Logo Design Love: SpecWatch on Design Contests

Do you twitter?

If you don’t have a twitter account, then you are missing out on the latest spec happening in the design industry.

Logo Design Love: It’s interesting to see the recent appearance of Spec Watch, a venture that educates about the very real risks of design contest websites and their so-called ‘communities’.

Spec Watch has been cataloging unpaid and refunded projects, and those terminated due to copyright violation.

Right now Spec Watch is mainly targeting the design contests at Crowdspring and 99designs, but who knows how their campaign will evolve.

To see what all the fuss is about, follow Spec Watch (SpecWatch) on Twitter.

(Thanks David!)

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.

From the Logo Factor: Are Logo Design Contest Sites Even Legal?

Steve’s written a thought-provoking article at the Logo Factor Design Blog: Are Logo Design Contest Sites Even Legal?

Steve: I’m of the opinion that logo design contests, not the cute effort where the local church asks the kiddies to design some artwork for the Sunday picnic, but these logo design contest sites popping up everywhere on the web, are skirting very close to the law, if not breaking it altogether.

Here’s toasting to the prediction of more than one logo contest site will start a mad scramble for legal council. It’s a long post so sit back with a cuppa and enjoy.

Once again, a nice one Steve.

Newsletter Design Awards

We are always on the lookout for ethical design competitions and awards programs to share. This week, Roger C. Parker of Design to Sell contacted us about the Newsletter Design Awards at Newsletter on Newsletters. In the business for over 35 years, Newsletter on Newsletters has been cited as the “the quintessential newsletter for newsletter publishers.”

The 2007 Awards recognises the best in newsletter editorial, design and marketing. Amongst others, awards will be given for the best edited, the best designed and the best marketed newsletters.

Download their pdf entry form here. If you are curious, you can even check out their past award winners.

Island Def Jam Music Group, getting a good deal

Watch Out for the Fall Out By Robert Wurth of Freshly Squeezed Design.

The Island Def Jam Music Group (under the sponsorship of The Universal Music Group) is holding a contest for the design of ‘pre-order’ artwork for the impending iTunes release of a new Fall Out Boys album.

… they get a pretty good deal. They don’t have to shell out any prizes whatsoever, and they get free design work from anyone willing to spend time designing for free. Not only that, but according to the specifications of their rules, they retain the right to financial exploit ALL entries, including non-winning entries, as much as they want.

Thanks Robert

Speak Up and New York’s High Priority

A personal opinion

Fueled by passion for the design industry, a group of designers started the NO!SPEC campaign.

Been there, done that, it was our aim to educate young designers about the dangers of working on spec.

We wanted to help designers avoid getting ripped off in spec situations. We wanted to educate about working with contracts. We wanted to help them avoid spec jobs where they submitted work without a contract, only to discover later on that someone else rebuilt their designs at a lower cost.

We wanted to point out that creating new work for a design contest, where they signed away all rights to their work, was not exactly a smart business move.

We also wanted to educate clients on the damages of spec. We wanted to explain the differences between working closely with a designer and a detailed design brief, compared to picking one of the many pretty pictures they’d get from a design contest.

Straightforward, yes? I wish.

It’s a given that designers come from a wide range of educational backgrounds, financial needs, work and life philosophies, with opinions attached to the same. Taking that into account, among all the ‘here’, ‘there’ and ‘everywhere’, I’m seeing two strong camps emerging.

One I’ll call the ‘for the good of the industry’ types. They are designers who feel working on spec is harmful to the industry. For the good of the industry, they’ve decided to avoid contests where new work is a condition of the entry. Some call them ‘open contests’, I call them ‘grey’ because they are not always cut and dried (as in black and white, good vrs bad, etc). In theory, design orgs are mostly (but not always) in the ‘for the good of the industry’ category.

The other type I’ll dub ‘for the good of the individual’. They are also designers who are against working on spec. Unlike the ‘for the good of the industry’ types, they don’t see where open/grey competitions harm the design industry. You could say that throwing the baby out with the bathwater makes no sense to them.

Both camps above are seasoned designers, both have a deep love for the industry.

In and around there are those who feel their time is too valuable to waste on working on the speculation of getting a return, compared to those who see the time spent on open contests / grey competitions as a way to market their skills. Then there are those who use the competitions for design practice, and others who see it as all in good fun. Further in there are those who don’t know the difference between a spec contest or a design industry contest, a spec job offer or a real job offer, or even free pitching, open source, or working pro bono.

Then we have the buyers of design and contest organisers who often see contests as a solution to free design, as well as free publicity. They look at it as a win win.

All in all, it’s a no brainer that working on spec, or not, is a personal decision. The same goes with joining in on design competitions, open, grey, whatever.

Knowing this doesn’t mean I don’t jump up and down in frustration when a dark grey issue comes up, but that’s just me. I have strong opinions about the harm some so called ‘contests’ are doing to the industry. Just take a look around the internet and you’ll see design contests everywhere. Need a logo for your company? Have a contest. What about a free website design? Contest. Want free publicity for your company? Need to drive traffic to your site/blog? Have a contest, any contest. Sometimes a controversial contest is a ‘winner’.

I just have to ask, can’t people come up with anything more original than “Oh, let’s have a contest”? But truthfully, if I didn’t have strong opinions on the subject, I most likely wouldn’t feel driven to devote large chunks of unpaid time to the issues. Yeah, I’m working on the ‘speculation’ that it makes a difference.

