Pinterest = Theft?

Primarily, I consider myself an artist. I spend most of my time thinking about things that don’t exist and what I can do to stop their non-existence. I’m not awesome at much else. I’m way too wild to be successful as business-world-guru and I lose focus when trying to complete administrative tasks. Something in my soul dies when I begin to think about becoming a teacher or a doctor. I decided that when I grow up I want to be an artist. I’ve paid a lot of dollars to learn how to use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and spent a lot of time taking photos so I could learn to use my camera. Soon, I hope people will begin to pay me to do these things.

I am every artist.

There’s something that is unique about artists. We get dressed in the morning based on the story-line we have created for the day. Our friends offer us their old boxes, just to see what we might do with them. We have the ability to see potential, and we have ideas about how things should be. We understand aesthetics and how to create. This ability comes half through training and half naturally. Let it be said, though, that not everyone can do this, and not everyone does so to the same degree. I think it is important to recognize that art is not simply a hobby for many or a way to relieve stress after work. They are working hard to create a body of work that will not only fulfill them creatively, but might also significantly enrich the life of others. If this also earns them money — well, jackpot.

A few things make this particular calling especially challenging. We’re the most likely of our peers to end up jobless, as our skill and perspective are often times undervalued. The job market that does exist for artists is highly competitive, and more often than not, is freelance. One must compete with originality and competence. As a soon-to-be-grad, these things make my stomach turn into knots.

Enter Pinterest. It makes art and beautifully crafted things readily accessible. More and more people are gaining courage and confidence to pursue that creativity that others have always told them they have. Ideally, this site should lead to more opportunities for the artists to do what they love through inspiration and even by gaining a following and recognition.

But artists are barely getting credit for all the effort they have put into their craft. Then, as if the demand for artists weren’t already low enough, now people are no longer willing to pay those who are remarkably passionate and talented because they can do it themselves.

Perhaps then, Pinterest is not the issue, but rather the users. As the information generation, we are pressed with a challenge. We must function in this virtual reality with the same integrity we use in our real-world interactions.  There must be a choice as we establish a value system, since we are the pioneers in this Internet world.

Right now, I fear we have chosen to be thieves, plundering for all that we desire. A perspective change might be in order as we realize that not everything that is found on the World Wide Web is free for the taking. There is a chance to act with honesty and humility. I say, it would go a long way if everyone privy to Pinterest would financially support an artist whose work they have pinned.

Since Pinterest has yet to be banned from the Internet, here are a few suggestions I have on how to improve the experience for everyone: if someone sells it or has a copyright, don’t make it. Buy it. If you can’t afford it, it wasn’t meant to be yours. This is one way to express that art does indeed have a value.

Give credit to artists. When you start a conversation about what you saw on Pinterest, be ready to share who the artist was.

Monitor the number of images you filter through online. The more images you expose yourself to, the harder it is to cite the sources of inspiration. Then, it is more difficult to be sure you aren’t ripping off an idea from another.

Spend more time developing creative skills than you spend looking for inspiration.

Post links to the blogs or portfolios of artists you find interesting on Facebook or Twitter. Tell friends about the services they offer.

If all else fails, just let them know how much their work is impacting you. Sometimes, that is the very thing an artist needs to continue creating.

Story by Brook Surgeon | Contributing Writer | surgeoba@grace.edu