Spec Work Is Evil / Why I Hate CrowdSpring

*Update* I get now almost daily emails describing serious ethical issues from past clients and designers from CrowdSpring, ranging from stolen work to child labor.  Stay far, far, far away!  It is not just me, you can see CrowdSpring by the numbers or Why Crowdspring Should be Ashamed of Their Business.   *Update*

Speculative work (asking someone to complete a job as an application is a loose promise to pay them if you want to) is evil. No way around it.  Check out No!Spec if you are unfamiliar with the subject.  Here is my take:

My Thoughts on Spec

If you are a company that needs a phenomenal designer / writer / developer / marketer, there are plenty out there. Take a look at their portfolio, if you like what they produce hire them.  Speculative work especially asked of designers, and some early stage designers fall for it, resulting in low quality work and experience for everyone involved.

If you need a great designer for a project, I know 20 designers that kick ass, email me.

Enter CrowdSpring

CrowdSpring is a site that attracts people with small budgets for projects ($250 for a company logo) and designers to come up with the designs, including revisions, for clients, with the chance of getting paid.  It is speculative work, almost at its worst.

Why is this such a big deal?

Design, unlike other industries is unique in that the intellectual property is put into your deliverable, and when the client asks for you everything you have to put into the project to think about purchasing.  I am a designer and this is by far the easiest way to end a friendship with me (asking me or someone else).

It is a major ethical flaw of both parties.

Let me say that again, a major ethical flaw. Some designers I have talked to have escalated this lack of ethics to be on par with some very serious crimes, while other see it as dumping oil down a rain drain.  A lot of people don’t take this lightly at all.

The AIGA puts it this way:

AIGA believes that doing speculative work seriously compromises the quality of work that clients are entitled to and also violates a tacit, long-standing ethical standard in the communication design profession worldwide. AIGA strongly discourages the practice of requesting that design work be produced and submitted on a speculative basis in order to be considered for acceptance on a project.

Rafe Needleman calls this process weasel economics.

Don’t Support It

If you see spec work happening, put an end to it, it is not the ethical thing to do. It is that simple.  Don’t be a weasel.  If someone views your ethics being this bad, they will start to actively not promote your company.  “Did you hear that CrowdSpring sucks?” etc.  Saving $2000 on your logo could cost your company a whole lot more.

But, Hey, They Can’t Be That Bad, Right?

I am fully in support of smart teams bringing disruptive practices to new markets.

Here is a response I got on twitter from the team at CrowdSpring:


Not understanding the difference between custom speculative work and selling art backs up my first thought that there is a major ethical vacuum and lack of understanding around design at CrowdSpring.

Going head to head and undermining/ underbidding an entire profession is not something to be done unless you can carry the torch for the industry in the name of good (INGdirect comes to mind).

Is There a Grey Area?

Yes, but very few. Volunteering. I do a lot of volunteer jobs that can be viewed as spec work. As a general rule I only volunteer for non profits that don’t have the energy/ time to look for a designer for a project.  I also see some grey when it comes to community contests where a professional designer is hired to take the winner and develop it to the final.

Early on in the discussion on twitter, this question was posed.


Bandwagon fallacies don’t work for a lot of things, including this.   If you are talking about ThreadLess, they have done a very good job a) paying their designers fair market value b) involving a community in the beauty of design that traditionally would have been left out and c) making clear that the designs are done for the love of design, not for a 3rd party to profit off of.

What Is the End Game

This is a question I often ask, in 10 years, if this becomes the industry standard, what will you have.  The answer is not more happy designers, or clients.  Design as a whole will be lesser if this model is used, and that will be a real shame.


In the end this is a classic example of a problem out there with someone solving it in the wrong way.  If the problem is clients having a hard time connecting with designers (who may be just beginning and need to build portfolios), then make a site where designers can build their portfolios working on volunteer projects and showcasing their work to quality companies looking for great design.

From my short interaction with the team, I would put in a vote of no confidence that they will do the right thing.





179 responses to “Spec Work Is Evil / Why I Hate CrowdSpring”

  1. Michelle  olvera Avatar
    Michelle olvera

    I wish I found your post before using Crowdspring. I submitted what I thought was a pretty detailed project description for a logo. None of the 'designs' resembled a clearly thought out design. It was all just rubbish with beginner level designers!!!! I couldn't believe what I had signed up for. Before you know it I had over 25 designs…
    how do I get my money back?????
    I feel ripped off – mislead and completely pissted off!

