That’s Beautiful! …Let’s Copy It

Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery

That's Beautiful! ...Let's Copy It

As designers and artists, we are always observing various markets, studying ad campaigns and just observing the world in general. So often we see how some designers and their companies pile onto a trending concept. While it’s important in design and all manner of professions to be inspired and particularly to draw inspiration from the hottest trends and the latest fashions, sometimes it might be easy to forget that there is a difference between inspired creativity and duplication.

Putting aside those would-be designers who have figured out that imitating the competition is a viable strategy in creating a customer base, there are some designers who get caught up in the machine. Our fast-fashion world expects new designs every week and every day. Also, all the good ideas have already been realized, right? Not so! Some of the most inspired ideas have been built on the back of good ideas, or even bad ones.

Great inspiration often comes from strange places too. Don’t just look at your competitors, or those who ‘set the standard’ for your industry. A great idea for a design might come from a misty sunrise commute, a wind-tossed pile of leaves, an amazing roadside café, a favorite old movie or a rundown gas station. Combine your unique design with those hot trends you don’t want to miss out on to create something truly inspired.

It is easy to forget that there is a difference between inspired creativity and duplication.

Let Them Copy You

That's Beautiful! ...Let's Copy It

Your content might dictate much of your design, but that doesn’t mean you should strive to make it look like everyone else. As a designer, it’s your job to pick out what works best from designs on the market and interpret them to suit your audience, discarding anything that doesn’t satisfy your overall message. Remember, it isn’t about looking like you belong, it is about rising above and standing out. Of course, your executives or sales staff might advise you to reign in a bit, because change and uniqueness frightens them, but if you don’t put at least a little distinctiveness in your design, what will set your message apart from your competitors?

Now, don’t feel bad or think less of yourself if you are having trouble drawing inspiration on your own. Studying other designs and borrowing techniques is part of what it takes to becoming a strong designer. Sometimes you also should embrace your product or message more fully before you can find inspiration in the world. If you have the desire to design and create than I believe that the ability is within you already. Armed with the knowledge that you are a true designer at heart, look again at that piece of marketing, product or brand messaging that is just begging you to copy it… don’t you feel inspired instead? Let your heart tell you what it is that inspires you about the artwork. Let it embody your work and combine fluidly with your content. It takes bravery to put your own design on the page. Don’t hide behind what is working, build on it and make it your own!

Rich Harris
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