Obama crowdsourcing to support American jobs?

A tweet from Niki Bivona (@nikibivona) on Twitter says it all:

“RT @nospec http://my.barackobama.com/page/s/artworks-submission Obama is now crowdsourcing a poster, about job creation. Irony.”

Obama, if you aim to support American jobs, then perhaps paying designers to create your campaign posters would be a good start.

US Department of Interior is crowdsourcing their logo?

Here’s a petition found via Twitter that you might be interested in.

@LogoMotives Petition: Stop the US Department of @Interior from Crowdsourcing a Logo | @nospec #nospec | http://bit.ly/NOSPEC-DOI

“The U.S. Department of the Interior currently has posted a design brief on crowdspring.com (http://www.crowdspring.com/project/2296807_logo-us-department-of-the-interior/details/) asking for graphic designers to work for free in order to try to ‘win’ the prize of being paid for logo design and branding work. This is outrageous, especially coming from a branch of the U.S. Government.

“We are against crowdsourcing of logos due to the harm it typically does the company or organization as well as the damage it does to the general public’s understanding of the Graphic Design profession and the amount of work that really goes into logo development and branding. A branch of our U.S. Government supporting such practices is upsetting to us all. While crowdsourcing may appear like a win-win scenario on the surface for any company or organization, there are many reasons this may backfire and cause more harm than good.”

Read the rest here: Stop the US Department of Interior from Crowdsourcing a Logo

Our signature’s on the petition.

Relaunching NO!SPEC with 28 talking points

Welcome to the relaunch of the NO!SPEC site. And who do we have to thank for this revamp? My good friends David Airey (designer) and Jay Wickham (programmer).

From day one, Jay and David have been tireless contributors. Behind the scenes, and no matter what insane hour of the day or night, Jay is on hand to fix code and add what is needed. More in the public eye, David is a vocal advocate of an ethical design profession.

There is also a fourth teammate involved: Steve Douglas.

So when all hades breaks loose in the spec arena, it’s usually David (in Ireland), Steve (in Canada), and me (in Thailand) throwing emails at each other about our next move. And sometimes Jay (in Australia) listens to us all.

When needed, the original NO!SPEC committee come out fighting as well. Thanks all!

In order to celebrate new beginnings, I decided to share the main points of a fabulous post on spec penned by Steve Douglas, 28 talking points. To me, it’s one of those ‘I wish I’d written this’. And since I didn’t, here you go.

The 28 talking points (on working spec)

  1. It’s all about freedom of choice
  2. Designers know what they’re getting into
  3. We’re all adults here
  4. You’ll get lots of exposure
  5. Participation is voluntary so design contests aren’t exploitative
  6. Spec sites represent an ‘opportunity’ for designers
  7. Crowdsourcing sites are a way to make a living
  8. Contest sites are a way to pick up some ‘pocket change’
  9. The best designer, or design, always wins
  10. Client feedback helps you develop your skills
  11. Contest holders appreciate your efforts
  12. Stock logos and free vector art is forbidden
  13. Designers copying each other are ‘isolated incidents’
  14. Private and ‘blind’ contests protect designers’ work
  15. Win a contest. Pick up your prize
  16. Guaranteed contests also pay a designer
  17. We guarantee that a designer will get picked. And paid
  18. Spec sites ‘respect’ creatives
  19. Critics of spec work are Luddites. Or snooty.
  20. Design orgs and critical designers are like the RIAA
  21. Crowdsourcing puts you in charge of your career
  22. The democratization of design?
  23. You’ll get lots of practice
  24. You’ll build a great portfolio
  25. Crowdsourcing is ‘innovation at its best’
  26. Crowdsourcing is simply The Free Markets at work
  27. Crowdsourcing levels the playing field
  28. Participants are from all over the world

Conclusion? Curious?

It’s quite an eye-twitcher to scan down those talking points. Yes? To get the full story, stop by Steve’s 28 talking points.

And don’t forget to drop by David’s post on the NO!SPEC redesign to tell him how fabulous it is. Dave and Jay did a bang up job, for sure.