  2. […] my earlier post on a specific spec company, I said: Design, unlike other industries, is unique in that the intellectual property is put into […]

  3. […] spec work actually is an evil as I’ve called it, would some culture jamming put a major halt to the ‘quick fix’ of the problem?  Could […]

  4. jacob Avatar

    Thank you thank you thank you! This is one of the most well written arguments for why spec work is bad for the creative community as a whole. I'm a relatively new freelancer (graduated within the last year) and in this economy, I had signed up for crowdspring after swearing off spec work relatively early in my design career. Thankfully, I came across this article and promptly closed my crowdspring account. I've been forwarding this article to other students I know. It's a rallying call.

  5. […] completely agree with a fellow named Andrew Hyde. He posted this on his fine site some time ago, and I think he nails […]

  6. Brandon Avatar

    I just came from the panel at SXSW and I have to say, I really had no idea. I'm an experienced front-end developer and I really want to find a way to hone my design skills. To my way of thinking, Crowdspring isn't a bad way to do that. But, as you state here, and as was stated in the panel, spec work takes advantage of the new designer rather than helping them “build skills and build confidence”. I'm now educated, but my question is “If not Crowdspring, then what?”.

  7. Thorsten Claus Avatar

    I feel that CrowdSpring caters to the fact that where I currently live (yes, btw, where DO I live – in airplanes?!) I wouldn't necessarily know to whom to turn for a decent design. Crowdspring makes that decision easy for me – the web! 🙂

    Here's another thought: I see an conservative average of $300 per 'contest', with about 100 submissions each. Let's assume you think you're better than the worst 20% of the pack, that still leaves you with a 1:80 chance. With all the overhead included, I guess you'll take 1-2 hours per logo or design. let's say 1h to be nice. With that kind of competition, you'll have to work 80 hours for $300.

    Here's another thought: Could CrowdSpring become you “training camp”? Maybe it can help you to become more efficient and effective in “reading” clients' specs. So next time when a clients wants “not boring”, “blue, but not too blue”, “modern font”, etc. you know what to bring on, because you can look at examples and experience from your submissions. You can even connect with “lost” clients online and ask them what they didn't like or did like about your submission.

  8. Thorsten Claus Avatar

    Here's a good example for how to use CrowdSpring for a “training camp” http://www.crowdspring.com/projects/graphic_des
    More than half of the submissions didn't read the specs, it looks like 🙂

    “Logo should include the words “Open Preferences” and an icon that can be used when space is limited. The icon is as important as the logo.”

    'Target audience is people who love to rate movies, TV shows, books and music. The logo should be gender neutral. The user should see the company as trustworthy, on the user's side and innovative.”

    “Style should be Web 2.0 or Web 3.0 style. No preference on color.”

  9. […] Owyang’s coverage of the spec design debate here. You can also see Andrew Hyde’s speculative work is evil. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Church Web DesignersSpec work devalues the […]

  10. EvolveNow Avatar

    The anti-crowdsourcing group sounds like a profession in denial. This has all happened before in other professions. Business models change, and professionals need to change, too. Here's one close to the design profession.

    It's an accepted practice for independent writers to ply their craft on spec. They write a compelling article, and submit it to publications until it is either accepted by a publisher, or the writer gives up. Since there are orders of magnitude more writers than publications, most writers know they won't get paid for their work unless it is really, really good, or if they are willing to accept a low rate for their work. Hungry, lesser-known writers often match up with cash-poor publishers, and well-known writers get top fees from cash-rich publishers. The top writers never complain that most writers are working on spec and are entering writing contests to gain some professional cred. It's part of the profession.

    To the designers railing against crowdsourcing, don't hate the business model, hate your brothers and sisters in the design community who embrace it, if you insist on needing a villain in this debate. You can't stop the momentum or crowdsourcing. The more you speak against it, the more the rest of the world knows it is a good thing. You have a vested interest in raising designer's rates, not lowering them. We all know this.

    Adapt to this business model or choose a new profession.

  11. andrewhyde Avatar

    With that logic we should look at pyramid schemes as the new biz model, and everyone should evolve to that.

    Or we can look to what is sustainable and has the best chance for everyone in the process winning.

    This has crashed and burned before. Let us not forget.

  12. […] I’ve been thinking of the SXSW panel on spec work named after my post “Spec Work is Evil” […]

  13. EvolveNow Avatar

    First of all, I didn't say an illegal business model is OK, so your logic is quite flawed to make that comparison. There's nothing illegal about posting a figure and requesting spec work. Crowdsourcing technology just makes it easier.

