Designer Dilemma: Pinterest Ethics Grey Area

advertising, branding, business, design, websites

In the wake of buying ourselves a sweet fixer upper, my interest in Pinterest has been revived. This home needs help! I want to collect every idea for budget home decor that I can possibly find and funnel them all into one easy-to-access place. I will log into Pinterest and pin my face off! Oh, you’re getting married/having a baby/throwing a shower/eating a dinner/painting your toenails? I’ll send you my boards on those subjects! Do you Pinterest? Are we using that as a verb yet? I’ll go with it.

The point of this story is twofold. Warning: Prepare for a lot of questions and opinions! I cannot tell you how to behave on the internet, these are merely some thoughts.

Above logo from Pinterest website.

1. Is Pinterest being abused? Is it okay to love it? Is it okay to hate it? Is it okay to feel both ways? (I certainly do!)

There are a lot of issues surrounding copyright for designers and artists whose work is being pinned and re-pinned on the site with each degree getting farther from the original source. The farther from the source a web bit gets, the farther from appropriate credit being given to original artwork and design. Are we going to see a lot of copycats? Are we seeing a lot of folks’ work being credited incorrectly or not at all? I’ve read Pinterest’s user etiquette and terms of use pages, but I’m assuming most users probably haven’t. Read it and then read up on some recent copyright issues and blog posts  (be sure to read the follow ups at the bottom of the DDK blog). Pinterest seems to be taking a genuine interest in protecting both their pinners and their artists while still having fun. We’ll just have to wait and see how this matter turns out.

I am not a lawyer, but I’m of the camp that if a site has a “pin it” button, it’s probably safe to use. (This is based on my personal thought, not fact, so please don’t quote me on that, and definitely use your own discretion or consult your own lawyer!) To me, a “pin it” means that the external site you’re pinning from is comfortable sharing their copyrighted or trademarked material. In the case of a blog that posts the work of others and has a “pin it” button, I’d have to assume that they have gotten permission. But admittedly, I contact very few of the outside site and blog owners I cite material from. I meticulously link everything I use back to their original sites, including images. I also do not reprint entire articles in my posts, but link you over to their original posts or articles. I feel like the information is on the internet, so people must want it publicized and read/seen, but credit is always due where credit is due. That being said, after reading all of these articles, I’ve deleted my “pin it” button from this blog because I don’t want you to think those folks I cite say it’s okay to pin their work. If you have pinned from my cite anything that is not noted as my own work, I would love it if you “un-pinned.” If you’re thinking of pinning, go to the linked sites and see if they have a “pin it” or written permission, and then do as you see fit. And be sure to give credit and links! Always! I will do the same. When I post my own designs, I will be happy to leave a “pin it” for y’all. I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in a law suit somewhere down the road.

When you’re on Pinterest repinning from other people’s boards, please remember that not all pins actually have a link back to the original artist/website. It would be polite to find the original artist/designer and link back to them. Photographers, I would recommend you make sure you have a watermark that shows your website, or at least your full legal company name if you have a “pin it” button on your site. Or even if you don’t. I imagine a lot of small business owners cannot afford to sue someone over pinning un-watermarked that that same owner willingly put on the internet. Do yourself a solid and put a mark on your pieces. Then, if your image gets separated from its link, at least the info is right there on your image. I’m going to do the same with designs and pieces I create from now on – create a jpeg or photograph the work and add a watermark. I’m also adding a disclaimer to the site that people are not to crop out the watermark. That’s not cool and not okay! And don’t even think of finding one of those sites that will edit out a watermark for you to illegally print. That’s just horrible. Artists deserve to be paid too.

These are just tips from one designer to another artist/designer/photographer. Please use your own best judgement or consult a lawyer if you’re confused.

2. What’s the deal with Pinterest if you’re just using it for fun and non-commercial stuff? Like, I want to pin a bunch of paint samples and cute room ideas from Apartment Therapy and Dwell. Did they get permission to use those images? Can I feel okay repinning?

