Bad Designers Copy. Average Designers Imitate. Great Designers Steal.

'Immature poets imitate. Mature poets steal. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn.'

- T.S. Eliot

Bad Designers Copy.

They just started designing, and they copy things exactly with no thought for the message or cross contamination of their own brand nor guilt for borrowing so heavily that side by side theirs is always the pale copy. They are proud their work looks so alike.

Average Designers Imitate.

They've been at it a few years, and deride the younger designers who still copy. They pretend their theft is a way to honor other good design, but it's merely being lazy, produced in an effort to blend in, not stand out. They are guilty it looks so alike.

Great Designers Steal.

They lead the way with groundbreaking designs that are outright thievery, if only you read that esoteric book, attended that weird concert or got out of your office more often. Great designers are not inspired by other design, they're inspired by everything.

'The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.'

- Albert Einstein

Cameron Moll mentioned this topic back in 2003 with his article Good Designers Copy, Great Designers Steal, always a good read and clever, too!