It is better to steal than to copy a design

“Copying someone else’s work will only give yours a chance to become as good as the one you’re copying — and that’s the best case scenario. A copy will usually never be as good as the original because it always remains one step behind. Even worse, at the hands of a novice designer a copy could end up looking like a cheap imitation, lacking the finesse and flair of the original.

No — don’t copy that design. Steal it.

Wait… let me elaborate.

When you look at an inspirational design you should be inspired. Take your time to examine its aesthetic and construction in detail — look over all the nuances and intricacies of its structure. See how the creator did this and that — extract the essence of what makes this work great.

To steal a design you must collect all the pieces of the puzzle and figure out how it all works as a whole — why did the artist use this color, why these lines, why this typeface?

Stealing design is an intellectual activity — you must be able to digest and absorb the essence of an inspirational design. Stealing gives you the real gold — it gives you the knowledge to create the work in question. Expand your arsenal of design techniques through learning instead of copying.

http://www.usabilitypost.com/2008/08/21/dont-copy-a-design-steal-it