    It's interesting how very few people with no vested interest in the design profession are ranting against the crowdsourcing model for design jobs.

    Publications have been soliciting spec articles for decades. Why haven't the writers put up a beef? From Readers Digest to Wired, any professional or amateur writer is free to compete for publications space (in print or online). For many writers, this model represents their only chance to break through and get published.

    Lawyers have been poo-pooing the commoditization of their craft for a long time. Sites like Legalzoom are selling standard forms and other legal products that have been vetteed by good attorneys at a fraction of the cost of having a lawyer consult with you and give you a similar doc at their overblown hourly rate for this type of work.

    In the late 1990's, we had more Y2K needs than we had programmers, so some programmers were making $200.hour. A few years later, we had a lot of programmers in the U.S. and oversees, and the market found ways to match companies' needs with talent across the globe, driving the rates down. While this is not good for the individual professional, it is great for the startup entrepreneur (the little guy) and the larger company who needs to cut costs in order to save the jobs they need at home to remain competitive.

    The market will always find more efficient ways to match buyers with sellers. It was only a matter of time before design jobs fell into this efficiency engine.

    Supply and demand is very simple. Now that we can easily put out the price we are willing to pay, the market is finding new ways to compete for that money. If some people are willing to do some work on spec, more power to them. The next step might be that designers will compete in a bidding war (kinda like Ebay for design jobs).

  14. andrewhyde Avatar

    Please do tell me about your exciting business idea. Oh, it isn't a pyramid? Oh, it just has multiple levels.

    I get it now.

    Your logic is flawless. Well. No. Not at all. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

  15. EvolveNow Avatar

    We love Priceline as a way to “Name Your Own Price” and have hoteliers and airline pricing agents compete for our business. We love having bankers compete for our business through LendingTree. But for some reason, the design community thinks they are not subject to the same laws of the market. Why is that?

  16. andrewhyde Avatar

    Spec is asking for custom work to be done with the chance of payment.

    Priceline is not custom. LendingTree is not custom (I am sure at a certain point it is, but is a product at first). I find it wrong to ask anyone to create custom work for the less than 1% chance of getting paid.

    Please find an industry that has tried the spec model and succeeded. I have not been able to find one.

  17. EvolveNow Avatar

    If you are referring to Amway/Qixtar…These are legal businesses (not my cuppa tea, but they are legal). Multi0level marketing is not an illegal pyramid scheme.

    It's not illegal or a pyramid scheme to post a price and see who wants to work the hardest to win the business.

    I have an agency background (I wrote the proposals and pitched them), and we averaged about 200 hours of work responding to an RFP. That included storyboards, finished artwork, strategic analysis, and an execution timeline. We were aware the client could take our work and show it to a lower-priced competitor and have them do it. It was our choice to respond, and we didn't respond to every RFP that was sent to us.

    I'd much rather have the client say what they are willing to pay and let us compete on what we could deliver for that price. Let's the client compare apples to apples. RFPs with no budget attached were the worst.

  18. EvolveNow Avatar

    This is a good discussion, and I wish more were participating.

    Elance has paid out over $150 million since 2005. I am well aware of the kind of work that comes out of this model. 70% of it is way off-target or poorly executed. Those people aren't stealing jobs from good designers. 20-25% miss the mark, but are decent attempts, perhaps from less experienced designers or hobbyists. 5-10% are extremely well executed offerings for any given job. Some may be seasoned pros, while others could be unknown but amazing amateurs who have professional-grade chops.

    So a good designer is really only competing with the 5-10% who are the only viable candidates for the job. Not bad odds when you look at it that way. If Crowdspring gets 68 submissions per job, it might be worth some time instead of World of Warcraft/Madden/Bars/Tweeting all night on a Saturday.

    When $200 US is a week's salary in Russia, you'll get some fantastic work from well-trained people who don't live the American lifestyle of debt and living beyond ones means.

    It's not a quality argument anymore. The World is Flat.

  19. EvolveNow Avatar

    BTW, I love the VCGear shirts. Does Guy Kawasaki know about this? If not, I think he would probably blog about it and shoot a link to the site. He has a list of typical VC and lawyer quotes that are hilarious.

  20. EvolveNow Avatar

    VCwear, I mean.

