Episode 23: Creative Enough

"You absolutely can do it, just go do it. Stop complaining and stop wishing that you had their talent and go after your own talent." -Gretchen Roehrs

What started out as a search for an artistic outlet in Silicon Valleybecame a journey of unplanned success. How does social media factor into your hustle? How do you stay true to your art when you still doubt yourself?

Gretchen Roehrs was doing her daily grind in Silicon Valley. Sure that she was not talented enough to be an artist, Gretchen saw her design Instagram as a practice in self-expression and nothing more. That was before her art went completely viral. Now she's being talked about by publications all over the internet and working on a coffee table book with an imminent launch. So what made the shift for Gretchen from feeling inadequate to owning her artwork? How did she go from feeling out of place to utilizing her platform for good? 


Raised in Marshall, Missouri, Gretchen Roehrs attended Stephens College and studied Fashion Design. Caught at the crossroads between tech and fashion, Gretchen set out to show Silicon Valley how user experience could benefit from great design. But Gretchen went from sending sketches of her lunch to her friends to sparking the interest of officials at Vogue. The unexpected scope of her success has taken Gretchen by surprise, but it didn't scare her out of doing what she loves.

"Every kid messes around with their food and tries to make something out of make-believe. That’s pretty much what I’m doing, I just have a bigger Instagram following than they do," Gretchen tells us, jokingly.

Gretchen knew that she had to express herself creatively, but like many artists, she found her creations underwhelming when compared to the work of others. 

Luckily, this frustration didn't stop her from flexing her creative muscles because what Gretchen saw as a pet project, her followers saw as stunning works. The whimsy in Gretchen's illustrations were exactly what her audiences were looking for. Soon her scope was broad enough that she could really make a difference with her art.

"We’re kind of in this age where it’s really hard to justify just doing something because it’s beautiful, even as an artist," Gretchen shares. For this reason, her chic drawings have become a way for her to discuss causes that matter to her. Gretchen has led successful movements from her Instagram to empower people to donate to Planned Parenthood and hurricane relief. 

Clearly Gretchen has exceeded her expectations of how far-reaching her art can be. Now that she sees how far passion can take you, Gretchen's advice is to "be accepting of flaws," rather than convincing yourself that you should call it quits even if you're not "creative enough."

Check out the key to Gretchen's success: her Instagram!

In this episode, Gretchen shares the confusion that comes with cramped creativity and the joy that comes when you jump on an opportunity.

Give it a listen: 

Season 1Sydney Stephens