Pinterest for textile artists: Defining goals

Pinterest for textile artists: Defining goals

My recent article Pinterest for textile artists, the basics caused quite a debate in the comments section. It was intended as an introduction to a social media platform which I think is ideal for textile artists; it seems not everyone agrees! Whilst I acknowledge that Pinterest is not ideal for those of you who are concerned about copyright abuse, I think there is enough interest in the significant benefits of the site to warrant  further exploration. So, in this article we’re going to dig a little deeper and start to think about getting the most out of Pinterest as a marketing tool for you and your artwork.

On a side note, in the interests of objectivity, I’m also preparing an article which will focus on the downsides of the way Pinterest works – I think it’s important to see both sides of any story. For the time being, if you’re concerned, perhaps you’d find the following site, recommended by textile artist Arlee Barr useful:

But for now, let’s talk about how to proceed once you’ve set up your Pinterest account. Some of this article may sound a bit business-like and cold for creative minds, but it’s important to remember that your online efforts should lead somewhere. What’s the point of spending hours and hours online if it never results in new sales of your work? You may as well stick to the more traditional methods and there’s nothing wrong with that if you want to keep your focus purely artistic. If, however, you would like to reach a wider audience of potential buyers, perhaps it’s worth thinking like a business-person some of the time?


Before diving straight in and pinning every image that appeals to you to a multitude of random boards, it’s important to define a basic strategy. Who are you trying to reach? What are you hoping the people you connect with will do in response to your boards and pins? How do you shape your Pinterest content to appeal to your ideal client?

Define who you are targeting

Do you know which type of people your textile artwork appeals to? Who are your most loyal fans or most consistent buyers? Who do you enjoy working with?

Try to think about the people who leave regular comments on your blog. Do you have access to metrics about customers who bought your most recent book or attended a recent exhibition? If not, think carefully about the people you’ve communicated with who have converted into buyers.

Of course, your followers won’t fit neatly into one demographic. The people who buy your artwork might be different to those who are interested in reading a book you’ve written about embroidery or print, for example.

In preparing this article, I’m trying to follow my own advice; thanks to a recent survey, I know that our audience here at are mainly textile artists or artists working primarily in another field who occasionally employ textile techniques, with a few art enthusiasts thrown in for good measure. Of course I can break that down further with a bit more research to discover what type of textile art the enthusiasts are mainly interested in, which techniques the artists use etc. This will give me a good idea of 5 or 6 groups that the Pinterest page should be targeting.

Try and make a short list of the people you think you should be targeting.

Here are a few ideas, but the possibilities are endless:

    • Proven buyers of textile art
    • Other well-established artists
    • Gallery owners
    • Textile and art students
    • Training institutions, such as art schools
    • Hobbyists and crafters
    • Young artists looking to expand their range of inspiration or knowledge of different techniques

Try to find out as much as possible about each group. What age are the people who generally buy your work? Are they mainly men or women? Is there interest in art academic or purely for fun? If you use a mailing list client such as MailChimp or AWeber they can provide some basic information on the demographics of your current list.

Once you’ve created a profile of the groups you’re trying to attract, it’s time to explore what they actually want.

What does your target audience want?

When pinning, think about the various groups you identified. Ask yourself, will my potential audience find this image useful, educational, inspiring?

This strategy has been perfected by big-brand companies; Uncle Ben’s has various boards showing how their rice can be used in different meals all aimed at a family-led audience, has various boards targeting fashion for older ladies. But, how do we apply these principles to art? It’s tricky and can’t be as neatly categorised.

When coming up with various boards, think about targeting them specifically to your various groups. If one group you’ve identified is young textile students, you might suggest various sources of inspiration or books for them to look at on a board aimed at exactly that. If your buying audience are mainly women over 50 who are interested textile art inspired by nature, you could pin the work of other artists who create work in this realm.

It’s most important to remember that your audience will primarily be fans of your work, so look to pin images that are related specifically to what you do to give them what they want. In the previous article, I suggest different ways of engaging your audience in your process and what inspires you.

You can attract new followers by pinning the work of other artists whose work has a natural affinity with your own. Each artist’s strategy will be different, but it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes mind-mapping or brain-storming ideas for your boards.

    1. List the groups you are aiming to engage.
    2. Under each group-name, brainstorm boards that might appeal to that group.
    3. What type of images could be pinned to the various boards?

