Pinterest for textile artists: the basics
Pinterest is the perfect platform for textile art. Whether you are aiming to increase your audience by getting more traffic to your website or blog, sell more of your work on Etsy or from your own online shop, or simply showcase your work in a stylish online gallery, Pinterest offers the opportunity to do all of this and more.
The biggest advantage Pinterest has for textile and fiber artists over Facebook, Twitter and the plethora of other social media sites, is that its main purpose is to engage its visitors visually; textile art is most often a visual experience.
And did you know that Pinterest is the fastest growing of all social networking sites and has a proven track-record for driving more traffic to sites and blogs than its competitors? SFMOMA receives almost 50% of the traffic to its site via Pinterest.
Done with the right spirit and expertise, having an active Pinterest account can help visual artists build a loyal team of followers and fans. Images have the potential to be shared and spread like wild-fire, bringing your work to people who might never have discovered it otherwise.
This is the first in a series of posts aimed at teaching textile artists how to get the most out of Pinterest. Today I’ll be covering the basics. In the next few posts, I’ll be digging deeper to help you understand exactly how to use Pinterest to its full potential as an artistic platform for you and your work.
The advantages of Pinterest for textile artists
Here are a few reasons why many artists are finding success using Pinterest to attract new fans or followers, drive traffic to their blog, website or online store, and engage with art enthusiasts and potential buyers from all over the world.
- If you have a blog or run a website, you’re probably already aware of the importance of original content. If what you share on Pinterest is beautifully photographed images of your work and the right people see it, they will share it for you allowing you to reach a far wider potential audience.
- Did you know that people are 71% more likely to make a purchase if a product has been recommended by a friend on social media? Pinterest is particularly effective for selling art, but could be a great platform for your book releases or upcoming exhibitions.
- People still like to engage on a human level. The more of your personality you can show on Pinterest, the better. Give them a glimpse into the world of the artist behind the work. People are far more likely to engage and share if they feel they are getting to know you.
- Pinterest can be a constant source of inspiration for artists working with textile techniques. Because so many wonderful artists and art enthusiasts are pinning great content, there’s always something new to discover; check out these 10 textile artists on Pinterest. But why stop there; if you find inspiration in nature, check out boards like this one. If you find architecture stimulating, how about this board? You can find practically anything using the search bar in the top left corner of the homepage.
- You’ll attract like-minded artists if you curate a page that’s interesting and engaging enough; Pinterest is a wonderful way of creating a community, who eventually can convert into buyers of your work.
The basic premise of Pinterest
If you already know how Pinterest works and have set up an account, skip to the bottom of the article for 10 small things every textile artist can do on Pinterest straight away.
Ben Silbermann is co-founder of Pinterest and believes there is a collector in all of us. Pinterest is based on this very simple concept; collecting, organizing and sharing.
Users ‘pin’ images or videos to boards on Pinterest; these images or videos can be pinned directly from websites or uploaded from your computer. Anything you pin to a board on Pinterest can be re-pinned (shared) by other users. The great thing is that all images retain their link back to their original source. So, if an image of a piece of your work is linked to your website and is re-pinned by several users, think of the potential for getting new visitors to your site.
Pins are organized on boards. For example, you may have a board for sketchbook images, one for things that inspire you, one for pieces which were shown at a particular exhibition, one for the work of other textile artists you admire; the possibilities are endless. You can invite others to pin on your boards if you so wish, but you also have the option to keep complete control.
If your content is compelling and visually engaging, you’ll soon find yourself building up followers on Pinterest; this means that anything you ‘pin’ will appear on their homepage feed. Pins from anyone you follow will appear on your homepage feed.
Where to start with Pinterest
The great thing about Pinterest is you don’t need to be at all technically minded. It’s really simple to use and takes less than 5 minutes to get started. It’s important that, when setting up your profile, you create a solid basis for your artistic presence.
Setting up your account
The first thing you’ll need to do is go to Pinterest.com and create an account. If you already have a Facebook account you can do it by clicking ‘Sign up with Facebook’ or you can do it via email; either way is fairly self-explanatory.
Profile and Username
You’ll be asked to enter these when you first sign up for Pinterest and they can be edited at anytime by clicking on Settings.
Your profile name and username are different. The profile name doesn’t need to be unique; there is more than one Joseph Pitcher on Pinterest but I am still able to enter this information in the profile name field. However, your username will need to be unique; Pinterest will tell you if a user with the same name already exists. If that is the case, you’ll need to make your username unique by adding numbers or your middle name.
