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Sarah discusses the importance of taking inspiration from other sources and finding your heroes, but not copying them - remixing them.


Transcript from the "Remixing" Lesson

>> Sarah Drasner: Let's talk about inspiration and particularly how to be inspired by people. And not rip them off because there's kind of like an interesting line there, right? You can really really like someone stuff and then sometimes you can like Veer into the. Land of copying them too much, so how do we get inspired by people and not copy them?

Or maybe intentionally copy them, but not publicize that piece? So Dan Mall has some really great content about this. Dan Mall is a designer, unlike me, who is a faux designer. I'm like a developer who design, he's but his job is a designer. I'm a firm believer in the idea that there's nothing new under the sun.

Said differently, everything is a remix. Free from the pressure that all things designers do need to be original works of art. I can instead focus on what my sources to combine in an unique way that my audience is less accustomed to. So he has a essay called stealing your way to original designing.

He lays out some principles on what the differences are and especially this idea of remixing. That you can use from different sources as long as you keep remix singing and key pre-mixing. So one thing about inspiration is looking around. I actually think that it's a really good idea to look around especially before you start designing there are some places that you can check out.

Dribble, Behance, CodePen, Glitch, CodeSandbox. Those are just a number of different designer resources out there. And finding your heroes is a good idea because you can kinda sit in your own box, in your own mind and only understand so much. But when you look around and see all sorts of different ways of working.

You kind of enrich what tools are in your toolbox visually as well, you can say I didn't know that you could maybe place text that way. That's a pretty good idea. Or like, what if I broke things out of bounds? Earlier we saw those scale and cropping ideas.

That's a concept, right? That's something that you can employ. You're not necessarily having to take a Swiss layout and then steal the Swiss layout. You could take the idea of taking an image and blowing it up and reusing, that wouldn't be stealing from those designers, right? So get inspired by multiple sources but here's what I would ask you to do.

Wait. So take that insp folder that we made when we first started doing, dump a bunch of things in there, find all of these things that really appeal to you. And then sleep on it for a night and don't make something yet. And then try to work from memory.

So it's very very hard to exactly copy a reference it you're not looking at it directly and you've given yourself some time to process. And it might be that when you stop and you don't look at it for a little while, things kind of recombine in your imagination in a way that is totally unique, that's not like.

Either this source or this source. So that's a suggestion on how to learn and grow and look at new ideas and things and find your own tone and your own path. Also revisit. If there was a particular design you were like super into and you were working from memory and you kept thinking about it, look at it again.

Maybe it's totally different, but if you look at and you're like this is the same, then you should change it or toss it out and start again. So there are a number of ways of working even if you're getting inspired. I also think that you should look at other disciplines for inspiration.

All too often we stay on the web there's like a whole tradition of human history that happened way before the last 40, 50 years. Don't limit yourself to just the web. Look at this book. I mean, this is a book full of etchings where someone, cut out Little pieces of etchings until it recombined and created an entirely new art piece.

That art piece isn't the etchings in the book but it is the etchings in the book. There's tons of art projects that you can check out or art books, you can also listen to music, music can also kind of inspire, creative ideas. We watch movies, read comic books, watch anime.

We're talking about anime earlier. There's all sorts of different things that might inform your work. We were watching Neon Genesis Evangelion earlier and there's all these dynamic cuts in the way that they like explode things. And like show things from really interesting angles that you could actually re-use to think about diagonals being dynamic or colors, or blur, or changing styles all of a sudden that are really good ideas for the web that maybe aren't that used that much.

It doesn't have to just be stuff for the web. So, one thing that you can do, is do this idea of master copies. And that's something that we did in painting, a lot. Was this, you might even see people at museums do this, sometimes. There might be some, a painting, and then someone is sitting in front of the painting, painting the painting.

Why are they doing that? Well, you can learn a lot by trying to copy those strokes. The idea, when someone does a master copy is not that they're gonna show that master copy to everybody and be like, this is mine [LAUGH]. That's not what they're doing. They're trying to learn how to paint using some of those old styles.

It's very similar to reverse engineering actually. They're trying to understand how all the brush strokes were laid out. And you can kind of look at code and be like, it works like that. But if you actually go thru and reverse engineer something and play with the code. You know it in more certain terms.

It's the same kind of idea. So, if you wanted to take something from Dribble or something like that. And just as practice, copy it and bring it into illustrator or Photoshop or Sketch, and try to figure out how they made all those pieces. You probably learn a lot.

You might not be able to show people, [LAUGH] at the end, but you might be able to show people the thing you make after that, which might be a lot richer. So if you ever have an afternoon where you're trying to practice design, it's a good idea to make one of those copies.

You just can't claim it as your own.

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