A quick brainstorm of the potential boards on Pinterest for

A quick brainstorm of the potential boards on Pinterest for

Finding focus in the social-media circus

Every week a new social-media platform pops up; business-people and artists alike are feeling increasing pressure to have an online presence everywhere! Of course, if there is only one of you (and I’m assuming in most cases, textile artists don’t have the luxury of assistants), it’s impossible to be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and the plethora of other social media sites and keep the output high-quality and targeted. As Nicky Perryman pointed out in the comments of my first Pinterest article, this can distract you from your primary objective of being an artist!

It’s important to get the promotion of your work in context and be focused, otherwise you can spend 12 hours a day flitting around Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, and realise that you haven’t actually left any time for artistic exploration, experimentation, research or creation.

What is your goal when using Pinterest?

First of all, take a deep breath and think about the actual goal of any social media activities. In most cases, it’s fairly simple: to drive traffic to your website in the hope of gaining interest, engagement and ultimately sales (whether that be for a book, an event, a workshop, an exhibition or a piece of work).

Your personal website (or the platform you use to sell your work) should be the main focus of your online marketing strategy as an artist. It is at the centre of your work and the best place for people to learn more about you, engage with you and hopefully lead them eventually to make a purchase of some sort. Social media marketing has become increasingly important, but what is the point of it if the people you are engaging with on these platforms never actually click through to your site?

Pinterest is no different. In a later article, I’ll talk about how to track Pinterest traffic, sign-ups and conversion in order that you can see which strategies are working well and which aren’t. That way you can do more of what’s effective and less of what isn’t. But for now, let’s just keep in mind that any use of social media is a means to an end, unless you are doing it purely for the enjoyment itself. Keep your simple goal in mind all the time.

Having said all that, before people are likely to click through, it’s important to engage with them and build some trust.

How to achieve that goal


Don’t be afraid to show a sense of humour and let your opinions be heard. Pinterest is all about interest! What are your personal values and how are these reflected in your work? I love the way that Cas Holmes has made her passion for recycling and re-using unwanted objects part of her work and her life; this is an ideal topic for Pinterest and a great way of engaging like-minded people. You can also make use of pinning videos to further your exploration of how your art bleeds into your life or vice versa. Pinning things that you are passionate about can be contagious.

Provide value

Rather than just pinning images of your own work, why not try thinking about other things your ideal audience member would find interesting and educational? Could you link back to tutorials about a particular type of print or stitch technique you’ve used yourself in a piece of work? Is there an online interview with an artist who has similar sources of inspiration to yourself? If your work is concerned with nature, what other pieces of information might relate to an audience attracted to this as a subject matter? Providing value will make you far more popular and trusted than simply self-promoting at every opportunity.

Once you’ve provided value and shown personality, you will find it easier to build a bigger audience faster and then you can do well-timed promotion of your own work. It’s far more likely to be effective once you’ve proved yourself as someone worth engaging with.

What works well for you on Pinterest? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Sunday 19th, January 2020 / 09:03

About the author

Joseph Pitcher is the son of textile artist Sue Stone. He is an actor and voice-over artist and has worked at the RSC, the National Theatre, West End theatres and several other leading regional venues across the UK. Find Joe on Google

View all articles by Joe

19 comments on “Pinterest for textile artists: Defining goals”

  1. Rachel Biel says:

    Hmmm…. most of the people that I know and the boards that I’ve looked at seem to use them more as bookmarks, like your mother does. I really liked it when it first came out and then there was the uproar about how the images were being handled and it’s made me back off quite a bit. Now they have private boards, which I think will be really useful for idea handling.

    Because there is so much on there, it really has become a great tool for thinking about a project or topic. For example, one of my friends was pregnant and her boards were loaded with stuff for the baby. There are lots of great recipes, gardening ideas, etc. I am hoping to work on a series of modern aprons and have been hoarding up images that I’ll later study:

    Do people actually follow through and check sites out? Yes, it is a powerful tool that way, but I have also heard complaints against it becoming too commercial.There are Pinterest addicts who build boards that have thousands of images on them, but I think most of us either have something specific that we are thinking about or enjoy some visual stimulation. I have quite a few TAFA boards and they link back to our site: I am careful to re-pin only members who have loaded their own images. Some of our members are dead set against Pinterest and we even lost one member because we are not making the site “Pin Free”. (It’s impossible as anyone can take a screen print of what they see online and pin it.) We created a “Pin these TAFA members” board which people can look at to see which of our members are pin friendly:

    I know that you are working on another post about the downside of using Pinterest. We have an official policy which might help you understand some of the issues that bother us: Some things are quite technical and most people don’t know about them.

