I Love Pinterest and Pinterest Loves Me

Combing through Pinterest is like that game you played as a kid when you picked petals off a flower to reveal your crush’s true feelings about you.

Oooh, I found a new artist to show my students. (Pinterest loves me!). Ugh, I do not need any natural deodorant ideas, thank you very much. (Pinterest loves me not.) Nice! Another great classroom management idea from AOE. (Pinterest loves me!)

flower

It’s a love-hate relationship many of us put up with because, overall, the good outweighs the bad.

Having a single spot to organize everything we find on the internet sure beats the dog-eared books, stuffed file folders, and messy magazine cutouts of the past.

However, among art teachers, Pinterest has the reputation of being a wolf in sheep’s clothing; luring users in with cookie-cutter projects that ultimately kill creativity.

We theory-informed teachers have seen way, way too many pins of crayons melting on canvas, hand tracing and coloring, and scribble art (insert eye roll emoji).

melted crayon art
image via mrkate.com

It’s understandable why there is a storm cloud of negative emotions and comments with respect to projects and ideas found on Pinterest. As a result, feelings of guilt trickle in and ripple through the art teaching community for using popular pins as catalysts for a project or a unit.

But it’s time for the shaming to stop.

Pinterest is a tool, just like technology. In general, both can be used and abused, but if it makes life and teaching just a bit easier or streamlined, quit the hating! We need to collectively trust that art educators know the difference between an educationally solid image of inspiration and all the other stuff you can find. It’s not only a place to start when looking for a project idea, but also a place to think through best practices related to materials, management, instruction, and assessment.

Curious about better cleanup techniques? Pinterest search. Have a surplus of brown watercolor? Browse through some other art teachers’ boards. Want a quick visual on how to manipulate cardboard? Pin it, baby! Looking for ways to display artwork from the ceiling? You guessed it – Pinterest.

From there, it is the job of the art educator to search through all the pins and decide what is (and what is not) relevant to their classroom environment and worth using with their students.

Most art educators are visually inspired if not vehemently visually passionate. Pinterest plays to our strengths, not our weaknesses. No games involved. Let’s agree to stop plucking each others’ Pinterest-loving petals and embrace Pinterest for what it is: a place to share ideas and remember them.

How do you feel about Pinterest? 

Do you use Pinterest to find ideas and inspiration? 

Megan Dehner

Megan Dehner is an elementary art teacher at a dual-language school in West Liberty, Iowa. She is passionate about the practice of creativity regardless of any talent or barrier.

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  • Megan Reardon

    Good article! I also think it’s important to say that there’s nothing wrong with melting crayons or hand art in and of themselves. We may have seen them 10,000 times, but little artists have not, and there’s nothing wrong with building their creative interest and confidence with things that have proven to be cool and successful! Particularly at the MS/HS level, that should that then immediately open the door to conversations about innovation not appropriation, but can’t “craftiness” be the scribble stage of creativity? I personally think a much bigger hindrance to true creative development is choosing a lesson that might SEEM more unique, but then expecting your artists to copy your example directly. :)

    • Megan Dehner

      Totally agree. Little artists LOVE figuring out that crayons melt into liquid color and that magic can be made with lines and hand tracing. Each teacher knows their students best and are the professionals to deem a project worth pursuing or not. Pinterest is a tool in our art teacher toolbox and when used appropriately can not only make our teaching/artmaking better, but also inspire our students as well!

    • Heidi Roberts

      I love the hand project, but I use it to teach shading. This way the students aren’t concerned about drawing. Their focus is shading to create a 3-D effect. They shade every-other stripe in the background one value. In the hands, they shade the opposite stripe, but gradual to create a nice rounded hand. They really pop. I agree with everyone that its a great place to start, sometimes.

      • Megan Dehner

        That is the perfect example of taking something that has been seen by many and making it work for you and your students. Awesome!

