we’re all about: rope + transferred images

by Grace Bonney

One of the things I love most about my job is getting to work with people that I would be friends with even if we didn’t work together. Amy and Kate have become indispensable to me as co-workers, but they’ve also become some of my favorite friends to spend time with, geeking out over art shows, magazines and websites. Sometimes I feel like the kid sister of our trio because they’re always pointing out the coolest things to me, and I end up gawking and saying “Oh wow! Cool! That’s so neat!” a lot. But I would happily sit on the couch and watch them point out cool things all day if I could. So I’m happy they’re the main curators of our new monthly trend boards on Pinterest.* Last month, we launched the boards to track our “editors’ picks” in terms of trends, starting with Navy Blue and Copper. Now for March, we’re starting two new trend boards: Rope and Transferred Images!

Our rope love has been brewing for a while, going through various incarnations that range from nautical-inspired to something a little more natural and 70s-tinged. No matter how you wrap it, we’re crazy for these thick ropy styles and can’t wait to integrate some of them into our office. If you’re up for some ropey goodness, click here to check out the ROPE board.

Our second trend piece for March was inspired by Kate’s love of transferred images. She’s always finding great pillows with photography screenprinted on them, and this month, she and Amy have gathered some gorgeous inspiration pieces ranging from clothing and home goods to wall decor and textiles. If you’re ready to transfer some images from the web to your own inspiration board, click here to check out our TRANSFERRED IMAGES board.

*I wanted to acknowledge that I have been reading — and continue to read — the issues many artists and content makers are raising about Pinterest and copyright law. I take their concerns very seriously (and share many of them) and will continue to stay informed about any and all issues regarding Pinterest and the creative community. While I am enjoying the services that Pinterest offers and appreciate how they help our readers and team organize trends, I want to make sure that any outside service we use doesn’t offer them at the expense of the makers we support. — Grace

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  • throwing my hat in the pinterest ring — i’ve found that it only DRIVES more traffic to sites, which is a good thing if everything is credited properly. just another avenue to raise awareness about artists. it is a tough issue if an arist doesn’t want their images on pinterest….

    • lauren

      i agree that it drives traffic if credited properly (which still isn’t a given), but the issue is that by pinning any image, you give pinterest the copyright to that image. that’s not cool with most photographers. i believe (correct me if i’m wrong) that facebook does the same thing, so i’m curious to see how the law will handle issues like this. the last thing i want to do is be involved with something (including our own pin boards) if it’s threatening photographers’ ownership of their own images.


  • I agree with @Lauren Covington, pinterest seems to be geared more towards a spirit of collaboration and promotion. It’s kind of cool, there seems to be this underlying idea that the legitimacy of the content on pinterest relies on etiquette, that small steps like crediting the artist or maker of your pin in the caption or getting your link for the pin directly from the artists’ site, as opposed to pinning it from a middleman like a secondary blog or website. It’s all very civilized. I would be thrilled I made something and it gained attention through pinterest. I mean, there’s probably a relatively small chance that anyone is going to click through to your website via a pin, but it’s still someone.

    • clancey

      i understand that sentiment as it relates to shop owners and bloggers who are primarily relying on sources like this to bring traffic and new readers. but when you’re a photographer that relies on ownership of your image (especially as it relates to that image being run everywhere across the web without payment), pinterest because less effective. i think as people that rely, at least partially, on other makers letting us use their images, it is our responsibility to make sure they’re ok with us re-using their work elsewhere. from now on, we’re asking everyone we post about that works with a photographer if we have permission to use their images on pinterest. and if they say no, then we don’t pin. i think it’s one small step we can all do to make sure our efforts to drive traffic to them and us doesn’t hurt their livelihood by taking away their copyright (or creating a situation where they have to argue with a larger company that they do in fact own their images and control how they’re used)


    • thanks kyra-

      i still have a weird feeling in my stomach about the whole pinterest thing- i’m trying to be cautious about it and make sure that we are paying attention to every issue/concern raised and making sure that we don’t do anything to hurt the people we love and support.


  • I also have mixed feelings Grace. Have not hopped on the Pinterest bandwagon yet, although the call to pin and be pinned is getting louder. We tend to be cautious about image sharing in general. I would love to hear more as you continue to explore the topic. Thanks!

