Need a dose of artistic inspiration after surviving 2020? Same here.
Following graphic designers and illustrators on Instagram can help you make that happen. You’ll get pops of bright colors and doses of design inspiration in a variety of styles ranging from typography to hand lettering to painting.
Not sure where to start? We’ve picked 10 of our favorite graphic designer Instagram accounts so that you can see some of the best work out there, get advice from the experts, and start 2021 strong.
10 Graphic Designers to Follow on Instagram
1. Danielle Coke (@ohhappydani)
Danielle Coke’s Instagram feed is filled with happy illustrations in bright colors underscoring a serious message: anti-racism. Coke routinely shows compassion paired with action and has even translated her illustrations on allyship and systematic racism into a Skillshare course on creating sharable art for social change.
“The impact that it has on other people impacts me as well, because I’ll share it and somebody will say, ‘I’ve been looking for the words to say what you just communicated with this piece,’” says Coke.
2. Dominic Flask (@dangerdom)
Kansas-based illustrator Dominic Flask works in bold lines, striking a balance between retro and punk rock with audacious colors and cool subjects like spaceships, aliens, and castles.
You might recognize his design style from the work he’s done with brands like Google, Uber, and Yelp. Working under the moniker “Danger Dom,” he creates motion graphics, icon and badge designs, and interactive designs.
3. Simona De Leo (@simona_deleo_illustrator)
Simona De Leo is a woman of many talents, including understanding how to transfer emotion into illustration. Her well-curated Instagram feed feels like a dip into a daydream, with peaceful blues and greens depicting floral motifs and musical motions.
“My passion is to connect with my audience through illustrating feelings, and [to] illustrate topics that people care about, such as mental health, diversity, and quality,” she says.
4. Tamari Chabukiani (@tamari.chabukiani)
If there is one person in this world who understands brand identity design, it’s Tamari Chabukiani. She’s the founder and art director of Pragmatika Design, a studio specializing in brand identities, and her Instagram is filled with logo illustrations that are deceivingly simplistic and strikingly geometric.
“I’m a true believer that mastery comes from learning and mastering the basics, and I believe that these underlying principles are what makes good design great,” she says.
5. Nikkolas Smith (@nikkolas_smith)
Nikkolas Smith pairs art with activism through his digital paintings. Many of his portraits, including those of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, are focused on social justice and have gone viral. His rough, almost unfinished paintings sketch a tale of life interrupted, tracing stories of grief and outrage.
But the former Disney Imagineer also sketches Black joy: his children’s book The Golden Girls of Rio features the women athletes of the 2016 Summer Olympics, and My Hair Is Poofy and That’s Okay tells young Black girls that their hair is beautiful. Smith’s work has attracted admirers across the nation, with Michelle Obama resharing his painting of George Floyd, and fans sharing his portrait of Chadwick Boseman.
6. Mimi Chao (@mimizchao)
A freelance illustrator in Los Angeles, Mimi Chao’s illustrations seep magic out of the screen. Her Instagram page is the definition of natural storytelling, and Chao’s playful curiosity is easily apparent.
Beyond pleasing visuals, Chao’s Instagram is a worthwhile investment of your time as she encourages others to follow their dreams by offering tutorials and downloadables for free practice as a designer.
7. Aaron James Draplin (@draplin)
Aaron Draplin’s design style is unmistakable with bold colors and thick lines. While his designs themselves are interesting to look at, his Instagram posts often dig deeper by sharing the different ways his work is used or even the sketches he created before landing on the final look.
Draplin isn’t afraid to be transparent about his creative process—and even the fears he has about whether or not clients will like his work. “I have a presentation coming up next week for something and I’m afraid of it because you don’t want to let anyone down,” he says in his Skillshare class about creative careers.
8. Jessica Hische (@jessicahische)
As a lettering artist and author, Jessica Hische fills her Instagram feed with her iconic style of logotype—a mix of logos and typography—as well as work she completes for clients like Wired Magazine, The New York Times, Penguin Books, Tiffany & Co., and more.
You’ll even get a glimpse into her printing process and her freelance career. If you like what you see, she teaches a Logotype Masterclass on Skillshare. According to Hische, “The hardest thing about any project is actually getting the ball rolling and getting started.”
9. Sophia Yeshi (@yeshidesigns)
In just one glance, you can tell that Sophia Yeshi has a passion for whimsical colors, quirky characters, and bold ideas. You’ll marvel at her mix of illustrative work for clients (like her recent UPS campaign) and her inspirational sayings.
Her work speaks with a rhythm that you can learn through her Skillshare class. “The reason why I really loved graphic design and illustration is because it allows me to have a voice,” she says. “Whether it’s my personal feelings or empowering and inspiring messages, I tried to share things that I think that my community will relate to.”
10. Mary Kate McDevitt (@marykatemcdevitt)
Illustrator Mary Kate McDevitt specializes in hand lettering designs, so of course you’ll see plenty of bold letters dance across her Instagram page. You can even see how her designs are featured off the screen in stationery.
Create Your Own Instagram Illustrations
Instagram Illustration: Make Shareable Art for Social Change.
How Do Graphic Designers Use Instagram?
Now that you have some inspiration in your back pocket, we can’t blame you if you’re eager for more details about how to be a graphic designer on Instagram.
As the above accounts show you, there isn’t one set path. If you’re looking at how to use Instagram as a graphic designer, it’s smart to see how other designers are making the most of it and then create a plan for how you think the platform will work best for you.
Most designers use Instagram to post their finished work and, ideally, attract more clients. But you can also show works in progress, provide education on design topics, engage with your followers through live video, and more.
Regardless of what you land on and what your goals are, remember that consistency is key. If you want to gain traction on the platform, you need to show up regularly.
How Do Graphic Designers Make Money on Instagram?
Beyond sharing work or advice, graphic designers can make Instagram work for them by actually converting their audience into paying customers.
So what does a graphic designer do to make money on Instagram? The platform can be used in a variety of ways to get your artwork shared (and potentially picked up or purchased by other outlets), land new clients, or even translate your designs into merchandise.
Here are a few tips to make the most of your Instagram presence—and increase your chances of making money.
1. Write a Clear Graphic Designer Instagram Bio
Part of this process means optimizing your graphic designer Instagram bio to get found. Your graphic designer Instagram bio should include your location, the type of work you do, and a call to action that leads people to click the link in your profile.
Some graphic designers will include a link to their portfolio, online shop, or tutorials. If you have multiple links to promote, create a page on your personal website to point potential customers to.
2. Treat Your Feed Like Your Portfolio
Since your Instagram feed is visible and public (and will show up in Google searches!), it’s smart to treat it like an extension of your portfolio, making it both visually appealing and cohesive.
Designer Danielle Coke recommends using an Instagram color palette that pairs well with your personal brand’s aesthetic. “You’ve really got to marry those two palettes together to create something that is unique and stands out but still fits in with your Instagram aesthetic,” she says.
3. Leverage Captions and Hashtags
To be discovered by users, advertisers, and potential customers, you need to use the right captions and hashtags.
“I never want to say exactly what I’ve already said in the illustration in the caption,” said Coke. “What I like to do is instead make a meaningful caption that encourages someone to take a specific action, or helps them to reflect on a takeaway that I think should come from the illustration.”
You should occasionally include a call to action in your posts, which can be as simple as reminding people that your work is available for sale or asking them to contact you.
You can choose different hashtags based on your particular design style, or even hashtags that are tied to your location to cultivate a local following. Research and use trending hashtags related to design to increase your image’s visibility.
Make Your Instagram Account Work for You
Branding on Instagram for Graphic Designers.