Great Artists Steal, Bad Ones Rip Off

When Picasso was quoted in saying, “good artists copy, great artists steal” – the folks at Meizu took the ‘copy’ part and ran with it (found via Engadget):

As someone who has been working as a professional interactive designer for over 8 years, I can’t count how many times I’ve been inspired by other people’s work. Without getting into a whole discussion on ‘what is originality’, all artists (architects, painters, sculptors, designers – clothing, product, environment, interactive, web) are influenced by everything they see, hear and touch. No one exists in a vacuum.
Picasso didn’t copy African masks in his Demoiselles d’Avignon – he stole them. Stealing for Picasso – and all other great artists – involves a sophisticated level of mutating the original ‘stolen goods’ and creating something new with them.
Paul Simon also stole from African music on his amazing album Graceland. You can hear the references, but the music is entirely his.
Other artists ‘steal’ things in more subtle ways that aren’t immediately visible – in the form of geometric shapes and proportions and physics theories (where would we be without simulated friction in interactive design?)
Meizu is copying the iPhone.
I can’t imagine doing what Meizu did and being comfortable with it. If they were doing it purely as a ‘phase 1’ before evolving their own designs, that would be fine. But they’re not.
The sad part about this is that the interface Apple created for the iPhone is just one of many amazing solutions that is possible. Apple has not created the only possible interface for a touchscreen smart phone.
If people would do more stealing than copying, they would know this.
In the end, it’s just sad, because Meizu is missing a great opportunity to create something new and fresh.