The campaign to educate the public about spec work will be a long one. I’m grateful to have good friends like Jay, David, Steve and the rest of the gang along with me.

Enjoy.

iStock + Logos = ?

Worms, lawyers and style-whores

iStock opens can of nasty worms | Logo Design Love: I’ve learned a lot during my years as a designer. One of those things is that a logo in isolation is like lipstick on a pig. It needs to be treated as part of an overall brand identity strategy, not picked off a shelf. This is no different from the ‘make your own logo’ websites out there, or the logo contest spec work sites that harbour an equal amount of ‘design’ nastiness.

Debbie Milman | Twitter: What iStock is doing to designers is deplorable. Truly heinous. $5 for a logo? Why?

istock photo to sell logos | The Logo Factor Design Blog: I predict there will be massive copyright problems as would-be designers, eager for quickly produced logos, scour the internet for material to, ahm, be ‘inspired’ by. And in a little bit of karmic schadenfreude, logo design contests and crowdsourcing sites will be ground zero for a lot of ‘inspiration’ for stock logos to upload. It’s an unfortunate, but predictable, aspect of a design business model where the emphasis (and only profitability for the designer) is to create a large number of logos, in the shortest amount of time possible.

Copying issues notwithstanding, and without the benefit of an accurate crystal ball, I don’t really know what impact this iStock logo deal will have on the industry at large. But I do have a feeling it will make a few copyright and trademark lawyers a lot of dough.

iStockphoto to begin selling stock logos | The Donut Project: When it comes to crowdsourcing, the responsibility falls solely on designers to stand up and say NO. As long as there are thousands of designers submitting to these sites, they will continue to thrive. I personally vow to no longer associate myself with designers who undervalue our industry by allowing themselves to be taken advantage of as style-whores – and I encourage/challenge you to stand up, have a backbone, and do the same.

It’s simple. Crowdsourcing can’t thrive if there’s no crowd to source.

Wait! There’s more…

iStock: Logos come to iStock

HOW Design Forum: iStock now selling logos!

AIGA: What is AIGA’s position on spec work?

Enjoy…

Crowdsink on Twitter: CrowdSpring, Do What’s Right!

CrowdSpring sinks to even lower lows…

This weekend, while Jay and I were busy updating no-spec.com, twitter continued to be all aflutter over the latest from CrowdSpring: CrowdSpring, Do What’s Right!

Background: Seems a CrowdSpring designer ripped off the work of Mike Erickson of Logo Motive Design (LogomotiveMike on twitter).

And while this is shocking enough – ok, not shocking as rips happen all the time on crowdsourcing sites – what has upset designers is CrowdSpring’s three strikes policy.

That’s right. A CrowdSpring designer gets to submit various ripped designs a total of three times before getting banned.

To follow the event yourself, here are the top searches on twitter:

CrowdSpring: Where have all the cheerleaders gone?

Ross Kimbarovsky: The voice of CrowdSpring on twitter.

Crowdsink: The twitter tag designers are using to publicise the problem.

And of course, make sure to read down through the original article: CrowdSpring, Do What’s Right!

Apparently this has been going on for about three weeks, but the designer in question is still submitting work at CrowdSpring. Amazing.

Btw – if you haven’t noticed, no-spec.com is now on twitter too: nospec.

So if you do twitter, go ahead and give us a shout…

Translators Against Crowdsourcing

LinkedIn annoys professional translators

Seems designers are not the only ones upset over being asked to work for free.

LinkedIn – the professional networking site with 41 million members where relationships matter – has today managed to mightily annoy professional translators who use the site by asking them if they would like to translate the LinkedIn site in exchange for a LinkedIn badge or because it’s fun.

Does this sound familiar?

put me in touch with a professional, English and German-speaking painter and decorator with 15 years of experience, who will strip the old wallpaper off all rooms of a house consisting of 20 apartments and offices and will then paint each room, preferably each in a different colour, naturally by tomorrow afternoon, and FOR FREE, I will be pleased, on satisfactory completion of the work, to translate the term LinkedIn into a language of my choice.