  21. Tony_Fletcher Avatar

    Buyers: Stop being lazy and find a designer that you think will be a good fit. Share with him/her a strategy, an outline of what you want to accomplish with your identity and most importantly a budget. You are getting poor creative from sites like crowdspring. How much time do you think a designer logged with your project for $250?

    There's much more to getting a great identity than just posting a request on a competition site. You need to engage with a designer that your are comfortable with and work together to create a great solution. Good clients make for good design. Stop taking shortcuts with sites like crowdspring.

    Designers: At sites like crowdspring you are getting ripped off. Do you think that even the smallest start up has only $250 to devote to an identity?

  22. Andrea S. Avatar
    Andrea S.

    Dear Ross,

    You spoke to hundreds of designers, but you didn't contact me. Or any of my fellow design friends. Did you happen to speak to anyone who is an AIGA member? Who are these designers you spoke to? I'd be very interested to learn that. I should also like to know what questions and research went into crowdspring.

    I feel your information is inaccurate. Honestly, I feel all of your information is inaccurate. Like they say in math tests; Please show all your work. Your answers might be wrong but show us how you came to the conclusion.

    Designers and design firms don't always charge a flat rate for a particular design work. A small startup that needs a logo vs. a large corporate mega-giant should and will have different prices, because very often work is charged on a sliding scale. It needs to be affordable for everyone, and it needs to be done with discretion, at the discretion of the designer or the firm they contacted.

    It is when we take the work out of the hands of the professional that the professional can no longer afford to charge on a sliding scale. We are eschewing work right out of their hands, money from their pockets. This hurts the designer who cannot afford to make the updates to their tools. It also hurts the 'small startups' that you intend to help. Now that the professional designer cannot afford to charge on a sliding scale, the small startup does not get the benefits of a meaningful, professional design.

    Why would you have a non–professional designer create a logo without the training and experience that comes from one that is properly trained to do the job? To allow those without experience and training to enter the field? That is analogous to saying that everyone with a basketball should be allowed to play in the NBA. Would you want to watch that game? Would you pay top dollar for it? How about half price tickets? That's essentially what your clients are doing. Paying half price for tickets to a low level game. Your clients are over charged.

    I looked into your website before making a judgment. I poked around. Thought about it. Then started the process of 'what if i tried it…” and came to this conclusion:
    I simply cannot get enough information about the client to produce a meaningful and effective design based upon a simple page or paragraph of information.
    A whole slew of design research, marketing research, qualitative and quantitative study goes into producing a design that works. Ergo, not being able to contact the prospective client to ask questions that produce good design means not being able to produce a good design. Anyone can make a blue circle with white letters in it, properly letterspaced. But WHY did they make it? What does it mean? Completely void of meaning or value.

    $100,000 in rewards doesn't amount to a hill of beans when it's money spent poorly. 3,500+ members who have joined does not make your company any more well–thought–out. Why? A million wise men can say or do a foolish thing. It is still a foolish thing.

    Fortunately, I am not worried. History always repeats itself, and we are viewing that now. Read up on the history of art. Ancient Greece disregarded the work of artists as though they were mere laborers, and upheld the philosophers and writers to greatness. It wasn't until the Renaissance that artists gained respect in the community and were viewed as intellectuals who made great contributions that should be paid for. Soon, we will see that the life cycle of art and design will come around again.

    It is only unfortunate that the consumers of art & design are taking advantage of professional and greenstick artists & designers due to a lagging economy. When will we learn from history, as opposed to repeating it?

    Best of luck to all of us
    —Andrea S.

  23. Michelle Avatar

    I took a look at CrowdSPRING. My favorite was a buyer upset that a design didn't look professional enough for their Fortune 500 company. I couldn't help laughing. If they are wanting a professional design, then why aren't they sitting down with a company and working on it with them? This process is shoddy, lacks any real communication and to be honest, looks cheap. I run a company and I can't imagine getting something from there. I might as well use those ugly pre-packaged Microsoft templates. I'd save a bundle. LOL

  24. John Avatar

    I just dont see how this has turned so quickly into a battle over nothing.
    There are three basic facts that have been pointed out NUMEROUS TIMES through out these replies.

    1.CrowdSpring is a resource to 95% of graphic artist/graphic students/etc.
    People use crowdspring to learn and polish design skills. If youre really good, you have potential to wins some bigtime cash. you lose, at least you got some practice in.

