Monday, November 21, 2011

The Art of the Knock Off


I'm a sucker for a rehash. I'm intrigued by any cover song, no matter how suspect the original; just recognizing a melody or lyric re-imagined is exciting to me. 

I love the feeling of confused familiarity that creeps over me when I begin to realize the movie I'm watching is a re-vamped version of a classic.

It's a puzzle that's been set forth, and an inside joke between me and it's creator if I get it. It's like I'm one of the cool kids, in with the "in" crowd, more pop or literarily cultured than the next guy.

There is a science to theft in the design world. There are not just guidelines but LAWS, dictating the degree to which one can steal. In the fashion industry a "knock-off" is a copy, and it's industry standard to steal every season from the runway in order to make a piece for the masses.
You can steal whole-hog a silhouette (the shape of a garment) and not get sued. Prints and other artwork (like screen-printed tees) required you change them 30% in order to sell them and not get pinched for copyright infringement. How one determines that 30% can be mind-numbingly subjective. It's the old quandary of translating beauty into math, and back again; what percentage of this piece of art does the rose in the middle constitute? What about each petal? Leaf?


Here's a compilation of graphic knock-offs, homages and outright thefts of one of the greatest movie posters of all time (including my own flier made recently to promote recruits for my Roller Derby team The Boulder County Bombers):