Having read up on all the angles involved in the withdrawing of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo, and posting an article outlining the issues involved here at Graphical Content I took to thinking about plagiarism, or more precisely lack of plagiarism.
It is possible that the Tokyo 2020 was indeed ripped off of the Théâtre de Liège logo design, or even the Hey Studio logo which has similarities. However this may not be the point. Have you ever considered where ideas actually come from?
How often does it seem that there are a swaith of similar movies all coming out of Hollywood at the same time? Also, while comic book companies do rip off ideas from each other with alarming regularity, the Marvel comic X-Men and the DC comic Doom Patrol were launched within months of each other and have very similar concepts.
There will always be talk of impossible deadlines, conspiracy and espionage. While this may sometimes be true I believe the answer is less identifiable, yet more obvious. People working in the same industry are likely to have similar drives, similar goals, similar likes and dislikes. Maybe not at a small personal level, but generally. They will read, or glance through the same industry press, have similar educations and similar understandings. A lot of what they encounter in their every day lives will be the same.
Hollywood is a surprisingly tight knit community with writers, producers, actors, etc all living in close proximity, shopping at similar shops, eating at similar restaurants. Ideas will come from chance encounters, stumbling across books in shops, or items on the news. It is quite understandable that in this environment that more than one team could independently come up with the same idea for a movie.
Now, if we look further afield to the world I inhabit, the world of graphic design, similar rules apply. I will explore some of the same websites, magazines, news feeds as the designer of the Tokyo 2020 logo, the designer of the Théâtre de Liège logo and the Hey Studio team. As in every other industry there are fashions and trends in graphic design. Each trend will lead to the next either by aiming to be completely different to, or an advancement of what has gone before.
If certain typefaces, certain colour palettes, certain shapes are coming in to fashion then all creatives cannot help to be influenced in a small way. To come up with new ideas driven by their environment. Especially in logo design where final usage; for example in social media, on hoardings, in print, on clothing, can all lead to certain requirements needing to be met. I’m not saying that in this case that all three of the logos came from similar cultural and industrial influences, but they could have done.
If this sounds a little far fetched you maybe surprised. I recall watching a Derren Brown show on television, many years ago where he called together a number (three I believe) of design agencies. They didn’t know it was for Derren Brown, or that it was an experiment. All three teams were collected by a taxi and taken to an office block where, one by one, they met the client (actors) who gave a simple brief for their project and requested that the design teams went off and came up with an initial concept immediately. Later, all three design agencies are pulled in to the same room and told what is going on. Derren Brown produces a rough drawing, which was his idea of a design solution for the brief and every single design from each independent team was similar. Of course it is not magic. However the taxi driver was the same in each case, his small talk was the same and the route he took through London was the same. Posters in bus stops had been preset, graffiti had be set up on route, actors pretending to be members of the public acted in the same way. Then the brief had some obvious solutions which lead back to these recent stimuli that the creative teams had encountered. Each of this small influences lead, in a small way, to all four designs being roughly the same.
Which answers, in part, the question I asked at the start. Where do ideas come from? Well, in some cases, literally from the world around us. A choice of colour here, an emotion inspired by music there, a shape from nature or architecture, a new type font in a magazine, lots of little things adding up to one greater whole.
As a designer I try to make sure I keep myself open to as many different stimuli and influences as I can, allowing me the widest resource of inspiration for when I come to designing something new and coming up with a new idea.