comment US designs : graphic arts, ads, humor, illustration, etc 
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The best-selling academic textbook, Contemporary Advertising (author: William F. Arens,  McGraw Hill, USA) discusses American design works' imitation, plagiarism or flattery in its ethical issues section.  Certainly this problem already existed for a number of years (European advertisements/commercials are better and more witty than the US ads. in largest int'l ads festivals for years )  ―  and not just in advertisement field, not just in non-contest design works ―  many awarded/winning designs are the same.
Imitation is implicit in advertisement/commercial field, imitation is the sincerest form of flatting..., but, if everyone just show homage for & follows other's excellent ideas, who is willing to be the 1st one to do the hard job
original creativity?

the US design

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It's easy for me to find out enough number of suspected crib-works in American advertising, graphic designs, humor, illustrations, cartoons/comics etc fields.  For instance,

Business Week, best Advertising award ―  "What shape is your business in?"(pic.9, pls. see below), this work shows lots of small fishes forming a big fish's shape ( to scare predators ). This is an advertisement being made as an ad. for the design consulting company (anderson) itself.

  (1) Exact same idea already appeared in a best award(pic.10, pls. see below) in Yomiuri int'l cartoon contest held by Japanese Yomiuri newspaper, largest & most influential news in Nippon. 

  (2) This sort of idea already appeared in classic humorous cartoons in many places long time ago, e.g., lots of bees form an elephant in shape.

  (3) This idea may imitate some animals' instinct, not human beings' creativity.  According to "Totally Wild, National Geographic", small fishes (or some species) may form a "giant" to scare predators.

  (4) This idea may come from an old fable too.

  (5) An excellent college-level Advertising textbook written by professors in world best universities also applies this sort of idea to explain creativity   ―   lots of dragonflies form a fish-net in shape with the caption  "the combined strengths of Fortis (a company.)".

Again and again we can see completely new, totally different, great ideas coming up from somewhere or some corners on this planet  when we feel there's no room to go any further working on an old subject material, e.g., an old man in a remote island.  If you are really talented person, you certainly can create a fresh idea about fishes' shape.

Some US excellent college-level Advertising books, like Contemporary Advertising (ch. 12, Creative Execution) by William F. Arens use an idea to teach students, a fancy woman wearing Wallis socks is extremely charming so as to make some guys in fatal status,  in the same ads. campaign there're some other series-ads, one (pic.6, pls. see below) of them looks very like a very old cartoon (pic.5, pls. see below)  ―   just replaced an old train with a modern train, and deleted a clever idea - a bloody mark on the wall.   

New York Ads Festival  ―  one among world best Ads festivals selected an old idea as winning work  (pic.8 & 7, pls. see below)  ―   lots of "cross" instead of crossing lines on the road ( to warn drivers traffic accidents ).

2 best US magazines, TIME and BusinessWeek, used similar idea ... 






 2 Best magazines in the US use same idea (line-chart mouth) in their cover  see pictures on the left.

Not sure which is the most original one.  In graphic design books you also can find this kind of ideas (Charts & Diagrams, 'Nigel Holmes,84)



Famous US editorial cartoon award, Sigma delta Chi Award, gave award to an idea similar to older one.


Living Humans as shells (cannon fodder)

original work by Rob Lawlor.
Both cartoons use similar idea ― 
left pic :
Human beings as bullets for an artillery,
right pic.: human beings as bullets for a machine-gun.

Both cartoons are famous art-works.  

