People often copy another’s work due to design immaturity. We don’t really know how to properly find inspiration so we default back to mimicry. Hopefully people go through this phase quickly in their career. If you have no originality or self-inspiration to draw from, design is the wrong industry for you!
It is natural to go down the road of self-doubt, and question our design work, especially when working under a stressful deadline or pressure to produce a masterpiece for a client. However, we must detour ourselves off this path, for there is a difference in inspiration and imitation.
Design is subjective and knowing WHY choices are made is one of the most valuable tools you have as a designer. Knowing WHY something works so well and is well received by it’s audience is never learned through copying – it’s learned through criticism, evaluation, experimentation, and testing… but NEVER copying! As a designer we should always be original. To gather inspiration is one thing, however to mock and copy and duplicate is merely SHAMEFUL! Copying shows you don’t understand the relevance of design… Copying DEVALUES a designer!
It’s like cheating on a test. When you cheat on a test you don’t know why the answer is what it is, and chances are you’re not going to take the time to find out, cause if you wanted to know you would have done it in the first place. Copying design or copying answers to an exam are not any different.
When you create designs based upon your own ideas you know why the design works or doesn’t work. You know the genesis of the concept and you know where and how the concept can be altered without losing its appeal. When you own the design, you own the map to the maze, you know where you are at no matter where you are. By owning the design you have the knowledge to better your design strategy next time.
Copying may seem simple at the time, but you really hinder your imagination in choosing this route. Not to mention, copyright infringement laws and regulations you violate. If conscience does not stop you, hopefully a justice system will. It is a wise move to NOT copy another’s work or words, for it leads down a dark and foolish path. Copying goes against the very definition of the word designer. Rather than copying – go out there and allow yourself to be inspired, let your imagination loose. Design is in our everyday world…set your imagination free and create it!
What inspires your creative side? How much of design is created from your vision? It is said that art is design without strategy and creating alongside strategy is design. This is true! As a designer we need to begin with an objective, consider our target audience, the personality and tone you are trying to create, and the primary message. A sketch is a great starting point for bringing forth your vision to life. But what happens
when we arrive at a roadblock in our creative minds? Uh-oh!!! Well, good news reader – please read on... Here are some tips I have found helpful when in a designer’s rut…
1. Tap into your subconscious. There are a lot of great and creative ideas in there! Let your mind go blank, find your place of peace and quiet, and see what rises to the surface – you might be surprised! I often am.
2. Don’t steal it. It is ok to draw inspiration from another’s design, but be sure when you are creating – that it is YOUR OWN! Be your own designer! Create something from you out in the world – something absolutely unique! William Blake said: “I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.” This resonates in my heart when I design! Let it inspire you to be original…
3. Utilize your own system. My design system consists of brainstorming, sketching, resting my mind – even going for a run if I still need to clear out the good old brain, then choosing the best sketch, and entering my media program to create it!
4. Draw inspiration from something unrelated. If you ever find yourself at a designer’s roadblock – take a walk. Look at a sunset, a skyline, ripples in the water…there are infinite possibilities around you when you take the world in. Be inspired by what you see!
5. Imagine what your design hero would do. Get a favorite piece of design work in sight, created by someone you admire and respect. Imagine their design process in reverse. You can see their created and finished product – now imagine how they got there; then run with it!
6. Imagine what you want your design to look like in context. This is a way to trick your mind into giving up its best kept creative secrets. When the vision comes to you, capture it, for oftentimes it is only there for but a moment!
7. Work around the content. Don’t try to jam much content into your media venue. Work with the venue and then add the content. This ensures simplistic and uncluttered design masterpieces. Remember: less is more in the world of design!
I hope this helps when you are in a rut. One last tip is this – work on a good night’s sleep and a good meal. The mind functions best on a filled tummy and a rejuvenated brain! Eat healthy and rest up – then off you can go to the designer’s races!