Yes, this entry will contain some ranting, so please don't read on if you only want happy thoughts.
I recently got an inquiry from someone who owns a Multiply online shop. When I checked out her URL, I got a really nasty shock --- her current theme contains images that I designed for some of my clients. Look at her site:
and tell me it doesn't bear a resemblance to these themes I designed:
In fact, it's not just a resemblance, right? The designer of that site grabbed the images from my work, edited it a bit to make it uglier (yes, it's uglier because the edges are not sharp and the gradient on the header frame really doesn't work) and used it on that site.
Imitation may be the best form of flattery, but stealing is just stealing. And it's unethical. If the site owner liked my style that much, she should have just come to me and I would have custom-designed a theme for her. That's what bespoke service means. I do not grab images from other sites. It's either I purchase my vectors and edit them on Adobe Illustrator, or I design them from scratch. The result? Images on my themes are sharp and of high quality.
Look, I am against SOPA, because as designers, of course we are influenced by other designers. And SOPA would have put us in straightjackets, unable to draw inspiration from another's work. I just want to point out that getting inspiration is totally different from stealing. It's lazy, and just wrong.