Design Contest

Looking for advice on how to put the word out that we are launching a T-Shirt Design contest for our company. Hoping the prize of the winning designers becoming partners with us in the success of their designs is an exciting opportunity. Most contest sites pay only a couple of hundred dollars. We are looking for these designers to benefit from each and every item sold with their design. Also hoping some will eventually come and work for the company.

aluminum's picture

Skilled professionals prefer to work for money. So, keep that in mind.

hrant's picture

But the best ones don't deny the value of risk-taking.

hhp

JamesM's picture

David, "design contests", also known as asking designers to work on a speculation basis or "on spec", are controversial. I won't go into the whole thing as we've discussed it here before, but most of your submissions will come from amateurs and students. A pro making a good living is unlikely to do design work for free, unless perhaps it's for charity or there's a huge potential payoff.

A vague promise of profits someday or a potential job generally don't mean much. If you really want to hire someone, do it the regular way and post an ad, interview people, review their portfolios, and hire someone. Or if money is tight, hire freelancers to do individual jobs.

hrant's picture

Controversial is a good way to put it. What I personally don't like hearing is blind, blanket condemnation (even though most such cases do deserve derision). The reason the anti-spec crusade ticks me off is it's mostly coming from the financial interests of large design studios (and people aspiring to that, often via wishful thinking); they want to keep all the money -not to mention the affordable labor- to themselves.

And it's never only about money. Otherwise we'd all be prostitutes.

hhp

dezcom's picture

" it's mostly coming from the financial interests of large design studios"

Not true, it is mostly coming from one-person shops who have been royally screwed.

hrant's picture

No, because the one-person studio would never had gotten the commission.

Sort of like how most cases of font piracy don't really cost a foundry anything, simply because the pirate wouldn't have bought the font if he couldn't get it for free.

Instead of going fascist at something that's an inescapable part of human competitiveness we should help organizations refine how they handle these things.

hhp

Rob O. Font's picture

>...we should help organizations refine how they handle these things.

Man, when you were through with the TDC, them bastards knew damn well not to undercharge on the entry fee by $8 — ever ag'in. I doubt they will forget your golden input.

hrant's picture

So emotional.

Organizations certainly don't listen to individuals, but sometimes enough individuals complaining about the same thing does make a difference. For example I think the army of people complaining about Helvetica Ultra Anorexic probably did help Apple go two weights darker in the third beta of iOS7. But it would probably take more humans than there are on this planet to get them to dump Helvetica entirely.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

While individual designers and studios have advocated against spec work (e.g. the recent Hische flow chart), the biggest impetus has come from professional organizations, e.g. the AIGA (USA) and RGD (Ontario, Canada).

Nick Shinn, R.G.D.

Rob O. Font's picture

Hrant, I doubt Apple will ever forget your golden input on their designs, either. It's been stunning and I can't help but get all choked up to see how helpful you've become to companies, and other organizations you detest so thoroughly.

dezcom's picture

"...No, because the one-person studio would never had gotten the commission."

That is exactly why they are pissed off.

Hrant, I don't know what you base your opinion on. I have been in the design business for over 50 years and what you are saying makes no sense. The big fish design offices compete with each other, not with the struggling one-person shops. Big design offices don't bother with spec work, they don't want it or need it. The Sharks, potential clients who try to lure those starving individuals from the masses to work for free, never approach the big guys. Sharks bounce around from one freebate freelancer to the next as soon as they ask to be paid.

hrant's picture

David, if the way you "communicate" is called Berlowese, what should we call the way you "listen" to what people are actually saying, in plain language? BTW, I only detest certain individuals, and extremely few; corporations don't deserve such emotions.

Chris, it's pretty simple: the biggest losers from spec work aren't the young, up-and-coming designers whose time isn't so valuable yet anyway - it's the big, tight-ship, over-charging studios (that as a rule produce culturally lethargic work). And they don't just lose money by losing given commissions - every time a beginner wins a spec commission (which means he has more talent than average), what it would cost for a studio to hire him goes up too.

