On Being a Copycat

It takes a lot of effort to refer to myself as a designer, and even more to think of myself as an artist. I can’t draw, paint, or even make realistic stick figures— but as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to make the things I see in my head appear in front of me.

For most of my life, that has manifested itself in short stories, one unfinished novel, a bunch of prose poems, and, more recently, a carefully crafted social media caption. It wasn’t until I started using Sketch to copy other people’s work that I thought—hey, I might know how to do this!

Let me clarify, though, that I still can’t draw. One smooth vector line in an image I make may hide ten failed attempts along with countless minute adjustments of the points and handles.

While I am still struggling to make the ideas in my head appear on my Sketch artboards, one of the best ways I’ve found to get closer to that reality is copying. I used to be ashamed of this practice, until I realized that in the design world, copying to improve (as opposed to plagiarizing) is not only accepted but encouraged! This article cemented my determination to make copywork a part of my education as a designer.

Divan Raj’s beautiful landing page.

My copywork attempt.