Graphic Design

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In 1993 Jeffery Keedy made the following statement;

"The idea of borrowing in Graphic design is so pervasive that it's often done unconsciously. What is needed is awareness of what crossing cultural/historical barriers actually means, as well as an understanding of the importance of context"

It is a fair comment to make that borrowing in graphic design, as well as in almost all other areas of design is ubiquitous. Whether this is a good or bad thing could be argued at length, but generally it is widely accepted as the norm. While it seems that borrowing from another designer, culture or era lacks ingenuity and innovation, it could be argued that it is simply a form of appraisal and ratification. While both are very fair points, It may be that the borrowing is neither a good nor a bad thing, but a mixture of both. It becomes clear, when looking in more detail at designs that have been inspired by, or have indeed borrowed, that problems can arise. The major problem of course, as Keedy so rightly mentions, is that this emulation can often lead to designs, products, and ideas losing their original meaning. This is in agreement with Tibor Kalman's comment (1991, pp. 50 -57) that,

"What we don't see is the context"

If something is taken out its original context, with no mention to the source or influence, how can it be fully understood and appreciated? In worst case scenarios this can lead to ignorance of differing cultures, beliefs and indeed times.

Perhaps the reason behind this prevalent borrowing of another's ideas is the ease in which it can be done. The global information network that is the internet has revolutionised the communications world and made it effortless to search for, and indeed replicate another's ideas. In this way the internet has almost become a negative thing, holding designers back. It is all too easy to spend far too much time looking at another's designs and ideas, instead of coming up with their own innovative concepts. Having said this, the masses of information available is invaluable and educating and is heavily relied upon in business, design and generally in everyday life. Another reason is that as technology is continuously improving it has meant that designs and ideas can be constantly changed and improved upon. This, in many cases, has led to them losing their authenticity and original meaning. The development of mass media has also made borrowing ideas increasingly easy as there is constantly an enormous circulation of information.

As previously mentioned, this idea of borrowing is widespread throughout all design industries, and one which it is particularly incessant in is fashion design. Western fashion designers are constantly borrowing ideas, and taking inspiration from other countries and cultures. It is also the case that some of these country's fashion ideals have been heavily westernised, which on the whole is a shame. Of course, Eastern countries rich in traditions, such as China and India have only been influenced in certain ways, and borrow to suit their preferences. In most cases clothing is a personal choice that everyone makes and so it is not really appropriate to generalise, however it is possible to speak for the majority. In the consuming world that we live in, fashion has always been, and still is now, more than ever, a significant part of people's lives and affects everyone in one way or another. It is so important because like it or not, others judge and make assumptions about us based on the way we look. For this reason many people try to express themselves in the best way they can through what they wear and that is why the fashion business has been thriving for such a long time.

Fashion trends for the western world change dramatically from season to season and designers have to constantly come up with new and innovative ideas to keep people buying their clothes. The trouble is, these ‘innovative' designs that flood the...
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