Favorite “Lightbulb Moment” of the Month
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” – Charles Caleb Colton
Late last month, I spoke with a prospective client who was very upset. Let’s call him “John”. John is a very good graphic designer. Actually, he is an outstanding graphic designer. He contacted me because there was a gentleman on Twitter who was “right clicking” on samples in John’s portfolio, inverting the colors, and selling and displaying the work as his own. The Twitter Stalker would then offer the same service/product campaign as John, but undercut his price. To make matters worse, the Twitter Stalker copied John’s Twitter bio VERBATIM and pasted it as his own bio.
John was furious with this guy. I think I made John more mad when I chuckled and said, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.” John exploded with “I’m not flattered! How can you hold yourself out as a graphic designer when you copy?” No matter what I said, John just couldn’t understand why someone would copy his work…until I put it this way:
“You’re in the business of being creative. People come to you when they need a brand identity, a logo, a business card, or brochure designed. You take your time and come up with something that has never been seen before, that evokes the message that the client wants to send, and meticulously articulate your creative vision in some tangible form for the world to see. And people love it. Your work is so good that some people see it and want to use it for themselves. Their concern is not to be creative, but to be smart. They say to themselves, “Why spend all the hard work coming up with a creative concept when John has already done the work for me?” It is no different than Versace creating the red carpet gown of the year at New York Fashion Week in 2012…by 2013, 700 companies will have created the knockoff..at a drastically reduced price. Graphic artists are no different. You are just as susceptible to counterfeiting.”
There was silence. Then John said, “I have never thought of it like that.” *lightbulb on*
If you make a living from your creativity, from your image/likeness, or from an outstanding brand name, I ask you the following question, “How much money has your bank account NOT seen because people are getting away with stealing it from you?”