Instagram” I love to hate it. I spend hours on IG mindlessly scrolling through content.. Oh, she’s on vacation, cute...dog...formal pictures...dog...picture of someone’s dessert...dog. For years, I ran three different instagram accounts: my personal account, my sorority’s account, and my “finsta”. But this year, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and finally make an instagram to showcase my art. I am an illustrator and graphic designer, although I find it very hard to label myself as such. I became very passionate about digital illustration a little over a year ago, while I lived alone over a summer and felt myself falling into an artistic drought. Today, illustrating is a peaceful escape from the buzz of school and work, and a way to make sense of my confusing ‘woman in her early 20’s trying to figure life out’ phase.
I was incredibly nervous to create an Instagram account for my art. Like a lot of young women, I often have trouble owning myselfor showcasing achievements I’m proud of out of fear of it seeming like bragging or gross self promotion. However, I knew that I was no longer content with my art solely living within my laptop’s hard-drive. So, I made the leap. I created an art account (testing out many, many different usernames) and I sat and waited for people to follow me. But… they didn’t. I started using hashtags like #illustrator, #graphicdesign, #colorful, #artformentalhealth. These hashtags gained some attention from fellow digital art makers, and connected me to illustration students around the world. The hashtag that really lead me to a wealth of inspiring art, however, was #femaleillustratorsoninstagram. This close-knit community of digital movers and shakers brightens my feed everyday with colorful art that packs strong messages within its frames. Thanks to these women, I have found Instagram to be more and more of a positive asset, rather than a time-draining force that fills me with FOMO. Here are just a few of the talented women that you should check out to brighten your feed and inspire your creative mind:
Eugénie is a freelance artist based in Reims, France. She has a distinct style of character design: her feed is full of lovable pastel cartoon women watching Netflix, drinking coffee, and fighting for women’s rights. Her account has a perfect balance between simple, visually stunning graphics and illustrations advocating for mental health awareness among young women, improving women’s healthcare. That’s what I call #smashingthepatriarchy.
Joelle Avelino (@joelle_avelino)
Joelle says it herself in her bio: she is “obsessed with colour”. Not only is her work vibrant and visually intriguing, she creates pieces that highlight important social issues and inspiring female leaders, such as the above illustration of Neema Namamdamu, a Congolese women's rights activist. She has also created beautiful illustrations for the #13MillionInNeed movement for humanitarian assistance in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and animations that present the female body in a fresh, unique, and empowering way.
Rhaida El Touny (@diddyeltouny)
Rhaida, based out of The Hauge, Netherlands, identifies herself in her bio as a “Creative Muslim Woman” who “stands for diversity & female empowerment”. Much of her art explores life as a Muslim woman in a global cultural context. Her long captions, when translated, discuss her relationship with the hijab, depictions of Muslim women in popular media, diversity, and acceptance. Follow her for simultaneously stunning and educational posts that stimulate intriguing dialogues.
Bronte Rose Marando (@bronterose)
Bronte Rose is an artist based in Sydney, Australia whose pieces remind me of a spooky-sweet Tim Burton movie. Her use of desaturated colors and desolate, fantastical environments makes her unique style undeniable. I love her profile specifically for its folk art illustrations that reimagine classic stories in Marando’s distinctive fashion. Follow her for detailed pieces that harken you back to childhood Lemony Snicket adventures.
Bruna’s profile is a holistic portrait of the life of a stylish young woman in a global, technological age. Her illustrations are colorful and delightfully simple. Her subjects showcase women laying in bed, reading, drinking coffee with friends, dancing, embracing their bodies, and protesting against oppressive legislation. I highly recommend following her to see personalized portraits of women that inspire her life.
Josephine Rais (@josephinerais)
Josephine is a strategic designer and illustrator based in Berlin, Germany. Her attention to detail, specificity in subjects, and vibrant color palette contributes to an overall delightful visual style. A large amount of her art focuses on female body empowerment, women’s mental health, and political action. Her latest posts include a call to vote in the European elections, and a protest piece against the recent anti-abortion laws passed in the United States. Definitely follow her for an empowering kick in your feed.
Mae’s feed is a flood of ferns and other various flora. She uses a calming desaturated color palette that unites her work gorgeously. She often places female subjects in these natural environments - she does describe herself in her bio as a “crazy plant lady”. I recommend giving her a follow for a calm, relaxing scenes that will bring some peace and deep breaths to your feed.
Sarah Cunningham (@zombiefacesarah)
Sarah’s art reminds me of storybooks my mom used to read to me before I went to sleep, thanks to the intricate, detailed illustration and colorful imagery. Her pieces focus heavily on environmentalism, female body empowerment, and reproductive and transgender legislation. It is impossible not to smile when you look at her profile; each piece radiates positivity that may be lacking on your instagram.
Julia is a German illustration who works mostly in portraits. Her pieces blend realism with a pop art style that gives her feed a unique, almost mystical aura. Her pieces prompt you to think deeply about a woman’s identity, physically and mentally. Many of her illustrations use interesting over laying effects that imply deeper meanings regarding body empowerment, or struggles with mental wellness in young women. Julia’s feed is so intriguing and beautiful to me, I definitely recommend following her to think and enjoy some gorgeous pastel pieces.
Women of Illustration (@womenofillustration) & Sad Girls Club (@sadgirlsclub)
Okay, okay, I know I’m kind of cheating here, first because this is a 2 and 1, and second because these aren’t individual artists. However, these are two accounts I highly recommend following if you want to find even more incredible, inspiring female artists on instagram (because there are literally thousands). Women of Illustration is both a podcast and fabulously colorful Instagram, from which I discovered a few of the women I mentioned earlier in this article. Sad Girls Club is an account specifically dedicated to the mental health of Gen Z and millennial women that is propelled by women of color.
If you’re like me, a lot of your daily social media intake can be dominated by a lot of FOMO, self-comparison, and aggravating politics. If you want to fill your feed with content that inspires you socially, politically, and creatively, you should follow these women and connect yourself to the incredible network of supportive female artists that exists online. Happy scrolling!