Spec or No Spec

Suggested Reading: The Chaos Scenario by Bob Garfeild

That is the question.

What is Spec? Spec work is a comprehensive term for work done prior to engagement with a client in anticipation of being paid. Now this is not considered volunteer work, volunteer work is different. This usually invloves the possibility of being paid, but doesn’t guarantee it.

An example.

It is known as Crowdspring.com, an online graphic design website for aspiring designers to make a design for those seeking a design (yes I used the word ‘design’ excessively in that sentence). It works very simply. As a designer you search for a project on Crowdspring.com, read a creative brief written by the design seeker (and the price they’re willing to pay for the design), choose what you want to design for and make several designs for submission. The Design seeker goes through a pool of projects including your design and chooses their preferred design from the pool, which may or may not be yours.

It’s becoming a popular phenomenon. Some say it’s good for the design community. Design seekers are able to get affordable work done and aspiring freelance designers are able to build portfolios. Collective innovation at its finest.

Perhaps not….

The fear of this kind of  work is that professionals who go through a lot of time and effort lose business. The design process is trampled upon and the important aspects of design, such as revision, client designer relationships, and research go down the drain. Another issue is design seekers get generic designs. No name designers have access to all the same resources as other no name designers and make similar items. I encourage you to look on Crowdspring’s website, some designs look the same, some are okay, and some are just outright BAD!  Besides there is no guarantee you’d get paid for your design and hard work. For better explanation and continued reading Click Here.

The AIGA, the big daddy of all design groups for those of you who don’t know, doesn’t support spec. A Designer’s time is worth money, and they should get what is due for their efforts, be given appropriate time to make revisions and communicate with clients, and be able to build design together with the client. No matter what. Their mission statement says:

“AIGA believes that professional designers should be compensated fairly for their work and should negotiate the ownership or use rights of their intellectual and creative property through an engagement with clients. To that end, AIGA strongly encourages designers to enter into client projects with full engagement to show the value of their creative endeavor, and to be aware of all potential risks before entering into speculative work.”

I’ll level with you: I don’t go to school paying $30,000 a year to be undermined by a bunch of chumps. My job as a designer isn’t just to make you a logo, I want to help you build identity as well as build a relationship with you. Part of me feels as if resources like Crowdspring (if I could even call them that) take away the biggest and best part of design: the humanity. You take that away, and you take away the meaning of design. Only good communication begets good communication, and what better communication is there than face to face? My suggestion is if you want just a logo, you may want to rethink your conviction to your business. If you don’t want to be compensated for your designs, then it’s not your occupation…it’s your hobby. Let’s call design what it is: Work that Communicates.

What’s your position?

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