It's not that I want designers to be taken advantage of - quite the contrary! I simply believe that a berserker crusade against any and all spec work does most of us harm, especially culturally: no matter what your vocation, if you're only interested in money, I don't feel the world really needs you. Plus it really makes no sense to neuter natural human competitiveness - we have to properly leverage it instead.

Don't believe the hype - think for yourself and don't be a tool for the holy cows of the design world.

hhp

Rob O. Font's picture

Hrant>Organizations certainly don't listen to individuals

I know your posts dont count, but write right. Of course organizations listen to individuals! Organizations certainly don't do what each of those individuals say. They are, after all, organizations. Are you?

Chris >Hrant, I don't know what you base your opinion on.

It's programmed: mole_hill + audience x speculation/1 = bs mountain, from which to cockadoodledoo. An Apple Beta here, a 9 px screen font there, an $8 contest undercharge, an all wet t-shirt contest, a tiny barking spider, don't matter.

When this happens don't disagree, or think for yourself. You must help to build the mt. :)

hrant's picture

You are unkind.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

…a berserker crusade against any and all spec work does most of us harm

It’s not a berserker crusade.
“Most of us” would I think agree with the measured approach of education and advocacy pursued by our professional organizations.
For those who haven't followed the links I provided above, this from the RGD:

Spec work and crowdsourcing are universally condemned by responsible design organizations around the world, including RGD, Icograda, Graphic Artists Guild and AIGA, as being an unethical business practice that is harmful to designers and clients alike.

But perhaps this T-shirt competition is more like FontShop asking for type designers to submit type designs, which the company will then pick the best of, publish, and return royalties? In that case, it would be acceptable professionally; for instance, it’s considered OK for agencies to pitch accounts on spec, because the potential reward is a revenue stream.

hrant's picture

A measured approach is exactly what I'm advocating, exactly what you're wisely engaging in, but exactly what the professional organizations are not engaging in.

The big studios -who control the professional organizations- are certainly not berserk; they know exactly what they're doing. But they are managing to drive some of their minions berserk.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

The big studios (not quite sure how that is defined) do not control the professional organizations, the members do.
In the RGD, we vote on issues at the AGM.
We elect our board of directors from a cross-section of the industry:
http://www.rgdontario.com/about/board-of-directors.php

JamesM's picture

> harmful to designers and clients alike

Yes, that's something that's not often talked about, but while the client may save some money in the short term, it's often a bad decision long term.

The first step in a design project, especially identity projects, generally should be research. But with most spec projects the design work is being done by someone who knows little about their company, products and services, history, competitors, future plans, etc.

And some of this information — especially future plans — is not available via Google; you've got to actually talk to management. Without this info you're basically providing top-of your-head, generic ideas that may not serve them well long-term.

hrant's picture

This is exactly the sort of advice organizations considering a spec commission need, instead of a scarlet letter.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

A related issue that professional bodies are now addressing is unpaid internships.

hrant's picture

Also something that's not necessarily Evil.

hhp

aluminum's picture

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

Also something that's not necessarily Evil.

JamesM's picture

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an intern must be paid minimum wage (or more) unless the following criteria are met:

1. The internship ... is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
3. The intern does not displace regular employees...;
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.pdf

One of the most valuable experiences of my career was an internship (paid) in the design department of a corporation. Although I did useful work for them, the department manager viewed it as an education experience for me and would have me attend meetings, visit suppliers, etc even though I served no useful purpose at those, it was just so I could observe and learn.

But over the years at other places I've also seen interns given tasks like buying donuts, running errands, getting the manager's car washed, etc. Zero educational value.

John Hudson's picture

Hrant, are you an active member of any graphic design organisations? Or are you, indeed, actively involved in the graphic design business at all? I ask, not to be unkind, but simply because you don't seem to show much understanding of how that business and its professional organisations operate. The sheer number of freelancers in the graphic design field make the notion that 'large design studios' -- who? -- control the professional associations unrealistic.

As Nick -- someone who is active in graphic design organisations -- points out, there are ways to organise competitions that are acceptable within the professional practice policies of these organisations. Personally, if I were interested in holding a design competition, especially as part of a product development process, I would contact AIGA or Icograda or one of the other large design organisations and ask them to help me shape it in a way that they would endorse, and which would then make the competition attractive to their members.

