Appropriation, or the act of re-using and re-purposing pre-existing imagery, has long been an effective communication tool. Artists have appropriated imagery for decades to comment on pop culture, but advertisers and marketers also use appropriated imagery to make a connection with audiences.
However, when not done correctly, “appropriation” can merely become a ripoff of someone else’s work. It’s important to know where to draw the line.
Appropriated imagery can be a cultural touchstone when the images are popular enough to be known by a broad swath of the audience. Images become a language when enough people recognize them and understand their meaning. They can be a sort of shorthand that conveys messages, creates tone, sparks memories and creates connections between ideas.
The 2011 Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial, for example, was a fantastic example of appropriation. By using Star Wars imagery and sound to tell a story throughout the commercial,... keep reading