I must admit, over this summer I’ve become completely addicted to Pinterest. But wait—before we get into any deeper discussions on the merits or lack thereof of pinterest, let me share with you a couple grin-inducing pins from today:
Okay, so if all you wanted from this post was a quick grin, read no more (but follow me on Pinterest). And if any mention of Pinterest makes you compulsively crack a joke about their massively female audience, as is the case for my three silicon-valley-engineer housemates, then I don’t want to hear it.
Yes, Pinterest has a ton of female users who are gleefully wasting time pinning pictures of fashion, food, vacation, and interior decorating. It’s a well known fact, and I have to admit to indulging in this create-your-own-girly-magazine craze. For an idea of just how popular Pinterest has become, check out TechCrunch’s description: “As of May, comScore said Pinterest had achieved 4377% year over year growth. That’s a lot of cupcakes and cute dresses. Some early stats also pegged Pinterest as having an overwhelmingly female user base — possibly as high as 97% ladies.” (Read the full article).
But while women no doubt make up the majority of Pinterest’s users, there are many significant minorities that play an interesting role on Pinterest. For me, the main reason why I continue to use Pinterest frequently is the world of designers that I discovered on that site.
For several semesters now, my teachers have given me advice to spend as much time as I can looking at design. Looking at design, appreciating design, figuring out what design I like and what I don’t like, honing my ability to tell good design from bad, all of this comes from looking at a LOT of design. Remember the phrase “steal like an artist”? Well if you haven’t seen much, you don’t have much to steal. And while I got a whole list of good design websites from my teachers, I couldn’t seem to bring myself to check any them on a daily or even weekly basis.
But now with Pinterest there is an unimaginable amount of design at my fingertips. Plenty of designers, female and male, post all their best finds to boards that I am then free to follow. It provides a way for me (and any other designer) to pin designs I like in general, pin designs that have good ideas for projects I’m working on right now, pin designs for projects in the future so I don’t forget where I saw them, get a sense of what other designers are pinning and appreciating, and share my favorite designs with others. It is a replacement or at least great augmentation to traditional project inspiration boards or mood boards. I’ve seen several teachers and classmates use Pinterest boards for school assignments or research for projects at work, and have been doing the same myself.
However, there is also a bit of a problem with Pinterest, that could especially affect designers and artists. Namely, when you pin something on Pinterest, Pinterest makes a copy of that image, wherever it is on the web, and resaves it in their files. This opens up some mighty tricky copyright issues. So far they have managed to stay out of any serious trouble about it, but the issue hasn’t been entirely cleared up. As a point in case just look to the top image in this post, “There is work to be done but all I want to do is read.” When I clicked the pin to the original website that the image was found on, it took me to flickr, where a user named meganleestudio had uploaded it. However, she had uploaded it with All Rights Reserved, and disabled the downloading of any of her images. But now that it’s pinned to Pinterest, I had no trouble saving the image from Pinterest to use in my blog. From the watermark at the bottom of the image, I can see that the image comes from her etsy store, where she sells t-shirts with that design. In the world of e-commerce, she’s trying to both market her design and product as well as protect it from illegal downloading or copying that might threaten her livelihood as a designer. And Pinterest just threw a major wrench in her gears.
So, steal like an artist or steal from an artist? What do you think about Pinterest?