Une Orange Sanguine, ©John O’Grady, 2013
(Features on my Pinterest Board)
Oil on Panel, 6″x 6″, 2013


We have been on Pinterest for a few months now.  This is an account of our beginner’s experience to give you an insight in how we use it, what is working and not working so well.

Our first steps

There are many reasons an artist would choose to use Pinterest such as: creating a virtual display board with references you can use in your work; sharing with other pinners (pinterest users who can pin or repin images to their boards), followers (who are notified when you add new pins) and visitors what interests you or what you like; showcasing your work to increase your reach.

Our approach was first of all haphazard. We joined to experiment as it is an easy to use, attractive visual support and felt it would be another avenue to show John’s work and give a glimpse of his taste.

We focused on creating boards about paintings and selected pictures by artists we knew for certain were in the public domain or had a Creative Commons licence as we were and still are mindful of Pinterest Terms of Service that stipulates that you, the user of pinterest, are responsible for your content. You have to adhere to their Acceptable Usage Policy and respect copyright.

At that point it’s tempting to only want to show your work but as it is against Pinterest’s philosophy, we opted to include John’s paintings amongst different boards, trying to keep a balance with other artists’ work.  Pin Etiquette recommends that you use the 80/20 rule and show no more than 20 percent of your work and 80 % from other sources.

We found out that the price of a painting could appear on your picture when you stated its amount in the comment box.  These are then featured in the gift section of pinterest’s main page. We tried it a few times and decided to leave out this option for aesthetic reasons. People interested in buying John’s work can do so from this blog.

Several months later

We noticed things were slow to pick up so we started visiting more contemporary artists to like, comment, repin and follow their work. The best way to do this is to like or repin a picture from a pinner you follow and this will typically take you to another board you may decide to pin from or follow too.

We have not found the search facility on pinterest satisfactory though the introduction of hashtags (#) as used on twitter like for example #provence might help give better results.

As the number of pictures on some of the boards are growing and they are kept in chronological order with no way at present to move them around, we introduced a board dedicated to John’s work while keeping some of his work in other relevant boards.

There was little interaction between the website, facebook and pinterest so we introduced a pin it button on John’s blog and later on, we loaded a pinterest app on his facebook page. This needs to be promoted more.

When creating a board, you can select in which one of the categories it should go into. Make sure you do so as it’s easy to forget and that’s one way to be found. Repinly states that art boards are one of the most popular category with 10.7%.

Although our boards are about art and especially painting, we thought we needed to introduce other categories for variety and to appeal to a broader audience.

As a visual media, it is very easy to start using it yet we soon realised we have only scratched the surface of what pinterest can do and how we can create engagement. We are not using secret boards nor have created a shared board where we can invite contributors. Used effectively, it’s a sophisticated tool any artist can use as part of his marketing strategy.


Lessons learnt or 12 Tips you Can Use

1. Define your strategy early on including who you aim to attract to your boards to help you decide what is relevant.

2. Start with at least 10 boards, including ones in popular categories such as food & drink, with half a dozen images in each. If you are an artist, I would recommend you use a board specifically for your work but don’t stick with art boards only.

3. Pin a little, often. We pin 4 or 5 images about 3 or 4 times a week.   We’ve noticed we get positive results when we are active, especially when we like pictures, comment on them and follow another pinner.  Engagement with other pinners increase the number of followers.

4. You don’t want to inundate your followers with too many pins coming their way all at once.

5. Make sure you give a title and a description to your pictures.

6. Pin Boards with high number of followers have hundreds of images. Rome wasn’t built in one day, you can select one or two boards at a time you will add pins to. A schedule might help you achieve this as it’s easy to get carried away as would a child in a sweet shop.

7. Change your board covers from time to time and create new boards your target market might like.

8. Move your boards around, especially the seasonal ones while keeping in mind that your important boards should be in the top two rows and in the middle as visitors notice these first.

9. Promote your pins and your Pinterest page on any other social media you are active on as well as on your website and blog if applicable.  A series of buttons and applications are available to install and it’s recommended you link up with twitter and facebook when you set up your account.

10. Only follow boards you are interested in rather than follow all boards from a pinner. This will help you manage the number of new pins showing on your home page when you login.

11. Measure, perhaps on a weekly basis, the number of followers, likes and repins you get to do more of what works.

12. Before pinning, make the effort to go back to the source to establish who is the author of the art work, its title and what copyright it carries. You can contact contemporary artists directly to ask permission to pin their work unless they have a page on Pinterest or a pin it button on their website that would suggest you are ok with regards to copyright issues and can upload the picture to one of your board or perhaps several when appropriate. Where possible, add in the comment section the source website that shows where the work resides. It’s time consuming but good practice.

Like any social media, to get results from pinterest requires devising and implementing a strategy that helps you decide what to pin and when. You also need to see it as a long term commitment to regularly engage with other pinners and follow ones you find interesting or that follow you.  Constant tweaking and patience are key.

On the plus side, we found that pinterest is great to look up what other artists are doing, rediscover loved paintings and spoil yourself by curating the galleries you want.

It is fun and addictive but it’s also a business tool: you need to invest time and energy to see returns.

We look forward to visiting your boards. In the meantime, you can go and discover www.pinterest.com/johnogradyart.

Do you have a pinterest page? How do you use it? What works for you? Alternatively, if you have decided not to use it, why not?
I’d appreciate your comments.