Translators have responded by not only creating a dedicated group on LinkedIn, Translators against Crowdsourcing by Commercial Businesses, but by flooding twitter too. They have also asked to become a part of the NO!SPEC Campaign.

You can read all about it at MatthewBennett /blog.

Artists say no too: Use Their Work Free? Artists Say No to Google – NYTimes.com

A thank you goes to Tom’s Cano Binder and Matthew Bennett for the heads up.

Translators, welcome to the NO!SPEC Campaign!

Comments on Spec Work and Crowdsourcing

From the previous post, CreativePro: Spec Work and Crowdsourcing, I thought I’d grab a few of the opinions from the comments.

Shale Grant said: Thanks for your constant and steadfast guard over working on spec. I’ve done both (have my own design firm and have submitted to Crowdspring and frankly no one’s forcing the designers to submit. Some can handle it – some (apparently) cannot. If you don’t like it, don’t do the work on spec! Simple!

If I were a prospective client, I’d think you’re coming across as a whiner. Under the aegis of not giving the client the best they can get, I feel like you haven’t really understood what Crowdspring actually does for the client (they have a chance to answer any questions a designer wishes to ask, not to mention have to fill out a rationale anyway)- only weighing in on how it affects YOU, which makes me think you’re really not in it for the client’s best interest – or for that matter superlative design.

I think you just want to whine in order to justify your client inevitably overpaying for design by you. Face it: it’s the way things are. Either swim or get out of the way.

Several designers posted their opinions to dear Shale Grant, so please take the time to read them.

There is one comment in particular I’d like to share here.

Steve Douglas: Shale, I see spec and design contests as an industry issue – relevant to designers, buyers of design and yes, design firms.

The argument “well, some people do it, and they’re not being forced to” has no bearing on whether anything is good, effective or productive. It’s actually a classic case of the bandwagon or “Argumentum ad populum” logical fallacy – “the mere fact that a belief is widely held is not necessarily a guarantee that the belief is correct”. Lots of people smoke, nobody’s forcing them to, but no-one would use that argument as being illustrative that smoking isn’t harmful to the individual or society itself. The numbers of people participating on spec is, to be blunt, irrelevant.

I’m not sure why expressing a view that YOU should get paid for YOUR work is whining, but no mind. When talking to other designers who participate in spec, let me say this – to a person, they’d ALL prefer to be paid for their work. They’d rather get paid for EVERY contest or spec offering they enter. None of them, and I do mean NONE, actually WANT to give their time or talents away for free. They participate for a myriad of reasons, ranging from desperation to not being aware of alternatives, to the honest belief that they will somehow manage to make a decent living with design contest winnings (most find out rather quickly that they won’t). Unless you are the lone ‘professional’ designer who prefers not getting paid for your services, we probably agree on that one basic premise. Accordingly, I’m not sure how my stance could be determined as “whining”.

In terms of Crowdspring, I don’t want to dwell too long on them specifically, but as you brought them to the table – their website is 100% set up for the abuse of designers, many times as the hands of small business people who aren’t even aware they’re taking liberties. I don’t give a tinker’s toss about how much Crowdspring charges – that’s never been an issue of mine – my issue had always been that designers are exploited on sites like Crowdspring (and being exploited voluntarily has no bearing on whether something is exploitative or not), often by clients hoping to get ‘more for less’ while actually running a very high risk of obtaining inferior design work. Or worse. The vast majority of work on Crowdspring is, to be charitable, amateur (shouldn’t be surprising – design by amateurs is one of Crowdspring’s selling points to attract, well, amateur designers). By the way, this isn’t my opinion, but the published opinion of people who’ve reviewed CS services POSITIVELY on their blogs after running contests. The amount of copied art and stock artwork (submitted as logos) is astonishing. Again, don’t take MY word for this. Read Crowdspring’s own forums for complaints by designers who are otherwise quite happy tinkering around on the so-called “community”.

