24/365: Originality and Appropriation

If originality is illusory, why then is it so highly prized – especially in the realm of commercial art and design? This is odd, because nearly all illustrations, branding, advertising, typography, etc., is about communication, and if we want to communicate, we have to use recognizable symbols, words, and visual tropes. Even when we want to shock, or make statements that are mysterious or enigmatic, we do so by blending visual elements and language in unexpected ways – in other words, we appropriate – but in truth, we really are copying. – Adrian Shaughnessy from The Myth of Originality and the Joy of Copying.

Looking for some sort of discussion in class, someone brought up how I told them that someone had approached me by email saying that we had similar logos and that if I did not change it, lawyers would be involved. I was undaunted. Why would I change my logo that we both obviously got from the neighborhood watch symbol? To convince the other party otherwise, I wrote a brief explanation of the clear differences between our logos, between my logo and the neighborhood watch symbol, and the differences in the meaning of mine. Yes, my logo is more or less a rip directly from the symbol. What I did though was appropriate it to identify with my clothing brand and the message behind it. If you can’t seem to grasp my message, I want to initiate action towards something I feel is worth building rather than working behind a desk striving towards someone else’s dreams. I’d like to be a figure worth noting, worth knowing, yet in the background, the limelight is not for me. A sense of mystery I believe is essential, things should be left for interpretation, for an opinion to form. That is why I thought the neighborhood watch symbol was such a strong symbol within itself, but recontextualizing it and giving it a positive meaning. In all honesty, I believe it is an appropriate use of the form and connotation of the symbol to represent Happen and its message.