Find Inspiration, Not Theft

“In West Virginia yesterday, a man was arrested for stealing several blow-up dolls. Reportedly, police didn’t have any trouble catching the man because he was completely out of breath.”Conan O’ Brien

If that quote teaches us anything, it’s that crime doesn’t pay. The same holds true in the creative realm of design.

In today’s digital age, stealing material is viewed subjectively. Take arts and entertainment for example. Music and piracy has been an issue, from the days of bootlegging a concert to Napster at the height of its fame. Even in the entertainment world, the stealing of a comedian’s jokes has been a long standing issue, from Robin Williams to Dane Cook. Just Google or YouTube search Carlos Menica. The results range from his infamy in stealing jokes to unabashed hatred towards the man. In a world where people have traded ethics for personal gain, do they exist in the design world?

There are ethics in design. They are the same that exist in different avenues of creativity. If I were to tune out my peers and legendary artists that came before me, and still be able to produce great work, then I would be a creative genius (I wish). I use Delicious to bookmark my inspirations. I need to get inspired and learn from people that came before me. I believe in viewing various concepts to encourage a design, though with my own spin on things. After all, how many musicians were inspired by The Beatles and/or Elvis? Sure, there were a few blatant copycats along the way, but they also helped influence some legendary individuals.

Get Inspired

Inspiration may sound like “borrowing” for some, but there are several sites that encourage sharing of designs and have sections specifically for inspiring designers. Sites like You The Designer and the American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA) are great examples. Speaking of AIGA, official ethical practices in design have actually been in place. In an earlier post, I talked about personal ethics in a job. AIGA’s original idea, known as The Living Principles of Design focuses on not only that concept, but provides an online community to share best practices, tools and ideas for designers of all ilks.

Just like the code of ethics and rules on academic plagiarism (that we usually don’t have time to read), you have to understand what you are getting into when you use a concept. Be sure to credit your inspirations. Not everything I’ve done for clients has been totally original, but its important to establish your own ethical boundaries.

Works Cited:

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