the process followed.

It also brings the oft-traditional art industry into the tech-savvy era. Musicians and artists can collaborate to promote each other’s works to gain a wider reach. Indeed, The Met was one of the first museums to have an official TikTok app, and they’ve used it to facilitate contests aimed at discovering up-and-coming artists. Meanwhile, Florence’s Uffizi Gallery has gained a steady following from a new demographic by sharing fun video posts of some of their artworks.

Of course, the platform also becomes an avenue of marketing for artists. Some viewers may request commissioned art which is another revenue stream (aside from selling the artworks they create through auctions or direct sales). Who knows, maybe they could be hired to create art for major production houses or big-budget movies!

Aside from time-lapse videos of an artwork, there are other types of content that an artist can share on TikTok. There are real-time art challenges where artists must complete a piece in under a minute. Artists can also reveal recently completed artworks with accompanying music by either removing a cover or flipping the canvas. They can also participate in art challenges or even create one of their own. Artists may also use their one minute to share quick art tips or share a glimpse of their daily life. One’s imagination is the only limit to the type of videos that can be shared.

Famous Artists on TikTok

Japanese painter, Harumichi Shibasaki, gained a massive following because of his Bob Ross-like videos. His how-to videos feature various materials like crayons, colored pencils, and watercolors. Each video serves as a guide that his viewers can emulate or take inspiration from to create related artworks. Though he is already in his 70s, Shibasaki has a new set of fans from Generation Z.

There’s also Canadian artist Matt Chessco, who quit his engineering profession to pursue his passion. Fans love his Pop Art-inspired portraits of past and present celebrities. Aside from the artwork itself, Chessco adds some showmanship by working on the artwork while following the beat. The result of which are videos that are both entertaining and visually engaging.

Meanwhile, New Orleans-based artist, Morgan Gray, has been creating TikTok videos since 2017. She shares the nitty-gritty of her artworks by applying the final touches before revealing the illustration in its entirety. Morgan makes use of forms and flowing lines to keep audiences glued to what she’s doing. She also shares some glimpses into her personal life.

On the other hand, Miranda the Hybrid is a Pittsburgh-based illustrator and art teacher who also gained a huge TikTok following by sharing tips and tutorials, as well as critiques of other people’s artworks. It took a while for her videos to take off, but her relatability and charm brought her success. From first sharing videos that just featured her hand, she then started to reveal her persona, which delighted her followers.

Likewise, Josh “McMonster” McQuary became known by posting time-lapse videos of his eight-hour painting process. He often uses Japanese ink, blue tape, acrylic paint, and even a hairdryer to accomplish his masterpieces. He enjoys TikTok because followers are honest about his creations, although his viewers are generally more encouraging than judgmental.

Finally, digital illustrator, Mary Clare Teller, gained TikTok fame through duets and challenges that promote her stunning creations. She explains that choosing a popular tune helps the video trend and attracts more views. Aside from challenges, she also answers some questions in artistic form.

If these artists could gain monumental success through TikTok, what’s stopping you from following suit? If you have artwork to share, go ahead and create a TikTok account. Once you do, don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not as good as the artists mentioned above. After all, they started from scratch and improved as they went along. Pick up your phone now and get the TikTok app!

Who knows what possibilities await once you start blessing the world with your artistry?