Designer turned Instagram artist and illustrator Julie Houts strikes chord with millennials

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Influencers speak for a younger generation on social media. Their clout comes from the number of their followers, and there's even a term for the most popular on Instagram, "Insta-Famous."

Sandy Kenyon met one of these influencers in Carroll Gardens who has struck a chord with millennial women.

Julie Houts began posting her drawings while working as a clothing designer at J. Crew, and in the past five years, so many people have started following her on Instagram, she was able to quit her job and work from home.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then combining the two must have an even bigger impact, and so it is with her posts.

"Sometimes I'll have a conversation with someone or I'll read something or watch something or a combination of all of them," she says, "and then I notice a larger trend or tease something out that I want to talk about."

Her aim is satirical: to poke fun at our foibles. "Generally, it's pointed critique at something."

Houts is a commercial artist with a talent for of showing what women her age are thinking when, for example, they face themselves in the mirror and do not like that they see.

"Everything that I draw about, write about, anything," she said. "Usually, it's some behavior I've noticed in myself."

The marriage of words and pictures begins with a drawing Julie scans into her computer, adjusting it, so she can add words, "Working with them in different ways to figure out how I can get them all to fit."

Color gets layered on, and the result posted quickly to her 246,000+ followers. Many of them are millennials just like herself, who see themselves reflected in her work. In fact, so many can relate to her pictures that the title of her first book, "Literally Me," comes from the one comment she gets most often from her followers. "They would say, 'literally me.'"


So, each post becomes one more slice of life for her generation.

"Ultimately, it's great for people to feel seen," she said. "I think it makes them feel less alone, less alienated in their daily experiences."

Her work brightens my day, and I have noticed that guys sometimes appear. My favorite is 'Mike' - a guy who calls himself "the biggest feminist ever," because he grew up, "with two sisters and a mom." Julie Houts calls him a "feminist icon."

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