Great Designers <del>Steal</del> Practice

April 15, 2009

Last week, Cameron Moll posted Good Musicians Copy. It was a follow-up to a post he made several years ago, Good Designers Copy, Great Designers Steal. In that article, Cameron was:

“…attempting to describe the idea of becoming a better designer by dissecting, analyzing, and ‘copying’ the works of other designers.”

In his follow-up article, he talks about how Tony Williams, a drummer, would practice playing in the style of other drummers in order to become a better drummer himself. Cameron’s point was:

“…you become a good designer by familiarizing yourself with the methods and techniques used by those who are already good designers.”

As I read that, I thought about 2 ideas that I came across from other designers that were similar to what Tony Williams did.

  1. In his book, Sexy Web Design, Elliot Jay Stocks recommended looking at the work of other Web designers and then doing a wireframe of their design in order to study layout. I had a similar idea back in December when I bought the book, The Web Designer’s Idea Book.
  2. On the same day I read Cameron’s post, Chris Coyier wrote a post, Exercise to Get Better at Web Design. This article is even more in line with Tony William’s idea. Chris suggests finding a Web design you really like and then try to copy it identically. He even suggests looking for ways to put your own spin on it while you are recreating the design. Chris is not advocating design theft here but it is a similar idea to how Tony Williams would practice in the style of other drummers. Check out Chris’ article for all the steps of his suggested exercise.

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