Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Inspired vs Stealing

It is difficult to be creative every day, particularly on-demand, as a graphic designer’s job requires. We all look at other people’s work and the environment around us to inspire us, or even just to see what our peers are doing. It is one thing to be inspired by our peers work, and it is a completely different thing to steal. We have to sometimes walk a fine balance, but it is often best to avoid it completely.

SKETCH Imitation can happen by accident. In many cases, everything has been done before. The importance of sketching can help avoid imitation. Often imitation can occur when you use an initial approach and do looking beyond this. Our initial feeling on a project is often the simplest approach, which is why this can lead to imitation.

WATCH & AVOID Seeing what our peers in the field are doing can be a great way to avoid fads. Avoiding what you see others doing is not only a great way to avoid fads, and dating your design; but it is a great way to prevent theft. We respect our own work, so we should respect the work of others in our fields.

DO ONE, NOT ALL It would be difficult to look at work, love it, desire to make something just as inspiration, and to not be able to try to reproduce something in a similar affect. One way to let inspiration work through is to take ONE trick that you noticed in their work, learn it, and incorporate it into your design. You can be inspired by the mood of a person’s work, and try to create a similar feeling in your own design.

THINK, THEREFORE IT PROBABLY IS If you think it is stealing or you are concerned that it might be, it would be best to not do it at all. Graphic Designers have to trust their instinct in this line of work, and of course you must put it to use in the case of design infringement. If you are going to use images (ex. Google images) you should site where you got this inspiration from, and if you are going to use this work in final art you should contact the creator for permission to use their work.

In the creative field it can be murky waters trying to protect your designs, and to protect yourself from theft. It is best to respect others work, as you would want them to respect yours. Imitation can be the best kind of flattery, unless you are stealing art. If you have concerns about a work, or want to develop ways to protect your own work: use watermarks and speak to a lawyer who is knowledgeable on intellectual property.

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