Most designers tend to have an online portfolio. Whether it’s on their own website, using something like Carbonmade or Behance or like I do and link to my dribbble profile. Since I started out in the industry I’ve always had some sort of online portfolio to show my work.
Over the weekend I was pointed in the direction of a fellow designers website which I hadn’t seen before. There were various links on the site including a stationery and web sections. Each section had it’s own mini-portfolio. The helpful message I received was that the site I was pointed to contained some of my own work. At first I cycled through the links and couldn’t see anything which stood out, the reason being that the piece of artwork which did remind me of something was actually shown on my website as part of a stationery design list post which I create nearly two years ago. Due to this not being my work *really*, I didn’t feel any angst towards the designer. Me being me felt quite curious as to why he was showcasing another designers work within his own portfolio.
I decided to hunt around some more, specifically within the ‘web’ part of the portfolio. Something became apparent and didn’t sit right with me at all, there was a piece of work I recognised on a second glance that I’d definitely seen before. It was actually a bastardised copy of a designer who I’d only had coffee with just days before. I decided to share the website link with him and his instant reaction was to ‘send that email.’ Usually when designers get angry about other people using their work they make it quite apparent that they’re upset and I don’t blame them however I wanted to figure out why, in our industry we get ‘copy cats’ or why some people think its fine for them to use another persons work.
My thoughts are that we should refrain from getting instantly angry with designers who use another persons work. We (the industry) decided it was ok to get on our soapbox over spec-work but without explaining why spec-work is bad to people who simply don’t understand, we would have never got our point across. I think new people in the industry who use another persons work are oblivious that this is wrong and don’t understand why its best to showcase your own work. Designers have a style and more often than not, they get more work because of that said style. Client relationships will only go wrong if we don’t display things to them in the correct way. If you think another designers style will suit a client project, you could always outsource it as a last resort.
So please, showcase your own work in your portfolio. It will only end better that way. Designers on the wrong side of a ‘copycat’ or ‘borrower’ let’s explain things instead of jumping the gun and getting angry with them.