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3 months into my first design job. Got ?'s

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  • 3 months into my first design job. Got ?'s

    hello, need some advice/info from anyone who would like to help. i've been involved with the printing industry since the early nineties. i got a job straight out of high school as a flyer. i slowly worked my way up and got to the pre press department. after years of plate making, 4 color stripping and film development i landed a job on the night shift as a mac operator. over the years i've used pagemaker, quark, preps, photoshop, indesign and illustrator. i'm comfortable in all the software i use so my question doesn't really pertain to learning any of them.

    3 months ago i took a job as a designer so i've already made the switch between prepress and graphic design. i'm the only designer at the job i'm at and i've basically been just winging it. so far so good they've been happy with what i've been doing but i would like to know from designers that have been in the industry for years what kind of rules or guidelines they use when designing. are free stock images ok to use? what about the little black and white icons from creative cloud? when does being inspired by another design go from inspiration to theft? do designers borrow ideas from each other without being accused of copying a design? i see a lot of ideas i would like to use from other designers and of course i would alter/change/add many things to make it my own. is this allowed? can you see a design and say to yourself i'm going to create something similar to that? it would be like a songwriter hearing a song they like and writing something similar but yet different. when does inspiration cross the line into copying?


  • #2
    Free stock art is free to use. But I'd double check the license.

    If you're in need of art it really behooves you to find a paid art service. But if that's not possible, places like, and offer entirely free stock art you can repurpose. Keep in mind you get what you pay for (free).

    Google Images is also another source, but it's limited. Use the tools option and change your search by rights. You'll see it in a popup. When you get the free for commercial use with modifications rights you will see your choices really narrow.

    Not sure about the icons you mention. I don't use the creative cloud you speak of.

    As to 'ripping' off others. I do it all the time. Design style isn't something you can copyright, unlike music. It'd be like saying no one else could make rap or rock music other than the first person who did it.

    Directly emulating someone though can get you in trouble. If for instance you take someone's ad campaign and do nothing but change phone numbers and names for your particular client.

    But taking a style and adding your own twist to it is perfectly legitimate.
    Erik Youngren Pueblo Publishers, Composing Manager
    2.8Ghz Quad Core Intel Xeon Mac Pro | InDesign CS4 | Suitcase Fusion 5


    • #3
      If a co-worker comes to me wanting an image for their kid's science project, I go to a free stock site.

      Most of my real clients though, are a little more discerning. They want the right image for the project. One that might not have been used to death, is a well composed photo, and has good image resolution. On occasion that might be a free image, but all three of those things is mighty uncommon on free stock sites. So, it might mean the client is shelling out a bit of cash. Sometimes quite a bit of cash. Or sometimes it means me chasing someone all over the internet to get permission to use their Flickr stuff. Or tracking someone down who has one of a kind imagery. I once talked to a photographer who was somewhere in the Denali doing a photo shoot for Nat Geo. It was a very short call to verify some information and to arrange for me to get in touch with 'his people.'
      It's all about the image.

      The one thing you need to be wary of on Free Stock sites, besides being sure the license allows commercial use, is provenance. Before you use it, do a reverse image lookup to see if it's been stolen from someone else. You can do this with either or Google ( for free. Theft happens. A lot. I just reported someone last week on a well known stock site for stealing the GLoomis logo fish and posting it there as stock. It was just something I happen to recognize while I was looking up fish skeleton vectors for a paying client.

      Not sure what you mean about the little black and white icons on Creative Cloud.
      Clipart is meant to be used. If it is appropriate art and if you can't draw it for less than you would pay for the stock art, use it. Don't misrepresent it to the client as something you created though. As with all stock used for a client project, be sure the client understands that additional usage may require relicensing. Getty likes nothing better than to send a bill for an image used on a website that was only licensed for a print piece. They must have a room full of people just cycling through the licenses granted, checking websites of the "licensed to'' line. Because stock sites are accessible to [savvy] clients, they will likely know what you paid. Markup is a bad idea. But a Research Fee generally works. Sometimes they offer to do the research themselves. But then there is still the chasing down thing if they select something other than Royalty Free stock. Don't underestimate the time it takes to do the paperwork. Some of my clients already subscribe to image services themselves, and just link me to the lightbox download.

      Styles and trends are always out there and the good ones are often emulated (sometimes the not so good ones too...unfortunately.)
      I'd avoid doing it to the point where it's an obvious clone. An obvious lift diminishes your own reputation as well as that of your client. Your client will be the one associated with the lift. Beware.
      Last edited by PrintDriver; 07-28-2017, 08:29 PM.






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