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.

Positive Space: 99Designs Stoops to a New Low

Tony of Positive Space has a decent conversation going in his post: 99Designs Stoops to a New Low and Attempts Propaganda.

If you have been following Positive Space for a while, then you undoubtedly know that I have a problem with both spec work and 99designs (previously sitepoint contests). However most recently the minds behind sitepoint have stooped to a new low. I say this because the article Design Contests Made Me A Better Designer that was recently published is nothing more than a piece of propaganda literature.

It’s an interesting read so check it out when you have the time.

Pixish = Spec-ish?

Whoooh, busy time here at no-spec.com, what with the emails and hits rolling in on the subject of Derek Powazek’s new site, Pixish.

Like other posters, I hold Derek in high regard so his waffly stance – professing to be against spec yet promoting spec – was a confusing surprise.

Note: For those interested in the whole back and forth, the growing conversation can be found at pixish – Google Blog Search. And a rolling conversation in the comments can be found at MetaFilter – Pixish Tantamount to Spec Work?

But let’s start out with CatCubed – Pixish, web2.0 spec work.

What is Pixish you might ask? Well according to the site Pixish works as follows.

1. Create an Assignment. Ask for what you want.
2. Get Submissions. People create and submit their work.
3. Peer Review. Community voting helps find the best.
4. Pick Winners. Select your favorites and download.
5. Rewards! Winners get published and paid.

I.E., Pixish’s business model is to use Web2.0 to encourage spec work. You and a bunch of other artists do a bunch of work and maybe the client likes it and you get paid. Actually it’s worse than spec work as on Pixish, all you get is a fragging prize.

Then we’ll have BeckleyWorks with I Beg to Differ. Pixish is Work On Spec.

Derek has put up a response to what he calls one concern heard loud and clear, that Pixish promotes spec. His response simply doesn’t wash.

His definition of spec work is “where large companies take advantage of designers, getting work without paying.” Actually, spec work is defined as anyone asking designers to do work without paying for it. This includes startup web sites like Pixish. By trying to pawn it off on large companies, Derek seems to be trying to create a ‘them not us’ illusion, and it’s painfully transparent. It almost seems like Derek doesn’t really know what spec work is.

Then there’s Adam Howell dot org with The Pixish logo belongs next to’spec work’ on dictionary.com

…Derek and the folks at Pixish know this. They even added a response to it on their About page. Saying, basically, “if you don’t like the idea don’t participate and, pros like you are lucky, we’re giving talented amateurs a chance to make a name for themselves”. Oh, for crying in a bucket, here we go.

Oh! And this lovely one from Alex Jones – Spec Work, Pixish, Design Contests and Unicorns.

Some believe that this is a great opportunity for budding designers to build a portfolio, but as Adam notes, “We’ve got, you know, the web. Blogs. Youtube. digg/reddit/lots of other lowercase social sites. There are no longer just three ways to showcase your talent – there are three bajillion. And if you aren’t getting noticed, sorry, you either aren’t trying hard enough or you suck.”

Timmmmyboy comes into it with Pixish | Bringing down the value of creative design.

Pixish is a new site that recently launched by Derek Powazek that promotes the ability to bring artists and publishers together. The idea is that there are tons of budding creative artists on the web and why not bring them together and have them compete over your ideas for the ‘prize’ of having their work chosen in a bid.

This is straight up spec work and it’s something I (and many designers) have a big problem with, and it’s a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away.

No Commercial Potential chimes in with My Totally Reactionary, Ill-Thought-Out First Take on Pixish.

My original question when I first read about it was: “was letsallworkonspec.com already taken?”

Prizes? Designers and photographers who are worth the trouble do not want prizes. They want to get paid. I would maybe be very interested in submitting something for JoCo’s t-shirt, but you know what? I already have three iPods. And I already bought all his music. Even if I had a design the internet hordes loved, I would mostly win redundancy.

Adam Howell dot org follows up with A follow-up on Pixish.

Stock photo sites are one thing. Pixish is something completely different. And sorry but until I, and I’m sure several others, see otherwise, I won’t be convinced of anything else.

Update: Shortly after this post was published Derek announced he was taking down all the logo, header design and template assignments, many of which I had mentioned in this post, and would only be accepting pictures and illustrations on Pixish from now on.

So, what does that make Pixish now? A spec site for Photographers and Illustrators?

What do YOU think?

The Spec Trap: Sitepoint

The Spec Trap
by Terri Stone

Last week, Eric Adams wrote about his experiences using Sitepoint to solicit logo designs for a fledgling non-profit focused on suicide prevention. As I expected, there were some negative reactions from readers who are against work done on spec; that is, with no guarantee of pay.

I understand where these readers are coming from. Spec work may seem seductive when you’re having a slow month, but it’s important to understand its downsides. Even for people just starting out in design, spec work can be detrimental. Not only might you learn bad habits, but the clients you “win” will continue to expect you to work for little compensation after you’ve built up your portfolio. This same pitfall of diminished paycheck expectations applies to established designers, as well.

The drawbacks for clients may not be so obvious, but they do exist. The best resolutions of design challenges come from in-depth client-designer communication and research. Competition sites like Sitepoint don’t foster that approach.

Had I been in a similar situation, I would have looked for a designer whose work I respected and whose style meshed with the project’s creative brief. I then would have asked that designer if he or she would be willing to do the project pro bono. If the answer was no, I would have kept looking.

To take part in this spec/no-spec dialog, go to the voxbox.

Terri Stone, editor in chief
creativepro.com

Spec work, anyone?

Spec work can damage your business, by David Airey

If you’re a designer, and you receive a request for speculative work, write or call the issuer. There’s a chance they may not even realise this practice is unethical.

… Earlier this year, Shayne Tilley published an article on springwise.com, about ‘crowdsourcing’ in graphic design. The text revolves mainly around SitePoint, a website where people post requests for logo designs / t-shirt designs etc., but don’t pay any money until they receive a design they like, often from the lowest bidder.

It was interesting to read the discussion that followed in the article comments. A lot of designers seemed annoyed at the concept behind SitePoint. I’d be interested to know your opinion.

Thanks David. I’m also interested in reading the comments received.

CNET News.com | Can ‘Crowdsourcing’ be Slave Labor?

Can ‘Crowdsourcing’ be Slave Labor? by Mike Yamamoto

This is not to say that people should stop inventing things; that is, after all, the American way. We just think they should be compensated where appropriate–and not toil away simply for the honor of having participated in a project that some company trumpets with idealistic Web 2.0 rhetoric.

Join Mike and the rest of the conversation at CNET News.com News.blog TalkBack

(Thanks Matthew Scheben)