Macbeth and a coincidence of design

Macbeth and a coincidence of design

As I wandered through my drive looking for things to share, I came across one of my early book cover experiments. At the time I was playing with using two sharply contrasting tones of colours, and while most of my creations were poor, one or two filtered through. Macbeth was one of them.

Cover of Macbeth by William Shakespeare

I queued it up, ready to publish it at some point in the near future, settled down and started reading a book on graphic design I’d pulled out of storage. Midway through everything came to a halt as my eyes fell on Catherine Zask’s poster for the same play.

Macbeth by Catherine Zask, photographed from 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design

The similarity was striking. While my work wasn’t a direct copy, there was enough for me to stop and question what I’d done.

Bizarrely the receipt was still in the book, used as a bookmark as I do from time to time. I checked the creation date on the file. It was a few months before the book found its way onto my bookshelf.

Perhaps I picked up the poster somewhere on Pinterest or at an exhibition. Maybe it’s in another of my many, many graphic design books. Perhaps Zask and I just came to the same conclusion about how to present this text in this way. Maybe it’s inevitable when two designers tackle something as popular as “The Scottish Play” they will arrive at the same answer.

However we got to this point, there is a lesson we can learn. While there are designers out there that willfully steal from another’s work, sometimes coincidence strikes. What we do then is far more important than an accident of design.

About Ross A Hall

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