Why It Sucks To Be A Copycat.

Why It Sucks To Be A Copycat.

In the art arena, copying is such a gray area, or thin ice to tip toe on! We have to stay inspired in our field, right? But when does inspiration turn to copying?

I have definitely had my moments as an artist where I was a little too inspired by a particular idea, photo, or design. I have also had those moments where I got this great idea…and realized it DID seem a little too familiar once I rendered it out. Then there have been many circumstances where I have seen my own ideas copied and I thought to myself  “wow, that just doesn’t look very good”


As a professional, copying cheapens your brand AND the product. The book, “Rework,” by Jason Fried, knows what’s up. There’s a chapter in the book that says that if we copy, we’re missing the understanding. We’re missing the underlying process that makes it truly great. 

“So much of the work an original creator puts into something is invisible. It’s buried beneath the surface. The copycat doesn’t really know why something looks the way it looks or feels the way it feels or reads the way it reads. The copy cat is a faux finish. It delivers no substance, no understanding, and nothing to base future decisions on. Plus, if you are a copycat you can never keep up. You never lead; you always follow. You give birth to something that’s already behind the times- just a knock off, an inferior version of the original. That’s no way to live. 

How do you know if you are copying someone? If someone else is doing a bulk of the work, you’re copying. Be influenced but don’t steal.” 

When the book talks about missing the “understanding”, that is the magic behind a photograph,  piece of art, or design project. The magic is that invisible element that is uncopyable. Therefore, the original really captures and holds onto the magic that makes the project GLOW.  And here’s something I know for sure: As creatives, we were MADE to make stuff that freaking GLOWS. That has all the sparkle and bling of originality. Don’t settle for any less! 

How do YOU triple/ quadruple check that your work is all your own, while staying current by checking out other designs?! I want to know!

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Promise Tangeman is the Owner and Creative Director of golivehq.co. She's also the Co-Founder of DesignerVaca.com.