Painting Words With Pictures – Why I Love Pinterest

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We recently ran a guest post about Pinterest from a female perspective, so we thought it would be a great idea to follow this up with why men might find it intriguing too. This journal entry is guest-written by Mike Saunders, owner of Saunders Artwork Ltd and a self-confessed Pinterest addict. Mike's career spans two decades of creative production at the sharp end of the UK's top creative agencies, academic institutions and newsprint.

The Next Big Thing? Mmmmmm, maybe… maybe not. Either way, I love it! A lot’s been written about Pinterest already - it is different things to different people, but this is my experience of it.

My friends have told me Pinterest is ‘a picture site for girls’. So perhaps appropriately, it was introduced to me by the girl-next-door-at-work one day. I’m currently based in a Creative Agency in London’s Square Mile where we’re often pioneers of playing with ‘next big thing’ sites before they catch on (Twitter, flickr etc) or fail (anyone remember Google+?). So perhaps I should’ve been surprised to be introduced to a picture-based community by confirmed word-person, professional copywriter, author and friend Diana.

It was all very casual at first. The first thing I noticed was multiple columns of eye-catching images. Glossy, ‘finished’ looking pictures, often image library standard. Delving a bit deeper I discovered that people have arranged ‘boards’ along themes. Ask for an invitation and you can ‘follow’ people much like Twitter, and build your own boards of things you find cool, funny or generally interesting.

So I signed up, and it was the very first communication from Pinterest that made me like it.

Pinterest etiquette

“be respectful!”

and that’s the challenge, isn’t it?


I didn’t join Pinterest to peruse pictures of cake, dresses and curtains (a lot of people do, and that’s fine), I joined out of curiosity and boredom, but I stayed to have fun with my friends (and strangers who may eventually become my friends). It’s nice to find humour that isn’t cruel, and I’m fast discovering that Pinterest is heaving with it:

Top 20 useless superpowers
vegetable porn

I love Pinterest’s capacity to make an averagely funny picture hilarious with the right caption – it’s like a global caption competition, and my friends are very good at this…

Rabbit looking angry
Harry joke
Fisherprice phone


“It’s a little fix of something excellent in your day” said my friend/colleague (frolleague?), and she’s right. Our working days are peppered with short, natural pauses. Normally, you’d make tea, maybe dig out the Maltesers, read a magazine, that kind of thing. Well if the latest issue of take-a-break depresses you as much as me, why not log on and absorb some brilliance?

Social comment

social commentary

Skill and thought

Batman returns

Impossible beauty

Beautiful photo

Film reference

Football painted


Pinterest has revived my appreciation of art.  I’ve started to follow people who regularly post snippets of great Art that I know and love, but never quite have the time to look at in books and galleries. Of course, a small screen is no substitute for the 3 dimensional strokes of Vincent Van Gough but if I see a bit of


I’m fleetingly reminded of my last visit to the Rijksmuseum (and the mad night in Amsterdam that followed, but let’s not go there). Pinterest is also a an emerging platform for real galleries to raise their profile and publicise work and events. Through my friend Diana, I’ve been introduced to Corpus Gallery who regularly exhibit their own, original work, the work of others and images that inspire them, which I still find pleasantly surprising nearly every day. It’s even fair to say it’s influenced my view on modern art just a bit. A little piece of art in your day is a brilliant thing.


You can tell a lot about people from their choice of pictures, boards and importantly, their choice of captions. I’m consistently surprised by my friends’ posts – say, when their sense of humour is riskier than I’d assumed or when they post something apparently personal, poignant and philosophical I gain a new perspective into their thinking, and I really, really love that.

I like big butts

I like this because it’s risky, true and not offensive.


This is something I haven’t really explored yet, but Pinterest’s potential to connect providers of niche, crafted goods and services is obvious. The fashion and interior design overlap is a natural fit, and for small businesses selling via their own website it’s as simple as a click through from your picture that anyone re-pins. I seem to know people who have, or want to quit the rat-race to bake cakes for a living. Why not widen the appeal of their wares to a global audience? Well, I say global but at the moment it seems to be mostly American women on there and a few Europeans. If it keeps growing though, it will be a ready-made audience of educated potential customers with disposable income, looking to plan their weddings and host dinner parties. Ch-ching.

