|To a certain point, is copying justifiable?
Something doesn't come from nothing. Design principles are universal, so invoking principles is not copying, its how designs are created. However, copying is not justifiable, although imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery.
Not really, but if you credit the source, and a valid concept justifies it, it could be. Think homage.
Yes and no. Being inspired by something existing to create a new interpretation is fine but outright copying the same thing is wrong.
You always need a launching point. But inspiration can be found anywhere from a great painting to a 3/4 view of a fabulously designed car to the patterns on a leaf. The trick is to use these things only as inspiration then to push and stretch until the design becomes your own. You should be only able to sense the essence of the original inspiration.
After all, there is no such thing as an original thought. All thoughts and ideas stem from memory of something you have seen, heard, felt or tasted before and then branch off from there.
I'll occasionally copy someone's idea for organizing information -- if someone has a particularly useful way of putting information into tabs, say, I might do something similar. As far as the actual look and feel of a site, though, I don't think it makes sense to copy even if I wanted to -- each client already has a logo or imagery or, if nothing else, something that makes their organization unique that I'd want to convey on their site. All of these things must be taken into account when designing, and they each make the site personal to the client. That said, I do sometimes look at other sites to get inspiration, but what I'm designing never ends up anywhere close to the site that inspired me.
Being inspired by something is one thing but copying probably is not justifiable it all.
Through history we copy or make thing better. I don't believe in copying or steeping one anyone. BUT trend and looks come from different markets and fields. As a designer i have to be aware about architecture, fashion design, industrial design, politics (world markets), averything that relates to your projects.
People say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and I'm not opposed to using something as inspiration for your design. But I don't feel it's ok to rip-off someone else's design. You're stealing their creativity and hard work as well as devaluing what you have to offer. You want to take a piece that you feel is great and work, but you HAVE to make it your own, better if you can.
We all copy subconsciously, as its impossible to remain unaffected by the world around us. But there is an obvious line at what it blatant plagiarism. No straight copying can ever be justified as its a cop out and just shows the world that your incapable of producing your own work.
Copying, no .. being inspired by .. absolutely
Direct copying is not justifiable, however, everything in life is learnt and is an influence from, so nothing really is original, it is always an evolution. A child learns to walk by influence as well as experimenting. If you look at typography today, it is all shared and inspired from other things, but sometimes people who have less experience borrow directly, this can be seen as copying and is often something less experienced designers are tempted into doing.
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