A designer by day and Instagram illustration star by night, Julie Houts is the mind of humorous and brilliant sketches, speech bubbles, and occasional reality TV clips. No one is flawless and Houts demonstrates it in a funny way.

 An excitement – that’s what you feel when you look at the Instagram account of Julie Houts. It is packed with glorious illustrations of typical situations such as group selfies, bad first dates, and binging on pasta — as we all understand, things we can relate to. Her funny and smart sketches quickly made her an Instagram celebrity in her own right, but her day job as Designer at J.Crew just solidifies the fact that Julie is just as equally impressive offline as she is on.

The important thing about Julie’s illustrations is that she notices so many small details that touch our hearts. As she says, she really loves doing this and it is a part of a reason why she has always been so into clothes, as it is an easy and good way to become closer to someone. So this is what she does at J.Crew – finding out about target audience’s personality: who is this and where is she going and why she wouldn’t wear this but she would wear this. To Houts’s mind, that can be one of the only parts she really loves about designing, just the figuring out all of it. “Because I have no interest really in the finish of buttons. I have tons of opinions, but I don’t really care. There are some designers who love that so much, or the finish of something is so important to them. And it’s not super that for me. It’s more the figuring out all of that”. She adds that she is really interested in people and it’s interesting for her to put everything under a magnifying glass and try to tease out what’s there and why they made all their decisions and how their decisions get them in front of the illustrator.

The attractiveness of Julie’s Instagram account is placed on one specific thing – it feels unfiltered in the best way possible. She is not fear about posting drawings poking fun at the contradictions of millennials’ desire to “live authentically” or drawings trolling Steve Bannon, Darth Vader superfan and chief strategist to President Trump. “There’s nothing going on for me that doesn’t go back through that filter in some way. Anytime I’ve started a drawing that isn’t talking about [what’s going on in the world], it just ends back up there for now. Which is … I don’t know. It’s fine. I feel better momentarily.” Moreover, if you feel alone during these crazy days, just take a look at @jooleeloren’s feed, where you can find numbers of hilarious illustration of everyday absurdities, which we all face sometimes.

As Julie says, her way started in her childhood, when she gone to art camps with her sister and then she studied painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before she realized that she was a very bad painter. So there she transferred into fashion, which was good, but at that time, it was a very avant-garde program. She was set on working in the industry, so she transferred to Parsons and finished up there and started working at J.Crew.  Illustrating on the side was just for fun and she had just 15 followers on her Instagram account – all her friends. Although,  now she has 170K followers. The illustrator adds that it just grew so fast and at a certain point there was sort of a bunch of people regramming her. In the course of a month, she gained like 10,000 to 15,000 followers. All of it gained a lot of interest to her: She landed a deal with Simon & Schuster for a book, which will be a mix of illustrations and essays penned by Julie, and she’s also working on developing a TV show.

That’s all sounds so difficult to handle with at the same time. How does she do it? The struggle is real – she says that “learning how to advocate for yourself within a corporate structure has been a good thing. It’s a challenge. I’m still figuring that out, especially with the book”. She also explains that there is a point when you understand that you are your own champion and you should never give up doing what you love, you have to always stay proactive. “Just make sure that you do the thing that you want to do every day, and don’t ever take a break. It’s easy to get caught up in other things or to get caught up in your job. Then you look around a couple years later and it’s like, ‘Oh. I’m still not doing what I want to do”. She emphasizes that it’s work she wants to be doing as the payoff is great and it’s absolutely worth it when you feel that it is you who create your own opportunity.

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