There is no doubt that millennials are using social media as a platform for expression and success. Some large pages are even paid to post content on Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter.
Jean Getrost is one of the many who used social media as a stepping stone. Her dream of having a career in fashion developed when she was in middle school, watching the Style Network channel. She wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to do in fashion, but she loved what she saw. “I assumed that you could either be a designer or a model,” she told Entrepreneur. She states that she drew a lot of clothing. She claims to not have understood the industry, so she did not “know that fashion illustrations was even a thing”.
When she was older, she took drawing composition classes at a local college. She also began learning about fashion illustration through Google, feeling out what career paths she could take.
Getrost decided to major in journalism since it seemed more practical than attending college for an arts degree. After college, she says she “did that thing that I think a lot of creatives do, where you kind of dance around what you actually want to do”.
She worked sales positions in art galleries, which she claimed to not be “very creative at all”. Following that, she got a job in Los Angeles (LA) at a vintage retail shop.
The vintage stores clientele ranged from actors, to designers, to bloggers and influencers. Getrost saw how these public figures used Instagram as a platform; as a way to show the world what you can do. She took her chance.
Today, she is a professional fashion illustrator who has more than 107,000 followers on Instagram, under the name @jeanettegetrost. Jeanette has been featured in Vogue, and had partnerships with Chanel, Coach, Tiffany and Co., and many more. She explains that working at the vintage store aided in launching her career, and how Instagram’s platform helped shape her artistic style.
The following information has been paraphrased from a Question and Answer interview by Entrepreneur.
Getrost managed the vintage stores social media account. She says that actresses, designers, bloggers, etc. would come in and take pictures at the store and tag them. They saw an increase of business and a follower count growth after that. She saw that Instagram could be used to professionally promote yourself, or a business. Although she had majored in journalism, she was still drawing on the side. She began posting her drawing content to instagram, adding “fashion illustrator” to her bio. She explained that she began getting small inquiries for gigs, illustrations for websites that were launching, etc.
She says that she began drawing and posting daily. She learned how to strategically hashtag to gain the right audience, which is harder than it seems. She would get reposted by account with a million followers, which in turn gained her some followers herself. She had reached ten thousand followers a year to date after first posting her own work. A year after that, she has 80 thousand followers.
She began freelancing within about a year of posting. Today, she has been freelancing for four years. Six months after posting her own work she got her first gig for an actual brand with JustFab.com. During her second year she was featured in a Vogue article titled, “Why Fashion’s New It Girls Are Holding Hot Pens, Not Purses”. She says, “The article legitimized me and gave me more opportunities”. She has also worked with Coach several times, as well as at a live sketch even in New York on the High Line. She also had her first fashion week gig through Tadashi.
Content wise, she used to post daily. She says that now she only posts things that she feels represent her and her taste. She also says that she tries to feel her creative process with her followers, like posting pictures of her studio. Strategy wise she says, “I’m slowing down a little bit and using Instagram the way I used it when it first came out, where it feels more personal to me. I want to be seen as an artist first, doing things that feel a little bit more true to my taste instead of something feeling like an ad or a product post”. Although, Instagram is still a very important outlet for her. She guesses that about 85% of inquiries that she receives come from people that see her Instagram.
In the past, during her partnership with Project Runway, they would send her their episodes prior to airing and she would sketch out the winning look. She would post the illustration on her account, and they would on theirs. But as she has said, she does not want to be seen as someone who only posts “ads”. She also states that she does not want to only be seen as a sketch artist.
As soon as Jeanette described herself as a fashion illustrator in her Instagram, bio, she claims to have been taken more seriously. “It’s important to set your intentions. Don’t worry too much. It’s going to take several years or months or however long, especially if you’re starting out as an artist, to really develop your own sense of style. It’s just something you have to be patient with. I believe in working at your craft every day, if possible. It’s the only real way to improve”.
That piece of advice is especially important for the young creative community, as well as the creative community as a whole. Social media an attainable platform, but greatness takes time. Jeanette is walking proof of that, she is evidence that hard work pays off and does not necessarily come quick and easy. “Pay attention to what is working. If people are responding really well to a certain kind of post, then maybe you just focus on doing that for a while”.
Recently, Jeanette has created some content for Chanel’s pop-up beauty shop in LA. She says that she wanted to create a post that stayed true to her “artistic expression”, but was still informative. She found taking a picture of the illustration matched to the background of the red Chanel logo to be “unique and effective”.
All her creative ventures can be seen on her Instagram, like her passion for painting. One can surely say that Jeanette Getrost is self-made. She is a clear inspiration in the fashion field, as well as for creatives in general. She herself pushes the “work hard” and “use your sources” credo that should be adopted by all creatives trying to make it in their field.