I’m so on the fence here. A lot of folks I know are just deleting anything that might be questionable, thinking that if they were in the other designer’s shoes, would they want their stuff being pinned all over without knowledge? I love love love the ease of use with Pinterest – you can save all the things you admire, take your smart phone to the store and not spend one million dollars on magazine subscriptions or have to look up bookmarks to a hundred websites. This saves time, forgetfulness, money and phone G’s. I love all of these things. And when I’m innocently pinning, I’m not advertising these products to anyone commercially, but I am in fact advertising them online at Pinterest for other people to use any deviant way they might. Do I want to perpetuate that, even if unintentionally? Am I just being paranoid? I have no idea what to do about this dilemma. There’s basically no protecting yourself from what happens after you repin something. As it stands now, the Pinterest code of ethics says you own what you pin and you are responsible for it. Again, please see the etiquette page on Pinterest and refer to the well-written DDK dialogue about the info found there.

Basically, my feeling is that I’m going to skip the “pin it” plug in for my computer so I’m forced to use sites that place their own “pin it” but I’m going to err on the side of caution and be careful what I pin. Blog-based Apartment Therapy, for example, has a “pin it” button everywhere and they are heavily involved in Pinterest. Dwell, a for-profit magazine with legitimate, paying, real-life print/iPad subscribers, is not on Pinterest, as far as I can tell. It also has no “pin it’s” on the articles and home tours portion of its site, but does have “pin it’s” on the shopping area of the site. When in doubt, I’m going to contact the owner or not pin at all. It’s going to be hard to break the habit, but I think it’s good for me until this matter gets sorted out and some hard facts are out there. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that Pinterest’s terms of use are in place to protect them, not us.

Thank you all for listening! I can’t wait to have a little more hard evidence as to what’s right and wrong!


Vintage Finds and Falling in Love With a Brand

advertising, branding, photography, vintage design

My brain is all over the place today! I’m in the middle of a proposal at the day job, finished up some exhibit panels for a freelance client this week, working on finishing an album cover for a dear friend this weekend and yet all I can think about is home furnishings. I have fancy home furnishings on the mind, for whatever reason, and the lovely travel-inspired posts from Modern Commissary just keep pouring in. That, and Heath Ceramics just sent me something about free shipping this coming weekend/week… ugh.

If I had it my way (and had a million dollars), I would be busy making my house even more lovely than it already is, instead of working all the time. It has a lot of classic 1940s Cape Cod charm and original floors and bathroom tile. Every house in my neighborhood looks the same  on the outside, but has a little surprise on the inside – did you get the black and white bathroom tile or the pink and maroon? I’m just thrilled we didn’t end up with this:

Yikes. We have very classy black and white.

I love a lot of what I’m seeing people do with vintage fixtures and reclaimed wood these days. Yesterday, I toured New Kent Winery after a meeting with the ladies from SMPS Virginia. The owner has used many many reclaimed and repurposed pieces in the structure that houses the winery. Evidently many of the doors came from the Jefferson Hotel when they revamped back in the 1980s. The inside of the brewing room had old train trestles from the old Mayo Bridge (Route 360 in Richmond, VA) in place of rafters. The winery is owned by Taylor Moore and he has another business (E.T. Moore) collecting and reselling reusable pieces from old homes and businesses.

I also cannot get enough of old, run down buildings right now. It’s become a photographic obsession.

I’m completely in love with and inspired by all the textures in the faces of these old buildings. I’m planning on incorporating this feeling into a few upcoming pieces of design work. I can’t wait to see where this takes me.

On a completely unrelated note, I have recently had the opportunity to rent cars through both Enterprise and Avis, and I have to say that Avis truly does “try harder.” I would just like to remind you all about the famous (and amusing) 1962 Avis rebranding and mention that they have definitely stuck to it. Good for them and good for me. I’m a loyal customer now – and as much as I love branding, I’m not usually one to just pick a brand and settle down. Avis really does try harder. Read more about the brand here. I also think it’s pretty incredible that the tagline still lives after 50 years. Happy Brandiversary Avis!