  • What I think is so weird about Pinterest is that twice they’ve solicited me, (first time I didn’t even know who the heck they were) and when I said yes, they said “Oh, OK, we’ll let you know when you’re ‘in'”. It reminds me of getting into clubs in NYC back in the day and they had to ‘pick’ you from the crowd. Something about that ‘public selectivity’ approach turns my stomach. Makes me not WANT to belong at all!!!!!!

  • Hi Grace! As always, I appreciate your transparency and ethics – I always love reading your comments because you handle everything so professionally/diplomatically and set such a good example. Thanks for that. Just wanted to say that as a designer, I have similar concerns and as such it’s really not only about photographers – there are many content-creators out there that have similar issues (I just posted about it yesterday – there were just too many issues swimming around in my head and I had to get them out). I’d love to get in on the Pinterest fun but their terms make me uncomfortable about signing over certain rights to my work (particularly the selling part they mention in their Terms) and I certainly won’t be pinning anything else unless I get permission from the creator. As it is, I already avoid posting my work on Facebook for similar reasons. I’m looking forward to the improvements I hear/hope they are working on – it would be so great if they came out as leaders and innovators/example-setters in this area. For now, I’m signed up but not pinning…

  • @grace – oh yes, that’s definitely an issue, the copyright. and i appreciate that you point out the controversy in the initial post. as exciting as pinterest is and can be, i can imagine it’s a tough decision to use or not use it when you have a lot at stake. you and the d*s always bring everything to the table rather than focus on ‘traffic.’

  • hi, grace. my daughter — an artist — and i are having this conversation right now, prompted by your post. i feel that the train has left the station and there’s no going back — good or bad, that’s the state of things. pinterest does drive traffic to portfolios and creators. i have been doing research to see where i go, where others go, what purchases result from travels through pinterest, how retailers and key bloggers use pinterest to their advantage, how taste and selections are affected by pinterest. most technology writers don’t get it because they don’t participate, they merely observe. (i am not including you in this, i’m talking about wall st. journal, etc.) yes, it’s a juggernaut and it’s growing exponentially. on a semi related note, i received a catalog from lands end last week with great cover illustrations. i contacted the company…who did these? can you lead me to the artist or the art buyer — i would like to use the artist for a project. customer service was helpful but after that…no answer. the reverse has happened to me and i have always been happy to support an artist when others asked, as a professional courtesy. but ok. onward. i have a deadline. i will find someone else. the point is, there are so many resources now, if somebody doesn’t work out, there is always someone who will. i’m a creative director and writer and have seen prices for work plummet over the past 5 years. it’s the time we live in, i don’t like it either. but as creatives — and businesspeople, we have to find ways to work with the changing online landscape as we find it. it is not going to change for us. (i know many people (including my daughter) will disagree with that opinion!)

    • margy

      i see your point of view, but at a gut level i have to disagree with the idea that artists will have to get used to their work being passed around for free. it’s one thing to have people write about something on a blog, but to have a site take ownership of your work if it’s posted feels like a major violation of rights.


  • thanks for your reply. yes. i agree with you…passed around for free is unacceptable. it’s happened to me and i don’t like it! but if, say, one piece of work could be used as an introduction to a body of work, maybe it would raise the artist’s visibility and encourage sales of other work. bottom line: i’m struggling to find a way for creative people to work within something that will not slow down. as my daughter says (we’re still discussing!) musicians can put their music on itunes. they opt in for a percentage (like 30%) of the deal. pinterest allows sites to add a line of code that disables pinning across the board. downside: their stuff isn’t shared and they lose an audience. it’s complicated and the story is just beginning. thank you for your comments. margy

    • margy

      if pinterest could add a rev share model into makers’ pinterest pages or something like that, i’d definitely be more likely to support it. but pinterest actually profits off those images, not the maker, per se. there’s an affiliate link/code added into things you pin- so if someone buys the think you pinned and linked to, pinterest gets a cut. it’s a really slippery slope so i’m definitely keeping a close eye on it.


  • What a brilliant debate. There is so much content that pushes toward pinning at the moment and I am not yet part of the club so can not pin but many of my photographs are pinnedby others. Could someone clarify for me..Would that mean that Pinterest now has ownership of my pictures or would I have had to pin them myself? I really don’t mind that they are being enjoyed by others but I would like to remain the owner of them. I’m a little confused.
    @Grace you made a good point that a consequence of images being spread so far and to so many is that artists do have to fight occasionally with larger bodies to prove that they are the originators of a particular design or artwork. It is not fun. I’ve had to do it.
    Great product in the post..not at all ropey!