    2. It is 100000000% the artists choice to participate and for what length of time they will participate.
    EXAMPLE: A project comes up on crowdSPRING. Im interested. I have nothing else to do with my lame excuse for a life. So what do I do, I decide to mock something up for the Client. BASED ON THEIR FEEDBACK, I then decide whether or not I would like to continue working with this project or move on. If I am highly content with the outcome of the logo/whatever I mocked up, I save it to be placed in my portfolio.

    I may have spent time designing a piece that I will never use, but it also allows me to try new things, learn new skills, etc. So how is that bad? Simple. Its not.
    Why? because it was my choice to participate in the first place.

    3. Unless you have a GREAT JOB, making GREAT money, what does it hurt to mess around on a website?

    For someone like me, who just loves designing, its a good way to pass the time. Others read, some go for a drive… Me? I sit at my desk creating type treatments.
    Its what I Love to do.

    and another thing I just thought of…

    I, as well as many of my friends in the design community are always looking for a great project.. THAT'S WHAT DESIGNERS DO. THEY DESIGN. THEY HAVE A PASSION FOR DESIGNING THINGS. CREATION IS KEY!
    Unless you are a well-established ground breaking designer such as oh say Walter Landor, (google him if you dont know who he is) what is it going to hurt sitting infront of your screen for a few hours to mock up some idea's for a certain client who has already paid upfront for the service, and possibly put some coin in the pocket.

    If you ask me, it just sounds like you have way too many opinions and absolutely no reason to complain in the first place. Unless it is directly affecting you, your business, or your checking balance, why even open your mouth in the first place?

    Thank you CrowdSPRING. for helping me grow as a designer. Even if Mr. Hyde doesnt consider me a designer. I do my best, and you help me achieve that.

  25. janver Avatar

    no wonder people call designers snooty … they call people unethical cause they price cut them

  26. andrewhyde Avatar

    Huge difference.

    Having a one on one contract = awesome. Even if it is $1 is fine (and markets will decide if that is sustainable, which it isn't).

    Motivating based on monetary means with the chance of payment = unethical. You would say so for more than just design.

  27. janver Avatar

    But isnt that what competitions are about?

    So are you saying all competition whether is it design related or not are unethical?

  28. janver Avatar

    its really strange how you chose to reply to my, but not to the one above me with all the good points.

  29. andrewhyde Avatar

    I was on a plane when the above commenter posted, while I was in front of my computer when you posted.

  30. andrewhyde Avatar

    Perhaps reading this would explain it in a better way. http://andrewhyde.net/spec-work-is-a-ponzi-scheme/

  31. andrewhyde Avatar

    1) Then why are they marketing to fortune 500 companies? Seems CS is leading in a direction you don't think they belong.
    2) Yes, it is your choice to participate, just like it is my choice to dump, or not to dump oil down the drain. Many people see this as destructive, so I can a) listen to them or b) keep dumping, it doesn't hurt me!
    3) It isn't sustainable, plain and simple. If you look at design as a profession where people can make a living, then having to make a completed piece for the chance of getting paid doesn't fit.

    If you are questioning my rational for posting this, it is simple, I love design and don't like seeing my friends get burned.

    Mind posting a link to your portfolio? Would love to see how you have progressed. I've only seen designers become template generators by participating.

  32. janver Avatar

    What i see here are 2 schools of thought, 1 of them that dont mind workin' part time for a website to earn money, on the other hand, we got a side wavin' their no-spec middle finger to anyone who take part or is part of a no-spec work.

    Fine you got your own opinion, other got their own, so stop forcing people to see things your way with all these wall of text and big words. You guys got your own stand they got theirs, 99design or crowdspring. Stop harassing people site just cause they don't see things your way. Your guys behave more like spammer in any sense. They are not illegal or unethical just cause you say so.

    In the end it all sound like you guys are afraid you will not get enough money for your snooty design ideas.

  33. andrewhyde Avatar

    You are right, I should stop using big words.


  34. Andreamorgan Avatar

    Not that I can contribute to this great conversation.
    I just recently “learned” of crowdspring, think it is interesting. I googled to see what came up, found this article and kept reading.

    I am a designer, I get paid I have a 9 to 5 job as a web designer. I graduated from university almost 2 years ago now and was always looking for project ideas and real briefs after receiving so many fake briefs during university. I am battling if this is really unethical.

    I understand working with a client and being able to better understand what they want and the whole process. But if “designers” are willing to submit their work then let them be and the buyers business can suffer or not.

    If crowdspring was able to educate the “buyer” into what is needed for a great brief then that could help alleviate the “designer” frustration.

