Overrated Originality

Turkey Hydra by Nicholas Di Genova
I sat down and opened my assigned book, it’s Adrian Shaughnessy‘s How to be a graphic designer without loosing your soul. I turned to the last chapter, The Creative Process…its finals.

Why am I writing about a design class on a photo blog?! Well my friends, in my time at school, as a photographer and novice designer, I have found that the hardest thing for any designer, photographer, artist, architect, or sculptor, is finding that thin line between what has been “done” and creating something original. At this point in history, its all been done.

And how often have you shown someone a piece you’ve created and had a response similar to “that looks just like the Texaco logo” or “oh your work looks just like an early Annie Leibovitz.” SERIOUSLY! Is that supposed to be a compliment…isn’t the point of creativity to produce something original that inspires those who look at it? How can we be expected to create an original piece when we are being constantly influenced by what is around us?

That’s just the defeatist attitude Adrian is trying to deface. He brings to light that its ok to draw inspiration and creativity from other artists and for that fact anything around you, how could you not? Adrian’s view on the terms of originality is perfect, “originality is an overrated and misunderstood quality in contemporary graphic design.” This applies to really any creative occupation.

He is not saying go out and start copying, just that we all place entirely too much pressure on ourselves as creatives to come up with something “original”. All we really need to do is trust our instincts…if you have talent, industriousness, dedication and a love of your craft then it is inevitable that you will find your voice. Originality of today is just a matter of showing people the same old thing in your own personal way.

As an example of drawing inspiration from those around us or artist before us I found this amazing drawing by Nicholas Di Genova that could have easily drawn much inspiration from the art of both Egyptian Art and Egyptian Amarna Style. The profile heads, subject matter, compositions, the use of shapes, patterns and colors are immensely similar. Yet the originality of the piece is undeniable. There you have it, he has taken a style and made it his own.


Fragment Of Wall Painting, 1450 BC

Akhenaton & Family With Aton, 1350 BC

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