Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Craigslist: Free Design Work

I was looking through Craigslist the other day for some potential clients. I came across a post from an unknown designer expressing his feelings about how the general public views designers/creative services, NOT BEING OF VALUE. Employers promising fame and fortune in return for free designs, which you sign all your rights away to.

This person is dead on. I totally agree with him/her. I'm posting it here to help educuate designers, employers, potential clients and the general public. I encourage you to repost this on your blog and websites.

I know it's a little long but well worth the read. The original post from Craigslist have been deleted, no surprise.

Since reposting it on the HOW Design Forum. It's gotten a great response of support from Designers. Many Designers reposting it on their blogs.

NO!SPEC: I Wish I Had Written This
Designers Who Blog: NO!SPEC Looking For Craigslist Author
Adventures In Blogging: Free Graphic Design
Delineate: I Wish I Had Written This
Position Relative: Craig’s Pissed
A Little Hut: Preaching to the Choir
Plush Cadillac: Who Wants Free Design Work?

It landed on the front page of UnBeige. They picked up on the Criagslist posting I reposted on a local design meet up group/email list I belong to, Kernspiracy. Which Alissa Walker, editor of Unbeige is also a member.

Every day, there are more and more CragsList 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.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

NO!SPEC Crusade Launches

The NO!SPEC crusade launched this week with a NO!SPEC Blog.
Say No! to speculative work.

In an effort to educate Visual Communication Designers and those who use their services, on the damaging effects caused by spec work and spec-based design contests, a group of designers from all over the globe banned together, fueled by passion and a lot of caffeine, to bring NO!SPEC to the public.

With legitimate design opportunities turning into calls for spec work at an alarming rate, it is our goal to arm designers with the tools they need to take a stand against this trend, as well as provide businesses with resources and information on why spec work harms our industry, and alternative solutions to their design needs that do not involve working on spec.

NO!SPEC encourage those who are like-minded to support this effort by placing a post a NO!SPEC logo on your site, distributing the Print out our NO!SPEC poster created by top Illustrator Von Glitschka from Glitschka Studios, as well as contributing your thoughts, comments, articles and insights.

It’s time to take a stand! And with the international support of NO!SPEC, we ask that you please join us in promoting professional, ethical business practices by saying NO! to spec.*

What can you do

• Voice your ethics and post a NO!SPEC logo and link on your website or blog.
Send protest letters to unethical contests.
Print out our NO!SPEC poster to distribute to design schools.
• Contact Design schools about the NO!SPEC crusade.
Contact Design Organizations about the NO!SPEC crusade.
Sign the petition.
• Participate in the NO!SPEC “Have your say” open dialog.
• Contribute to NO!SPEC Surveys.
• Educators - Spread the word, NO!SPEC.
• Students - Practice Safe Ethics.
• Donate your NO!SPEC ideas.
• Translate the contents of this site into your native language.

For more information, please visit www.no-spec.com

*Text taken from the NO!SPEC web site.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

No! (Re)Spec

There is a bad trend that has plagued the creative community for quite some time now. This trend is unethical and devalue the expertise and skills of Creatives as a whole, also known as Speculative Work. What is Speculative (spec) Work you may ask? It's when one is asked to perform creative services in exchange for prospective projects or employment. Basically, it's when a potential client or employer wants you the give them some free concepts and designs. If they like your work, they will either award you the project, hire you, or pay you. All concepts, artwork and any materials relating to the spec work becomes property of the person asking for the spec work. You will lose all ownership & rights to the works.

Why do you think the general public doesn't perceive design services or designers as valuable, like any other profession? Why do you think clients and companies low ball? Why do you think low salaries exists?

Students and novice designers fall victim to spec work, becasue their lack of experiece, desperaton or just don't know any better. In the end, they have cheated themselves and added to the spec problem. You wouldn't ask a chef to work on spec., would you? OK, I don't like what you cooked up. I am not going to pay you. How about your doctor on spec? I think not. So why would you ask a designer to do the same?

Another form of spec work, design and logo contests. The promise of great exposure, fame and fortune to the winner(s). What they really are doing is getting hundreds, thousands of free concepts and designs. Again you would lose the rights and ownership to your designs.

We need to educate and bring awareness to companies, businesses and designers, that spec work is not good business and wrong. One such organization getting the word out to the masses is the NO!SPEC Blog. NO!SPEC's conception was sparked from discussions on the About.com graphic design forums. Members of the forum grew tired of all the spec work over taking the design industry. They decided to ban together and do something about it. I am proud to be part of the NO!SPEC Committee.

For more information, please visit www.no-spec.com

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About me

  • Mayhem Studios is a small award-winning design firm located in Los Angeles, California, developing identity and brand recognition for the business sector across the nation. The Studio uses strategic and creative design with effective messages targeted to the client's specific audiences to produce identity and branded collateral pieces, annual reports, brochures, logo design, advertising and interactive web sites. Calvin Lee, Principal & Creative Director of Mayhem Studios is a graduate of Platt College and serves as a member of the Platt College Advisory Board for the Visual Communications Department, NO!SPEC Committee and on the Creative Latitude Management Team.
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