For every new design project, I always look for inspiration, endlessly scrolling, conceptualizing until it sparks an idea.
Where do we draw the line?
Growing up, I have always been fond of design; from architectural to print to digital design. I first laid my hands on Photoshop back in 2012 and went on from there. Back when Pinterest wasn’t as popular, I would skim through magazine covers and Tumblr for inspiration and didn’t think much of design theft or plagiarism until I started working as a professional web and graphic designer.
We derive our creations from other people’s creations and making it our own. Where do we draw the line? Noboby wants to steal nor do be stolen from. All designers almost always start off with the same basic tools. Adobe Illustrator users have the same interface, color palettes, typefaces which can be used to create, stylize an original piece of art. How does that make one designer stand out from the other?
New ideas VS Old ideas
In our present world, there is an abundance of information and ideas, achieving originality can be challenging, although highly praised and sought. Is it a bad thing? No. If every UI designer stood by that statement and came up with a completely original design, an original webpage layout, users would tirelessly be learning how to navigate each website they visit because all the accustomed elements would simply not exist.
As what Mark Twain said in his autobiography,
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
These words apply to every designer, writer, artist and if not knowledgable, might end up getting expelled from school, a tainted reputation, and even legal consequences.
Web Design Plagiarism
Plagiarism, a terror-striking word that has existed for ages and was often used in a textual context, but times have changed and web designers have become more clever than ever.
According to the Web Designer’s Guide to Copyright – WEB 1600 & 2010,
Plagiarism is the act of taking or copying any original work without clearly acknowledging the work’s creator. In web design, copyright applies to three overall points: (1) the visual look and feel, (2) the underlying source code, and (3) any content posted online.
Copying involves all aspects of the website; front to back, inside and out. Some clients use a CMS like WordPress or a website builder like WIX or Square Space; users are unable to copyright the default elements but if it includes a brand or company’s own original graphics and logo, they’re all set. It is essential that designers know everything about copyrights and trademarks.
Web Design Inspiration
If you are stealing someone else’s work, imitating it inside and out, that’s plagiarism. It is challenging and impossible to come up with new ideas especially when you have tight deadlines to meet. The majority of the things we see on the internet has been inspired by old ideas.
Inspiration is when you see captivating webpages that sparked ideas and building on those ideas without duplicating the entire webpage or copying the color ranges, the typefaces used. From what I learned back in university, copying is simply unethical and unprofessional. No one wants to their works to be regarded as knock offs.
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