At this point you can also tell Pinterest the name of the site you’d like to link back to from your profile.
Linking to Facebook and Twitter
When you edit your settings, you’re also given the option to link the account to your personal Facebook page. At first, I was unsure whether this was a good idea; I was concerned that my personal friends would be bombarded with pins from TextileArtist.org. I needn’t have worried; Pinterest won’t post to Facebook every time you pin a new image. Instead it groups images together and updates in sets, so there’s no need to worry about your friends getting annoyed with constant posts from your Pinterest page.
It’s a good idea to link to Twitter too. Just select ‘On’. Pinterest won’t auto-publish anything, but linking the accounts allows you to sync profile images and log in using Twitter if you like.
Once the account is set up, it’s time to create a great profile. Don’t under-estimate the importance of your profile; it’s where people can learn more about you and a chance for you as an artist and as a person to make a great first impression.
Click on your name in the top right corner of the screen and from the drop-down, select ‘Your boards’. When you’re on that page you can click on the centre area to upload an image and edit your profile.
Uploading a photo
Upload a photo. I’d recommend uploading an actual photo of yourself as your profile image rather than a piece of your work; this will allow people to feel they can engage with a real human being. Pinterest will automatically use your Facebook or Twitter profile image if you give it permission; if not, upload one from your computer.
Of course there may be circumstances where you might prefer to upload a logo (if you are running a Pinterest site on behalf of a group of artists like this one for Urban Threads Studio).
Next, write something interesting about yourself that people will find engaging. Try and be professional but show a bit of personality and individuality too. Keep it short – a couple of sentences is enough. You won’t be allowed to enter more than 160 characters. This all keeps in line with the ethos of Pinterest being a purely visual platform.
Who to follow
Hopefully, you’ve seen that Pinterest can be a powerful platform for textile artists and learned the basics for setting up your account. Now you’re ready to start following some other like-minded people. Here are ten to get you started:
Of course we’re going to ask you to follow us! We’ll be pinning our favourite images by artists we admire and feature on the site.
- Cas Holmes
A fantastic textile artist who has written some great stuff for TextileArtist.org. Cas has a great online presence and is a savvy internet-marketer.
- Sue Stone
The inspiration behind TextileArtist.org; a brilliant textile art practitioner and an even better mum!
- Mr X Stitch
The kingpin of contemporary embroidery.
- Selvedge Magazine
A visual feast of textiles – this board features sumptuous images from the magazine.
- The Victoria and Albert Museum
The famous design, fashion and textiles museum provides constant innovation and inspiration.
- Francie Ryder
A whole host of inspiring images from a fabric and fibre enthusiast.
- Art Girl 67
A plethora of inspiration from a teacher and lover of art – also has a board dedicated to fiber art.
- Carol Naylor
Carol is a great machine embroidery artist who has featured on TextileArtist.org a couple of time – she’s new to Pinterest. Help her get going!
- Pattern Bank
Inspiration for print, pattern and graphics.
10 small things every textile artist can do to make the most of Pinterest straight away
- Use Pinterest as a digital portfolio; this seems obvious but Pinterest out-performs other social-networking sites in this area. Name and organize your boards well, curate the page with care and you’ll have a stylish online gallery to send people to.
- Create boards for your references and inspiration. As the success of our Artist interviews shows, people love to know what lies behind a piece of art; what is the inspiration?
- Create a sketchbook board. Again, textile art enthusiasts love to see the seed of an idea.
- Show how a piece progresses. Take high quality photos of a piece at different stages and give that piece it’s own board. This gives people a reason to come back time and time again.
- Pin on a regular basis. It makes sense to pin consistently; don’t leave a long gap and then go crazy pinning for a few days before another big break.
- Add prices to any work that is for sale. The image links back to you so potential buyers have a way to get in touch.
- Build contacts and community by sharing other people’s pins as well as your own.
- Take note which of your images gets re-pinned regularly. This will give you a good idea of what people are interested in. You can then focus on pinning more in a similar style.
- Create boards to highlight any classes or workshops you’re running. You can direct students there for research material prior to the class and use it as a chance to showcase their work too.
- Create a board for testimonials from clients who have bought your work. Social proof is the best way to engage others.
