Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

Thwart the design thieves feature in .net magazine

Posted on 01 September 2008 16 comments

Article illustration for Thwart the design thieves feature in .net magazine

Remember back in April when I blogged about my ‘Create The Perfect Logo’ feature in .net magazine? You guessed it: this post is of a similar ilk (read: shameless plug).

Some of you will know how I’ve talked about design theft in the past, as it’s happened to me on more than one occasion. It’s a subject close to my heart, so when .net asked me to write an article about it, I jumped at the chance.

Like the logo feature, this one’s made up of a plethora of interviews with some of my very talented friends; people such as Andy Budd, Andy Clarke, Dan Cederholm, Dan Rubin, Dave Shea, Drew McLellan, Jeff Croft, Jon Hicks, Jon Tan, Jonathan Snook, D. Keith Robinson, Khoi Vinh, Kyle Meyer, Miguel Ripoll, Shaun Inman, Paul Boag, Rob Weychert, Sam Brown, and Tim van Damme. Crikey! It took all of my effort to edit down the answers I was given. Sorry guys – I’m afraid the edits were quite drastic!

Anyway, go forth into the world and buy the magazine! Like all issues of .net, it also contains the regular tutorial from me (this one’s on creating beautiful footers), and it’s sold outside the UK as ‘Practical Web Design’.

Oh, and you’ll let me know your thoughts with a little comment below, won’t you?


  1. Leesy


    01 September 2008 @ 07:21PM #

    I’ve obviously been missing some really good articles by not opening my subscription of .Net recently (out of laziness). I’ll make sure I rip this one open because what I’m missing sounds like must-read advice.

  2. Robert Augustin

    Robert Augustin

    01 September 2008 @ 07:22PM #

    Thieves are all around indeed! I have experienced the same thing more than once, both with design work and copy. What helps most of the time is exposing them, like you did with hollisterbay. I can’t believe how stupid some people are to believe that they can actually hang the work of someone else on their wall, and nobody will notice it.

  3. Pete


    01 September 2008 @ 07:39PM #

    I think it’s something that happens at least once to every designer, especially if the design is of real quality.

    While we’re on that note I ran into this site the other day and it seemed to have a passing resemblance to EJS.com.

    Not sure if you would class it as ‘inspired by’ or just ripped off as he does site you as one of his inspirations but I figured I’d let you decide on that if you hadn’t seen the site already.

    I look forward to reading the article

  4. Brian


    01 September 2008 @ 08:00PM #

    @Pete The difference between the original and the ripped off version is pretty apparent on a slow line.

    Elliott’s background image: 110kb – Ripped off website 2MB!

    Think about the carbon footprint ;-)

  5. johno


    01 September 2008 @ 08:32PM #

    Only wish they sold .net in Japan :(

  6. Brian


    01 September 2008 @ 09:21PM #

    I picked up the new .Net issue just in the past few days – a great read overall. I really liked your article because it did a great job of not only giving the perspectives of lots of different professional designers, but it was also a way to get both sides of the argument and let me decide for myself which route of action I would take in the event of thievery.

    Thanks for the article, and good luck on more in the future. I subscribed just this month so I’ll keep an eye out ;)

  7. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    01 September 2008 @ 10:52PM #

    Cheers for the comments, chaps.

    @ Leesy: I take it you’re not the one paying the subscription fee, then! ;)

    @ Pete: Thanks for the link. Yeah, I’ve seen this before. I don’t mind too much, though – there’s still some originality going on, and at least my name’s on there as an inspiration.

    @ Johno: Email me your postal address, mate. :)

  8. ike


    02 September 2008 @ 09:29AM #

    Have you seen this site? www.robinpietersen.com/blog/

  9. Dave


    02 September 2008 @ 06:29PM #

    @ike – that background looks more like the 1 Elliot did in the .net tutorial, and so I am guessing is not copyrighted (I don’t think .net would prevent people using the tutorials they print).

    Other than that I think it may fall into the inspired by category, rather than a rip off

  10. ike


    03 September 2008 @ 10:33AM #

    @dave – It looks like he’s updated his site since my post. It was the same exact background at first. No difference at all when tabbing between the two.

  11. Robin Pietersen

    Robin Pietersen

    03 September 2008 @ 11:23AM #

    @ike – You were spot on. Elliotjaystocks.com is perhaps the main inspiration for my design (I actually state this in my second post). As the background was exactly what I wanted I used it as a sort of place holder until I had time to do my own (Damn day job gets in the way). To be honest, my site has only been up for a few days and I have barley promoted it, only a few of my friends have seen it, how you came across it I do not know :-)

    @Dave – Afraid I don’t get [dot]Net here in South Africa :-( I made the background by overlaying stone, cement, paint and leather textures on a gradient background. I was hoping to get the same effect as the background you see here.

    Anyway, I hope that clears things up. Sorry for the confusion and temporary design thievery :-)

  12. Ryan Beard

    Ryan Beard

    14 September 2008 @ 07:31AM #

    Elliot I think your great and all but I’m always disappointed when you go off on people ripping you off if there was such a thing. Such as your background and menus, you have tutorials on how you made them, perhaps you shouldn’t make tutorials because sometimes people read them…

    You are someone I aspire to be like and I have nothing but respect for you but you sure get your panties in a wad about this subject. I believe in business that as soon as you go on the defense trying to protect your little world you have made for yourself so to speak, that’s when business stops growing, so I guess all I’m saying is to look forward and let others do what they have to do.

    I think it was Van Gogh that said “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

  13. Jesse Skeens

    Jesse Skeens

    14 September 2008 @ 06:18PM #

    I don’t think the point of tutorials is to then have people recreating things 1:1. It’s more to show the process and get ideas flowing so you can then do something more original with that info. I don’t get why the gianmarcolauriola site uses the same exact hover underline as Elliots, there was another site that ‘borrowed’ from his design that did that as well. These guys look like they can do decent art on their own so just seems a bit lazy. How hard is it to experiment a bit and do something different for your hover text?

    And obviously its just not Elliot that’s got a problem with it considering .net has front page article about the matter.

    It was Picasso that said that not Gogh.

  14. Finch


    15 September 2008 @ 04:58AM #

    Does the Finch logo vs Carsonified logo ring a bell??

    Stealing, borrowing, influenced by, inspired by, paying tribute to. That is a huge grey area.

    It happens everywhere. So what makes Interpol an original sounding group and not a complete rip off of Joy Division? The answer: An opinion.

    Most original ideas are a mash up of many things that came before it.

    Keep up the good discussions. Cheers.

  15. Ryan Beard

    Ryan Beard

    15 September 2008 @ 10:35PM #

    Picasso? Well maybe so, I found stuff on google that mentioned both :)
    True it’s a little poor taste to copy a tutorial exactly but I’d consider it on par with Indian Giving, sure you can get upset your gift was gifted to someone else but it’s not your gift anymore. Your putting your work out there saying “hey here’s exactly how I did this” I personally don’t like tutorial articles because they can be so specific, like how many times am I going to be photoshoping a energy ball shooting from someones hands and get paid for it? and the same tutorial can be done 10 different and sometimes easier ways. But I’ll read the this article because now my interest is peaked.

  16. Dan Oliver

    Dan Oliver

    30 September 2008 @ 06:39PM #

    @Leesy You don’t even open the mag?! Man, now I feel depressed.

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