    The one horrible thing i think about crowdspring is that the “buyer” is allowed to ask for adjustments before paying for the design/designers time.

    Being able to submit work like this is just like freelancing, I can't tell you how many freelance jobs were designers in a room getting the same brief and asked to create something before knowing if they have the job. But to that same point that brief was paid for (mostly).

    I actually thought it was quite interesting concept and enjoy reading some briefs as to give me “real” situations to build my portfolio, not necessarily by “bidding” for the job but as a great starting point for various self projects.

    If this was set up differently more as a community where designers work together like a forum where asking for advice and information about briefs and a peer to peer designer community maybe it would be less “hated” by many designers.

    As you can see I have very mixed feelings, on one hand it is a cheap way for people to get tons of works and examples. It's also interesting to see all the examples and to get real briefs for portfolio work. I don't feel as a designer that someone before paying me or committing to working with me to ask for changes to a submitted design. But at the same time this is just freelancing throw out in the open.

  35. Michelle Avatar

    It all comes down to the old saying that you get what you pay for. I think not only are designers being lazy but so are the companies that want the design. To get a true identity that stands the test of time takes a lot of work on both sides. These designers and companies want to go the easy route. So be it. The work they receive looks cheap and they have no one to blame but themselves.

    It's not surprising since we have been losing fine craftsmanship in all industries for many years. People want quick, fast and cheap. Just look at our automobiles, new homes, clothing, furniture, etc. There's a reason why everyone wants “retro” because the things being produced now could never live up to the products from the past.

  36. guyarceneaux Avatar

    I have just started to do a series of posts at my blog about virtual ad agencies and appreciate your comments about crowdSPRING. I have assigned a rating of Golems (soulless creatures created from inanimate matter) to rate them. crowdSPRING seems better than “ClickNPay” which got a rating of three! But after reading your cogent ant spec work argument I realize that at least they are not pushing a play to get paid model.
    Great thinking, great comments.

    Visit Sharky's Circle if you are so inclined at: http://sharkyscircle.blogspot.com

    Regards—Guy Arceneaux

  37. GeekGrrl Avatar

    Andrew, your elitist attitude is prevalent throughout this discussion. I have looked over most of this page, but where is YOUR portfolio? Apparently, you seem to think you are the best designer in the world and anyone who would even think of creating a logo for less than whatever it is you charge is the most horrible designer. But, for all your elitist attitude, I can't find YOUR “awesome” works linked anywhere on here.

    Of course, I am sure you fell right out of college and into the absolutely perfect design job that pays the big bucks you think you deserve, right? You scoff at someone willing to provide a design for $500. You have the nerve to tell someone that if they can't afford high-end, over priced design that they shouldn't be in business. So, apparently, you have never known what it is like to live in a world where $500 might actually put food on someone's table. What is a mere pittance to you, is not to someone else.

    But then again, your real agenda here is obvious. Really it is none of your business if a designer wants to throw out a concept on CrowdSpring or if a business wants to go that route. Your agenda is clear. You have to smash this sort of activity because if this business model takes off, you find it harder and harder to over charge for design work. My point is made by the London 2012 Olympic logo. Have you seen that thing? Some “real” designer got paid thousands of dollars for a design that my 10 year old daughter could have scribbled better with her crayons. But THAT sort of bad design is OK because it was done by some “real” designer who got paid way too much, right?

    It has nothing to do with price point or ethics. Bad design is bad design whether it is done by “real” designers or a stay-at-home mom with some artistic talents. Using Crowdspring doesn't make one a bad designer……bad design makes one a bad designer, no matter where they ply their trade.

  38. andrewhyde Avatar

    Thanks for stopping by. I stopped doing freelance work a few years ago (why I don't put a portfolio on the site). I'm not coming at this from a designers standpoint, instead from a standpoint of knowing the industry.

    I graduated college and did a year of $500-2000 projects, working my ass off and learning a ton. My first year I earned $17,000.

    Your 0/2 so far.

    A logo is done for the client, and a bad one is a result of a bad client and designer (or a bad audience for that matter). Perhaps the London logo is ahead or behind its time. I hate it.

    Elitist? Really? Really?

    Perhaps you should check out http://andrewhyde.net/spec-work-is-a-ponzi-scheme/

  39. designer Avatar


  40. designer Avatar

    let me say after participating in 20 contests and winning none (almost winning some and get bypassed by copies, or worst, when realllly bad designs won)

    I got really depressed, thought of quitting design for good!

