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CLOCK 8 min read

Holy s**t that’s a lot of plagiarism 👀


Way before Design By Day became Love & Logic… I mean like way, way, back in the early days of Design By Day, my business partner and I landed our first big break: to create the exhibition branding and materials for a Cornerhouse (now HOME) exhibition called “Unspooling: Artists & Cinema.”

It was a super exciting moment for us and we aimed to create something great for this amazing exhibition!

And we did!

It turned out that a lot of other designers thought so too. Enough so to keep on replicating our design for over a decade!

Now before I get started, I’m not going to claim credit for the concept, that was crafted by my business parter and partner in crime & design, Louise Gardner.

The exhibition sought to present contemporary artists’ current reflections and interpretations of cinema. The diamond in the brief that Louise took hold of and ran with was the following paragraph:

“The show cuts to the heart of cinema and brings out its hybrid anarchistic side, where Cinema gets a great deal of recycling and rehashing, where it explodes from its fixed and flat screen to explore new possibilities, and where we find artists who unite themselves with the cinematic more readily.”

Below you can see the brand concept designed by Louise. In my opinion, no explanation is necessary.

Unspooling poster for Cornerhouse: Unspooling Artist & Cinema exhibition: The word 'Unspooling' is displayed in white, red, yellow and blue letters, with strands of colour spreading out from some of the letters into the foreground as if they were jumping out of a cinema screen.

Copy cats

We worked on the Unspooling project back in 2011. I’m not certain when or where I first came across copies of our work, but I do recall discovering them periodically over the years and sharing the rip-offs with Louise.

A couple of weeks ago, in a WhatsApp group full of awesome graphic designers, we started discussing AI and plagiarism. Whilst this post has nothing to do with Artificial Intelligence, it does have a lot to do with plagiarism – the conversation reminded me of Unspooling.

With that in mind I decided to go on the hunt across Google Images, Pinterest and Bechance. I found so much more than i was expecting!

Now to be fair, I think some of these designs have been recreated by students. I don’t mind those – especially if they were just given a task by their teacher to replicate something as a means of learning new software. But what I do give a shit about is companies and people making money from original ideas, like this bunch:


Lovepik are selling this as a template on their website:

DJ Alex B

And a DJ called DJ Alex B on Pacha Recordings  is using a ripped off design for their track; The Music. Of course they may not be responsible for the artwork.

Collective Machine

A group called Collective Machine have stolen it for the cover art for a track called ‘Inside’. See it on Beatport. They even have a whole bunch of other releases with colour variations on the original! 👀

Mensijazavcevic on Red Bubble

This ones outrageous. A person called mensijazavcevic has released a whole range of products at notorious rip-off merchant website Red Bubble.

Available to purchase are T-shirts, hoodies, posters, framed pictures, canvas mounted pictures, postcards, stickers, water bottles, caps, hats, tote bags mugs, cushions, mouse matts, phone covers, laptop cases, tapestries, socks and even matts and blankets for pets! Wild.

HD Graphics

And there’s more…

Like I said I’m not too bothered about the rest, neither is Louise. I’ve not looked too much into where they came from or why they had been designed. Hence why I haven’t included links to where I found them.

However, I am interesting in cataloguing them on my blog, Here’s what I have so far, found in 2023. My intention is to keep updating if/when more gems come along!

Scroll away!


What coincidence or inspiration looks like

So back in 2017, Jack Whitehall was performing his ‘At Large’ tour. The campaign creatives had some similarities with with our Unspooling exhibition branding.

Is this plagiarism?

Probably not.

As creatives there’s so many times that we create something that has similarities with other pieces of work. And yes, it’s down right frustrating when you’ve poured your heart and soul into something, only to notice it’s similar to something else!

However, this piece of work does look significantly different to Unspooling. It was either a complete coincidence, or the desiger just took a spark of inspiration. Either way, it’s a unique piece and that’s cool with me.

Big up Unspooling!

Besides getting noticed by those that want to recreate and rip-off, the Unspooling poster has been featured on many websites as well as Making Posters – a book by Scott Laserow and Natalia Delgado.

Page 113 of the Making Posters book shows the Unspooling poster and a write up about the techniques used.