420 Design Blog on Design Contests

Design contests don’t bring the best of anything.

From Angie: Just under a week ago I received an email from an employee from what I presume is Lord & Taylor’s PR firm telling me (albeit not personally as it was clearly a mass email) all about Lord & Taylor’s contest and that I might be interested The terms go on and in fact, strip away any copyrights from not only the winning entrant, but ALL entrants:

From Lord & Taylor’s: All submissions of photos, artists’ entries and other materials and elements of this contest are the property of Lord & Taylor and its affiliates and will not be returned to the participants.

From Angie: If for some awful reason you enter the contest, the artwork doesn’t even belong to you anymore – even if you don’t win! This is WRONG. In a real world situation where a company has sought out a design firm, only the finished work is what the company ends up owning. The sketches and thrown out ideas are still the property of the designers. This is the way it should always be.

She has a good point there. And more. For the full story, go to Angie’s Design contests don’t bring the best of anything.

9 responses to “420 Design Blog on Design Contests”

  1. A package design blog called The Dieline has just launched a contest to rebrand and redesign a bottled water pack for a Norwegian national brand.


    The Dieline website says it was founded by Andrew Gibbs, a senior packaging designer in Southern California and its contirbutors include several senior professional designers and design educators, journalists and consultants. So you would think they would all know better, but it appears they’re either all ignorant or they’ve ditched any ethics they may have had.

    The contest’s text originally said…

    “So put your skills to work! Weather you are a working pro looking to add some variety, or a starving student looking for your big break, you may end up with a trip to Norway and a fabulous addition to your portfolio!”

    …but they have since changed the wording, possibly because I posted a comment saying what nonsense it was and included a link to the NO!SPEC website. My comment wasn’t published though.

    The contest also asks the entrants to be deceitful…

    “You will be rebranding and redesigning the 5 Liter Bag In Box concept, formerly known as Icebox. A new name is needed that conveys an environmental message.”

    …which won’t be an easy task since we all now know the damage that consuming packaged water has on the environment.

  2. Very sad. I used to admire Dieline.

    And I wonder if they realise the legal rules they’ll need to follow …

  3. A few months ago, the musician Butch Walker posted a contest on his MySpace bulletin for his “fans” to design his new band’s logo-gratis of course. if you won, you didn’t get paid, but had the pleasure of knowing that you designed the logo, without any compensation or credit of course. Oh yeah-all submissions were property of Butch Walker.

    When I commented back and called him (or whoever answers the mail) on this “contest”-I was told it was “for the kids” and I was treated like a scrooge. My comment was also deleted. While the comment was in place, different people who received this bulletin emailed me and told me how right I was and how wrong he was.

    The keyword here is “email”. They privately emailed me-they did not comment back in the public forum. What a bunch a wimps! They knew he was in the wrong, but would not publicly comment for fear that he would see it and not look favorably on his doting fans!

  4. Email just like a hard copy letter is your physical property. I expect you could post the text of your original comments with their response in various groups.

    Funny thing about the internet nothing ever goes away.

  5. I love how you all think you’re so high and mighty, contests are ruining our business, etc, yet you lower yourself to spamming in contests? http://99designs.com/contests/8018
    A lovely piece of spam advertising from a “professional” designer, haha it’s laughable.

    I think it’s a cute site (I have to say the design is outstanding, a design contest couldn’t possibly come up with something as good as this!), I got a laugh out of it (so thank you for that =]), but I can’t really see it getting you anywhere.

  6. SKBill, seems no-spec.com supporters are not the only ones NOT reading our protocol.


    And if you seriously think about it for just one minute, you’ll figure out that:

    1) Spamming contests sites are mostly a waste of time.
    2) There is not enough time in a day to spam all the cacca sites out there, so why bother.

    So no, we do not advocate spamming. Nor do we have the time or inclination.

    I’d rather spend my free time travelling, site seeing, shopping, etc. Oh, and of course, spending all this wonderful money we are making supporting the no-spec.com site.

  7. i’ve never liked the whole “if you enter our contest, then your design doesn’t belong to you anymore” type of crap. how in the blue hell does something that I design not “belong” to me anymore, when I know that it’s something that I designed, and it’s sitting on my computer’s harddrive, and I was paid to design it? that’s an EXTREMELY presumptious thing to say: “we appreciate your submission to our contest. your design submission no longer belongs to you, but to us. nya, nya, nya, nya frickin’ boo boo.”

  8. Check with a copyright or trademark attorney on this. The last time I heard, all contract or freelance art, designs, illustrations, etc. are the property of the artists/designer indefinitely, unless there is a signed written agreement by both parties that the artist relinquishes those rights (but I wouldn’t without a premium price). Otherwise the artist retains the copyrights to all art. If there is an update on the law here, I’m not sure, but worth checking out.

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