Call me, Text me!

Let's talk more about
your wedding.

Outsourcing design, spec work or work for free?



In recent years we’ve seen a shift in the way Stock Photography has been managed. Photography has gone from a very expensive, tightly managed, billion dollar industry down to what is now a $10 per picture business. With the help of iStockphoto and other other stock photo sites online, you can buy a royalty free license for between $5 – $10, a far cry from where we were just a few years ago.

Don’t look now, creative services is the next industry under attack. With the availability of Adobe Creative Suite we’ve turned everyone with a computer and access to a peer-to-peer file sharing server into a graphic designer. And anyone who can muddle their way through a Myspace web page design, now considers themselves a designer. And now this new crop of creative spark plugs have an outlet online and it’s called – crowdsourcing.

There are several websites popping up that give designers, whether good or bad, trained or not, skilled journeymen or doing their first project, the chance at doing real design work, the key word being chance. Customers post creative briefs directly to the community, which then competes to create a design that best fits the clients’ needs. A typical “assignment” will draw dozens of submissions. The winner receives a nominal fee (as little as $200), and the client receives a logo or website design at a fraction of what a professional agency might charge. The losers get zip. Computer Operators from around the world play Designer and submit their work in response to the posted creative brief – with hopes the client will like what they’ve done and they’ll be paid.

Truth is, nearly a hundred or more computer operators will participate and only one “winner” will be paid. This is something this industry has long frowned against called Spec Work.

aiga-logoThe AIGA and other industry leaders have come out to support the No Spec Work movement launching http://www.no-spec.com/, while computer operators all over the world get to play art director and designer with hopes of maybe being paid for their walk into the world of working creatives.

Is graphic design, both print and web, going the way of stock photography?

Several recent articles have been written on this topic, and I’ve collected them here. You owe it to yourself and the future of your career to read these posts and understand what is happening. Join the hundreds who post comments to each article online, get involved, or not. Something is going to come of this mess – who knows what.

Wired recently posted a follow up article on Crowdsourcing, referencing an earlier article included below:
Is Crowdsourcing Evil?

They reference their earlier story on the topic also interesting here:
Rise of the Crowd

Wired mentions its participation in a debate at the 2009 SXSW, Sunday March 15 featuring Wired Editor Jeff Howe, Designer David Carson, Mike Samson from Crowdspring and others. Hopefully we’ll find transcripts of this conversation soon.

Forbes writes a one sided story about Crowdspring.com and the sparks start flying.
Forbes reports on Crowdspring

AIGA responds to their position on spec work: http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/position-spec-work

picture-31Designers unite to create:

In response to all of this, Cheeses of Nazareth commissioned the $50 logo and post their accounts of the story are here:

1 Comment:
Chris Raymond says:

I offer an analogy for those who just don’t get what’s wrong with the 99designs/crowdspring model:

I just bought a house with 5 bedrooms. Previous owner had horrible taste and I need those 5 bedrooms repainted. So I call in 5 painters, who supply their own paint, and they repaint one room each.

I decide which one I like best and pay that painter. The other 4 get squat. Great for me, but sucks for the four who used their time and paint and got nothing. But hey, maybe they could win next time when I need my outside siding painted.

Having been educated as a sociologist, I see this phenomenon in perhaps a longer view. When more and more “clients” use these types of services, it will become a mindset that all design work should be contracted this way, and that design has very little real value.

Eventually, there will be a severe stratification of the field: a huge group of individual designers living on scraps, trying to win design contests. Then there will be a very small group of large firms that can ignore the mass market of clients and work for huge corporations who will pay for professional design services (and those corporations aren’t going to work with a solo designer, most likely). In other words, it will kind of replicate the huge wealth disparity that has progressed in the U.S. in the past 20-30 years.

Given the comments on the SXSW panel, I doubt the validity of one premise of the crowdsources/spec clients: that young designers are going to get experience via this avenue so they can get hired by a studio or agency. Because, what studio or agency would look positively on a portfolio full of submissions to logo contests?

Yes, this is here to stay. But please don’t insult people’s intelligence by casting this all in the light of benign free choice. Eventually, it won’t be free choice, because design will have become so devalued that doing spec work will become the de facto requirement for most designers. Or it will become a field for only those folks living in poor countries who can actually subsist on a few hundred dollars a month.

Top! Wedding Photographer Riverside, Corona, Chino Hills, Menifee, Temecula, Orange County CA © 2017 John W Photography Wedgewood Wedding Specialist
Social Links: