Pinterest is a dynamic visual bookmarking site that allows users to tag and organize images into inspiration boards. The Pinterest workmark (which was initially created using Bello Pro by Underware) was charming, but it was recently updated with a custom lettering design by Michael Deal and Juan Carlos Pagan.

in-progress sketches

Understanding Pinterest’s audience was uncharacteristically easy, as the site is essentially one large, collective moodboard. A quick peak at Pinterest’s homepage gives a clear narrative about who is using the site, and what they are using it for. Based on this understanding and loyal following, it was decided to continue using a casual script, rather than pursue a new direction.

Michael Deal’s explanation of their process, from the Pinterest blog:

We needed something that seemed casual, but that also carried signs of careful craft. It was important to sense the touch of the hand in the forms, but to stay subtle. We also wanted it to carry a feeling of nostalgia, without seeming retro. The need for [a contemporary feel] drove many of the initial experiments, where I played with fully upright scripts, and tuned down the range of line weight variance. The bolder type also served well under the ever-present logistical issue that the logo would be seen almost exclusively on screens at only a few pixels tall, where small details don’t translate well.

During the process, it was noticed that the capital letter ‘P’ resembled a pin. This observation was quietly emphasized by the roundness of the entry stroke, bowl, and a finished with a tapered stem.

in-progress sketch on the left; finished character on the right

For most of the project, I had avoided making visual reference to the image of a pin because it seemed too literal. But the ‘P’ started to lend itself too well to the shape of a map pin. Carlos and I spent a good bit of time finessing the character to find the right degree of suggestion. Too much of a pin shape compromises legibility, where too much subtlety leaves less justification for attempting the concept in the first place.

Juan Carlos Pagan (Parsons School of Design, 2006) is a graphic designer living and working in New York City. He is currently attending The Cooper Union’s post-graduate typeface design program, CooperType.

Michael Deal is a Brooklyn-based graphic designer. Originally from Seattle, Washington, he is also currently attending The Cooper Union’s post-graduate typeface design program, CooperType.