When live streaming is brought up, the first thing most people would think of is a field dominated by gamers or podcasters. Slowly but surely, artists have been occupying more space, both in the traditional and digital sense. Art streams consist of drawing, painting, crafting, sculpting, carving, and even 3D modeling. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing the meticulous process of how a finished product came to be.
However, compared to gaming, doing art has a lot less action and excitement involved in the process, which can be tricky to grab viewers passing by, much less have them hooked. It can even be more challenging with impostor syndrome in the picture—am I even good enough to have people watch me do art for the next two hours?
So Why Bother With Art Streams At All?
Simple: live streaming your art isn’t so much about you, but your viewers. Confused? Let us explain. You aren’t there to show off how good you are with what you do—that you can easily do with a finished product. The reason why people would take hours of their day to tune in to an artist’s stream is that they are there to watch and learn—or at least to take inspiration from you. In short: the interaction between the artist and the community is the driving force behind this industry. It’s what makes an entertaining watch. For instance, just drawing might leave viewers passing by in awe, but once these viewers have found a community in your art streams, they’re bound to return more often.
Studies have found that more than half of consumers prefer to watch than read, and the same goes for artists who are already visually inclined in the first place. It’s much easier to see how an artistic technique is done rather than follow a step-by-step guide about it on some blog. Always remember: you’re just as a teacher as you are a streamer.
If you’re serious about growth, treat live streaming like work instead of holding one whenever you feel like it. Stream with a schedule—and religiously stick to it—if you want to build a following. Being consistent lets viewers know you’re there and you’re not going anywhere. This is especially important if you want to make income from subscriptions. After all, why would anyone want to subscribe to someone they won’t even be sure they’ll be hearing from? Of course, you lose potential first-timers from other countries who might not share the same timezone as you. Holding art streams at the same hour every other day or so excludes those who could stumble upon you.
What we want to say is this: the community aspect is everything in live streams. What sets a recorded video apart from a live stream is that it doesn’t just offer entertainment but also engagement. If you don’t interact with your viewers, you’re at risk of losing them—and quite fast at that. One way to keep them engaged without having to check and respond to the questions in the chat every millisecond is to walk them through the artistic process. What apps do you use? Which brushstroke works best for hair? What is the inspiration behind the piece? What brand do you recommend? It’s also a nice touch to address specific viewers and chat with them directly.
On that note, don’t just stream the artwork! Have your face in it, too, since viewers would appreciate seeing your expressions as you work on the artwork in real-time. Don’t be afraid to show your personality, either! Once you do this, you’ll be surprised to have some non-artistic viewers tuning in solely for your commentary. It adds that extra impression of closeness, like watching a friend draw instead of a faceless stranger on the internet.
It might sound silly, but think about it: why live stream your art at all? Regardless of who they are, having people watch you will also help you as an artist grow. You’re held accountable to do better, be better. In moments of stasis, you’ll remember that you have an entire community you can’t let down!
Setting Up The Basics
Getting started is even more daunting for traditional artists, who can’t rely on the wonders of technology to fully capture the art in real life, especially when dealing with thin or light pencil lines. That said, it’s important to cover the basics when it comes to live streaming art-making. Does that mean traditional artists have to splurge on expensive equipment? Not at all.
Luckily, broadcasting the process of making art for everyone to see isn’t as complicated as other uses for live streaming that necessitate a lot of technical equipment. It’s a low-maintenance pastime that can be fun for both you and your viewer. In this niche, you’d be more concerned about which streaming platform you feel most comfortable using rather than fussing over the performance. The only thing that could go wrong is caused by an unreliable internet connection or a program crash—both of which can be prevented with a little caution.
For Traditional Artists
As hinted earlier, have two cameras on hand—one for your face and one for your art. For webcams, traditional artists can look into Logitech C920 or Logitech Brio, Vitade 960A, Hrayzan 1080P, or Victure SC30 for sharp images and rich colors. If you want a separate face cam, the Sony Alpha a6000 is a great alternative to the more expensive and bulkier DSLR cameras. It boasts “all the quality in half the size and eight of other DSLRs” that makes instant sharing via mobile phone possible. Using your preferred streaming software, use a picture-in-picture layout to show your artistic process and talking head simultaneously.
You’ll also want to invest in a tripod or camera mount. You can either purchase an overhead camera rig or a simple phone stand with an adjustable arm. Having this crucial piece of basic equipment allows you to focus on your artwork and not so much on the movement of the frame. To do so, position your camera with an overhead camera rig to where the desk is. Pro-tip: have a small fan attached to the overhead camera to prevent it from heating up after long use.
Traditional artists also need plenty of light going around. Use a ring light to enhance the room setting, making it look more professional, but it’s completely optional. Normal LED lights on a desk stand can work just as well. If you’re keen on a ring light, we recommend Neewer’s kit that can easily be purchased on Amazon, which is already inclusive of a light stand, white and orange filter, hot shoe adapter, phone holder, and more.
