Friday May 6, 2005

For those about to be inspired, I salute you.

A recent discussion over at the CSS Vault was recently brought to my attention, and before I power down the computer and make the long drive to Plano to begin my new job, I figured I’d weigh in on the debate.

From the thumbnail view on CSS Vault, the design looks very similar in color and layout to my old Black design.

The visual correlation lies almost exclusively in the horizontal black, white, and cream color blocking. Nothing else seems to be an issue to anyone. It would seem that Aaron has changed the header color to maroon since the site hit the Vault, no doubt in reaction to the numerous comments made about the initial similarities between his site and mine. I can’t say I blame him, and it’s probably all for the best. All things being equal, I quite like the maroon.

My official stance on this “incident” is that I don’t feel “ripped off.” Maybe I’m just in a gracious state of mind, or maybe I just realize that we all borrow design from each other. True, upon first glance the similarities are bold. But they are not many. In fact, the similarities really end with the horizontal color blocking, and that’s not even an issue at this point. When my design got in the Vault, it was briefly compared to Jason Santa Maria’s site. Though I had visited Jason’s site many times, there was no conscious effort to draw inspiration from it. I could see some similarities, but I knew that my inspiration had definitely come from other sources. I am grateful to not have been swiftly judged in a public forum.

We operate in a collaborative environment. We all use code, tips, and tricks developed by other designers or code gurus. I have never spoken to Aaron, so I don’t know if he’s even seen the work that his design is supposedly derived from. And assuming he did, what’s so wrong with being inspired? Using what you see around you in your own work? I think that some of us in the web standards community are sometimes a little too hard on each other. It seems that there is far too much comparing one design to another.

My time is short, so that’s all I’ll say. But am I wrong? Should I be up in arms? Or is my altruistic attitude just the medicine this issue needs?


Aaron » 5980 days ago #

I appologize for all this, I hate that it has come down to you posting about a discussion of possible similarities in my current site and your old one. In all honesty, I had never seen it. I did change the color to maroon just to try and appease the few outspoken critics who felt that I have no design talent of my own and must mimic the look of other peoples’ work.

I have always struggled with the argument of site rip offs. I see the same sites posted at every “news portal” that I stumble across, it’s the same group of people in the same small circle all looking at the same 50 websites. Is there any wonder that this tends to manifest a collective mentality where common elements and colors and trends are used?

I’m just tired of it all. Thanks for weighing in and being understanding about all of this. Your site is great and the colors maroon, black, and beige are great and pink and black are great. I’m just glad that I was the one being judged and not some poor kid straight out of school who is still learning the design ropes. 5 years ago this would have crushed me, now it’s just water off of my back.

Good luck with your new job man, I hope you do well.

Rob Mientjes » 5980 days ago #

Jared, the whole inspiration thing is something that’s been keeping people busy for as long as creativity has been in play. It’s hard to pinpoint, hard to work around and awful to notice that it’s more than just inspiration.

Aaron, for what it’s worth, I visited Jared’s site almost daily, so I know what it looked like and Jared’s right (durrr!), I don’t see any ripping or ‘blatant inspiration’. Actually, I quite like your design and its elegance. I wouldn’t have said ‘Jared-ripper!’ if I’d seen it before, and certainly won’t now.

Feaverish » 5980 days ago #

I think you did the right thing, Jared. The thumbnail at the Vault does look similar to your previous design, but it also looks a lot like pretty much every book ever printed.

Yannick L. » 5979 days ago #

I’m still battling with this whole “getting inspiration” thing. I mean there are so many designs I try to come up with and after almost finishing them (well the mock up at least in photoshop) I think it has elements from another site I have visited and that it might be seen as too close. How close is too close? How much “inspiration” can one gather and use from another’s design?

Aaron » 5979 days ago #

I think that is a great point you have brought up Yannick. How much inspiration is too much?

I garauntee that there isn’t a single thing created that does not have shadows and reflecctions of other created things.

Nathan Smith » 5979 days ago #

I have been a big fan of Jared’s ever since I saw his old, black & brown design. I agree that while there are similarities, Aaron’s does not feel like a blatant ripoff.

Add to that the fact that he had not seen the previous Jared site, and that his site does not have the rougher paper feel that Jared’s did, and I’d say his name is cleared.

Aaron, how is it working for Relevant? I’ve always thought that would be a cool job.

Aaron » 5979 days ago #

I actually don’t work there any more. It was a great experience but I wouldn’t do it again. I actually started a design firm with one of the other ex-relevant designers.

Andrew Kaufmann » 5977 days ago #

Welcome to DFW, Jared! Let me know if you need anything in the area, or if you want to do lunch sometime.

By the way—my eyes may deceive me but that looks like a Boss DD5 Delay pedal up in your masthead area. Does that explain why it was so long between posts? :)

Just kidding. Welcome to the metroplex!

Joshua Blankenship » 5969 days ago #

“How much inspiration is too much inspiration” is a question I deal with as an artist EVERY DAY.

I take in so much visually everyday, from browsing the web and portfolios and blogs to looking at magazines to watching movies and all of that filters down into the art and design I make at some point, even if it’s just subconsciously.

I think I get sidetracked sometimes by worrying TOO much whether someone will think my work looks like [insert designer here] and I end up stepping on perfectly good ideas for fear of being called out for ripping someone off.

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