Design Drama

documenting the delicate dance of design

9 Responses to “The case against the Over-Abundance of the Use of Stock Illustration”

  1. jami Says:

    do you think this extends to music as well? what about sampling?

  2. missbethd Says:

    That’s a whole other blog post, and as I’m not a musician in any way, shape or form, I probably shouldn’t give an opinion. But, here’s my take on that:

    Example: P Diddy (or whatever he’s calling himself these days) — he sampled Stings “Every Breath You Take” for his tribute to his friend Biggy Smalls. Basically, the only thing he did was change a few words of the chorus and rap over the melody. I’m sure Sting loves it as he’s cashing a big royalty check. But I thought it bastardized the song. Personal opinion, nothing more.

    If we, as artists, are just regurgitating what has done before, what is the point? I could probably copy a Picasso with oil paint on canvas, to a certain degree (ah, it would be a bad interpretation, who am I kidding?) – But why bother? Picasso already did that. To me, it’s like reading the same book over and over and over.

    I’ve never been interested in copying something that’s been done. I would much rather attempt to innovate, rather than imitate.

    Maybe commerce is to blame across the board — I’m sure it’s much easier to rap over an existing, well known melody, than to sit down and compose a new song. I’m no songwriter, so I could be off base, but that’s my take on the sampling question regarding music.

  3. bb19 Says:

    Have you read “The Fountainhead”? Very parallel ideas to what you are writing about here, it just deals with architecture instead of graphic design.

  4. missbethd Says:

    BB19, I haven’t (gasp, I know!) — it’s on my list of classics to read. I’ll definitely move that one to the top of the heap.

  5. jami Says:

    what about all my awesome dover clip art books with scores of borders, furbelows, patterns and decorative corners that I reference and draw from? ditch’em? i guess i’m just sayin’ where does one draw the line? there’s nothing new under the sun – everything IS regurgitated to a certain extent. I’m thinking it’s the twist you can put on something that makes it unique. But who says which twists are “good enough” and “how much” of them is enough to make it “original” once again? them? they? everyone else? who dat?

    music – sampling aside, what about (theorectically, even worse) covers? there are some good ones, some even better than the original….I bring it up because there are lots of parallels there between this issue and that one, even if it does seem tangential.

    this would be way more fun discussing over a beer as I type like ass.

  6. missbethd Says:

    We could play “what if” all day – Here I am talking specifically about one aspect.

    Name a music cover that’s better than the original — because I’m kind of at a loss, although I groove on the Pet Shop Boys’ cover of U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name”

    I do like the idea of talking about this over beer though. Name the time and place.

  7. jami Says:


    ha ha – here goes my opinion on good covers (sorry for the tangent, beth! 🙂 :

    Hush – Kula Shakur
    I Want You to Want Me – Dwight Yoakum
    Hit Me Baby, One more TIme (that britney song) – Justin Thompson
    Hungry Like the Wolf – The Recliners (or Refreshments?)
    Roller COaster of Love – Red Hot Chili Peppers

    i could go on but i may get lambasted for my musical taste…

  8. jim voorhies Says:

    the design industry has become so specialized these days – part of why I do usability now instead of design – that it can become difficult. The artists that work for me have diverse talents so we can do what we need, whether it’s a photo shoot or a custom illustration, but that’s only if we have spare time. It’s easier to grab stock than do a custom shoot and it’s much cheaper. finding a client that has enough money to go through a full blown campaign is rare and I expect it’s going to be a lot rarer down the road. you have to make sure that your client understands the difference between stock use and exclusive use. There is a difference and many aren’t willing to pay for it.

  9. missbethd Says:

    finding a client that has enough money to go through a full blown campaign is rare and I expect it’s going to be a lot rarer down the road.

    Yes, Jim, I agree. And that saddens me greatly. Not because I’m money grubbing – it saddens me because the whole reason I am passionate about design is the creation process.

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