13 December 2007

[design] Funky Neighborhood Maps, IP, and Helping Oneself To Others' Ideas

1182. A little experiment last night reminded me (of course) about thoroughly checking out something before going through with it-at the very least, making sure that I've read every link. In my defense, I'll say that the blog that I found it on has a slightly different format, but that makes it a learning experience.

In my TV Logo Library exploration (which I've given the continuing title Channel Surfing to) I noticed I got a link from the esteemable Brittney Gilbert (she of http://brittneygilbert.com), a very fascinating person. My Channel 5's entry was linked from a class on her blog called "itty bitty"; in a sidebar I noticed a link to a cool neighborhood map. Clicking on it, I was taken directly to a quite cool neighborhood map of San Francisco, which was only neighborhood boundary lines with DIN Engschrift type filling the 'hoods in completely adventurous ways (view that map here).

Now, I thought Hey, that's cool; wonder what it would look like if I did such a thing, then I'd post it and share it about! Thinking that this was something the blog proprietrix did herself (due to the direct link which straight to the graphic), I then proceeded to download a neighborhood map from the City of Portland and use it as a base to complete my own version for Portland. It was a little grueling in places but I did it and it looked pretty cool if I do say so myself.

However, just to check my stuff, I went back and found the original itty-bitty blog entry ... and then I saw the [via] at the end of the single sentence. I followed it to here, which is the home of ORK Posters, a Chicago-area graphic designer's way of creating rather cool neighborhood maps of major cities (there seems to be none for Portland, though).

Note here that I am not laying any blame-and if I did anyway, I'd lay it at my own feet, for not checking the [via] link.

I realized then that though there's nothing stopping me from creating a Portland version in the ORK Poster style, there's no way I should ever post the thing. Why?

Well, then, even though I'd be doing it for free, I'd be openly lifting someone elses idea, and that's not fair. Now, in complete fairness, 'borrowing' is something bloggers and designers do all the time. Ideas are notoriously incestuous-none of us live in a vacuum. Any original idea or art I do is necessarily influenced by the art and design I see around me and am impressed by (this is why designers thumbnail, by the way-someone once told me that the first ten things you're going to come up with have already been done by someone somewhere).

But when we borrow, we credit. We acknowledge our influences as we can, and if we pay homage we do so carefully, else we look like we're taking someone's idea as our own. So the map I drew will be strictly a personal exercise and won't go on line or anywhere in public at all (unless, of course, the designer at ORK Posters asks to see it and says okay-but that's her decision to make, not mine to inveigle).

But it was fun to draw, nonetheless, and did get me looking at my town in a different way.

ORK Posters, by the way, can be found at http://orkposters.com.

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