Five ways of using Pinterest to enhance your art practice

Should you be using Pinterest as a serious tool for your art practice? If you don’t already do so, here are a few ideas you may like.
Five ways of using pinterest for your art practice
For years I was aware of Pinterest but just didn’t get it. The people I knew who were Pinteresters were in the midst of planning weddings and finding it hugely useful. They were curating boards for every aspect of the event. I thought it was just another planning tool so I dismissed it.

Planning is one of Pinterest’s applications, but it isn’t the only one, or in fact the most valuable. Pinterest is a huge visual search engine.  And unlike Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, your pins don’t just disappear into the ether. Pinterest boards have much greater lifespan.  As with all digital tools, the trick is to work out how to make it work for you.

Here are a few ideas for artists using Pinterest

  • Spread your reach

    This is probably the most obvious. Sharing your work makes you more visible. Discoverability is key. If people don’t know about your work, they won’t be buying your art.  I have had commissions and sales from people finding my pins.

  • Subject Research

    This is where Pinterest’s hidden boards are really useful. When I was working on a commission of a painting of a snowboarder, it was really important to make sure the body position was accurate. Making a collection of copyright-free photographs on a temporary board I was able to ensure my energetic subject was speeding downhill in the right pose. The board was only visible to me and a one click delete when I knew I was done with it meant it isn’t still there when it’s no longer relevant. A word of warning – when using reference pictures in this way, make sure you don’t copy. Use your pins to check details, but always produce your own artistic interpretation.  I use multiple images and take information from all of them.

  • Market research

    Do you want to find out what your ideal customer is interested in? Following some Pinterest users who are interested in your subject matter gives you a good idea of the other things they like. Does this provide ideas for more subject matter, or perhaps for places you could reach your target market?

  • Using Pinterest to hone your style

    Louise Fletcher recently sent out an email newsletter in which one of her suggestions really resonated for me. She suggested looking on Pinterest for work you like, and then working out just what it is that you like about it. This is something I’ve found hugely helpful for a while now. Becoming more aware about what you like will help you critique and curate your own work. Now that Pinterest has added the facilities to put sections on your boards you can build collections of collections. Putting artwork on a board gives me the ability to see different examples of work by artists I find inspiring. I can work out which aspects of their work I like and ask myself what that means to my own work.  It could be a colour I really enjoy, the artist’s use of media or the elements of mark-making. I’ve used this board to start thinking about which direction my work is moving in and to be braver about working outside of my comfort zone.  (Important note: When pinning someone else’s work, don’t forget to check that the pin gives them credit and links back to a site that gives them credit.)

  • Make connections through collaboration

    Take part in group boards or invite other people to pin on your group boards. Collaborating with other artists builds great connections and increases your visibility. Set up a board for your art society, or for fellow artists taking part in a challenge. I was hugely excited when I got my first invitation to pin on a collaborative board. It was a great boost to my Pinterest kudos to have someone consider my work to be of a high enough quality to be included on their board. It may take a while before you get an invitation, but keep on pinning and invite others to pin on group boards you set up. Choose your fellow pinners carefully.

Do you use Pinterest in any other ways? Do let me know in a comment below.

(Footnote: Louise Fletcher and Alice Sheridan produce a weekly podcast called Art Juice that is well worth following. They have become my regular studio companions.)

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