In terms of what Crowdspring does and the client-designer interaction, I must disagree. Pretty strongly too. The ‘buyers’ NEVER listen to the designer’s suggestions, even when told that what they’ve requested isn’t going to work (especially from a technical POV). All communication is FROM the buyer to the designer, never the other way around. Whatever communication from the designers to the client is usually the “yes sir, no sir – I await your next command, sir” variety. When utilizing people who are supposedly knowledgeable in their craft, the buyers never utilize that portion of the designers’ skillset. Their knowledge and/or experience. It’s akin to me taking my car to a mechanic and ignoring them completely when they tell me my wheels are going to fall off. And that, by the way, is if the ‘buyers’ communicate at all. Read the Crowdspring forum and read how designers carp that the lack of communication is a real hindrance to many contests. The management of Crowdspring have even taken to encouraging communication, suggesting that active participation means more entries. There’s lots more issues we could discuss, but rather than turn this into a Crowdspring-bashing thread, let’s leave it for another day.

In terms of my personal motivations, I’ve always been pretty pragmatic when it comes to business, so If I honestly believed that a service like Crowdspring was good for designers, good for clients, good for the industry (and profitable to boot) I’d be busy setting up my own logo design platform rather than blathering on some blog. I run a small design shop (and have so since 1996), staffed by people who have extensive backgrounds in design and online marketing, so converting my custom shop to a so-called design “crowdsourcing” platform would be a relatively easy transition. Accordingly, “if I were only weighing in on how it affects (ME)” and thought spec sites were a step forward, I’d have launched a logo design contest site years ago, and rather than debating with you on a blog, I’d be inviting you to come work on my site, supplying my ‘buyers’ with your artwork, for free. Which, apparently, you’d be quite happy to do.

Alas, I DO believe that spec sites like Crowdspring are exploitative, harmful for designers and a second-rate solution for clients. I also have to live with myself and would never expect you (or any other designer for that matter) to work for me without payment. Old school? Maybe. A Dinosaur? Perhaps. Whiner? Hardly. Continuing on my personal angle, I’d also like to point out that not once have I EVER suggested that people hire my firm rather than employ Crowdspring or another spec solution. Rather, I’ve suggested that spec contests are not terribly effective (my blog contains a myriad of evidence) and that design buyers have a ton of OTHER alternatives, ranging from small design shops to independent freelancers. As there’s nothing in your comment to indicate that I’m incorrect, I’ll stick by that stance.

I notice you close with the old “evolve or die” (or in your case, “swim or get our of the way”) chestnut. Not the first time anyone who’s been online for a while has heard that. Remember spam e-mail? When it first hit the scene back in the mid-nineties, the exact same rationale and arguments were used by the Direct Marketing associations. People complaining about spam were called dinosaurs. The JHD (Just Hit Delete) folks told those of us who hated our e-mail accounts being saturated with porn and pharma junk that we were “whining”, and trying to stand in the way of people getting “great money saving offers”. Spam e-mail was actually defended as being a positive thing for people getting it, as well as the small companies who couldn’t afford traditional advertising, who had started using it to deliver their message. Fast forward 15 years and spam e-mail accounts for over 80% of ALL Internet traffic, costs the world-wide economy billions and is a major headache for anyone trying to do anything online, from sending pics of the grand kids to parents, to running an online shopping business. This idea that all business models made possible by technology are positive is rubbish. Use of technology is what you “can do”. That needs to be tempered by what you “should do”. In terms of your comment “it’s the way things are”, and continuing with our analogy, the same can be said of spam. Are we better off because of it? Hardly.

Shale, thank you for posting your opinion.

And Steve, once again, thank you for taking the time to share your experience and views.

Cat

CreativePro: Spec Work and Crowdsourcing

Spec Work and Crowdsourcing, when will they ever learn?

Pamela Pfiffner, writer and founding editor of CreativePro.com, recently put together a timely article for designers: Spec Work and Crowdsourcing: Gambles that Don’t Pay Off.

