NO!SPEC Posters: Poster by Dagmar Jeffrey

Dagmar Jeffrey of Archetype Design Studio has contributed the striking poster below for our collection – Spec: The Real Monster Thanks Dag!

Spec: The Real Monster

Dag’s poster can be downloaded here.

As before, check out posters by Jerett Patterson, George Gruel, Chad Behnke, Jeff Andrews, Rob Gough and Von Glitschka.

The NO!SPEC posters are 300 dpi, CMYK and/or spot color, PDF printable on A4 and Letter.

If you are interested in contributing a poster design for usage in promoting NO!SPEC just contact us for the logo files. Note: It might take us a little while to get them up, but get them up we will.

99designs: Bullshit 2.0 | I’m a Proud Weenie! | Blowing Competitions Up, and Other Acts of Good Citizenship

Spec Conversation Roundup:

graphicPUSH: 99designs: Bullshit 2.0

Kevin: “99designs was started by designers for designers”. I am struggling to form the intensely negative, logic-dismantling superlatives I need to accurately convey the sheer depth of absolute bullshit this clump of words was pulled from. This is one of the most hollow and forced statement I have ever seen. It insults everything about the real-world graphic design industry and the hard-working professionals that make a living building long-term client relationships, crafting deep and varied portfolios, and routinely putting their blood, sweat and tears into their work.

Freelance Switch: Freelance Radio, Episode 12: I’m a Proud Weenie!

FS: This episod’s theme is spec work. We talk about our own opinions on the controversial issue, and also refer repeatedly to the No Spec project.

Design Altruism Project: Blowing Competitions Up, and Other Acts of Good Citizenship

David Stairs: From the last weeks of summer onward I am bombarded with e-mail urging me to involve students in ‘œreal world’ design situations. Without sounding too cynical about the practice, it seems to me that the outside solicitations of my students’ involvement are a means for organizations and/or corporations to garner spec work and public relations kudos under the guise of being good neighbors.

Separate conversations. Various takes. All worthwhile.

NO!SPEC Posters: Chad Behnke Poster Contribution

Before the holidays, Chad Behnke of Style Type Design requested NO!SPEC logo files for his school project. On receiving his design, I was quite pleased to add it to our poster downloads section. Thanks Chad!

If you have time, check out Chad’s portfolio at his quirky, smile inducing site.

No Respect poster download

Chad’s poster can be downloaded here.

While you are at it, check out posters by Jeff Andrews, Rob Gough and Von Glitschka.

The NO!SPEC posters are 300 dpi, CMYK and/or spot color, PDF printable on A4 and Letter.

If you are interested in contributing a poster design for usage in promoting NO!SPEC just contact us for the logo files.

I Wish I Had Written This

To those who are looking for someone to do work for free… please wake up and join the real world

Every day, there are more and more CL posts seeking “artists” for everything from auto graphics to comic books to corporate logo designs. More people are finding themselves in need of some form of illustrative service.

But what they’re NOT doing, unfortunately, is realizing how rare someone with these particular talents can be.

To those who are “seeking artists”, let me ask you; How many people do you know, personally, with the talent and skill to perform the services you need? A dozen? Five? One? …none?

More than likely, you don’t know any. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be posting on craigslist to find them.

And this is not really a surprise.

In this country, there are almost twice as many neurosurgeons as there are professional illustrators. There are eleven times as many certified mechanics. There are SEVENTY times as many people in the IT field.

So, given that they are less rare, and therefore less in demand, would it make sense to ask your mechanic to work on your car for free? Would you look him in the eye, with a straight face, and tell him that his compensation would be the ability to have his work shown to others as you drive down the street?

Would you offer a neurosurgeon the “opportunity” to add your name to his resume as payment for removing that pesky tumor? (Maybe you could offer him “a few bucks” for “materials”. What a deal!)

Would you be able to seriously even CONSIDER offering your web hosting service the chance to have people see their work, by viewing your website, as their payment for hosting you?

If you answered “yes” to ANY of the above, you’re obviously insane. If you answered “no”, then kudos to you for living in the real world.

But then tell me… why would you think it is okay to live out the same, delusional, ridiculous fantasy when seeking someone whose abilities are even less in supply than these folks?

Graphic artists, illustrators, painters, etc., are skilled tradesmen. As such, to consider them as, or deal with them as, anything less than professionals fully deserving of your respect is both insulting and a bad reflection on you as a sane, reasonable person. In short, it makes you look like a twit.

