I’ve been thinking recently a bit about Pinterest. I’ve only joined it last week because a client wanted to send me a private board to show some ideas they liked for a logo. I’ve seen a little bit of my work circulating there, which I don’t mind but the whole site has always made me uneasy and I’ve recently been trying to pin down (pardon the pun) the reasons why it bothers me.
Here’s some fragmented thoughts, I would love to hear what you think and how you use pinterest and maybe avoid some of these issues? Or maybe even why you don’t care?
1. Artists Recognition – I use a couple of other more design focused sites (like Pinterest) to peruse new intriguing trends in the design world. Designspiration, Dribbble and designers.mx are the main ones. Designspiration has some similar problems as pinterest where it can be very difficult to get to the root of who created the tagged/pinned image. This is a whole lot of frustrating to me. As an artist but also as a person who likes to really follow other artists. I don’t admire the idea of passively liking images, I like to investigate who created them and be able to promote that artist or at least honor their creativity. This is a huge problem with Pinterest, and Tumblr. I have time and time again found images I absolutely love and been unable to find the source. Thank goodness for Tin Eye! Images growing in popularity without the original creator being recognized is not a great future for the arts. It’s a residual de-valuing of what they have made and it takes the humanity out of the piece. Almost like it was just made by the internet. But also, if the image is sourced, is just the artists name enough or should their contact/site be linked as well? Or, if it’s photographs of found art and design in public places, is it wrong to post those images if you are unaware of who originally created them? How far do we take recognition, can art not be enjoyed unless it’s creator is known?
2. Personal Image – There’s something happening with Pinterest that I find very strange. Collecting inspiration for your own personal enhancement or growth or whatever is one thing. Obviously, art is created to be looked at and enjoyed. But displaying that inspiration publicly? What is the benefit? Especially when the artists are not being recognized. We have turned everything we do online to lead to some social growth or benefit. Is there anything we keep to ourselves? Do we have any secret inspiration, any tricks up our sleeves? Or is the collecting of inspiration more for the sake of showing it off than actually being inspired?
3. Too much of the same kind of good – Pinterest is full of lovely things. As are many other image sharing sites. BUT, if we truly are trying to be unique and be inspired in unique ways…is pinterest really the place? What about the library? What about an antique store? Or a book store? What about an actual museum? Are we settling for the easy click or are we actually still experiencing beautiful things out in the world? And are we willing to do the hard work to sift through some muck to get to the good stuff. Trends are neat and I love them as much as anyone. But too much of the same ol’ trendy stuff being streamed to our brains constantly through a screen cannot be creating thoughtful artists in us.
There are some obvious up-sides to Pinterest. I don’t mean to ignore those, I just think maybe the benefits it offers can be found completely without it. And I’m sure, like with any internet fad, it’s glory days will at some point come to pass. I write these thoughts down to merely challenge my own pursuit of cataloguing inspiration in hopes that other artists may need the extra challenge as well. The challenge to consume with integrity and to not abandon the whole concept of creativity in their pursuit of it.
Now, I started writing this post because I wanted to feature some images from my secret source. The Flickr commons are a vast library of image collections from all over the world. Most of what can be found in the deep recesses of the commons is very old and my husband often makes fun of me for the weird photos I find there that I am so fond of. I’ve always loved old things and old photographs. I love to be transported by them. But Flickr in general has a lot of amazing images…all sourced. Great catalogues of ephemera and fonts and lettering too! And it allows the artist or library to get a real read on what images are being enjoyed by the public…which I think is really nice for them to know and feel the benefits of their work. Even in just a small way.

Some great commons feeds…
New Zealand National Library
State Library of Queensland, Australia
National Media Museum Library
Click on any image below to learn about where it came from.