Lamar University's Graphic Design Department Blog
It seems that there is no hope for original ideas or concepts of creativity these days, and for that matter, hasn’t been for quite some time now. Originality is a quality sought in every creative endeavor, but almost all projects can be related to previous historical examples. In the graphic design world, one would be hard pressed to find any body of work, which could be considered new, fresh, untapped, or any other words we might use to label something as original in its conception.
It is an acceptable condition that we will always borrow from some other reference to generate our own creative spin. This is not considered a shameful hypocrisy because it is the way things work in the design world and has been for some time. A scientist is not going to automatically distill a means of revolutionary phenomena, significantly impacting the scientific community because it would be impossible to make any progress without first acknowledging those incalculable discoveries of the past.
Some even admit that designers bent on originality handicap themselves when undertaking projects of this kind. They arguably go nowhere or have no aesthetic quality or affect. To quote Salvador Dali, “those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.” The question of plagiarism comes to mind, but most designers agree that it’s ok to use other aesthetics and visual examples as long as they are not blatantly copied to every last detail. The line between using creative examples as inspiration, and plagiarizing them is hard to define, but it’s something that every designer knows when they see it.
The desire to be original is not to be thought of as an obsessive disorder of some kind either. To be different for the sake of being different seems rebellious, but if designers want to shock or present something obscure, and intend for the viewer to be affected by unfamiliar context, then they are working in the right direction. This is a questionable technique because if the viewer is unfamiliar with the subject then it’s possible that they will not even take the time to decipher it, much less refer to the designer for their services.