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Visual Plagiarism: How to Create Original Work

How to Be Inspired

"Inspiration is a feeling of enthusiasm you get from someone or something, which gives you new and creative ideas."

You can be inspired by nature, when browsing magazines, books, social media or other online sources such as Pinterest, Behance, Instagram, TikTok or YouTube etc. It doesn't matter whether you find inspiration in print or online, copying designs with just minor changes and presenting it as your own work is considered visual plagiarism. You always have to follow copyright & citation rules and, if you are asked to create original work, your own design has to differ significantly from the artwork that inspired you. 

The following illustration by artist Meera Lee Patel shows how inspiration can lead to creating your own original pieces of art. The link to the full article is underneath the image. 



Open the PDF and read the full article:

From Patel, M.L. (2022, October, November, December). Notes on inspiration: Finding your own through line. Uppercase 55, 10-11.

Permission granted by copyright holder to KPU Library to display this article on this guide.

You can find Uppercase magazine in the Richmond Campus Library. 

Best Practices

Best Practices when creating original works of art or design:

  • Carefully read your assignment
  • If you are asked to create an original piece of art/design/image/pattern/illustration etc., document the progress of your work
  • Cite every artifact/image/design that inspired you. Whenever possible, look at more than three items for inspiration.


Important: Ensure that your own 'original' artifact/image/design differs significantly from the artwork/designs that inspired you. You want to create something new and unique that hasn't existed before.


The general rule is that your work should be different in five to eight ways from the artefacts/designs that inspired you including but not limited to:

• Colour • Composition • Content • Context • Cropping

• Fabric • Feeling • Intention • Juxtaposition Layout

• Lighting • Materials • Meaning • Method • Motif

• Pattern • Placement • Positioning • Process • Proportion

• References • Scale • Selection • Setting • Transformation.


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