The last year has been a whirlwind, to say the least. But, there has been a thread of positivity running amongst it all: many of us have turned towards creativity. Whether it’s to distract our minds, or to fill the time by developing a new at home skill, creative pursuits have been on the rise. And with it there’s been a welcomed increase in Pinterest users searching for inspiration on the topics of escapism, mindfulness and activism.
In fact, Zoe Pearson – Pinterest’s head of growth, English speaking countries – points out how there’s been a mammoth increase in these trends. Especially on the platform, which has seen a sharp rise in Pinterest users searching for and engaging with art. “These spikes in searches reflect Pinners looking at art as a way to express themselves and explore new ideas,” she tells It’s Nice That. “Pinterest has always been a destination where people can find artistic ideas and fuel their creativity. With many of us spending more time at home over the last year, Pinterest saw spikes in searches for art-related ideas, as people turned to the platform for inspiration and escapism.”
In this sense, those in search for mindfulness have been increasingly exploring art sketches, collage art and illustration as a way to “unwind, relax and slowdown”. Meanwhile, those looking for activism-related inspiration have been searching for things such as “Black Lives Matter art”, “feminist art” and “climate change poster” – “spinning up 100% more searches for ‘earth signs’,” says Zoe. And lastly, those in search of escapism have been exploring everything from anime to dark fantasy art “and dreaming of a different world with six times more searches for “dream art surrealism’.”
There has never been a better time to dabble in a new craft or medium, so it’s understandable as to why these trends are so prevalent. As Zoe explains: “art matters in times of uncertainty and activism. Whether it’s for mindfulness or the inspiration to create a change in the world, our Pinners are showing an increased demand for art with a purpose.”
To celebrate World Art Day this month, Pinterest is hosting Art Month – where both Pinners and Creators can find everything and anything on the topic of creativity. Here, we chat to three creatives and regular Pinners to hear more about their practice, and how escapism, mindfulness and activism has inspired their work over the past year.
First, we have Rachel Isabel, a multidisciplinary artist born in Kinshasa and raised in London. Flitting between digital collage, film and popular culture, her otherworldly pieces place emphasis on themes such as the Black female body, politics and nature. Most imperative, though, is how she uses her practice as a form of escapism. “There are beautiful worlds we create inside of ourselves that not everyone gets to experience, and my work is an extension of that. I love being in nature, I love the ocean and staring into the horizon and losing myself within that,” she tells us. “The world is full of incredible wonder and depth, and so am I. This is me, retelling my own story and on my term; it’s what I want more of, and it’s a chance to breathe and pause, and to just be still for a moment.”
Rachel sees escapism as a vital tool for our current climate, notably as we navigate through the midst of a global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement across the world. Her practice has become part of her self-care ritual, and with it she’s produced an abundance of digital collage pieces like Add to the feeling you are fucking epic and They call me a minority – each of which transcends the artist’s own experiences and energies of the present moment.
Next up we have Jake Thomas, an artist, illustrator and clay connoisseur based in Nottingham. After setting up his Etsy shop called Basic Art Kid back in 2018, he’s since been selling self-love art prints and key-rings, as well as a few ceramic pieces thrown in the works. All of which are heavily inspired by Danish pastels and mid-century modern aesthetics – “there’s so many boards and pins on Pinterest surrounding this style,” he explains, gravitating towards the more muted visuals as his preferred style of choice.
Adhering to the theme of mindfulness, most of Jake’s work navigates around illustrated self-love affirmations: “Making work based on self-love actually really helps because it means I’m constantly reading all of these positive things, and it helps me become more mindful,” he says. “I think that mindfulness is all about surrounding yourself with calm, positive energy and cultivating a kind and nurturing attitude towards yourself. I tend to translate this mostly into my self-love affirmations work.”
When Jake starts to feel overwhelmed himself, he tends to channel these emotions into making work. “I practice mindfulness techniques such as meditation and yoga to draw my attention back to the present moment. I find that this really helps artists to get out of a creative block and refocus their creative energy.”
And last but not least, we have Meg Garrod, a feminist illustrator born and raised in Scunthorpe – an industrial town of North Lincolnshire. Currently studying graphic design at university in Nottingham, she tells us how the last year has undeniably been tough, but equally it’s been a great opportunity for personal growth. “I was forced to spend time with myself and identify how I felt about my body, which has lead to creating more artwork that promotes self-love in a time that that body hate and diet culture was everywhere and affecting our mental health,” she explains. Lockdown, in this sense, made physical inspiration impossible, but luckily Meg was able to evolve her process and spent some time developing work that she’s truly passionate about – that being art themed on fat liberation and feminism.
“Body positivity and fat liberation is something that I am always inspired by because of how negative body image affected me and the people around me as I was growing up,” she continues, citing how social media was the main instigator for these feelings. In response, she decided to make art that represents all bodies, channeling a variety of different mediums and techniques to send her messages. “Activism to me is all about being open to listening and learning, caring about current issues and using our voice to speak up and make positive change,” she adds. “I personally feel that I address these themes without even realising sometimes; I create art about topics I feel strongly on and it often reflects my lived experiences. I am a believer that art is powerful, so I illustrate activist art in the hopes of making a positive difference.”
Pinterest is all about bringing creative inspiration to people’s lives. Graphic design. Photography. Boozy vegan breakfast... Whether you’re wooing a tricky client or feeding your friends, Pinterest has ideas to spark you into action.
Pinterest: Art Month. Illustration by Sue Doeksen (Copyright © Sue Doeksen, 2021)