A few things you need to know;

1. It is not a “great opportunity” for an artist to have his work seen on your car/’zine/website/bedroom wall, etc. It IS a “great opportunity” for YOU to have their work there.

2. It is not clever to seek a “student” or “beginner” in an attempt to get work for free. It’s ignorant and insulting. They may be “students”, but that does not mean they don’t deserve to be paid for their hard work. You were a “student” once, too. Would you have taken that job at McDonalds with no pay, because you were learning essential job skills for the real world? Yes, your proposition it JUST as stupid.

3. The chance to have their name on something that is going to be seen by other people, whether it’s one or one million, is NOT a valid enticement. Neither is the right to add that work to their “portfolio”. They get to do those things ANYWAY, after being paid as they should. It’s not compensation. It’s their right, and it’s a given.

4. Stop thinking that you’re giving them some great chance to work. Once they skip over your silly ad, as they should, the next ad is usually for someone who lives in the real world, and as such, will pay them. There are far more jobs needing these skills than there are people who possess these skills.

5. Students DO need “experience”. But they do NOT need to get it by giving their work away. In fact, this does not even offer them the experience they need. Anyone who will not/can not pay them is obviously the type of person or business they should be ashamed to have on their resume anyway. Do you think professional contractors list the “experience” they got while nailing down a loose step at their grandmother’s house when they were seventeen?

If you your company or gig was worth listing as desired experience, it would be able to pay for the services it received. The only experience they will get doing free work for you is a lesson learned in what kinds of scrubs they should not lower themselves to deal with.

6. (This one is FOR the artists out there, please pay attention.) Some will ask you to “submit work for consideration”. They may even be posing as some sort of “contest”. These are almost always scams. They will take the work submitted by many artists seeking to win the “contest”, or be “chosen” for the gig, and find what they like most. They will then usually have someone who works for them, or someone who works incredibly cheap because they have no originality or talent of their own, reproduce that same work, or even just make slight modifications to it, and claim it as their own. You will NOT be paid, you will NOT win the contest. The only people who win, here, are the underhanded folks who run these ads. This is speculative, or “spec”, work. It’s risky at best, and a complete scam at worst. I urge you to avoid it, completely. For more information on this subject, please visit www.no-spec.com.

So to artists/designers/illustrators looking for work, do everyone a favor, ESPECIALLY yourselves, and avoid people who do not intend to pay you. Whether they are “spec” gigs, or just some guy who wants a free mural on his living room walls. They need you. You do NOT need them.

And for those who are looking for someone to do work for free… please wake up and join the real world. The only thing you’re accomplishing is to insult those with the skills you need. Get a clue.

DISCLAIMER: Apparently this well written post has been floating around on CraigsList. I first ran across it when Steph Doyle’s post I Wish I Had Written This came across my google alerts.

Steph got it from HOWmag forum where Cal posted before they could take it off CL (thanks Cal!).

The attempts to locate the author have failed. If you are the author, please contact us.

Edit: The author is Dave D’Esposito of ArtMonkey Studios, Inc.

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)

The SDGQ Denounces Speculative Work

La SDGQ nonce le travail specculatif

The article is in French. Below is the babelfish translation into English.

The Company of the graphic designers of Quebec (SDGQ) officially gave an opinion against speculative work, not remunerated. According to it, the companies should not need to see creative proposals to choose a studio; or they should, if necessary, remunerate them for carried out work.

The SDGQ rather recommends to the customers to select a designer according to its portfolio and its experiment. It recalls that it is always possible to interview various candidates to check their comprehension of the project.

(a big thanks goes to nomad2224, who sounded the alert)

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

Roger C Parker on NO!SPEC

Are you giving your designs away for free?

… tens of thousands of designers invest hundreds of thousands of hours each year in speculative work that either fails to create a client, or–worse–discourages the designer when their work is appropriated by others without any compensation whatsoever.

Do your fellow designers a favor by alerting them to the many valuable resources available at www.no-spec.com.

Thanks Roger!

Check out Roger’s informative posts at the Roger C. Parker Design to Sell Blog.

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.

Veerle says “Free of charge please!”

Reading through the NO!SPEC stats, I noticed Veerle comes out with a word or three.

The purpose of creative pitches are to give clients a better understanding of the creative capacity of the selected agencies. To me it is a lame excuse to not browse around in the portfolios and let someone else do the work for free. I wonder what goes on in the mind of the people who write that stuff down, do they expect the freebies in everything else also?

The comments as they are equally well written. Check out her article, Free of charge please! Then scroll down for more.