Ask The Dieline: Concepts & Student Work

by First name Last name on 05/13/2010 | 2 Minute Read

Editorial photograph

Recently I was asked for my thoughts on a question, regarding the ethics of showing unproduced concepts. The question was brouht up because it was noticed that we published concept work from one designer / design firm for a brand that another design firm created, and went to market with.

I thought the best place to share my answer is here, with our readers, and get your feedback on the question.

"From an ethical perspective, what designs are acceptable to show and present at the Dieline?"

The goal of The Dieline is very simple, and my criteria for selecting design is simple: anything that inspires. This site was created to inspire other packaging designers around the world.

This includes student work, un-produced concepts, etc. Some of the best and most inspiring design out there, is design, that never unfortunately made it to market for whatever reason. Sometimes, designs are not approved because they are too "risky", or because a focus panel shot it down. (Don't get me started on focus groups!) Does this not make it good design?

Good quality design should be seen, evaluated, and cherished, even if it did not make it to market. Good design promotes more good design.

This is why we feature quite a bit of student work on the site. It inspires.

From an ethical/legal perspective, it is true that the designer of the concept may or may not own the rights to the design. Usually when work of this type is submitted to the site, they already have the permission. If not, usually the design firm who did the design, is eager and excited for it to finally be seen by the world, and do not mind that it was posted. If the design firm does not own the rights, thats where it gets a bit tricky, its completely up to the brand owner.

Sometimes I will get a not so friendly letter from a lawyer asking me to remove it, but most often, there is no issue.

Student work brings about some of the same issues. If the design is for an already established brand, it's really up to the brand owner. Usually they realize that it is student work, and have no problem. The quality of the work is usually very high, so if anything it only supports a dialogue about the brand.

What are your thoughts on this?

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