A Danger of the Digital Age
So were these just two artists who had a similar idea around the same time? It is easy to be a little skeptical in hindsight, when you read posts from Mr. Mak that say, "Posting designs like this one makes me paranoid, because I can’t shake the feeling that it’s not original. I enjoyed the process regardless, but please let me know if somebody else beat me to the idea!"
This was posted on his blog upon revealing his design and has been used as his argument that he sought feedback to make sure it wasn't a stolen idea. As Mr. Thornley clearly had the idea first and it was out there on the Internet for all to see, you can see why some might question Jonathan Mak's innocence. I personally think that it's possible Jonathan Mak had already seen the design from sometime before and forgotten about it, or he had glanced at it on his way to doing something else and it was almost subliminal, hence his statement.
Neither party has made, or has sought to make, any money personally from their designs at all, so the media circus surrounding them seems more than a little unfair. After all, it wasn't such an outrageous design that couldn't have been put together by plenty of other artists should they have wished to. Mr. Mak himself states, "My paranoia stemmed from the apparent simplicity of the concept. The visual connection between Steve’s profile and the logo seemed too obvious to not have been picked up on yet."
Of course this kind of thing isn't anything new, in logo design particularly there have always been these problems, but before the Internet it would have taken months to discover, now it can be discovered within hours. Mr. Thornley sees the Internet as a double-edged sword for designers, "You need to use the Internet in order to promote yourself, but in order to do this you are making yourself vulnerable to these situations."