They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but what about when that flattery is taken too far? Take a look at any blog in our industry, there is a 100% chance that there is at least a few posts with nothing but different pieces readers can gain inspiration from. There is nothing wrong with this of course; inspiration posts do a great job of showcasing a designer’s hard work and giving someone some cool ideas from looking at them. However, too often this inspiration found from viewing can lead to something entirely different.
This is when one takes inspirational work, and directly takes aspects from it for your own. This was something that was understandable and was just brushed off when it was only a few young naive designers doing it, you really couldn’t fault them too much for only wanting to create something like a designer they admire. However, today it really does seem as if this act of using inspiration is a valid reason for taking the work of another and calling it your own.
Since that seems to be the case, in this article we’re going to go over a few things that will help give insight on how to turn inspiration into original creative works.
What Does Stealing and Inspiration Look Like
Before going to deep on this topic, it is best to first illustrate my point visually for a better understanding of my argument. So below you will find a few quality websites, and then examples of how they have been imitated in our community.
I don’t think that there is another website around today that has been more influential than that of Apple.com. It is quite easy to understand why, even if you aren’t a creative you’ll find yourself appreciating the simplicity and excellent use of white space. With all that being said, the Apple website has been imitated by pretty much everyone in our community. Whether consciously or not, the inspiration is clear as day. Below you’ll find several articles showcasing Apple.com inspired websites:
- 60 Apple Inspired Websites – Why Apple Design Works? via 1stwebdesigner.com
- 22 Website Designs Inspired by Apple.com via Web Designer Depot
- Web Design Inspired by Apple.com via Inspiration Magazine
Well in accordance with anything, when you do good work expect it to be cloned and see other people profited off of it. Right now, the highlighted design that’s been stolen is Fiverr.com. There is a WordPress theme available for those looking to have a website with all the same functionality, and similar design, of Fiverr.com.
If anyone is just cruising around the internet is looking for some good local deals, 10 times out of 10 you’re going to end up on Groupon’s website. It is quite clear to understand why too, it has a clean interface that gives clear direction to what is usually thought of as a messy and unorganized scavenger hunt. Because of the success of this site’s design, there have been many interpretations of it and tutorials available to get that Groupon design down for yourself. Below you’ll find a few links to what I’m referring to:
- Create An eCommerce Site Inspired By Groupon With JQuery Slider via pvmgarage
- The Groupon-Style Website Trend: Why and How it Works via Onextrapixel
Where is the Problem
As shown in some of the above examples, there can be inspiration found from looking at anothers design and used with a positive original result. However, there has also been shown that it is quite easy, maybe unknowingly perhaps, to just take parts from other sites and put them into your own. Some have been so bold as to deliberately duplicate the design, seemingly pixel for pixel, and expect it to be viewed in the same light as the original. Now for the rest of this article, we are going to go over a few key things to consider when finding inspiration and stop yourself from taking it to far.
Think of how it would Feel if Your Work was Stolen
The phrase “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” relates perfectly to this situation. It is a common occurrence for a designer who has stolen the work of another designer have someone steal from them, and then feel offended by it. This is pretty funny when you think about it, a thief calling someone who steals from them a thief. When someone is taking an aspect of someone’s design, there isn’t too much thought of how it would feel to be on the other end. All the countless hours of just wondering how you can give your design that ‘wow’ factor, and then you finally figure it out. The next thing you know, someone just took your idea that you spent hours thinking about, and labeled it theirs.
Remember Originality Brings the Best Rewards
The designers that are regarded as the top professionals didn’t get to where they are by taking from others until they reached the top. The respect they have achieved in their career came from hard work, consistent remembrance of self, and pushing for individuality and originality. Sure taking things here and there from others will make you some money, but you’ll never truly be recognized for the talent you have because all you’re doing is copying what you see and making an appealing collage in your work.
Missing Out on the Feeling of Accomplishment
For many people involved in a creative profession, the monetary gains they receive are not that great. Actually, those that major in art related fields in college have one of the lowest average annual salaries around the world. So why would anyone even bother getting into a field like this? What sense does it make to be in a career that does not have good salary growth in comparison to other fields?
To those in creative fields, things like that don’t matter. The only thing that does is being able to make a living doing what you love, creating. Now if that is the mindset of the majority of our industry, why would you forgo that feeling. Personally, one of the best feelings I get is when I complete a cool project that took me an awful lot of time to get exactly right.
When someone takes on a creative field as their career choice, they are making a statement. A statement that declares that they prefer self-fulfillment by taking their respective creative talents as far as they can go, and make a living while doing so. This is a bold and powerful statement, which somewhat distances the creative spectrum from the rest of the world to a degree. So for someone to take on a career that represents the aforementioned statement shows complete disrespect to the creative community and themselves when they go out and steal from others. Gaining inspiration from a design is completely normal and great; just remember that inspiration is not a plausible cause for stealing.
Do You Have Any Thoughts To Add To Help End Inspiration Leading to Stealing?