Aquent, 99Designs and the Design Industry

Mark Rushworth just contacted us about a post he’s written, Aquent Vs the Design Industry.

Seems Aquent thought it was a good idea to post a contest at 99Designs. Hmmm…

How could a company such as Aquent (connected to the AIGA), be so out of touch with the design industry? If they didn’t want to take on board what AIGA had to say (and seems they didn’t), then all they had to do was google 99Designs and read a few of the opinions out there from established designers. Right?

Please check it out as it is interesting reading…

Qbn: aquent site redesign-spec work
Aquents blog: Design Contests: Betrayal of Everything We Stand For?
Aquents Facebook: Redesign Aquent’s Homepage

From Aquent: First of all, I view this as an experiment. What can we get if we take this approach? We could get a bunch of junk, which would reinforce the idea that you can’t get good design this way. Maybe we’ll get something good. Maybe someone who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to show their stuff will get noticed. Who knows?

Well, I guess they know now.

10 thoughts on “Aquent, 99Designs and the Design Industry”

  1. Thanks again for contacting us Mark. It was certainly an interesting read (I just now finished reading the comments at Qbn).

  2. 99designs.com totes banned me for posting a link to no-spec on all their contests. A couple people accused me of ruining their fun, even after I explained that if a contest holder offers $500 for a logo and 50 people put ten hours in, that’s less than $1 per hour paid for the design. *sigh*

    Not so mad at Aquent as I am at the existence of a site like this at all.

  3. Why am I not surprised at this? For some years, I’d take time to update my resume, etc. at Aquent, but after awhile there didn’t seem to be any point to it, as they never called, never returned calls reminding them of my availability, and never emailed except to send me spam for seminars in — of all things — “email marketing”.

    Haven’t been in touch with them in years, and don’t see any point in bothering with them anymore.

    Sad thing is, the temp shops here in DC actually used to be pretty good at staying in touch with their people and actually keeping them fairly busy.

    Btw — and forgive me if this is old news — but at least here in DC, GeniusRocket is all over Craigslist like a goddamn’ _rash_.

  4. I am totally upset by Aquent choosing to use 99designs, even as an experiment. Either way you look at it, they are giving business to the company and encouraging designers to take part. The only effective way to stop 99designs and similar site is to not use them no matter what.

    Does this surprise me? no not really… I used to receive updates from Aquent and similar services located here in Chicago but have since learned to just ignore 99% of what they send. It is very obvious that a lot of these companies have no interest in the designers themselves.

    I mean take for example that I got an email listing the other day that wanted a designer to work on location with their own computer, and for 15-25 dollars an hour. This was a freelance position that would take over 3 months at only 20 hours a week and was in the middle of nowhere which would require at least an hours drive for any designer living in Chicago. The job would have entailed a new website, logo, identity, brochure, and other various tasks.

    If you do the math that is between 3,600 and 6,000 dollars with some pretty extremely headaches like on site working. If I was a full time freelancer this would definitely not even come close to being a feasible job, not if I wanted to stay in business.

    These types of low paying / no frills jobs seem to be the norm amongst these services lately, so I can see why they wouldn’t think 99designs was all that bad. I am glad they at least added an apology and took down the contest, I actually liked some of the things Matthew has written on their blog in the past.

    (NOTE: The job I am referring to did not come from Aquent, but it is very similar to what they have sent me in the past as well.)

  5. The price of creative work is largely a function of reputation. Crowd sourcing provides a market-based mechanism that lets newcomers establish this reputation on merit. They can then later charge higher fees if warranted.

    Crowd sourcing is just another result of the intersection of globalization and technology. It’s here to stay. Get used to it. All arguments that crowd sourcing somehow “undermines” the industry show a lack of understanding of economics. In this case, AIGA is acting just like the RIAA .

  6. Val,
    With phrases like “get used to it”, you dismiss any rational discussion. I disagree that we should roll over an just “get used to it” — if you value your work, then insist that others do as well. Even if you’re just beginning your career — perhaps even more so!

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