Notions of Originality

Posted: January 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

Throughout the history of art and design, artist has taken as many ideas as possible from the past to improve their own work. This has been done to such an extent, that now it is made very hard for today’s artists to create a piece of original work. That is why it is so important to gain as much knowledge about contemporary and historical artists and practitioners as possible. Without this knowledge and research we would never know if we created something original or not.


Lots of historical piece has been reworked in the past.


Rodchenko’s  Lilya Brik poster has been an influence of many contemporary designs, Franz Ferdinand based their album cover art “You Could Have It So Much Better”.  On this poster, they used the same basic structure. This works well for the cover as it grabs people’s attention.

So I ask myself the question, is it ok to copy the image or the style? To my opinion images like this one are so strong and powerful, that it almost would be a waste not to use it again and again.

Rodchenko’s portrait of Lilya Brik. Reused, recycled, copied, imitated and parodied countless times over the years.


Rodchenko’s photomontage of 1924 for a Moscow publisher in which Lilya Brik, the muse of the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, joy­ously cries out “books”.

Rodchenko exhibition catalogue


Recent example of this is the Franz Ferdinand album You Can Have It So Much Better (above, designed by Matthew Cooper)


Contemporary artist, graphic designer and illustrator Shepard Fairey used the same style as well for his poster campaign. The posters appeared around Los Angeles shortly after Fairey’s “Obama Progress” Campaign.


All of these are examples which are quality products. Some used the actual image, some just used the style but they all have been inspired by Rodchenko’s portrait.

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