Pinning With a Purpose: How Artists Use Pinterest

How to best use the fastest-growing social media site on the web.


If you haven't started using Pinterest yet, there's no time like the present. Pinterest is one of the fastest growing and most frequently visited social media sites, with over 11 million members. Artspan is on Pinterest, sharing the inspiring work of our members, and we think it's a good idea for you to join too. Here are some tips about how artists use this trendy tool to market their work and inspire their art.

Create Your Own Digital Portfolio

You can create boards on Pinterest to share your work. This is a great way to showcase your best pieces to a targeted audience of artists, galleries, and potential customers. You can upload images directly, or pin your portfolio directly from your blog. This way the images will link back to their original source.

If you're like millions of artists who have file cabinets and folders that are filled to the brim with magazine clippings, photocopies, images, color chips and other inspirational scrap material for future projects, you may want to consider converting your inspirational materials to digital. Visual artist Joe Frankin uses Pinterest boards as an organizational tool. "I have been tearing things out of magazines and saving them for years until they really started to clutter my studio,” he says "When Pinterest came out, I realized I could get rid of that paper and organize my files in a more efficient way."

Keep in mind, Pinterest’s terms of service explicitly ask that users don’t use the site purely as a tool for self-promotion, however, it’s okay to showcase some of your best work by pinning it.

Find Inspiration

For Jen Rovino, a Chicago-based craftswoman, and many others, Pinterest is most useful as a curatorial platform for inspiring images. "When I feel like I need a little visual boost of creativity, Pinterest is the site I turn to.” she says, “the site’s simple layout makes it easy to focus on the images.”

Photographer Kevin Vernon finds plenty of inspiration in the Pinterest world. "I'm constantly finding new things to explore, and usually it starts with the material or the environment around me, which is why Pinterest is so appealing," he explains. "If Pinterest was 'static' it would be boring. In my work, I'm constantly adding to and subtracting from this palette of interests and Pinterest helps facilitate this."

Connect Pinterest to Facebook, Twitter and Your Blog

If you write a blog you can embed your pins into your blog posts. To do this, click on one of your pins. You’ll see some options for social media sharing on the right side of your screen, and one of them says “Embed.” Click on that button, and you’ll get the HTML code that you can put into a blog post to create beautiful, compelling post content.

Pinterest also makes it really easy to share you new pins and re-pins on Facebook and Twitter. Again, click on any pin and then look over on the far right to see options for sharing your pins on Facebook and Twitter. Denise Edwards, a Baltimore-based painter said “I like doing this because I can pin something and also share it on my other social media sites, which helps me create content for all my social media accounts quickly and easily.”

Show Your True Colors

The whole point of Pinterest is to be yourself. You want to pin and share things you think are beautiful, interesting, and exciting. Being yourself and pinning interesting things, not just self-promotional items, will build your brand; people will want to do business with you as a person. They will enjoy connecting with you through the personal self-expression of Pinterest and will likely consider buying your art or working with you because they like who you are and what you’re about.

If you focus on creating beautiful and compelling visual content for Pinterest, just like you focus on making great art, and the rest will fall into place in time.

How Do I Start Pinning?

The first thing you'll need to do is get a Pinterest account. You can go to the Pinterest website and request an invite or ask a friend who is already on the site to send you an invite.

Once you're on, the next thing you'll need is the "Pin It" button installed in your browser toolbar. This little button is what allows you to pin things online. Installing the button is very easy—when you're in your Pinterest account, look to the upper right-hand corner and hover above "About," then click on "Pin It Button" and follow the directions to drag the button into your toolbar.

Or instead of using the "Pin It" button, you can also copy and paste links from sites you like, and it will search for photos from that page, which you can then pin. You can also upload photos from your computer.

Pinterest Terms to Know

"A Pin" = an image

"To Pin" = repost an image using the "pin it" button from a website

"To Repin" = repost "A pin" (an image) from another pinner

"Pinner" = User , ie artspan is "artspan" my pinner id is "grevina"

"Board" = An album or collection, usually with a theme

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