Left one is Biro Mihaly: A haboru borzalmai ellen, Plakat Budapest, Europe, at 1912.

pic right won '83 Sigma delta Chi Award, also was selected as <Best Cartoons of the Year>.


illustration arts  It's easy to find quite a lot of similar ideas from US best magazines, for example, merging / blending of 2 subjects (house and computer) to draw attention by violating reality were shown several times in Business Week, e.g., Acer advertisement in 1996, and some illustrations in 1998, or replacing a head with a computer-monitor, or adding a bar-code on human's face or body - repeated again and again in many media.   

cartoon/comic arts  It's easy to find quite a lot of similar ideas from US best newspapers, please click to see comment the US cartoons ..



left: a classic cartoon, appeared earlier.  The bloody mark makes this idea much better & more witty (men made same mistake again and again) than pic. 6. and its other series ads.


right: an USA prt. ad. collected in a best ads. album,
an US advertising textbook use another similar but worse one in this ads campaign as teaching material. 


beauty kills

humor advertisement


  speed Kills, New York advertising festivals cross cartoon
  pic. 7
a winning (finalist) print ad. in New York Advertising festivals, USA
pic. 8
Ron Chu, a best-seller cartoonist in Taiwan, has created this cartoon a lot earlier.


pic. 9
Best Ads Award winner, BusinessWeek, USA.  (anderson's prt. ad)
fish advertisement


pic. 10
best awarded work in int'l cartoon contest held by Japanese Yomiuri newspaper
fish cartoon  

 movie arts ―  An essay in the New York Times (Nov 18, 2011 ), "Film is Dead? What else is new?", mentioned that  "Why aren’t there any good movies anymore?" , "movies have suffered an overall decline in quality and that the exceptions are outliers...... The past is full of glories.....", Oscar director Ang Lee also said that there're only very few excellent writers in Hollywood.

Ending : World has been laughing China as a cheap-copy (山寨) nation, but some of their media has courage to criticize Chinese suspected art-works (pic. 11, pls. see below).   From 2010 till 2012, USA has been ranked world top 2 nation in cultural soft power field by UK based Monocle, so, commenting US design arts suppose is much more difficult and challenging than commenting China's or most other nations' soft power.  No matter what may happen it's right thing to encourage real things by human beings' imagination and IQ as well as by various creativity methods like visual puns, parodies, comic exaggeration, jokes, or just plain silliness, etc(ps1), and of course we should criticize evil things(ps2).


 ps1: "Humor theories, mechanisms and typologies"

Typologies Incongruity/ Incongruity-Resolution Arousal-Safety Disparagement
Speck Speck comic wit, resonant wit, full comedy, satire resonant wit, full comedy satire, full comedy
Goldstein and McGhee nonsense sexual aggressive
Freud nontendencious wit tendencious wit tendencious wit 
 Kelly and Soloman pun, understatement, joke, something  ludicrousness, irony pun satire
McCullough and Taylor nonsense, pun, humor , nonsense , pun , humor   sexual, warm humor aggressive
Cho negativity, subtle, complexity, perceptual interest negativity, subtle , complexity, perceptual interest negativity, slice-of-life, subtle, complexity, miniaturization negativity, ludicrousness, slice-of-life, perceptual interest, miniaturization
Stern verbal comedy, satiric comedy romantic comedy satiric comedy,physical comedy 
Catanescu and Tom comparison, personification ,exaggeration , pun, silliness, surprise   sarcasm
Toncar pun, understatement, joke, ludicrous, irony, satire    satire
Buijzen and Valkenburg slapstick, clownish, humor, surprise, misunderstanding, parody  slapstick  slapstick, satire, irony

table above from <Humor in the Advertising Business> (2008) by Fred Beard PhD, Professor of the University of Oklahoma, USA )

ps2: In scholarly paper category, publishing first wins, however, in design field, similar ideas may be just coincidence, or by sleeping-effect, etc, but printing them to public is because those media are short of excellent editing staff, judges or just carelessness, etc.

China's media criticized some suspected cartoon-arts : left one published in 1996, right side one in 2002.

axe tree cartoonpic. 11

left side graphic art by widely-known Japanese artist Fukuda 福田, printed in "Graphic Imagination",
etc , right side illustration was printed in TIME, a very famous magazine USA.

axe tree design, Japan cartoonpic.12         axe tree design, cartoonpic.13




the US design  



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