Pinterest For Dummies
Organize your life, your likes, and more with Pinterest and this fun how-to guide Now you can organize your digital life with Pinterest, a hot new site that lets you create visual bookmarks of your favorite things and “pin” them on virtual pinboards. Want to save something from a blog? Have a favorite retail website? Want to pin a quick photo you took with your phone? Organize them all with Pinterest and this fast, friendly guide that shows you just how to do it. You’ll see how to set up an account and your boards, how to pin and re-pin, where to use hashtags, find ways to share pins with your other social networks, and more. Helps you get the most out of Pinterest, a visual collection of bookmarks that you can organize into virtual pinboards Shows you how to set up an account and boards, how to pin and re-pin, use hashtags and like pins, and even share pins with your other social networks Also discusses Power Pinners, using search, and finding people to follow Offers tips, trick, and techniques to make the process easy and enjoyable Pinterest is fun and easy, and even more so with Pinterest for Dummies !
If you’ve found this article useful, let us know by leaving a comment below. Or perhaps you have a tip for using Pinterest you’d like to share with our readers? And why not follow us on Pinterest?
42 comments on “Pinterest for textile artists: the basics”
Thanks for the plug Joe, great article! Must use Pinterest more
Pinterest is a haven for copyright abuse, leads more people to it than the artist through Google searches, and unfairly tags those of us who report copyright violation as spammers, yet lets the abusers continue with a mere dainty slap on the wrist. You could present the other side of the argument by directing readers to the Anti-pinterest blog http://pinterest-out.blogspot.ca/2013/06/as-predicted.html and having them read *all* of the entries.
Not all of us are as enamoured by the theft of our images, particularly when copyright’s basic premise is that the artist alone has the exclusive right to distribution. It is not PR, it is not flattery to pin. I find it really disturbing when well known artists plaster copyright notices all over their own sites, then blithely pin other’s work.
Hi Arlee – thanks for your comment and for presenting the other side of the argument. I’m glad you brought it up. I’m planning on making it very clear in a future post (this is the first in a series) that Pinterest has fairly muddy terms and conditions at the moment and suggesting ways to protect images, but unfortunately I just think we have to accept that the world has changed and the way artists are marketing themselves has changed too; if people choose to put images of their work on the internet it is almost inevitable that there will be someone unethical who will steal or share them. Of course artists are free to watermark their images if they are worried. If it helps spread their name and get their work seen, as it has proved to do for many people, then perhaps there is a compromise to be made?
I Think this is an excellent article about Pinterest, many thanks, I’ve been slow to get onboard and this has helped a lot. I agree with Joe, if we really object to having our images pinned or used or distributed then we should not use the social media, its a fact of life- on the one hand how fantastic that we can reach out to all corners and a far wider audience than we could have dreamed of only a few years ago- on the other hand if we use social media then we are tacitly allowing this behaviour of sharing and using……. Personally I am happy for images of my work to diffuse out, its still my work…..
Hi James – thanks for the positive feedback. I think you’re right. The important thing to remember is, no matter how many times an image is shared on Pinterest, it is always linked back to its original source, which can only be a good thing; artists have an opportunity for their work to be seen by a whole new group of potential admirers and, as you rightly point out, they will be well aware of whose work it is. Having said that, in response to Arlee’s objections and in the spirit of objectivity, I’m planning a future article that will cover the potential pit-falls of using social media to share images. Stay tuned!
I agree with James. As a weaver, I have to be aware that there are few “original” weave structures. A scarf that I weave incorporates structures and techniques developed before me. My contribution is how I use structure and color. I post online to share my creations knowing full well that another weaver can look at that scarf and copy it. There are still factors in my creation of the scarf that cannot be captured from a pin.But it still goes back to my satisfaction of having created the piece. No one can steal that. Will copying my project decrease sales? Hardly. There are plenty of non-weavers out there who will buy if my reputation for quality and customer service earn me that right. I pin to Pinterest for inspiration, not to copy details of someone’ else’s work.
When pinterest first started I signed up but after being on it for a short while, I realised what a colossal waste of time it is, trawling through constant streams of images, pinning and repinning, and favouriting – it’s overwhelming and stops you from hearing your own creative thoughts. After a short time on it, it makes my head spin. I don’t go on it anymore, I don’t have time. I feel there are already plenty of platforms for sharing already – are we going to all sign up for the next internet phenomenon when it comes along and spend even more time online when we could be creating? What about OpenSky? It’s been called “Pinterest with a buy button”. Do we have to go on that too? I feel like all this virtual reality stuff – takes me away from the core actions of being an artist. Creating stuff. Yes, I get that we have to show our work, to have windows on the world but there has to be a balance somewhere and it is really personal connection that really “sells” not pinning someone’s pictures (especially without permission or credit).