    One of the marketing tools that you did not mention was the use of Group Boards. This is an effective tool as a group board shows up on all of the participants’ pages. We have two: a general member one and one for our members who sell on Etsy. They are allowed to load new images of their own products. So, from there, one could distribute them to the themed boards, too.

    Each person has to decide what works for them.

    • Therese says:

      I am a Textile artist. I use pinterest to store information for myself, others also benefit. As I have a wide knowledge base I have been experimenting with different mediums and techniques in order to find my creative ‘genius’ and hone skills. I have put up some of the spare time activities I’ve been working on, just to share tips of my learned experiences while making stuff. It’s a great place to share knowledge, and advertise web page etc. Anyone can follow my pages and if they use the links will find good quality shared knowledge, enough to achieve a degree in Textile design and technology or other design courses. I didn’t set out to do this, it just happened. Its a good place to research and store info, open knowledge, shelve ideas and pit yourself up against quality. The down sides are, it can be distracting, it can veer you off course, it can open up avenues of shock (the amount of porn on some of the pages from men following my men’s fashion boards is disgusting). I have not used it to advertise, but have directed others to my pages as a source to find good Design and Technology websites. Thanks so much for all your articles I’m enjoying your inspiration.

  2. Joe Joe says:

    Hi Rachel – according to recent research Pinterest has a better click-back rate than any other social media platform (except Facebook).

    Thanks for pointing me towards your To pin or not to pin article – very useful when thinking about both sides of the argument. I’m going to cover Group boards in a future article.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Rouge A Levres says:

    My experience is that Pinterest has the WORST click-through rate on the internet.

    People pin and collect my images by the thousands and I hardly get any visitors. If you want your visitors to see your material on Pinterest and STAY THERE, let them pin.

    If you want them to come to your website you must protect yourself.

    Recipes are a different story because the food pin doesn’t have the recipe, so they need to visit the blog to get it. Everything else is a loss.

  4. Joe Joe says:

    Hi Rouge. Perhaps we can learn something from the recipes? Maybe textile artists can show work in progress to entice people to click through. Or write blog posts on how certain effects were achieved with a ‘Click through to find out how I did this’ message.

    Thanks for the comment and your feedback.

  5. Elaine says:

    Pinterest is a nightmare for artists. Images get pinned and repinned without context or attribution, even if you’ve clearly stated that permission is required to pin. I don’t know anyone who’s benefited from the “exposure” and many, including myself, who have lost control of the use of their artwork because of Pinterest. Its entire platform is based on flagrant disrespect of artist’s rights and legal copyright. Use it to pin things you might want to buy from retailers, and give free advertising to commercial enterprises, but if you are pinning another artist’s work without permission and full attribution, you are, at the very least, contributing to the devaluing of original work.

    • Joe Joe says:

      Hi Elaine – thanks for your comment. I think you make some really good points and I certainly agree that if artists wish to maintain complete control of images it’s probably not a good idea to put them on Pinterest (or on the internet in general, as images can been taken from most websites without permission). Having said that, it’s up to the individual to weigh up the advantages over the disadvantages. If artists give the images a context by creating specific boards and choose to share their own work, the image will always link back to its original source no matter how many times it is re-pinned or shared (this is most likely the artist’s personal site).
      I also think that James Hunting makes an excellent point in the comments of my first article on this subject – it is in not the actual work that is being ‘stolen’ – it is an image of the work. I can see why this might bother a photographer but I don’t quite see how it devalues the actual piece of art or the artist’s work in general? Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I’m not an artist myself so perhaps I’m missing the point – I’d love this explained in more detail.
      One of our aims with is to help artists reach a wider audience and balance their artistic endeavours with being business minded. I still think, if used the right way, Pinterest can be a valuable tool to sell books, give exposure to exhibitions and galleries, and give people an insight into the way an artist works and thinks (allowing a glimpse at their personality) – I think this can almost be achieved without ever having to pin an image of an actual piece of completed work. How about pinning work in progress, sketchbook images, photos of inspiration, photos of yourself working in a studio, details of particular techniques, book covers, gallery and exhibition marketing materials? Perhaps these images would be deemed less precious and sharing them wouldn’t fall so easily under copyright abuse?
      I don’t claim that Pinterest is perfect or that it is the right platform for everyone, but for anyone who does think it may be worthwhile pursuing I’ll be continuing my exploration of it in another article soon. All of this will be countered with an article looking into the downside of Pinterest – with everyone’s permission, I’d like to be able to quote some of the excellent points raised in these comments and the ones from the original article?

