I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration lately, and how technology is kind of killing mine.

It started with browser bookmarks. I had a folder called inspiration that contained my favorite websites. Then RSS feeds came and I moved all of those bookmarks over for faster, easier access. Flickr was next; I searched and added all of my favorites and discovered some new ones, too. Then came Twitter, Facebook and Ravelry, and now there is Pinterest.

All of these ways to manage inspiration have left me very uninspired.

A few weeks ago I was helping my daughter research her next artist, Paula Scher. Our library only had one title that mentioned her: Inspirability. When I opened the book, I found one of my favorite inspirational pieces of all time: Michael Bierut’s “Design Counts.” postcard.* This card has literally sat on my desk or been pinned to my bulletin board for over 10 years.

Michael Bierut Design Counts

I’ve been thinking a lot about that card and how it influences my work. Would it have had the same effect on me over the past 10 years if I had simply pinned it to an electronic bulletin board? I sat down and made a list of some of the things that inspired the designers in this book: music, art, photography, food, movies, books, history, fashion, architecture, details, curiosity, living. That last one got to me. Living.

Now there’s something to be said for having a resource to keep track of recipes I want to try or patterns I want to make. However, using it to manage things that inspire me was overwhelming. As a visual artist, it’s hard to pull myself away from the gorgeous photographs streaming down the page. And there’s a lot of beautiful work out there. I spent so much time glued to my screen that I stopped noticing the beauty around me. I spent so much time looking at everyone else’s work that I had little time left for my own.

I stopped living my life creatively.

So I did something drastic. I deleted almost a year’s worth of pins. Surprisingly, it wasn’t very hard. I deleted the app from my phone, too. I’ve been Pinterest-free for a few weeks and it feels good.

This is hard to admit and even harder to write about. I love how social media has brought the creative community together in so many different ways. I’m not deleting my accounts or anything — I’m not crazy! I am looking forward to rediscovering my creativity offline, however, and most importantly, sharing that here on the blog.

How has social media affected your creativity? How about your life in general? Feel free to discuss in the comments. I’m interested in your perspectives!

*For those who aren’t familiar with the 2000 presidential election chaos in Florida, the image is a “butterfly ballot” used by Palm Beach County. Almost 7,000 votes had to be discarded because this poorly designed ballot confused voters and caused many to punch the incorrect hole for their candidate or to vote for more than one candidate.

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5 Responses to how pinterest killed my creativity

  1. Mary says:

    I’m not a professional artist or designer so visual creative inspiration is not central to my work, but I have made a conscious effort to mainly pin things that are linked to actual tutorials/recipes of things I might make. I LOVE having the links visually stored. It inspires me so much more to pick up thread, yarn, needle, paper, ingredients if I’m looking at a finished product. But I do find it hard to tear myself away from the “looking” sometimes rather than plunging into the “creative making”.

    Look forward to seeing what inspires you and what you make as a result!

  2. Gail says:

    I understand where you are coming from. I would spend more time online looking up sewing construction and inspiration that I would take forever to do the project. I think social creativity is more online now then in reality.
    Nobody seems to have the time & energy to have “decent” sewing classes, quilting bees or the such due to the rise in living standards.
    Plus it’s easier to “search” for creativity than just “doing” what you have to do.

  3. Kelly says:

    I’ve been thinking nearly identical thoughts! Haven’t been on pinterest in months because of it. I’m still blog hopping, but started feeling let down if there’s no new content. That’s not fair to those bloggers, so I’ve been trying to cut back my addiction and replace it with my own work.

    It’s a struggle — so much easier to cruise the ‘net than create something myself. But I’m working on it. Dropping FB and pinterest has been a good start.

    I see it in L, too. She asks for tv, and we do allow some, but when it’s off, she’s happy enough to play imaginative games, draw, etc. Typing that out makes me feel that if I
    limit my screen time, I’ll be satisfied and more creative, too.

    It starts today!

    Thanks for such a frank and thought-provoking post.


  4. Gail says:

    Wow. My recent thoughts exactly. Too much browsing and not enough just doing. Also, too often the stuff published are not good quality patterns.
    Time to clear out the junk and just enjoy.

  5. I found your post most interesting. I have not actually thought about social media, in particular pinterest as dulling creativity, but after reading what you say, I think maybe it does. I find that something might look good to me and I will pin it, but almost as quickly I forget it, so in my case I don’t use pinterest as an inspiration board, but more as a picture book to spend some time with.