To me, what’s equally important is the designer knowing what they are getting into. Many designers feel they’ve been burned by spec, usually caused by the lack of knowing what spec is and isn’t, and the lack of putting contracts in place. The client’s lack of education also comes into it. Like I said, that’s the reason we created the NO!SPEC campaign, to give designers a place where they could learn about spec, and where they can make their own decisions. The NO!SPEC site was also created to give seasoned designers a place where they could contribute ideas and opinions, argue about the finer points (grey/open), and in turn share the same with others.

Getting to the lovely debate on Speak Up and New York’s High Priority

– Winning illustration published in New York.

– Winner will be paid New York’s usual fee of $500.

– All other entries will be displayed on Speak Up, and New York will include a mention of the contest gallery in the magazine.

– All entrants retain property of their work. Winning entry will grant New York reproduction rights on the magazine as well as other promotional materials per New York’s usual agreements.

Yeah, it’s one of those situations where the ‘for the good of the industry’ types depart in opinion from the ‘for the good of the individual’ types.

Looking at it from the ‘for the good of the industry’ angle: One has to wonder what message this contest is sending to clients and designers. It’s difficult enough as it is to educate clients about spec without a leading design blog backing a contest calling for newly created work. New designers will be equally confused.

Looking at it from the ‘for the good of the individual’ angle: Forget the laughable US$500. It’s not about the money. It’s about the possibility of getting published in New York. Not only that, but as all entries will be displayed on Speak Up, they are not the dreaded ‘throw away designs’ usually generated for open/grey contests. Another plus, the designers keep the rights to their work.

Like I said, it’s a no brainer that each decision comes down to personal opinion, so I’ll give mine. Would I enter this competition? No. Even though I don’t see this as a totally awful competition (there’s that ‘C’ word again), I lean towards the ‘for the good of the industry’ stance. Also, bathwater or no, it comes down to the fact that my time is better spent on projects with a higher return (make of that what you will). But then, that’s just me. You have to make up your own mind.

Quoting from Darrel’s comment:

We’re graphic designers.
We’re corporate whores.
We all hate spec work.
Except when the whore is really really good looking.

So true, so true …

Catherine (cat) Wentworth
Project Manager:
Creative Latitude
NO!SPEC

Update:If you are interested in seeing the entries for the High Priority Contest, head on over to Speak Up as they’ve just been posted.

TexasDesign.com: Fossil Holds Design Contest

TexasDesign.com reviews the Fossil design contest – “Great exposure or simply spec work?”

  • With the case of the Fossil contest you lose all rights to your designs when you enter the contest.
  • Submissions will not be returned. Submissions become the property of Sponsor upon submission.
  • Additionally, Fossil may use any of the entries in future promotions.

Quoting Jeff Fisher of Fossil Holds Design Contest- Great Exposure or Simply Spec Work?

To decide for yourself, go to Design Fossil’s Design Your Own Tin Contest

So, what say you?

Boxes and Arrows – Getting there

Are We There Yet? – Boxes and Arrows: The design behind the design

Back when we decided B&A needed an overhaul, we held a contest for a new design of Boxes and Arrows. Boy, was that a mistake.

Although the designs were “terrific, beautiful, clear, and innovative” not one was what we needed.

… for a design to be successful, the designers need to work hand-in-hand with the client so they understand the client’s vision, and so the client understands the choices made by the designer. Collaborative iteration is the secret to getting to the right design solution.

It’s embarrassing that we tripped up this way … We should have realized a contest was the very opposite of good collaboration.

To read the rest, go to: Are We There Yet? – Boxes and Arrows: The design behind the design

Via: Design View : Andy Rutledge

Creativity Awards Closes Book on Cover “Contest”

Creativity Awards closes book on cover “contest” by Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

I’ve always been a huge fan of the design competitions conducted by David E. Carter, resulting in books such as the American Corporate Identity, The Big Book of Logos, and Creativity series.

Last Thursday, I was somewhat stunned when opening an email with the subject line “Design the Creativity Cover” to find that a “contest” was being conducted to select the cover of the upcoming Creativity 36 volume. The email had the headline “Be the first on your block to design Creativity’s cover.”

For me, the distinction between “design competition” and such “contests” is very simple. “Competitions” are conducted to evaluate and select graphic work already completed by a designer. Most so-called “contests” are requests for the creation of new work for possible review and selection – and that is “spec,” or speculative, work. No designer should be asked to work for free as a condition for the chance of being selected as the “winner” or possibly being hired for future work.

Today I was surprised to receive an email from Tim Moran, the Director of Marketing for the Creativity Annual Awards. The subject line read “Creativity Cancels Cover Contest.”

Visit Jeff’s blog for the rest of Creativity Awards closes book on cover “contest”

Mark Boulton on NO!SPEC

Wikipedia and Bowing to the Brand

Wikipedia are having a design competition.

Whilst it doesn’t come as a complete shock that a site which offers free content is after free work, I’m still reeling from the opportunity that this presents to some designers, and recoiling from the effect this type of project has on the industry.

A while ago, I did some work for a Music TeleVision network. I’ve also done some work for some other pretty big brands in my time as a designer. The one thing that is pretty much constant with all of these big brands is an element of brand worship. You are expected to, as a supplier, bend over backwards in order to pander to their needs (because they’re big, right? And you need them much more than they need you). Now, a lot of you would say that’s the way we should all be for our clients right? Well, yes and no. For me, it comes down to respect.

To read further, go to Wikipedia and Bowing to the Brand