As a designer you strive to produce 100% organic content. Meaning that all aspects of design are handmade soup to nuts: the graphics, the animation, the effects, pretty much everything but the fonts made by you in one program or another. I think we do this because it seems like our artistic integrity depends on it. But the truth is some of us are better at certain mediums than others. There is a very fine and acceptable line that weaves between plagiarism, inspiration, and using what is offered to you. You can spend hours recreating some graphics that you’ve been inspired by for a project at work only to have it look like crap because it’s your first attempt. Now you have to turn something in. I’m positive that your client would prefer a well done finished product that you’ve used some free resources for than one mediocrely done single component of a finished product.
The bottom line is when you’re a designer you need to be producing the best quality designs in the most efficient and time conscious way. Unfortunately, in the end, there are very few clients that actually care if you poured your heart and took time to make something organic for them, especially if the quality is subpar. Unfortunately your client work isn’t ours in the end. Sure, they hired you for your abilities, and maybe your style, but 9 times out of 10 a client’s vision is different than your own.
You can spend days on the first run of a project, building it from scratch, making it your own, following your client’s original notes to what you think is to the tee. Then you turn it in to find out that they want to go a completely different route with it, or they flat out just don’t like it. That all can be avoided by getting over yourself as an “artist” (because at this point everything is derivative), banging out some good first round work using the awesome free resources that the wonderful world wide web provides for us, then use the time you’ve saved to make the edits that the client wants (99% of the time there’s going to be edits), and now you’re ahead of the game…VOILA.
Here are some of the sites that I first started pulling resources from.
The quality of a lot of these resources are simply way better than anything I’d be able to turn out after a week of practicing it. In commercial design you should most definitely NOT be spending that long on anything, especially if it’s not a final draft. Realizing that helped me get over my clouded idea of what originality is.