For Digital Artists
Streaming for digital artists depends on a number of factors. What gadget do you use to draw, a Wacom tablet, an iPad, Photoshop? Apps on computers like Photoshop can directly make use of broadcasting software like OBS or XSplit using window capture. To run a good art live stream, you need at least three USB ports if you want to cover the basics—for your webcam, mic, and tablet. It could help to have more to connect your mouse and other accessories.
Drawing on tablets is a little more complicated, but still very doable for a beginner. One hack is to make use of screen-sharing applications, such as Zoom, to stream your tablet to your computer. Alternatively, you can simply use that Zoom window as your source in OBS.
Since speaking will just be supplementary to the artistic process, there’s no need to stress yourself over microphone specifics. We recommend Blue Yeti or Snowball for some classic good-quality fun and Rode PodMic for the full kit including a boom arm, shock mount, and built-in pop filter. Add a Knox boom arm to get the microphone out of the way—God knows you need that extra table space!
Because streaming art can be such a niche hobby, it’s so important to find a platform that best suits you and your art. It can be discouraging to have so few viewers tune in, but remember, even the most successful art streamers of today started with 0 viewer count. Don’t lose confidence, and most importantly, keep going. That said, let’s talk about the two most famous live stream platforms. We won’t be listing the step-by-step process of how to go live, but we will give a few best practices applicable for each streaming platform.
How to Live Stream Art on YouTube
Why stream on the most recognizable video platform? You just answered your own question.
However, that very feature serves as a double-edged sword. Since YouTube is so popular, you won’t get viewers at random since there are way too many content creators on there. You’ll have to compete with established art streamers who have thousands of followers. To make matters worse, YouTube Live isn’t very friendly to beginner content creators. Your YouTube channel needs to have at least 1,000 subscribers in order to live stream on mobile.
In times of silence, make sure to have faint music playing in the background to keep it more natural and less awkward. Have a good playlist on hand. You can even use Spotify to connect to freeware programs that display the song information on your stream! However, playing copyrighted music is a no-no on YouTube as it has some of the strictest enforcement on the internet. You might be able to get away with playing the music in real-time, but once the platform detects the music in the saved replays, YouTube will block the video and even take away your streaming privileges if violated more than once.
How to Live Stream Art on Twitch
Live streaming can’t get any better on Twitch since the platform was specifically made with that in mind. In fact, Twitch has a directory dedicated just for Art. As of writing, it has nearly three million followers—which makes for an easy integration! New artists are always welcome. Having that large Twitch community makes it easier to integrate yourself into the niche. Artists have no problems supporting other artists, too, so as long as you’re interacting with other people’s efforts, you can expect some sort of engagement in return!
However big Twitch is with its viewer base, it also has one of the worst discoveries. The platform doesn’t give its art category much importance. Because Twitch is so congested, you can’t rely on drop-ins for most of these platforms, so you’ll need to turn to social media to promote your live streams. The kind of audience watching is up to you. If you’re close with family and friends and would like them to see what you’re up to, Facebook is the easiest place to get people to join your live stream since they already care enough about you to click on it. On the other hand, Discord might be the way to go if you want like-minded people to join you, encourage you, and maybe even critique you as you do art.
There are plenty of ways to make revenue out of art live streaming, too: ads, subscriptions, donations, affiliate links, and for pros, merchandising. Some Twitch users have reported a monthly earning of $350,000. Income is split between Twitch and the streamer, and at $5 per subscription, that is a $2.5 takeaway for each that can really compound over time. Of course, most live streamers aren’t in it for the money, but it’s always nice to know you can get paid for what you do.
How to Live Stream Art on Picarto
In a world of behemoth social media platforms, Picarto is a hidden gem. It’s made for artists by artists, if you’re one of those who put a prime on exclusivity and more flexible content. Here’s the thing: Picarto is filled with experimental artists who either don’t fit into mainstream expectations of what art is or are practicing NSFW content. Among its categories include furry and pony, so with that said, proceed with caution!
If by now you’re still unsure where to do your art stream, maybe there’s no need to choose at all. Restream allows you to rebroadcast your live stream to multiple platforms at once for free, with more than 40 platforms under its sleeve. There’s no need to flip through several browser windows to check if the live stream is still operating as normal. The best part is that a stable internet connection only needs to handle one stream. You can also use OBS to stream to Restream.
In The End, It’s About You And Your Art
It’s easy to get lost in the nitty-gritty of art stream. Don’t overdo it with the equipment since your viewers will care more about the content itself. Our best tip is to just start streaming and be patient. Don’t be too preoccupied with getting the proper streaming setup—focus on your art and how to best present it and everything else will follow with time. The art community can be difficult to hook on the first try, but once you’ve built up a handful of loyal followers, it will only go up from there. As your own channel grows, so will your live stream setup.