  • Wow, I didn’t know that pinterest gets a cut if you buy something based on someones pin. How does that work? Where do we find more info about this? Is there a good way for us as consumers and not artists to go about pinning things we like without complicating things for the artist?

  • This is totally Pinterest unrelated, ha ha! It’s actually about the trend category of “transfer images”…I’m a clothing designer and I think actually most of these examples you’ve shown are digital prints. Digital fabric printing has grown in leaps and bounds in the past few years, probably first made most famous by Alexander McQueens SS10 “Plato’s Atlantis” collection (http://www.alexandermcqueen.com/int/en/corporate/archive2010_ss_womensp.aspx) although digital printing was definitely being used prior to this. Anyways, transfer images are still totally around (been around since the 70s), but I think the resurgence of the trend that you guys are seeing is due to the increased accessibility of digital fabric printing…I know I’ve added it to my last 3 collections and more and more designers all around the world are doing the same! (see Mary Katranzou – any season, Christopher Kane – SS2009, Black Milk Clothing – current…..and so many more) Enjoy, I love this trend too!! xo Angie, designer of Norwegian Wood

  • I really love the image transfer pieces. So unexpected but so beautiful!

    I just deleted my Pinterest account for many reasons, one of them being the copyright issue. Pinterest also seems to encourage links to your facebook etc and I find that the credit gets a bit obscured when seen on other sites.
    Though I loved the idea, I just think they have a few more issues to work through…

  • Grace — Just wanted to clarify something that came into my in-box yesterday, after I’d written to you. The Lands End people did indeed contact me about the artist for their cover. Turns out, it was the in-house team who did the work, so bravo to them for a truly sensational, stand-out piece of retail catalog design. I wanted to be sure they got the credit for the work after I mentioned that particular issue in my posts yesterday. Again, thanks for your careful consideration about the larger issue. The conversation continues…

  • Grace,

    Thanks so much for being proactive and raising the discussion about the legalities and liabilities of Pinterest. I read the posts on Kirsten’s blog – here is the link to the second one http://ddkportraits.com/2012/02/my-date-with-ben-silbermann-following-up-and-drying-my-tears/
    – and actually found a way to pin both links to a board I created called “Will I be sued for pinning?”

    I don’t think any of us want to hurt artists. I will certainly be more careful from now on about what I pin.


    • Kay

      Thank you for that link– though I’m pretty speechless and saddened to hear the way she described that conversation. Comparing it to a date (?) and saying, “And, as anyone who has had a successful date knows, this is the way to a woman’s heart – make it all about her” makes me so disappointed and sad.

      I have no problem with Ben personally- he has always seemed like a really nice guy. But asking someone their opinion is not fixing a problem. I’d really like to see Pinterest address the issues and fix them- not just put out small fires on blogs. And it drives me nuts when people play the, “this is my little site, i don’t know about copyright law…” card. If you run the fastest growing site on the web, you have to learn and grow just as quickly- it’s part of the responsibility of success.

      Regardless of my issues with that second blog post, I am really glad that at the very least, people are talking about this, learning about copyright issues and paying attention to their actions and how they could affect artists.


  • Grace, Thank you for the link to Kirsten’s post. It was helpful and the hundreds of comments were thought provoking. I was at an intellectual copyright workshop last week, Kirsten’s explanation would have been most welcome. None of us were much wiser when we left.

  • This is a sad state of affairs. I cannot believe that Pinterest would be that underhanded. :( So much for an interdependent community based on mutual respect and admiration.

    This might be obvious to everyone else, but what is the correct course of action here? I have read the articles suggested by Grace (Thanks by the way, they were really informative). Should we delete our pinboards like the creative lawyer?

    Would boycotting Pinterest help change their policies? Or do we just continue as usual, using proper pin etiquette and hope for the best?

    • lelanie

      “hoping for the best” is sadly not a good legal defense, so i would suggest anyone concerned discuss the images they’re pinning with the original makers of the photos, period. i think the best way to protect yourself is to have permission to pin what you pin. and to inform those being pinned that pinterest has the right to use those images if they want them…


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