Is Pinterest the extinction of inspiration

Pinterest boards

I don’t know if like me you spend a good deal of your free time trawling through the vast landscape of creative inspiration sites looking for idea food. Well I’m kind of addicted to it. It all started when I was working in Dubai. I found myself starved of visual inspiration of any kind and I really tried but its just not the kind of place where one can roam freely around the streets seeing street art, interesting shop fronts, expressive commercial typography, photography etc etc. So I was driven back to the web. Where at the time there seemed to be a deluge of all kinds of sites and blogs overflowing with the weird and wonderful.

Whether it was architecture, graphic design, photography, contemporary art, illustration or fashion I was looking for there was always a source of visual inspiration to fuel a project and keep my creative juices flowing. It became a daily ritual, usually starting with Begin being (sadly no longer with us), then onto the Sartorialist, followed swiftly by designspiration, September industry, Bitique, NOTCOT, FFFound and generally finish up with The Contemporist. These morning companions would set me up with an enthusiastic head to tackle any creative conundrum the day may throw at me. They haven’t really changed in my routine either merely contracted and expanded to a degree. But two months ago I discovered something that would start to change my whole paradigm of leeching inspiration. Pinterest!

The whole usability of Pinterest had me hooked from the start. No complicated registry, no long winded pining procedure, and pretty much open ability to connect with other users. The suggestions of various boards to pin to was in itself inspirational. Where as previously I’d catalogue my inspiration images in clunky folders on my creaking hard drive primarily in terms of design, illustration and architecture, my mind was now open to including collections for fashion, product design, food, glass ware, shoes whatever sprung to mind basically. The possibilities seem endless. There was also a noticeable acceleration in growth of followers. Within two pins I seemed to have acquired 6 new followers, then with every subsequent pin more came along, repinning my pins, liking and commenting! It was a truly enjoyable honeymoon period!

My enthusiasm for this new inspirational mistress was such that I started to neglect my old compadres other than occasional visits to source more content for my boards. Then it occurred to me. What if Pinterest means the end of inspirational sites!!! A bit drastic perhaps but not impossible. Surely the more niche inspirational purveyors like September Industry and The Sartorialist would hold their own. They do after all source and write their own content and in both cases will have content that isn’t present on any of their so called piers. But when we consider sites like NOTCOT, FFFound and designspiration which are fuelled mostly by member submission its likely that they could be usurped by such a popular platform as Pinterest. The competition would depend largely on the rate of content upload and by shifting the scale towards more original content, something very difficult to achieve perhaps in such a frenetic digital environment.

Perhaps this rhetoric is a little premature. Who really knows where it’ll go. What is clear however is that with Pinterest reaching a recent peak of popularity with users (11.7 Million as of January 2012) and being the fastest site in history to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark, they’re clearly doing something right and will need to continue doing so to maintain their popularity.

Meanwhile all my other favourites continue to post fantastic content which I then pin to my boards for all my followers to like and repin etc etc. So perhaps its not really about extinction as such, maybe this is a simbiotic situation with Pinterest needing its content to come from somewhere, therefore making it more of a catalyst for inspiration and growing the awareness of the sites providing the content it pins. Yes I think that’s it. Seems like I answered my own question.

Andy Richards
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