This issue I think is ever present in the design world today, especially with wedding invitations. Often I have clients come to me wanting a bid for copying another letterpress studio’s work.
A hard thing is that many presses have similar design styles and use the same stock illustration (hello Dover) which I myself use on occasion. Be aware of your competition and be familiar with other presses so when someone comes to you, you know who they are trying to rip-off (emulate) and then offer custom design as an alternative. My usual lingo is this and it usually doesn’t send clients running:
The kind rebuff:
As a fine letterpress printer I value the copyrights associated with this design and feel it a conflict of interest to re-produce said design. These are beautiful invitations (business cards/logo/blog design, etc.) and they give me a good idea as to the look and feel of the event and/or piece you are trying to produce!
I generally employ a non-compete policy in that I choose not to replicate other designer’s work due to copyright and licensing infringement. I’d be happy to work with you on custom invitations though and we can use those images as a starting point for inspiration, let me know if that’s something you are interested in…
In saying this, I’m not reprimanding someone for wanting to rip another designer/printer off and am confident enough in my design skills that I know I can come up with something unique that will satisfy my client in the end. By the end of the design phase we are light-years away from the initial design presented (not that it’s better but it suits the clients needs without losing one’s design ethics and integrity).
After having a lengthy discussion on Twitter regarding who’s responsibility it is to educate: we concluded that it falls into a lot of different categories – do we educate our clients, our interns, through mentoring – our children? Or are some people just born with integrity/ethics and others not? Whatever the situation is, I’m putting it out there that to YOU MY CLIENTS, I won’t copy another’s work. I want to make it work for you and am happy to customize for you – I’m confident that we can come up with a stunning solution!
TO MY DESIGNER FRIENDS and those that read for inspiration:
If you want to use this wording please be my guest as I want others to respect my designs as I try to respect theirs! You have worked hard to come up with your style, and your collections – protect them without driving your clients out the door :)
Lastly, If someone comes to me with camera ready artwork, I make them sign a release stating that they have permission to use said file, and that I’m not responsible for printing said file. If it does indeed infringe on copyright of someone else, at least I’m not liable – I’m just acting as printer in those situations!