This week assistant editor Liv Siddall looks at the hoary issue of plagiarism and wonders whether maybe we all get a bit too het up about it. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below.
If you work in a vaguely creative environment, you may get the sort of email that occasionally circulates around the office alerting everyone of a possible case of artistic plagiarism. More often than not it’s a big corporation that has been “inspired” by the work of a small-time creative and sometimes it seems as if it’s someone unabashedly copying another person’s work for their own gain.
Speaking as someone who’s been through the art school system, I can wholeheartedly confirm that when you’re in a creative community, the idea of someone thinking you’ve stolen someone’s idea is mortifying. When I was at university, it was quite common to come up with a great idea only to find (usually online) that it had already been done by someone else somewhere else in the world and scrap it altogether.
You’d rather not do something at all than be thought of as a copycat — it’s just the un-coolest thing to be, ever. Seeing that being an illustrator is kind of a trendy occupation to have, and quite often involves being part of a tight network of other artists, why would you ever want to deliberately copy someone’s work knowing full well that it is only, in the end, going to ostracise you from the community you’re trying to fit into and probably make people troll the shit out of you online?
The problem is, sometimes illustrators and designers can be accused of plagiarism when it’s coincidence. We’ve all seen people on Facebook indignantly mouthing-off about how their friend’s work has been copied by some guy in Venezuela who’s used the same brush effect on Photoshop, or by a woman in Sheffield who sticks eyes on fruit in the same way as them. But isn’t that just because a few years ago, no one would have even seen that man’s brushwork, and the woman who sticks goggly eyes on to fruit would never have bothered showing anyone anyway?
Perhaps before we begin trolling people for creating work and publicly exhibiting it online we should consider that, chances are, it might be the same as someone else’s, and as long as the “copycat” in question isn’t a grizzly, money-making corporation, then perhaps it really isn’t a big deal.
- Malika Favre talks about studying engineering, her first job and tight deadlines from The New Yorker
- Say what you see, it’s Best of the Web!
- The art of plane watching captured by Mindaugas Kavaliauskas
- Friday Mixtape: escape from the world with Xenoula's ethereal mix
- Towers of Thanks: Res photographs their mother's life working for Donald Trump
- A world of pain: Sixteen Journal's latest issue
- Parker Day's lurid colours and grotesque characters elevate identity and fantasy (NSFW)
- Paper reveals Break the Internet take two, with Nicki Minaj shot by Ellen von Unwerth
- Bea de Giacomo photographs the wonders of pregnancy
- Matthieu Lavanchy recreates food emojis "irl" for The Gourmand's tenth issue
- Introducing Broccoli, the publication “normalising cannabis use, especially for women”
- One Step Ahead: we meet Paula Scher, the trailblazing Pentagram Partner