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Good Designers Copy, Great Designers Steal

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Was looking for design tips on making a mobile phone page for a web design gig I'm working on and I came across this article written in 03. Its written for web design but I think the same principles can be applied to anything game design related, be it art, level design, texturing, modeling, etc.

http://www.sitepoint.com/article/copy-g ... ners-steal

Heres an clip from the article:

Pablo Picasso, the first living artist to be featured in the Louvre, influenced the artistic world in a uniquely original way. So why is he known for saying “Good artists copy, great artists steal”?

It’s true. Picasso really said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Or at least, since his death in 1973, everyone believes he said that.

But why? Why would someone as original as Picasso say something as ironic as that? And what did he mean? Google Picasso’s quote, and you’ll find plenty of opinions and interpretations as to what he really meant.

My intent here, then, is to uncover one possible interpretation. This interpretation involves three levels of design, each of which:

1. involves some aspect of copying or stealing,

2. shows increasing design maturity, and

3. adapts Picasso’s quote to modern graphic design.

My former graphic design instructor and mentor once told me something similar. He told me that in search of a design style to call your own you should one weekend take a work of art that you find awe inspiring from the artist you respect most and try to completely copy it in every way, shape, and form. He said that in many if not all cases, you will not be able to completely copy the defining details of the piece of art, but in the copying process, you gain insight as to the thought process of this style, and you will also develop a variation in the style you're trying to emulate. In the copying process, you begin to form your own style that is similar to what you copied, but has its own personality to it, and after awhile, you style grows and turns into something unique.

What is you're guys opinion of this? Do you guys 'copy' from other sources? Now, I'm not talking decompiling and blatant copying. What do you guys think? Better to morph a style into your own, or better to create a style of your own (even though as my mentor points out, in the long run, the morphing turns into the creation).

Just curious.

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I think it means that copying others work is just ok, but if you can copy it without others recognising it as being copied, you did a great job. Its basically theft, because you claim it as your own, and you should because just being able to pull that off makes you great :cool:

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I use others design work as references. Only when I need Inspiration and extra creative when my mind is blank. When I was a graphic designer, and I couldnt think up my own I deas, for websites, I would look around until I found a sweet page that was close to what I was looking for. I never completely copy anything line for line, design for design, but I will take a base area or the colors and make my own site off the base of that in my own way. I'm wierd :P

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Great thread.

I do often 'borrow' ideas from other people's work all the time, in the past I've even directly copied the style of a level from a game right down to the last details. While I use custom textures that are different to those of the original design, you can still tell where the original inspiration came from. Now I tend to borrow bits of the design from several sources, glue them together and then change bits that I feel need changing. That way whilst you've copied someone else's work in a sense it remains different enough to look fresh and new, thus making me 'great' :P

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In the NS mapping community, a number of guys had a hardon for Feng Zu. So if you look for it, you can see parts of maps that are either copied wholesale or heavily inspired by Feng Zu's designs.

Feng is probably the most copied artist in the concept art community. I even saw some professional concept artists copying his style.

It's not necessarily bad thing though.

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well I heard it as "Bad artists copy, great artists steal"... but either way its similar I guess

When I thought about that quote I like to think of it as this: Art perhaps seems to always get recycled, the renaissance took from the greeks and romans, Cubism took from impressionism/african art etc... Artists who are not great, try and copy the ideas and techniques or whatever from past artists, But great artists steal those ideas, hold them, and turn them into something of their own...

because when you steal something it becomes your own possession, but when you copy, its still that item...

I guess from as far back as you can go art has always been trying to get at the same thing and each great artist has their own way of doing it...

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most art now is derivative, which can be both good and bad. original thinking is often very hard to make successful, and most "original" thinking is derivative.

case in point: the argument that most creative thinking is actualy unoriginal is an unoriginal arguement.


nevertheless, i think this is actually a good topic that needs to get rehashed every now and then.

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