  6. Elaine says:

    No, I’m not comfortable with my comments or parts of comments being used in an article. I’d prefer that they stand alone as comments responding to this article.

    Read the Pinterest terms of service. It clearly states that you cannot pin without permission, but that isn’t enforced. Putting something on the Internet in a deliberately chosen context is not a blanket permission for anyone to pin. Furthermore, aside from my own work, I’ve posted work on my blog of other artists – with their permission – that has then been pinned by others with absolutely no attribution and completely incorrect descriptions. And then it’s been repinned and repinned. I’m horrified that my inclusion of someone’s work on my blog has resulted in its random consumption without so much as the artist’s name on the pin board. Linking back to the original site is not the same thing as providing appropriate professional context and attribution, or getting permission, and it takes the control of the work and its presentation out of the artist’s hands – and please don’t tell me it’s flattering. That’s not for you or the pinner to decide.

    Simply saying “you shouldn’t put your stuff on the Internet” is blaming the victim, instead of expecting a higher standard of ethics from those who pin. Read Jaron Lanier’s book You Are Not a Gadget for a much more eloquent treatise than I can provide here about the devaluing of art. There are also a couple of groups lobbying for a more ethical Internet and artists’ rights on the Internet. You should include their perspectives.

    If Pinterest were truly interested in protecting artists from exploitation and abuse, they would make it easy and fast to remove work pinned without permission. I promise you, it is not easy. If they cared about creating an ethical Internet platform more than their bottom line, they would enforce their terms of service and put the onus on the pinner rather than the artist.

    • Joe Joe says:

      Hi Elaine – that’s fine. I would never use your comments without permission and I really appreciate and respect your thoughts on this issue.

      Just to clarify I have read the Pinterest terms of service – my point about not putting images on the internet is in no way defending illicit use of them by anyone or blaming the victim. It’s just realistic; putting images on the internet is leaving them open to being stolen – this isn’t right, but it happens. Just to be clear, every image that appears accompanying an artist’s interview on this site has been given by the artist themselves and I always seek permission to use images for articles.

      I also don’t claim that Pinterest is interested in protecting artists from exploitation – the site exists, people use it – my aim is simply to shine a light on how certain people might get some value out of it, not to defend or celebrate its ethics.

      I would still like clarification on how the actual original piece of art is devalued by a photograph of that work being shared on the internet?

      • Elaine says:

        Just yesterday a respected textile surface designer, entrepreneur, and influential person with many fans posted something she found on Pinterest onto Facebook. It was a beautiful piece of fiber art. On Facebook, there was no attribution at all, no name of the artist, no link back to the artist’s site. Completely irresponsible, and the damage was done by the time some of us reminded her that she needed to credit (and get permission from) the artist. She knew better; but it was just so “stunning” or “awesome” or whatever that she just had to share it — for her own self-promotion and advancement. Pinterest makes this easy and in fact encourages it.

        How does this NOT devalue the work? When everything is free and freely taken without any respect for the artist/maker, and when we know that derivatives — if not outright copying — of the work will take place and that some of the most influential people in the community are complicit in this practice, our right to control the use of our work is destroyed. If, on the other hand, we don’t use the Internet, we’re isolated Luddites who aren’t participating in the community.

        I’ve had work that people pinned and re-pinned over and over on Pinterest. When I (repeatedly) ask for it to be taken down, I’m ignored. The “exposure” is worthless. When I flag it for Pinterest review, nothing happens.

        I know from personal experience that the “fiber art” community (a term I don’t use) can be extremely vindictive and judgemental to artists who try to protect their work and enforce their copyright. I’m sorry to see that you’re not only promoting one of the most problematic sites for artists without any discernment or substantive criticism. You seem to want this site to be a core resource for the entire textile art and craft world, so I encourage you to consider some core guidelines and principles about what and who you promote.

