5 reasons artists can't live without Pinterest

pinterest anna

Anna uses Pinterest for ideas and inspiration as well as creating moodboards for clients and her personal projects

While you may associate the female-dominated social media platform Pinterest with whimsical home-decor ideas, it can also serve as an invaluable tool for concept artists and illustrators.

Amongst the make-up tips, baking recipes and wedding inspiration, there are hundreds upon thousands of tips and images that you need to be pinning to your boards. Here are 5 ways Pinterest can benefit artists everywhere.

01. It's an inspirational alternative to Google

pinterest vs google

Pinterest's layout and more intuitive search options make it a prefered reference tool for artists

"Pinterest's search functions are great," says illustrator Anna K Szalas. "There's a much higher chance of the results being relevant to my interests than with Google, since everything on Pinterest is fashionable and artsy.

"Real-life example from this weekend: I searched google for 'thin crown' and got pages of balding men. Searched pinterest, got gorgeous tiaras – like I wanted"


Anna K Szalas uses Pinterest to help inspire her beautiful artwork

Concept artist Dave Neale agrees. "I love Pinterest!" he says. "I use it partly for an inspiration folder, partly for cool reference, and I also go on there to look for reference a bit more like a normal Google search. I feel like it's a better curated Google."

02. It makes mood boarding easy

mood board

Pinterest allows you to easily create a mood board and link to more boards for further reference

Many artists, including Guardians of the Galaxy concept artist Sam Rowan and use Pinterest to create mood boards.

"I use it for ideas and inspiration: it's amazing for creating mood boards," enthuses Anna. "The 'Others who pinned this also pinned...' feature is great! I discover a lot of relevant resources by just checking out what's suggested under the picture I'm looking at, and sometimes their suggestions are even better than what I originally pinned.

"It's very easy to have everything in one place without having to stitch together a clumsy moodboard picture in Photoshop. Not to mention it can also be a link to relevant articles or much bigger albums that I may not want to pin in full, but want to keep it handy."

Eithne's pinterest

Eithné uses Pinterest to organise her inspiration, she also keeps some boards secret for on-going projects and shares her own works

Illustrator Eithné Ní Anluaín admits she has no idea what she did before Pinterest. "I've as many secret boards as public ones. I find that very convenient: you don't have to show the world what your pinning."

Eithné finds it very conveniant for project work. "I had a cover to do revolving around standing stones," she says. "I didn't want to put the 'found images' in a public board, so I created a secret one where I stored all my references. When I was doing it I'd just open that board and there was everything! HANDY!"

03. It helps with reference

pinterest for reference

Pinterest is an invaluable tool for quick references - you can study a pose and anatomy easily

Although the best reference is from real life, Pinterest can give you extra reference points at your fingertips. In the same way Anna was able to easily pin-point her tiara for an illustration, you can find numerous images of scales, skin, and fashions.

Kristina Gehrmann says: "The useful reference boards are as diverse as the subjects in your art. I'd follow those focusing on whatever I need in my illustration(s)."

Concept artist and illustrator, Dave Neal, loves to use Pinterest as a source of ideas and inspiration

Concept artist and illustrator, Dave Neal, loves to use Pinterest as a source of ideas and inspiration

This is exactly what Jenny Dolfen does. "I have boards for general inspiration, and reference boards for horses, costume, poses, creatures, props, and vegetables," she says.

Her 'vegetables' encompass anything from a peony to a standing stone. "I've been keeping a 'vegetables' section even in my paper ref folders back in the nineties when there wasn't any Internet, so it's a cherished tradition!" she says.

But Lea Evans would still rather stick to real-life. "I use it solely for ideas rather than reference, like makeup patterns and traditional costumes," she says. "So much of it is impossible to trace back to its originator I'd rather err on the side of safety."

04. It's great for finding ideas


Jenny Dolfen has boards labelled for every subject area and others full of pure inspiration that she can tap into with just one click

Pinterest can be quite the hobby, much like scrapbooking. "It's become my 'clipping file' much easier to use than the piles of sketchbooks and folders I used to have," reveals artist Wendy Martin.

In my secret boards, I use the description boxes for notes

Anna says: ""My Pinterest page is mostly, but not entirely, art related, from things that inspire to references and framing ideas. I have a few secret boards with moodboards and more specific inspirations as well. The interface is simplistic and doesn't distract from the pictures, and in my secret boards I sometimes use their description boxes for notes."

But beware of its infinite appeal...

"I usually stay away from Pinterest unless I'm looking for inspiration," admits Anna, "then I spend hours compulsively pinning all of the things, it's a giant time thief!"

05. You can learn tips and tricks from pros

3 of the boards

Eithné Ní Anluaín recommends following these 3 boards for endless inspiration

Meredith Dillman uses Pinterest in a similar fashion to those who collect recipes across boards. "I re-pinned every art tutorial I find to a board and have some for different types of reference," she says.

You can Find, Connect and Share other artists and art, which is always a great promotional tool. And by studying other artists, you can hone in on forming your own style.

Dave Neale says knowing what you like (and curating it) is essential to creating your own creative and artistic style.


Anna reccommends following Nicholas Robinson and Paige Carpenter for inspirational boards

"I started pinning my tips and tricks from Tumblr, but as a result of that they come up in my Pinterest feeds now and seem to be easily searchable nowadays," says Alicia Vogel.

"Also up is my artist library of fine artists, sequential art, and contemporary imaginative realist artists. And a lot of personal reference such as combat armor, mens/women clothing, convention setups, and tutorials I've found."

Pinterest really is the ultimate in image sharing sites. So if you haven't already, get on it, follow some of these amazing artists and let it help your art.

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Alice Pattillo

Alice Pattillo is a freelance journalist with a passion for heavy metal, horror, science fiction, fantasy and comics. She has over seven years experience in magazines, formerly working as a staff writer at Creative Bloq, Imagine FX, Computer Arts and 3D World, as production editor for Guitar World and Guitar Player and online editor of Metal Hammer.