Over the Weekend, something very unfortunate happened to our friend Rik Oostenbroek. If we recap the facts, Rik started getting messages of 'Congratulations' for the work he worked with Hyundai and at the same time won an award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and D&AD. Wow right? That's not what happened actually and sadly this is not the first time we have seen such a thing happening. In this article, I would like to remember the facts and highlight the things we could do to remedy this situation from happening again. It will never stop but let's create a movement of awareness to invite artists to take proper precautions to protect themselves. In the end, there is one 'fool' here.
...let's create a movement of awareness to invite artists to take proper precautions to protect themselves
I started to get aware of this situation through a tweet from Joe La Pompe which account is dedicated to 'unmask' copycats in advertising. Then I decided to send a direct message to Rik about that and see if he was aware. He totally was, for those who don't know Rik; he is one of the most humble people I have ever met. He is a person with a good heart and cares for others, and he is very talented in his art. His work has been inspired by many including myself, but also reproduced. In other words: Copied. Imagine finding out that your 'inspired work' has been sold on a stock photography platform but your 'inspired work' has won a prestigious award at Cannes Lions.
Many wrong things happened....
Needleless to say, we are not here to shame, discriminate and/or find out who is the guilty one here. In my opinion, everyone is doing a part. Again this brings back the question how far can you take your work as being inspired from or aspired from? Where do we draw the line of saying that was 'inspired', is there a metric we can use to come to this judgment? The answer is the big bold 'no'. We just can't.
- MullenLoweSSP3 never deserved that award in the first place.
- Shutterstock should had a better system in place for 'heavily reproduced work' properly fit for sale or not. Having a better experience to report this kind of practices. Found an article on 'Protect Your Content' dated from 2011...
- Artists just like Rik should be more protected to these kind of practices, an agency? Or lawyers willing to go that extra mile to catch these bad 'practioners'.
What is inspiration now?
I am inviting you to take a closer look at the image below, you can tell those designs are very similar. So what is inspiration anymore where anything can get taken and be applied somewhere else. The very same notion is applied in photography, digital art, UI/UX design, advertising and more. We have been featuring many designers, artists and so on for more than 12 years now. I am not going to lie, we have made some mistakes too and took proper precautions so it won't happen again. Maybe this is where artists like Rik should be headed on, having a group of lawyers/agents scouting for people trying to benefit 'a style' for their own benefits. It even goes back to the 'why' we start to get inspired in the first place. I think it's totally fine to use someone's work for learning purposes, as you practice and you will find your inner side of things. But if you have other plans in mind. Maybe you shouldn't head on this path because you won't like what you will find in the darkest of your ideas. They will take proper precautions now, no more tolerance.