Today we talk about people copying your creative work. This is a massive pain point for some designers and can literally make us lose sleep. Without further ado, let’s get into the show!


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Show Notes for This Episode:

[1:00] This week we’re talking about people copying your work
[1:30] Lisa has experienced this the most
[2:00] There are people who copy work because they want to learn
[2:30] Then there are others who copy, claim it as their own and eventually sell it
[3:30] Lisa’s example of having her work copied by someone claiming it as theirs
[4:30] People messaging Lisa to let her know someone was copying her work
[5:00] Lisa would have liked to be given credit that she was used as inspiration
[5:20] “Good designers copy, great designers steal” – Tom Ross
[5:45] A great artist would be inspired by others work but would put their own spin on it
[7:15] Wondering subconsciously if your work seems familiar because you’ve copied someone else
[7:45] Dustin has been drawing a lot of cereal box characters lately
[8:20] His dilemma of how he came to learn to draw the character’s hands
[8:50] Tom clarifies it’s copying leading to stealing leading to creating
[9:50] He lists a few styles which he used when he did web design
[11:00] Replicating designs to understand how they made it work and look so good
[11:40] “Copy to learn, not to earn!” – Ian Barnard
[12:50] The grey area of copying others work
[13:40] The quest to finding your own style
[14:30] Making small changes to your work to avoid feeling you’ve copied someone
[15:00] Tom asks Lisa if she ever felt inspired by Disney illustrations
[16:30] Dustin lists a few styles that he noticed have been trending lately
[18:30] The hosts joke and talk about someone copying Lisa’s style and doing it better than her
[19:20] Taking bits that inspire you from lots of different designers and adding them to your style
[21:40] Ian copying the concept of putting words on a face but using his own style of lettering
[22:40] Making sure to reference the artist if there are similarities in the work
[23:20] Ian suggests only taking elements and combining them
[25:00] Tom’s example of Serkworks Art Labs’ Zombie Avatar Builder
[26:00] Dustin’s attempt at creating a Retro Portrait Creator
[27:00] Looking at the things you like and wishing they were a bit different
[28:30] They joy of creating your own stuff
[29:00] Jason Carne’s traditional style of lettering and collecting old books
[30:00] How do you know when you’re on the far side of the grey area of copying work?
[31:45] Lisa remembers her journey getting started with illustrations which as a combination of excitement and frustration
[33:00] Lisa’s advice for someone starting up and encouraging them to experiment
[34:50] She used to copy all the characters from Archie Comics
[35:30] Than later realised she needed to find her own style and only used aspects of other’s work
[36:30] The common practice of learning copywriting by writing down very popular adverts
[37:30] Getting in the mind of someone and understanding their technique
[38:15] Tom trying to copy Quentin Blake’s illustrations
[39:00] Dustin showing his character illustrations and how he progressed
[39:40] And telling himself “you’re 100 characters away from being decent”
[40:20] Ian’s lettering teaching technique: tracing letters, referencing and doing it yourself
[41:40] Tom mentions Debi Sementelli’s lettering workshop at Design Cuts
[43:10] Tom would like to touch on the topic of how it feels to be copied
[44:40] Dustin feeling like someone was taking money out of his pockets and putting his family’s wellbeing at risk
[45:30] Feeling sick, frustrated and trapped
[46:00] Lisa’s work is a part of her and it feels like a little part is being ripped off
[46:30] Big companies stealing your work and becoming your competition
[47:20] Lisa reaching out to someone and telling them they’re in the wrong
[49:00] Ian’s loyal fan base messaging him to inform him his work has been copied
[50:20] What are people trying to achieve when they steal another designers work?
[51:00] This was one of the first topics the honest designers covered
[51:20] Ian found his product insight someone else’s product
[52:00] People being let down by the copy product as they’re expecting higher quality
[53:20] Tom gives Rebekah Peluszak @rebekahpeluszakdesign a shout out for the nice mention she gave HD on her Instagram
[54:10] The positive note of your work being good enough to be copied
[55:20] If you’re getting inspired by other’s work make sure to reference them
[56:00] Thanks so much for listening to this week’s episode


“A must for every creative freelancer (or those aspiring to freelance). Thank you for being so… honest! Such a wealth of information from people I admire who have ‘been there and done that’. Listening to the podcast every week feels like I’m among friends. Can’t wait for more episodes!”AG_GD