At least with blogging you get a chance to say something about the work and explain it, the same with facebook – which I think is highly addictive (in a negative way) too so I try to limit my time on it. Ironically SFMOMA has a pinterest board called “Resolve to Create!” – so that is what I am doing, in the real world. Away from pinterest.
I don’t agree with “compromising” over copyright either – what is the advantage of “getting your work seen” if it’s not accredited to you and no-one knows anything about your process in creating it? What use is that to the artist?
Hi Nicky – thanks for the comment. I think it’s all a matter of personal choice. Nobody is forced to do anything they don’t feel comfortable with and it certainly sounds as though Pinterest isn’t for you! You are a well-established textile artist, and one whose work I admire, and you know what does and doesn’t work for you personally. But I think we should respect that some people enjoy using it and it has had proven results for many artists.
I agree with several of your points:
In the article above, I make it clear that personal connection is vital. However, I don’t think using social media and making connections with people on a human level are mutually exclusive; they can work very nicely hand in hand.
I also point out in the article that people are endlessly interested in process (so I agree with you there too), which is why I suggest using Pinterest to explore this – perhaps a board dedicated to images of work in progress, sketchbooks or inspirations.
And just to clarify, the image is always accredited to the original source (which will probably be your personal website), so if people want to learn more about where it came from, they can do so easily.
I don’t however agree that Pinterest is just a new fad – it’s been around for several years and isn’t going anywhere. It has the best record of directing visitors back to the original website of the image of any social media site (including Facebook). As explained above, I think it is more useful for artists that Twitter or Facebook because visual art is just that – visual. Pinterest does the best job at making the work look good in a gallery-style setting.
As I say, in the interests of objectivity, I am in the process of putting together an article addressing the negative side of social media (and in particular Pinterest).
Pinterest certainly seems to polarise opinion, but that’s great as far as I’m concerned – I like a good debate!
Well this article has certainly caused a debate! I find Pinterest very useful to direct people to my website. I now also use it instead of bookmarking webpages. If I see something I like I pin it to a board and it’s much easier to find again than bookmarks are. It’s very easy to use and in fact something that nobody so far has pointed out so far is that with Pinterest the images cannot be dragged off onto your desktop as jpegs. They just come off as webpages so link you back to the web page they came from. Artists’ images cannot therefore actually be stolen in that way as they can from other sources, including most artists’ websites, although it’s not really a problem if low res images are used. It’s a compliment surely if someone else likes my work enough to pin it to their board. I do not feel precious about my images. They are not the actual work.
Anyone who is concerned about copyright would probably be wise not put their images on the internet in the first place. If I worked as a photographer I would probably have a different point of view but as an artist I think that the more people who can see and enjoy my work the better as long as they are not making money from it.
A very interesting article and also debate. I’ve haven’t got into Pinterest yet; other than to have a quick look at a few peoples’ boards and am still undecided as to whether to sign up. I will be very interested to read your next article, Joe.
Hi Naomi – should be up next week some time. Thanks for your comment.
From an amateur and consumer’s point of view, I love Pinterest, but you do have to be careful about what you’re doing when you click the Repin button. Before Repinning, I always check that the link does take you back to the original website. Quite often people take photos at exhibitions, or even photograph pages from books,etc and pin those, which do infringe copyright. I never repin those images.
Great point Kirsty. I think pinning exhibition photos or pages from books without permission or acknowledgement of the artist in question is dodgy.
Great article- I understand the pros and cons of pinterest or any social media but for me its a great way of seeing whats happening and other peoples work, especially living in an area where theres not much going on locally in textile art. I also find it a great source of inspiration.
Thanks for the list of who to follow- I am now following many of their boards!
Hi Amanda – thanks for the comment. I find this debate fascinating and I love that people are so passionate about it. I think you make an excellent point that Pinterest can be used as a source of inspiration. It has also just hit me that it offers a way of showing a bit of personality as an artist even if you never actually pin an image of a completed piece of work. What has been proven by our interview series is that people find the process and lives of the artists themselves equally as compelling as their work – posting photos of things that inspire your art or an image of yourself working on a particular piece is a great way of giving your audience a glimpse into your world.
