I've also been pinning. Pinning like crazy. For those of you not familiar with Pinterest, Wikipedia defines it as a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies. Users can browse other pinboards for images, 're-pin' images to their own pinboards, or 'like' photos. It's also the third largest social network in the US.
Last year when I started my account, I was convinced that I didn't want to use images that weren't mine. When looking at random boards, it all just seemed like recycled content to me, and I felt that pulling ideas from others would take away from my authenticity. There is a big debate in my industry about the use of imagery, protecting your images and whether or not using others' imagery, without credit, is ethical. I didn't want to be one of those people who crossed the line, so instead, I looked at it as a tool for work, a mood board of sorts. I kept trying to create presentation boards for clients, pinning ideas of products (mostly from catalog), imagery of inspiration (like a destination), and ideas for fabrics and wall coverings. I had boards labeled by the job and tried to get my clients to add their ideas to the mix. It didn't work very well out of context, and I found it easier to just walk my clients through the material in person.
After a few months of laying dormant, I decided to give it another try and started to use Pinterest as a search engine for visual concepts. Similar to HOUZZ, you can search for general topics or specific products - Design, Architecture, Outdoor Fireplaces, English Arm Sofas, Persian Rugs - though Pinterest definitely wins on the detailed scope - vintage Hermes, striped painted flooring, metallic herringbone wallpaper, Persian turquoise rings, etc. And, aside from searching their huge database of imagery (remember #3 in social networking), you can also pin images from outside sources, such as websites, your own personal files, friends' photo books, Facebook, and so on. I found that I started pinning from everywhere and every site that I found something interesting to pin from. I also found that when searching on Pinterest for certain items, I came across other interesting pinners; interesting people who had similar interests to me. I also started reading their blogs - and those who's pins they pinned from... And soon enough, I realized that my boards were starting to become my own personal idea book; only instead of ripping out pages of design/fashion magazines and putting them into an idea book, I was pinning them and actually categorizing why I liked them. And, and funny enough, after looking at my nearly 2000 pins-to-date, I'm realizing that my boards are beginning to support my brand. They have become a collage that not only supports my design aesthetic, but a tool that helps my clients, potential clients (or the network) see what I mean when I'm talking about layering stripes.
So in the end, I have become addicted to Pinterest, and though I will never give up my hard copy design mags, my idea books have gone digital.