To say that everything is original would be as true as to say that the sky was coloured in pink and green polka dots!
Nothing is truly original but what is important is that we as designers search out inspiration by looking at the world around us, look at the trends and even agree that it's perfectly OK to look at other people's creations in order to find a source of ideas but what we can not do is copy someone's work.
I've seen so many cases where lazy designers trace other people's work, change a few colours then pass it off as their own original... like it's alright now, that changing a few minor details absolves them of any wrong doing. Selling it to big international chain shops as their own original art work when they haven't even broken into a sweat is embarrassing to say the least and not to mention shows a lack of belief in their own creative talents!
One that comes to mind is the "Pugs not Drugs" printed Tote bag by Gemma Correll and a chain shop which copied the illustration almost line for line. It's just shocking how they thought no one would notice especially when by being a "chain shop ' it means that inevitably they'll be selling that design on almost every high street including the one where the plagiarised artist might shop at.
But it's not just on the High Street. Though we've seen how Paper Chase with their shabby track record on not checking up on their designers and how that has come back to bite them there are still lots of other culprits guilty of doing the same. Can we just point the finger at the big boys or is it also down to individuals?
Laziness is everywhere and there's an increasing number of people who take free patterns and make from these to sell.
OK so there is some degree of "universal use", it's understood that by giving free patterns that you are allowing people to make for personal use and then there's the grey area where it is alright to make to sell but with a little nod to the pattern maker. It's expected but what I wasn't expecting was the lack of creativity.
What you then get are 100 sellers all selling crocheted Apple Cozies. All made with the same wooden button, same dusty pink cotton yarn and all because there was a freebie tutorial in a craft magazine. That's how they've seen them done on the sample picture and that's how they're making them! And when I say Apple Cozies I'm just using it as an example as all of a sudden after it appeared on a cover of a well known craft mag...there was an influx of listings on hand made selling/buying web sites of these items. Is there really such a high demand for crocheted fruit cozies?
It's fine to be inspired by other people's work and yeah due to social references, to our experiences, shared global events and even down to your age that we will at some point over lap each other creatively but your work needs to be done in your style. Your own inimitable style which will allow people to identify it by just glancing at it...and that is original!