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Ethical or Unethical…?

Is this ethical to look at someone else’s design, get an idea and come up with your own design? I have a friend who is a graphic designer. He told me once that he thinks design is all about this (looking at other designs, getting an idea and coming up with your own design). He believes that all graphic designers are doing it and there should be nothing wrong with it. He said, I am not copying somebody else’s work exactly how it’s been done…. It is like exploring and looking at all other best designs and learn from them. Like you are going to a museum, look around and you are influenced by the attractive paintings that you see. You wish that you could paint or draw like them. You still remember a few styles and techniques that you liked about some of them and you come back home. You get your paint and brush and start practicing painting the same style that you visited in museum. Do you think is this ok for a painter to do this? It’s obvious that it is very hard for a painter to copy someone else’s painting 100%. However, for a graphic designer it is possible to copy someone else’s work if not exactly the same, but very similar.

I personally think that generally it is ok to get ideas from other works. I am not saying to copy exactly what you see in a magazine. Nowadays, we can find several pieces of graphic design and advertisements that look pretty similar. Some of them have the same exact colors, but slightly different designs, while some others’ designs are similar but colors are completely the opposite. I have been collecting interesting designs when I see them in some magazines that I get. As a result my idea folders are full of some attractive and interesting advertisements. When I compare all those different ads, at one part or the other I find similarities in design. When I see something like that, I don’t think I would feel bad by looking at them and come up with my own new design. I totally did not look at any book and did not do any research on it. It’s just what I was discussing with my friend and what I think personally.

What do you think? Where and at what point we should say stop? What are the limits? Is it all ethical?

One Comment

  1. Kha Tu Nguyen wrote:

    I think that it is alright to look at someone else’s work to get some inspiration for your own creation. As long as you do not copy too much of the work. I think that all good artists get inspirations and ideas from viewing other works, advertisements,etc. Even a simple walk can get you inspired when you walk across something that attracts your eye. Therefore, I don’t think it’s not ethical to get ideas from other works. I agree however, that there should be limits set as to how much of other people’s work you incorporate into your own piece of work.Techniques and styles maybe similar, but the work overall should be your own idea.

    Thursday, February 5, 2009 at 7:31 pm | Permalink