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  • Diane Sheehan

    Megan,
    I had written the article (attached in JPEG Image format for viewing) over 5 years ago since there were dept. members who solely used Pinterest for all of their curriculum. As you stated this is a tool. As I tell my students and educators that this is merely a seed to ignite those creative juices. I submitted the article 2 times in our local art education association and it never made it to print. I am very appreciative of your article and other’s comments. I am fearful when I see 1st grade bulletin board art projects on display from core classroom teachers and see other art teachers with the same cookie cutter art project on their own display. Just food for thought.. Artistically, Diane

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4cac5dde6a91f0d08f40baab626e3e80d2c879a361ad7a93830a429d671027a0.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/32d468dffd57fbdaeb157b9239530c4e25dcaa1c0133355051cf63e827848d34.jpg

    • Megan Dehner

      What great thoughts Diane! Thank you.

  • Donna Staten

    Of course I have to comment on this! :-) Seriously, I have never understood the argument against Pinterest. It is an incredible online filing system where one can save lessons, visuals, videos, sample pieces and anything else that you use in your classroom- for FREE. Why is it any different to use an AoE lesson straight from the site or from a pin? It’s still the same lesson! And about cookie cutter lessons and directed drawings- where do they come from? They come from the blogs of art teachers! They are just filed on Pinterest- Pinterest didn’t create them. Those cookie cutter projects are also for sale all over TPT- by art teachers. I am concerned about these “copy” projects as much as anyone in our profession, but I don’t understand the blaming on Pinterest! Thank you Megan for this conversation!

    • Megan Dehner

      Donna – Thank YOU for being one of the first art teachers I followed on Pinterest and for your curatorial skills. Keep pinning!

  • Paula Atkins

    Yes! Thank you!!! Pinterest is a great tool for just what you said, an idea bank. I don’t have a lot of time, and Pinterest often has the answer I am looking for. The downside, it’s a potential rabbit hole if you aren’t disciplined!
    I am not ashamed to say I pulled a lesson idea off of there. The only audience it matters to is my students!😉🙃❤

    • Megan Dehner

      I totally hear you with going down the “rabbit hole!”

  • Marta Krause

    I just started teaching but in my planning I almost never take ideas from Pinterest AS THEY ARE. I transform them, add or subtract or mix with other elements mostly to give each project two things: create personal connection for students and let them as much choice as possible. I love Pinterest for that! and will continue to use it :-)

    • Megan Dehner

      Well said! That’s what makes a good art educator (at least in my opinion) – taking what you see or inspires you and using that to inspire your own work and the work of your students.

    • Paula Atkins

      Ya, most of us on here do the same. It is a great visual consortium of ideas.

  • Carla Nations

    I think that Pinterest is a great tool. It’s just like any other source of information, you have to use it wisely. Do I use everything I find on Pinterest? Absolutely not. I may take a piece of this and a piece of that and create a new idea. I may actually use a complete idea, and I may just think something is interesting or cute. It is so much better than piling up papers that I’ve found to try things. It is also much easier to search through what I’ve pinned than a pile of paper. Pinterest is no better or worse than the books in the library that we go through to find information or the text books we have on our shelves that we get ideas from. Life is not about reinventing the wheel, but utilizing the information around us and putting our own spin on things. I never turn down something that may help me explain to my students a specific topic or something that I’m just burnt out on. Also, just because I teach art doesn’t mean I know or can do all art that’s out there. Someone can though and I am willing to take their help in learning a new technique.

    • Megan Dehner

      Preach!

    • Paula Atkins

      Right! Well said! I love it for the ideas it creates in my mind’s eye. I don’t use everything I see either but it is a good jumping off point to get the creative block in my mind greased and unleashed! Ha
      I like that often, there are links to tutorials in Youtube where you can see a process or technique done. Everyone has a different way of doing things and sometimes you just need to see it done to make it work for your project.

    • Donna Staten

      Well said, Carla!

  • Meg Olsen

    I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. I do sometimes find art that inspires a lesson; most often I have the unit in mind and pull art as examples that students can use for inspiration. And, I was introduced to Friedensreich Hundertwasser by browsing the art pins. He’s a great artist to look at if you’re teaching about warm and cool colors, shapes, contrast or texture. I also hate Pinterest because if I’m looking for master works of art to show my students and do a google search a lot of the work that comes up is from Pinterest. Sometimes it’s hard to find the original color pallet of the artist, or you get a dozen student projects you have to sift through. I have gotten into the habit of doing my search -pinterest and that does seem to help.

    • Megan Dehner

      What a good idea! -pinterest is something I should try. Thank you!