Another perfect business connection would have to be photography. Pinterest is the perfect place for photographers to showcase their work to a new audience. Popular subjects include travel and landscape, and it’s easy to see why - photographers are gaining exposure to viewers who are more likely to ‘stumble across’ their work now where previously it would have required a specific search.


Anyway, as I said, I don’t do Pinterest to window-shop cakes, dresses and curtains. I’m a bloke and I like fun, and some of the most fun I’ve had has been collecting some excellent pictures of dogs onto their very own board, called, naturally “Excellent Pictures of Dogs”, with my excellent friends Alec East and Diana.

Pinterest allows multiple users to administrate boards, which means we’ve quickly built a great, and already-popular board with hundreds of funny, cute, silly and moving (but mostly funny) images of dogs


or images about dogs:


Creating boards in a group like this really makes it fun. It’s become quite competitive – we’re always trying to out-excellent each other (I think Diana’s winning at the moment if I’m honest). Have a look, enjoy the dogs, start your own board, add your friends as contributors, compete! There’s a good dog.


Pinterest is a perfect breeding ground for the internet meme (pronounced “meem”). It’s faster than Facebook, and about as quick as Twitter for viral pictures and video but because you can pin video faster and more accessibly than Twitter, and it’s shared more effectively, I think the future will see memes spread via Pinterest before other social media.

Other specialist boards

There’s a wealth of specialist, elusive, uncategorised boards out there. Here’s an odd one that springs to mind. It has no explanation. Why is it there? Social comment on our nation’s declining diet? Or does the fella just really, really like fried chicken? I need to know.

There’s also this one:

Convenience signs

Why? But I suppose it proves a point, you can collect, organise and share anything you like. If you’re into a something a bit different, Pinterest is the place to find and share it. (And even sell it.)


Now, I like a bit of banter, not the Sky Sports kind but banter with girls on equal terms, you know, Banter 1.Banter 2. I love this daily chat with people I know and like, and new people too. I’m starting to have regular dialogue with people whose pictures I like, who in turn, like some of my pictures, and it’s great fun because everyone’s generally quite nice, unlike on Twitter or even Facebook where it’s easy to get into an argument. I hope Pinterest develops the social side of this excellent site, the ability to send messages between followers like Twitter, or ‘like’ comments as on Facebook would enhance the experience for me.


So how do you start? You can search Pinterest without an account, but it’s far more rewarding if you sign up. The quickest way is to get a friend to invite you, Diana and I joined at the same time and had to apply for invitation by Pinterest, which meant a wait of about 24 hours.

Once you’re in, Pinterest will automatically assign you some people to follow, and you can start liking and re-pinning away. I unfollowed most of my default starters, and found new pinners that were more ‘me’ within a couple of weeks. I love that more of my friends are joining now too. You can follow people, which means you’ll see all of their pins in your timeline, or just certain boards to keep life less busy, or you can just look as and when you want to, like reviewing a collection. Once you’re on it though it’s quite intuitive. I’ve had the benefit of exploring with a friend, but I’m sure if you get stuck Allie Astell would love to help you out ;-)

It’s probably worth mentioning that Pinterest is mostly about ‘re-pinning’ previously generated content onto your own boards. That is, finding something you like, collecting it for yourself which means it’s pinned onto your board of choice and appears in your followers’ timelines. You can pin pretty much anything, including video in a variety of ways, typically through the menus or a little add-on for your browser such as the pinmarklet. Of course everything starts somewhere though and I’m increasingly starting to add my own original content. It’s very satisfying when your own work is liked and re-pinned by lots of people.

Criticisms / room for improvement

As with Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest is evolving as it grows in popularity. Bugs and omissions are fixed quite regularly, and new improvements are added all the time. The latest areas being administration for multiple-user boards and board cover presentation.

The biggest need for improvement in my opinion though is the mobile app. Pinning from the web while on the move is almost impossible. I can’t believe we still haven’t got a ‘pin-it’ button on the iPhone. Most of my truly spare time is spent on the train, over two hours a day, 5 times a week - I could pin a lot of content in that time.

Other areas that could be improved would be better integration with other social media, which to be fair, is already happening. Changes to the way Pinterest interacts with Flickr are taking place but traffic with Facebook is currently one-way i.e. you can’t pin Facebook content, although you can share your pins with your Facebook friends.

To summarise, I’d say just get on there and have a go. You might really like a bit of regular brilliance in your day. I apologise in advance for the addiction.