So What’s the Big Fuss About Pinterest, Anyway?

A couple weeks ago I asked what CHA was. OK, so now we know all about that. But now there's something else I suspect I really need to understand more fully: Pinterest. I'm guessing that I'm not the only one who's not quite sure what all the fuss is about, right? I mean, sure, we've heard about it, and our friends have maybe raved about how fabulous it is, but what with Facebook and Twitter and our blogs and websites and omg, that ancient abandoned MySpace page, well. Who has the time, really, to figure out whether or not Pinterest is something they really *can't* live without? Yeah, that's how I feel, too. I'm lucky: I work with a bunch of editors who are right there on the cutting edge of stuff in the online mixed media community, and they use and love Pinterest, so I asked them to tell us more. I'll share some of what they had to say here and then do another post as more of them have a chance to share. Tonia Davenport, the acquisitions editor for North Light Books and one of the editors here at CreateMixedMedia, is responsible for getting me to sign up for Pinterest. She's pretty compelling, and when she thinks something's cool, I usually end up joining. Here's what she has to say about why she thinks Pinterest is a really cool thing. How would you describe Pinterest? Pinterest is an online version of that little notebook you take everywhere with you so that you can write down an idea when it hits you. It's a virtual bulletin board that you pin things you like onto, when you're wandering around the Internet, much like you would rip a page out of a magazine and pin it to an actual cork board. I'm very particular about what I "pin," meaning I really only select things that I truly love, so what I accumulate is really the crème de la crème of inspiration for me.
Why do you like it?
"Like" isn't a strong enough word. I love Pinterest, now that I actually understand how it works. (For the longest time, I truly didn't "get it.") I love it because it has removed the "I have no idea what to create" situation when I actually find myself with time to make art or a project. I now have so many good ideas "pinned up" on my boards that I can log into Pinterest (including on my iPhone) and immediately see a reminder of lovely things I want to make or want to make my own spin on. I'm not an organized person by nature and never could do this sort of thing with real file folders and paper lists and such, so having it online and so easy to keep track of what I love is life-changing for me—much in the same way that Facebook was (another thing I resisted for a long time). Another reason I love it is that it's almost completely visual, like a big picture book.
What benefits does it have for mixed media artists?
It's a place where you can instantly share your work with others, but even more than that, it's a place where you can get so much inspiration on a wide variety of things you love—food, altered clothing, sewing, knitting, jewelry, painting, typography, colors, textures, quotes, home décor, papercrafts . . .
anything that we as artists love in our day-to-day lives—and get them instantly. Not only that, but it's continually changing and a new flood of things come in daily.
As an editor, I think the value of Pinterest is in watching trends and seeing what people like/get into.
Maybe you know this already, but in some ways it's kind of like Facebook in that what you "pin" shows up on the "following" page of anyone who follows you, and when you are on your own "following" page—which is the default page that comes up when you log on—you see pins of people that you follow. So, in that way it's like Facebook. But what makes it really cool is that you can also see what anyone pins by going to one of the "explore" pages. This is where it is so much easier to get a lot of potentially inspiring things in one eyefull instead of searching left and right over many pages over the Internet. The way something ends up on these more universal pages is that the boards people are pinning them on are assigned a category (something you have to do yourself—they're not automatically categorized).
Thanks, Tonia—that helps a *lot.* On Wednesday, we'll hear from some of my fabulous editors over at Stampington--because they're big Pinterest fans, too.
And, if you're already using Pinterest, be sure to follow CreateMixedMedia for all kinds of great inspiration.
Ricë also blogs over at The Voodoo Cafe.

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