Pinterest Founder Evan Sharp On How To Manage Design Talent

Khoi Vinh: Was your grad school experience in architecture enjoyable?
Evan Sharp: It was revelatory, actually. I’ve always been a good student, made good enough grades to do well, and enjoyed a lot of different subjects. It wasn’t until I went to architecture school, though, that I really loved school work. All of a sudden I was working harder than everybody else. I felt like I had found what I should have been doing for years. I got addicted to the hands-on problem-solving through the process of making or designing something. Architecture school was really influential and amazing.

You hadn’t had that approach to solving problems before then?
I mean, growing up I had been lucky enough to have my dad’s old hand-me-down Macs. I used Photoshop for years and used to draw skins for MP3 players and draw icons for Mac OS 8. I had always done pixel-level stuff for fun, not realizing that was a career. And I had never done any of those things as, like you said, a method of solving a problem. For me those things felt like a hobby. It was something I did when I was messing around instead of doing my homework.

What’s it been like to build Pinterest into a company, from the ground up?
We ended up hiring people at Pinterest who I feel like are my peers. Even though technically I manage them, I have been able to create that environment. When you’re the co-founder you get to pick the people. So by definition for me it’s one of the best companies to work at because I made the company and it’s a reflection of me in some ways