  7. Joe Joe says:

    Hi again Elaine – here at we take attribution very seriously – we would never post an image without permission or without attribution. I’m so sorry and very sad to hear that you think we’re not using discernment – an article about the downside of Pinterest is scheduled for publication in the next couple of weeks and I am doing everything within my power to give a measured and objective view. I fully respect anyone’s opinion and their right not to have their work ‘pinned’ or ‘shared’ without their permission. Some artists like to use Pinterest and these articles are intended as a useful guide for that element of the textile or fiber art community; Pinterest exists and is widely known already by most people – the articles are not intended as a ‘promotion’.

    We sincerely hope that is a useful resource for the textile art and craft world but I think it’s impossible to please all the people all the time.

    I am sincerely sorry if this article has caused offence – we try our best to be open-minded and welcome constructive criticism – thanks for your advice. In our newsletter we actively encourage readers to let us know what we could be doing better.

    Thanks again for your comment and feedback – we hope you might find some of our other material more palatable.

  8. arlee says:

    Just to let you know, even when things are clearly stated here on this site, image stealing still occurs–i filed 8 DMCA notices on people who pinned from my interviews even though my wishes were explicitly stated. There are obviously those who refuse to respect the wishes of others……and THAT is a BIG part of the problem. No common courtesy or sense for some.

  9. Marcine Page says:

    Well, I love Pinterest and while I am not on there as an art business yet I am greatful for your input. My husband is an artist concerned about his images being stolen. I understand Elaine’s stance but I would like to bring forth something that the art world may think about during this time of transition into a new world. Plus, let’s get real. Open sourcing provides a way to level the playing field. I could argue that ideas come through our consciousness and out of us through some divine and beautiful source and that there is no lack in the universe. Sharing opens one’s heart to endless possibilities. I want to foster “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible,” as Charles Eisenstein is touting. Artists are among the group of folks in the forefront of change. It is an unfortunate situation when art is stolen for the purposes of someone else making money but to use one’s energy up on something too big to stop is taking something much more from you than your artifacts. Create and let go and give what you can. I want to make money from my art as much as the next person but without losing the importance of the big picture out there. The world is shifting and consumerism has taken its toll. I say let’s educate the masses on the value of handmade, hopefully recycled, goods to increase the market and help to keep all artists viable economically. I also want to assure Elaine and others that I have a deep regard for their artistic endeavors and honor you for making the world a more beautiful place for everyone.

  10. RandomActsofSewing says:

    I think the paranoia about copyright is just that – paranoia. With the internet the whole game has changed and who really knows who thought of what first. I’ve seen artists who are true innovators – Teesha Moore comes to mind – who don’t get their knickers in a twist when they are copied. Including copied by people who don’t give her credit for inspiring their work. Usually someone like Teesha has so many new ideas percolating in her mind she can’t be bothered about what’s happening to her yesterday’s news. I could be misreading her completely, but that’s my impression.

    I have done many things that came out of my own imagination, not copied from someone else, only to find people – sometimes years later – doing exactly the same thing. For example, I was making clothing out of felted sweaters in 1995 – when literally no one else had even thought of it – at least I thought so. Later I found out that Crispina Ffrench was doing the same thing – neither one of us had a clue what the other was doing – and she got famous, while I just made clothes for myself. At some point we have to realize that clutching our doings to our chests and protecting them from others takes valuable time away from creating brand new ideas and things. If we are moving on, it doesn’t matter quite so much what’s going on in the dust we’ve left behind us. Open sourcing and open internet and open minds and hearts are what need to move into this brave new world. That’s what I believe.

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  13. Caroline says:

    I love looking at Pinterest. I do pin images regularly but for my own interest and, although some here do not think it happens often, nearly always follow and click through to websites or blogs. It has been a great source of inspiration and interest.
    My aim has never been about copying other people’s work, but being inspired by it, and it triggers ideas and creativity to see so much beautiful work which I certainly would never have the chance to come across if it wasn’t for Pinterest.
    Honestly, how else would you even come across textile artists work? It is so rarely in art galleries.
    These articles are really interesting. Thank you for writing them. I am hovering over using Pinterest to promote my work which is textile based but not all textile art and they really help.

  14. Sward says:

    If we share our work we are sharing the outcome of creative thinking- it’s a meeting of minds and how can we copyright thoughts?

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