Pinterest, My Tutor

January 30, 2013

Now, for my very first ever guest blogger, the amazing Molly Lewis.  She’s been more of a sister than a friend for well over 10 years now, my creative inspiration, and the reason why my tastes in music have expanded over the years.  Oh, and she’s a brilliant, witty writer.  I’m so glad she’s here to share her insights on the wonderfulness called Pinterest:

There are a few things in this world over which I feel I have a certain mastery. Composing a sentence, identifying quotations from Community, and comprehending Calvinist theology would be a few. One of the most vocationally useless but personally satisfying things I’ve mastered in the past several years has been the use of Pinterest. Anyone with an interest in things creative or visually stimulating should find an online home in Pinterest, the most recent social networking site to rise in fame and familiarity, and certainly the most lovely.

The novelty of Pinterest has worn off for many, and I can’t help but be relieved. I have given up on trolling through the endless “Everything” page, which used to contain all sorts of things, but which now provides an excellent visual representation of the word “cluttered” if ever you needed one. Over time, I’ve gradually selected about 100 or so pinners whose boards I appreciate, whose tastes I agree with, and whose pins I find original and inspiring. These pinners I follow; these pins comprise my home page.

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This is the first wonder of Pinterest: that you essentially design it yourself. My home page looks remarkably different than my mother’s, for example, and hers looks radically different than our host, Kathryn’s. I don’t follow teacher boards or boards of baby pictures, because they aren’t relevant or interesting to me personally or professionally. And I don’t feel obligated to follow someone just because I know them. It’s harder to keep track of who follows you back the way you can on Twitter or Facebook, and that seeming inefficiency provides remarkable social freedom.

What I have found most fascinating about Pinterest is that it teaches you your own style. If you are consistent about only pinning things you find to be beautiful, you can eventually scroll through any one of your own boards and learn things about yourself. I learned, for example, that I prefer brown palettes to black and white, that I have an inclination toward wood and leather rather than synthetics, and that I dislike pastels in almost any form. That last point I knew before, but the others were revelations to me. I thought I loved black. I thought wood and leather were more masculine and less me.


I’ve also learned that I like Alexander McQueen, Madame Gres, and Madeleine Vionnet. I’ve learned that architecture in Australia and New Zealand is considerably more attractive to me than architecture in California—and perhaps I should move. I’ve learned about this thing called “mid-century modern,” and that I’d choose it over Victorian any day. I knew about Coralie Bickford-Smith’s stunning cover designs years ago, but now I know about the brilliant collection at the Folio Society, and I know about John Fontana, Sara Singh, and Janette Mallory. It was through Pinterest that I first discovered Colossal, one of the most incredible online art blogs I have ever seen.

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I’ve learned silly things, too: that Tom Hiddleston is ridiculously photogenic, and that Richard Armitage is thoroughly transformed by his dark, trim beard. I’m pretty sure that the ubiquitous Grumpy Cat first made his way to my heart through Pinterest, and I’ve watched several useless tutorials on how to tie an Eldredge knot.

richard armitage

There’s more. I could talk about the recipes I’ve tried, or the makeup I’ve bought. And there’s the strange friendship I feel toward some of my favorites pinners who repin me as often as I repin them, but with whom I’ve never spoken or written a word.

In Order to Lead

In the end, though, the best thing Pinterest teaches you is to be so suffused with beauty that you just aren’t satisfied with messy, cheap, unthoughtful surroundings anymore. That doesn’t mean that Pinterest makes you spend money on things you don’t need (though it might), but that it provides a constant reminder to aim for quality, longevity, and self-representation in the things with which you surround yourself—whether it be art, furniture, food, or fashion. As William Morris famously wrote, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

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