Did I mess up big time?


I checked out the NoSpec site and have a quick question on mockups and I would really appreciate it if you could give me some advice. Here’s the scenario. I just got off the phone with a potential client who’s looking for someone to design his logo. This happened a couple of hours before I checked your site. Oops.

He can’t draw so he just needs someone to draw a design based on a rough image he sent me and after he gets the sketch he’ll finish the rest himself on Photoshop. Now, he happened to mention that he’s getting designs and quotes from other illustrators and he’s going to check out everyone’s mockups and choose from there.

So now the question is, did I mess up big time? If so, what do you suggest I do about it? He’s also expressed some interest in buying some of my more expensive art later on, which if he does, will be much more expensive than this logo so I’d like to fix this without ruining the potential business relationship in the long term.

Please let me know what you think. I’d appreciate any advice you can offer.

Hungry Artist

4 responses to “Did I mess up big time?”

  1. Dear Hungy Artist,

    First off, a warm welcome to the NO!SPEC crusade.

    Did you mess up? Not yet. Especially you’ve already sussed out that he’s asking for spec. My advice? Take this opportunity to educate him, as well as yourself on spec by cruising around the site.

    I know taking that job may seem tempting to you, but think about it, what if your idea is close to another artist’s and he pays them but not you? Are you going to believe the designs were similar, and that the other designer was that bit better? Or are you going to feel you just got ripped off?

    And remember, it’s not all about the money, it’s also the pride … please read what Debbie Millman just had to say about this on her blog, Debbie Millman.

    “Speculative work denigrates both the agencies and the designers that participate. If we give away our work for free, if we give away our talent and our expertise, we give away more than the work. We give away our hearts for free, and we give away our souls.”

    And if he still doesn’t get it, tell him that you have a logo project but do not know photoshop. And that you are going to ask ten designers to created it in photoshop and you’ll pick the best one.

    As for his comments about buying your art, maybe he’s honest, maybe not. But in our business this is called dangling a carrot. Whenever someone wants something for free, out comes that drat carrot. Spec and carrots do seem to go hand in hand. “If you do this for me THIS time, I’ll send more work your way”.

    Good luck and let us know how it worked out.



  2. It sounds like this “client” is looking for a production person, not an artist or designer. Usually, they’re looking for someone with the computer skills, because they don’t possess them, so this is a bit of a turnaround. But if he’s already figured out what he wants, and is going to finish it, it seems silly that he’s even bothering to look for someone to draw it.

    The other issue is his intent to use Photoshop to “finish it up”. You don’t design logos in Photoshop. Logos have to be used in a zillion different ways, and need to be easily resizeable, which is why they should be done as vector art. It sounds like this guy doesn’t know any of this – to me, that’s the mark of someone who’s not serious about their identity system or hiring anyone to do it.

    As Cat pointed out, this is a classic spec scenario, even if it was unintentional. The soliciting of work from multiple sources without offering any initial compensation, the selection of the “best” of it, and the carrot of possible future work. If this person had contacted me, I would politely tell them that 1) I do not work on spec, and this request is spec (and explain why), and 2) that this is not an effective business strategy.

    Definitely let us know what happens.

  3. I have to agree with all the comments so far. Commenting that he might buy some of your art is a BIG RED to me. I have had so many potential clients tell me that. No projects ever materialized from those contacts.

    Good Luck!

  4. Interesting, I once owned and ran Corporation for many years. Never once did I ask anyone out side the company to come up wih a logo or and idea. See ideas come within its boundries of the work place. If you can’t see past your nose then its time to look in the mirror again, fine it before somebody eles see’s it up the boss’s arce.

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