The economy’s in the toilet and you’re hungry for jobs, so you’re working on spec or posting designs to sites like CrowdSpring. It’s understandable. The problem is, spec and crowdsourcing can lower your value and hourly rates so far that minimum wage looks like a fat paycheck. Here’s what to do instead.

Quoted in the article are two eloquent fighters against all things spec: Steve Douglas and Jeff Fisher.

Steve Douglas of The Logo Factory: “According to [CrowdSpring’s] home page, designers have submitted over 219,000 entries” as of this April 2009. “If we average each entry out to an hour’s worth of a designer’s time, and that’s a hugely underrated figure, that equates to 25 years of unpaid designer labor.”

Jeff Fisher of Jeff Fisher LogoMotives: “The only thing worse than a potential client who does not value the efforts of a professional graphic designer is a designer who doesn’t appreciate the value of their own time and work.”

I know you can read the article for yourself (and I hope you do). But the reason I’m placing their quotes here is because of their tireless fight against spec work.

That’s right. Crusades may come and go, but the real heroes are those who fight the long fight.

So THANK YOU Steve, Jeff, Pamela, Terri and everyone else out there who continues to say NO to spec.

The Logo Factor: Why you should crowdsource your logo

If you’ve been keeping up with the comments on David Airey’s post, Forbes calls designers snooty, you couldn’t possibly have missed the excellent points made by Steve Douglas from The Logo Factory.

Steve has long been on top of the spec issue with significant posts such as Logo Design Contest Copycats, Why logo contests don’t work and Logo Design Contests. Fun and all.

During the Forbes conversation, Steve came out with Design is a “snooty” business: Forbes.

And now he’s gone one further with Why you should crowdsource your logo.

First-rate Steve. As usual.

Forbes Says Designers are Snooty

Two weeks ago, Christopher Steiner, a senior reporter with Forbes Magazine, sent me an email with FORBES MAGAZINE QUERY!!! in the subject line.

After a back and forth with Christopher, interviews were set up with top designers in the industry. Busy designers, who agreed to take time out of their workload to talk via phone with Christopher.

Designers such as…

The fabulous Debbie Millman of Sterling Brands, Design Matters (Voice of America), author of How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer and Essential Principles of Graphic Design, and board member of the National AIGA.

Also included was popular logo designer Jeff Fisher of Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, bLog-oMotives, author of The Savvy Designer’s Guide to Success and Identity Crisis!, as well as member of the HOW Magazine Editorial Advisory Board, UCDA Designer Magazine Editorial Advisory Board, and HOW Design Conference Advisory Council.

The first interviews were missed. The second missed too. With no explanation. No email of apology from Christopher.

The next thing we know, Christopher’s article ad is out with this charming blurb in bold…

Xxxx aims to slash the cost of graphic design work–and democratize a snooty business.

Way to go Forbes.

This is not a well researched, balanced article. It’s an ad for yet another bottom feeder in the design industry. That, and a testament to Christopher’s professionalism. And Forbes, well… what does it say about Forbes?

David Airey was the first to post opinions with Forbes calls designers snooty. Design Observer’s Observed section sported a blurb, as did SpeakUp’s Quipsologies. Swiss Miss then came in with Forbes calls designers snooty. Steph Doyle posted about the subject with Forbes Promotes Graphic Design Kitsch. Brian Yerks came out with one of his own. As did Steve from the LogoFactory, with Design is a “snooty” business: Forbes. Then Jeff Andrews posted Forbes Magazine: Graphic Design is a Snooty Business. The design forums are debating this subject as we speak.

UPDATE: Debbie Millman has now been asked by AIGA to ‘chair a task force in an effort to understand the various sentiments about this practice in both the design community and the broader creative community, and report back to the National Board our findings and potential recommendations at the National Board retreat in April, and to share these findings at the Leadership Retreat in June.’

If anyone would like to contact Deb about this matter, follow this link to AIGA’s discussion on spec.

This morning Terri Stone, editor in chief at CreativePro.com, requested an interview on the subject of working spec. Knowing Terri as I do, it’s sure to be a professional, well researched article.