Design News from the Internetz

advertising, architecture, branding, design, guerilla art, outdoor art, typography

I saw an article yesterday about a fun project that someone is trying to get started in Richmond – PARK(ing) Day! You may recall my previous post about my love of the parklet. Well, PARK(ing) Day is a wide spread event, held September 21 this year, where people put money into a parking meter for whatever time it will allow and then they roll out a mini park in the space instead of putting a car there. More details on the PARK(ing) Day website and some history about the event. I think this sounds amazingly fun and it’s not something we’ve seen yet in Richmond (or many other cities I frequent).

Image of the original parklet from PARK(ing) Day website.

In other news from the internetz, what is up with the Chinese ghost towns? This is so creepy and confusing to me. Working in infrastructure in the US makes me ask all kinds of questions about who thought that building new “cities” 2 hours from existing cities and not connecting them with any kind of mass transportation was a good idea? China doesn’t have as many cars as the US. And who is the target consumer for these spaces? China, though economically miles ahead of many many other developed countries still has an extremely large poor population. Hearing that they have a surplus of these high-end apartments and retails spaces is truly disturbing.

On a lighter note, here are some wonderfully minimalistic print ads for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Image from Bored Panda.

Lastly, I just want to say that I’m thrilled not to have to see that hideous London Olympics logo anymore. I’m looking forward to the breath of fresh air and good taste that is the Rio logo.

It  makes sense without being too literal, the colors are lovely and there’s something really unique about it.
Seriously, what happened London? Was that the only design bid you received?

Image from the Guardian.

London’s 2012 logo was designed by the firm Wolff Olins, and I suppose it was supposed to be avant garde and edgy or something. It’s looking a little dated already, to me.

Rio has enlisted the firm Tatil Design from Brazil to design the logo for the 2016 games. I don’t speak or read Portuguese, but what I can pick out from their site has something to do with using the human figure as inspiration for a logo that would recreate well in 3D. Way to keep it classy, Brazil.

Advertising Around Richmond Va

advertising, branding, design, websites

In the wake of the Super Bowl, there’s been a lot of twitter and facebook buzz about advertising around town, since a certain Richmond firm had a hand in some newly famous ads. So I checked out the new Martin Agency website today:

It has a couple of cool features:

1. It’s really image heavy, which I think is perfect for a design/ad company since the vast majority of what people take away from their work is what they see. I also like how you just scroll over the image to get a teaser. I hate extra clicking.

2. It refreshes itself as you scroll down, sort of like facebook does. As you near the bottom, it adds more past content so you can scroll down (endlessly?) and get all major information straight from the homepage. Neat.

This, of course, made me what to go look at what the other ad companies around Richmond are doing online. Most of the other companies are a lot more state/regionally-focused than national, so this is in no way a comparison. Just letting you know who’s around town.

Madison + Main: I really enjoy some of their seasonal promotional items. First time I met owner Dave Saunders, he presented me with his Blue Christmas album. Destined to be a classic.

The Bergman Group: They do great work, though I have to say I’m a little confused by their website. Not a lot happening. But I do like that you don’t have to change pages to see the videos.

Barber Martin Agency: Not to be confused with the other Martin Agency. Their Intelos commercials make me mute my TV. But I really like their Southern States print ads and spots.

Advante Advertising: I can’t stand this website, but they’ve done some solid logos. I especially enjoy their Main Street Station design (which, for some reason, you will not find on the City website where it belongs).

Big River Advertising: New to me as a name, but not in their work. I recognize a lot of their portfolio, and I am kind of bummed I hadn’t heard of these guys before. Their tagline is “changing behaviors” which is a perfect summary of the ad world. Their website is way less busy and annoying than a lot of their peers, and a lot of their work has a much more graphic/artistic approach. Surprise find!

Siddall: This is some sort of affiliate/partner of a larger worldwide corporation operating on a local level with local folks. Regardless, I’m in love with their State Fair of Virgina ads. These embody childhood dreaminess to me.

I could probably keep going since Richmond is thoroughly saturated with advertising agencies, but I must get back to working on some really great new projects! Can’t wait to share!