When is copying ok?

Copying can be a very handy way to learn. If you need to practise your skills you can try to figure out how a designer has created a design and try to replicate it. This exercise can be extremely helpful in working out how to create certain things. These principles can then be applied to your own original designs.

Inspiration can be taken from a range of areas such as art, architecture, film and nature, along with our graphic designers. We can now share and browse content with such ease online, it has made the definition between inspiration and copying much more complex. Therefore it is important to understand the difference between being influenced by someone’s work and copying someone’s work.


“There is no such thing as a new idea. 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” — Mark Twain


Below are some examples of taking inspiration & copying work. Can you tell the difference?

Roy Lichtenstein, Blue Floor, 1992

Shanti Sparrow, Oh Hey!, 2016

Fiat, 2018


How can you create original work?

  • Use multiple sources for reference e.g. colour from one reference, typography from another
  • Diverse inspiration, don’t just look at graphic design work
  • Dissect & isolate parts of the reference you are taking inspo from
  • Show someone else your design and your reference source



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