John Hudson's picture

Regarding internships, the regulations in Canada recently changed, although this is mainly a matter of labeling, i.e. when you can use the word internship and when you must use the word practicum. As I recall: internships must be paid; practicums can be unpaid, but the participant must be a registered student.

Nick Shinn's picture

The regulations vary from province to province, but in general the minimum wage regulation applies, unless the internship is a requirement of an educational course.

hrant's picture

John (and Nick) all I'm hearing -at least in public- is "we don't negotiate with terrorists", "spec is pure evil", that sort of fascist posturing. I haven't witnessed anything that indicates the professional organizations are open to compromise on this, open to accommodating human nature. Are they secretly more pragmatic in private? Maybe. But either one of those being the case would be very good reason for me not to be a member.

BTW did you notice what happened to the Canberra competition?

hhp

aluminum's picture

terrorists... pure evil... fascist posturing...

That's some grade-A hyperbole there! Yum!

Nick Shinn's picture

Hrant, have you actually read what the AIGA and RGD web sites have to say, publically? (See my links above.)
They are cognizant of the grey areas involved, e.g. the AIGA:

What is spec work?
AIGA acknowledges that speculative work—work done prior to engagement with a client in anticipation of being paid—occurs among clients and designers. Yet not all unpaid design work is considered “spec work.” In fact, unpaid work may take a number of forms:

Speculative or “spec” work: work done for free, in hopes of getting paid for it
Competitions: work done in the hopes of winning a prize—in whatever form that might take
Volunteer work: work done as a favor or for the experience, without the expectation of being paid
Internships: a form of volunteer work that involves educational gain
Pro bono work: volunteer work done “for the public good”
Not all of the above are considered speculative work, and in fact many designers choose to do unpaid work for a variety of reasons. Students and professionals may draw different lines on what constitute unacceptable practices. In each case, however, the designer and client make the decision and must accept the associated risks.

Fascist posturing?

hrant's picture

I'm sorry if I was unfairly harsh.

But I still feel they're creating an unwarranted atmosphere of guilt for the gain of the large studios.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

From Hrant’s link: In relation to the example of the artist, he doesn’t create art purely to make money, that’s merely a beneficial side-effect. He does it because he’s passionate about art and enjoys what he does. The same should apply to design.

This is a bogus argument that’s used to keep weirdo artists in their place, impoverished, on the margins of society.

It’s also very Freudian, locating work as an unpleasant aspect of the Performance Principle which drives the capitalist economy.

But why shouldn’t everybody enjoy their work, not just artists? That certainly seems to be the direction the economy is headed, with nobody getting paid for content creation, on the theory that if they enjoy it, no remuneration required—but what I really meant with my egalitarian argument is that everybody should enjoy their work and get paid for it!

(Except of course when they volunteer, in those exceptions I quoted above, from the AIGA, and one would hope they enjoy such contributions.)

JamesM's picture

The GDB author seems to lump designers and artists together, which is wrong. While there are some areas of overlap, they are very different occupations.

There is a whole list of differences, but one of the main ones is that the artist is primarily concerned with self expression, while a graphic designer is focused on communicating a message on behalf of a client.

hrant's picture

There's bogosity on both sides. Only peons and politicians pretend otherwise.

hhp

JamesM's picture

Never heard that word before, but I like it.

Chris Dean's picture

“The artistic approach follows the fine arts model, where visual elements are employed to express the personal values values and feelings of the designer. This attitude encourages developing an individual style as a kind of signature to distinguish the work and embraces the idea of working by intuition. The act of making the form is valorized above all else, and the view is promoted as the designer as an artist struggling against society by making personal statements through visual artifacts (Ehses, H., 2008, pp 2).”

————

Ehses, H. (2008). Design papers 6: Design on a rhetorical footing. NSCAD University, Canada.

Nick Shinn's picture

Artists aren’t in it for the money.
Other-side bogosity: that the wealthy are heartless sociopaths—

5star's picture

Here's my virtual comment on the matter...

Artists live forever more...

Syndicate content Syndicate content