Finding Images That Inspire

How do you collect inspiring ideas that fuel your creative process?

As a landscape designer I used to rip and tear, scan, snap, file, name it, anything to capture a cool idea I could draw on later for inspiration.

The problem, of course, is that these little nuggets would get filed away in multiple spots never to be uncovered again.

And, of course, now...

With the Internet, inspiration is just a few keystrokes away.

I've always been a big fan and proponent of using services, like Flickr, to host, organize, and share images of our work online.

The problem I've had personally is finding and organizing relevant, high quality images from other peopleonline that can assist me in my design process.

Consider this problem solved.

Enter virtual pinboard for the things you love and find inspiring. Only with a serious twist.


Curation and crowdsourcing

People use Pinterest to collect and share images of all sorts of things. Images not necessarily--rarely, in fact--your own.

You become a curator.

This is very simple to use (don't let the "busy" Pinterest homepage scare the crap out of you). You first create what are called "Boards", as in pinboards.

Each image on a "Board" is considered a "Pin".

When you're surfing the web and stumble upon a photo you absolutely love, you simply "pin it" to one of your Pinterest boards (by using the Pinterest bookmarklet). Pinterest automatically generates a photo credit by linking back to the image source.

Susan Cohan is a landscape designer and dedicated Pinterest user I admire (also guilty of turning me on to Pinterest) who currently has 15 boards, one of which is titled "Pergolas".

Here's a screen shot:


You can allow other users to pin images on your board, as well as re-pin images that other people have used. This makes for a very open and sharing community on Pinterest.

This is crowdsourcing at its finest.

I've found more interesting photos on Pinterest in the last two weeks than I've found on Flickr in four years!


How YOU can use Pinterest

First, understand that this isn't another way to upload and share your own images online. Use Flickr for that.

I suggest creating boards for unique landscape elements like Susan Cohan did for "pergolas". Have fun with it! Off the top of my head, personally, I would create boards featuring "plant combinations", "garden antiques", "famous gardens"...whatever would get my creative juices flowing.

Not only can you create your own unique boards, but you can "follow" boards already created by others (like I follow Susan's "pergola" board).

This is what I mean by "crowdsourcing" ideas.

You may want to create a board for specific clients and projects you're currently working on. If you work as a design team you could collaborate on the board together--each of you adding your own inspiring images. You could even invite your client to participate (let them find and add ideas--and you can add $$$ to the project total :-).

Pinterest has a powerful search function. Use it to search for images much like you would use Flickr or Google Image Search. The results will be a helluva lot better with Pinterest. This is a great way to find images to use if you're a blogger.


Getting social

Pinterest isn't a truly "social" network like Facebook or Twitter, though there are some basic social components built in.

You can comment on other user's pins, for one.

You can also publish your pins to either Twitter or Facebook (only to your Facebook Profile, not your Page).

And, as I've mentioned, you can "follow" other Pinterest users or specific boards.

I don't see Pinterest as a way to effectively market your services. That's not what it's for. It's a way to collect and organize images that can inspire your work and get your creative juices flowing.

Become a curator and get inspired!

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