    It´s not bad enough to spend hours working for nothing, but to see lousy designs win, people dont understand designers are professionals who study brand identity and social interactions : It´s not just drawing!!

  41. Shale Grant Avatar
    Shale Grant

    I like crowdspring. For one, I get to put in as much time as I see fit given the project reward value. If I see something that in the 11th hour looks like I can do better in an hour, then I put in an hour's worth of effort. I've won 4 logos that way, yielding $1450, in about 5 hours-worth of time. I just happen to be very fast in illustrator and can knock out logos quickly. The other issue is that I know – KNOW that there are already pre-qualified buyers on the other end. I don't have to hunt for clients, saving me LOADS of time (+ money). Underbidding has nothing to do with it. The offer is what the offer is. The only underbidding is the actual execution, which bites you in the a$$ if you don't at least try or put in too many hours. I can see your POV, but I have to wonder: Are you angry because, under the aegis of “you get what you pay for”, you realize that you cannot compete with this new level of social “reverse bidding”?

  42. Shale Grant Avatar
    Shale Grant

    I like crowdspring. For one, I get to put in as much time as I see fit given the project reward value. If I see something that in the 11th hour looks like I can do better in an hour, then I put in an hour's worth of effort. I've won 4 logos that way, yielding $1450, in about 5 hours-worth of time. I just happen to be very fast in illustrator and can knock out logos quickly. The other issue is that I know – KNOW that there are already pre-qualified buyers on the other end. I don't have to hunt for clients, saving me LOADS of time (+ money). Underbidding has nothing to do with it. The offer is what the offer is. The only underbidding is the actual execution, which bites you in the a$$ if you don't at least try or put in too many hours. I can see your POV, but I have to wonder: Are you angry because, under the aegis of “you get what you pay for”, you realize that you cannot compete with this new level of social “reverse bidding”?

  43. absalom Avatar


    In order to keep up your speed, being “very fast” and all, I take it you modify 25% or so of someone else's work and/or stock vector art to complete the work. After all, the world knows that you're quite happy talking about modification of other people's copyright/IP as “very legal”.

    It's amazing what people say in commentary in unrelated places regarding copyright, IP and attribution and how that affects the graphic design industry as a whole.

    Hindsight might help you next time to create a truly original work, not a derivative.

  44. Karen Heart Avatar

    If someone argues ethics, they're going to get an earful from me….

    Years ago, my business partner and I hired a PR firm to create a brand for our software and write a press release. We chose a particular firm based on their portfolio of previous work and references from past clients. The resulting brand was mediocre, and the press release was written terribly. It got the facts wrong, had no appeal or “punch,” and even contained grammatical errors. What we later learned was that their portfolio and references were based on work done by people who had long left the firm before we hired them. In short, they scammed us by intentionally misrepresenting themselves, and obtained quite a lot of money in the process.

    This is the reason I distrust designers and other service people completely. There is no way of guaranteeing the quality of their service. What I find unethical, however, is that the people in the industry perpetuate practices that make such charlatanism possible.

    If people who sell services wish to be ethical in any meaningful way, they must adopt practices that promote honest, good-faith dealing with clients. In the context of graphic designers, I would expect adoption of a few principles at a minimum:

    1. Disclosure of the identity of the person(s) who created a design, the date of the design, and the price.

    2. A performance bond to insure timely performance within agreed-upon project specifications.

    3. An absolute satisfaction guarantee. Although I realize that many others believe that people should be paid for their efforts, regardless of the outcome, I don't. I believe that people should only be paid for their efforts that produce effective results. As a therapist/life coach, I personally guarantee my work: if you're not completely satisfied, you owe me nothing for the session.

    The plain fact is that crowdsourcing goes a long way towards eliminating charlatans from service jobs and thereby promotes ethics.

    Perhaps just as importantly, crowdsourcing permits someone who is highly talented but new to the game to play on a level field with established players who have large budgets for promotion. And I view this outcome as important ethically. It is highly unethical to impede free competition simply for the purpose of favoring established players.

    I realize that crowdsourcing is no panacea, but it is far better than business as usual.

    Karen Heart,

  45. notadesigner Avatar

    I used crowdSpring and I used it not because of the pricing but because I wanted lots of ideas. If I would have just hired one designer I never would have gotten what I ended up with.

  46. andrewhyde Avatar

    I could dine at dash at 50 restaurants because I wanted to try their meals, but you would look down upon me.

