The Difference Between Looking for Inspiration and Stealing It

I can’t remember if I’ve told you this story before. But when I decided to do my Master’s Degree, in Communication Design, my background was marketing and advertising. Meaning, I only had one or two design courses. When I started classes, back in September 2009, I found out all my classmates were from a design background. This meant I had to work 10 times harder to get to their level. Throughout the 2 and a half years I spent there, I researched like hell, worked like shit and read too many books. I was always looking for inspiration.

My projects were all done from scratch. If I needed pictures of a specific thing, for example, I would always take them – instead of using stock ones. I felt like, if I was considering all these details, the teachers would notice and maybe put me up to my classmate’s level. It ended up happening, most of the time. But it was frustrating. Because I had a few people in my class who, from time to time, would copy ideas from me. I figured, I worked so hard to come up with a solution, that it felt wrong when someone with more experience than me would wipe out my ideas.

Now, I’m not against people being inspired by what you do. That’s one of the great things with the internet and books nowadays. You can go through someone’s work, feed, blog or portfolio, and end up looking for inspiration there. I do that all the time. That’s why I read so many blogs, articles and books. But there’s a difference between looking for inspiration and stealing that inspiration.

Take blogs or Instagram for example. No one is necessarily doing new things and, we often see similar posts, pictures or captions. Which totally makes sense. Especially if you follow people with a similar aesthetic to yours. When I’m looking for inspiration and see something I like, I either save the image or screen shot it. This helps me create my own content but with my personal view.

What makes us unique is how we view the world and the way we choose to show it.

Yet again, it looks like I’m back to 2009 and feel jacked sometimes. Finding ideas, topics, themes, taking pictures, coming up with witty captions and content. It all takes an extreme amount of time. And when you see very similar work/content splattered across someone else’s feed, page or portfolio, you end up feeling frustrated. I love surrounding myself with people who inspire me. To be, do and think better. People who aren’t threatened by my success and who I don’t feel threatened by. I love sharing ideas, inspiring others and feel inspired by great work. But there’s a fine line between looking for inspiration and plainly stealing it.

Be careful with that. You can surely take it as a compliment and I feel like it makes me thrive even more. Because it makes me work harder, realize who I am and feel proud that I’m just trying to do my thing.

You do you!