Thanks for the comment – glad you liked the list!
Great article, great debate. I am unsure I am techno ‘savvy’ but believe in trying to be open and fair. Pintrest like any other social media or on-lone presence should always be treated with respect. I put my stuff out there so people hear my voice. I have learnt other people will post images and repin or make comment regardless. I try to be circumspect and never use large images.This is the age we are in and i constantly debate how and why I sue social media platforms. I think its most useful value is as a teaching and learning tool.
great debate Jo
Thanks for the comment Cas. Really good points. I think the internet and sites like Pinterest can be an extremely useful way of letting your audience hear your voice. I agree that keeping a clear objective in mind and constantly questioning why we use social media is essential; otherwise we might spend hours Face-booking, tweeting and pinning to no end (I’m guilty of this myself) and really then we’re just wasting time. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that if you use these platforms on a purely personal level, but as business people we need to think about them slightly differently. They’re not for everyone and I completely understand and respect that, but for those who do use them in the right way I think they can be an asset.
Brilliant tutorials thanks!!!!
I resisted Pinterest for quite awhile, relegating it to the “oh no, one more social media thing to have to manage” category. I finally succumbed to it, and ended up really enjoying the process of finding excellent images; I believe I have a wonderful collection! However, I have not pinned in some months; after receiving a VERY threatening email from Pinterest about images I had repinned from someone else’s board that apparently were from a source that was upset about being pinned and thus violating copyright, I backed right off out of fear. I am a rule follower, and the mere thought of being sued for something I hadn’t done on purpose, made me VERY upset. I debated deleting my entire Pinterest account, but opted instead to go back through every, single one of my thousands of images and ensure they were from the original source. I haven’t pinned anything since. Too much fear remains, and it takes too much time and energy. I would rather spend that time creating and promoting in other ways.
It is amazing that Textileartist is the site that keeps on giving. Just picked up this thread on Pintrest. Greta , insightful stuff and James Hunting’s comment is just right. We still own the work. It is useful shared educational tool.
Thanks for your article, it was so helpful. I started with Pinterest last week and was floundering a bit. I now feel more inspired to press on but I have a lot to learn!
That’s a posting full of instghi!
I love Pinterest. I have just started making fabric houses and I have learned so much about fabric and embroidery from the tutorials, videos and other shared advice. I live in a remote part of Scotland and would never have had access to all this information any other way. I understand the importance and the principle of having your work attributed – it must feel insulting when someone doesn’t bother to do this – but I think it is crafters rather than artists that have something to worry about; their work can be copied whereas, it’s almost impossible to copy an artist’s work. There are so many people trying to copy Janet Bolton’s work (probably because it lies somewhere between craft and art) but you can still tell the original a mile off. Apart from the quality of the work, one of the reasons for this is that her work is signed, so images of her work on Pinterest bear her signature.
Thank you for this great article. I love Pinterest and use it regularly for my textile jewelry designs and store. http://www.pinterest.com/fabrictwist/
Right now I’m a few years on Pinterest and I have gotten more attention for my work. I see beautiful textile art every morning when starting up my computer and I’ve met nice colleagues. It all depends on how you used this medium, you don’t have to send large photos, you can make people aware of your website. At this time I see more benefits than disadvantages.
I learnt so much from Pinterest that I could never regret using it. This is how I found textile artist.org as well as online courses with textile artists and a mass of useful information regarding techniques.
What started as a simple collection of felt based images, has grown into random directions as I research images for new projects. I have discovered whole new worlds of art and think I have become more creative as a result.
I have had a Pinterest account now for several years. Pinterest has been a tremendous help in my quilting adventure. I would never try to duplicate anyone’s work, but I do find so much inspiration from the photos I repin. On many occasions I have repinned tutorials that have been invaluable to my growth as a quilter in general and a textile artist specifically. I live in a remote area and have almost no other resource for help other than my computer. Between Pinterest and Youtube I have learned what I need to know to grow from a rank beginner to wherever(?) I am today. And now that I have found your site I am ecstatic. Your dedication to furthering art quilting is such a blessing to those of us that have nowhere else to turn.
It’s such a cool aggregator of themed images. I can’t even count how much inspiration I’ve gotten and how many helpful blogs I’ve found by browsing Pinterest. Those who don’t use Pinterest are making a big mistake!
Thanks so much for sharing a great article, browsing on Pinterest is another way to find more about embroidery, textil art and get to know new needlework artists.