  47. andrewhyde Avatar

    “it is far better than business as usual.”

    You had me until there.

    Sorry you had a bad experience with an agency. The industry has problems, no doubt.

    But solving it by making a hundred people complete work before having the chance of payment is wrong. It isn't scalable and is full of holes (did someone just rip off another design to sell to you?).

  48. andrewhyde Avatar

    I agree here, there is more to a design than just looking the best next to others.

  49. andrewhyde Avatar

    very cool

  50. Peter McClean Avatar

    WOW – you are all SO ignorant!! This issue is not even debatable, people! The law is the law!! Without a proper judging panel, proper contest rules, nor proper “alternate means of entry”, which EVERY real contest must have in order to even be LEGAL in this country, these “contests” are not really contests at all, merely underhanded attempts to rip off naive artists.

    Although 99Designs (http://www.99Designs.com) is an Australian-based company, they are still hosted right here in the US, and they are also conducting business right here in the US, therefore they MUST comply with US laws – and CrowdSPRING (http://www.CrowdSPRING.com) is based right here, out of Chicago!! Allow me to elaborate on this, and also to educate you in some basics of copyright law in the USA…

    What companies like 99Designs and CrowdSPRING is doing is not only illegal in the USA, it is highly unethical as well. First of all, they state that, “After the prize is paid in full, the ownership lies with the contest holder which is royalty-free and irrevocable.”, which is absolutely LUDICROUS!!! There are ONLY nine categories (as enumerated clearly in copyright law) by which works can even be considered eligible to be work-for-hire. These “contests” (and again, I say this loosely, since they do not have a proper judging panel, proper contest rules, nor proper “alternate means of entry”, which EVERY real contest must have in order to even be LEGAL in this country) fall into NONE of these nine categories, so what this company is REALLY doing here is ripping off young designers fresh out of school who are too green to know their rights. They are simply skirting both labor and copyright laws, and attempting to steal intellectual property from others.

    Slavery was outlawed in this country long ago. Let me elaborate… even IF these people were on-site employees, their employer would not get any rights to their works if they were not at least paying them the federally established minimum hourly wage, right? RIGHT. So why on earth, when these artists are NOT employees, and they are NOT being fairly paid, would these “crowdsourcing” companies possibly think for a moment that they could own (or transfer the right to own) these artists’ works?

    If someone is not your employee, and they perform work off-site, on their own equipment, on their own software, paying for their own electricity, receiving no benefits of any kind whatsoever from your company, and said work results in the creation of intellectual properties, then for those properties to even be ELIGIBLE to be considered work-for-hire they MUST fall into one of the following NINE (and ONLY nine) categories, as enumerated clearly in copyright law.
    1) A contribution to a collective work (such as a magazine, newspaper, encyclopedia, or anthology).

    2) A contribution used as part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work.

    3) A supplementary work, which includes pictorial illustrations, maps, and charts, done to supplement a work done by another author.

    4) A compilation (new arrangement of pre-existing works).

    5) A translation.

    6) An atlas.

    7) A test.

    8) Answer material for a test.

    9) An instructional text (defined as a literary, pictorial, or graphic work prepared for publication and with the purpose of use in systematic instructional activities).
    Works that fall outside of these nine categories (like LOGO DESIGNS!!) are CLEARLY ineligible to be work for hire, even with a signed contract. Just because 99Designs and CrowdSPRING have tricked some artists into signing away their rights doesn’t mean that it’s legal to do so, or that their contracts are binding. These companies need to realize that you can not bend and interpret the law to suit your needs. Law is law, and any wrongdoing WILL catch up with you eventually. (think NAPSTER, THE PIRATE BAY, DR. JACK KEVORKIAN, etc…)

    A contract by very definition MUST be inure to the benefit of BOTH parties. Otherwise, by law, it MUST be construed as a waiver.

    Also, if you will read through the blog postings for 99Designs, which can (rather unbelievably) be accessed right from their website, many artists who have fallen for their scam never even receive the measly well-under-market-value pittance amounts that they were promised after the close of one of these “contests”. I have read postings from several artists who have already been waiting well over six months to be paid for their works. This is completely unacceptable, not to mention illegal. Please, fellow artists, we need to stop companies from conducting these illegal and highly unethical “art contests” NOW, while there is still an industry left for us to save. We must stop these dishonest criminals from deceiving anyone else and further devaluing our entire profession.

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