…and because they are too many, ideas such as spec-work communities pop up like mushrooms. That’s what I read in Micah Baldwin’s blog where he posted a pretty strange way of solving this problem in his post Kill All The Designers; in which he states that “The only way to reduce the negative effects of spec work on the design industry is to make the supply of designers scarce.” Using the term killing them as a joke, but saying in a way that there are too many designers. Sorry Micah but I have a slightly different opinion than you.
As a designer working in a creative crowd-sourcing community I have to state that:
For a designer spec work sounds like bullshit. And sorry, but killing the designers is not the solution. And yes there is an overload of designers, but there is a lot of design to do in this world as well –which is highly under a good design level.
1st POINT: Spec work sounds like bullshit.
Yes for a designer it sounds like bullshit. Where last year a designer had his list of potential clients that would give him work no matter what; because they didn’t know or have access to any other, or they because they liked his work. Today, these same clients believe that by posting their task in a spec work based platform they are going to save lots of money and get lots of great ideas.
What does this mean for the designer?
Where before he had an assured income, today he has to battle against hundreds of designers for even less money than before.
Also, a client has no idea of how much time or effort it costs to develop a logo. Is it just inspiration? Is it experience? Is it sleepless night until the designer has the best solution? Or is it just photoshop skills?
No, I’m very sorry but not. Understanding what a brand needs takes some research, experience, knowledge of the market, innovative skills and especially good taste (thing that most clients believe that have but they absolutely don’t have).
What does it mean for a client to save money? It means choosing the right logo for the companyand that’s what apple did instead of having another windows crappybased design company.
Steve Jobs has an interest for harmony, design, typography and thanks to his obsession has created the most desirable products in the market now a days. For good or for bad he did this by hiring the best designers in the world.
2nd POINT: Killing designers
That’s the most stupid argument i have read in my life. And the stolen copies of photoshop is even worse.
Maybe Adobe could start thinking about opening up, selling their software cheaper and experimenting what happens when you get your prices closer to what your “potential consumers” could pay.
3rd POINT: The overload of designers
This world is overloaded, when you kick a stone (spanish expression), two hundred lawyers pop out. When you turn a corner, ten thousand architects fall on top of you. When you open a can of Campbell’s soup, five hundred unemployed cooks jump at your neck.
There are too many of us everywhere, and everyone is trying to open and run his own business –the cheapest way possible to be competitive with the rest of the market. This means that there is a chance to design this world in a better and nicer way. Why kill designers when they can make your life better, more beautiful, more productive? Sorry, I don’t get the point.
There is a chance for designers to work for lots of new businesses and startups that need design. The future needs design for innovation, for evolution, for harmony and for beauty.
Clients have to understand that they don’t have an artistic taste, and designers have to understand that they are not artists.
Clients have to trust their designers or choose some other ones, and designers have to understand that when they design a logo they are not doing ephemeral art.
What a designer is doing is solving a communication problem for a client which has to full fill the client’s need, be long-lasting and has to represent the company for which he is designing. Not represent himself as an artist.
Where does crowd-sourcing or spec work fit into this game?
For a client, spec work means cheap costs and variety of ideas. For a designer, spec work means less work (because they don’t invest such much time, which is understandable) and, most important, the chance to win new clients.
If a client is happy with his designer, he will not change just for good. For a designer satisfying the needs of a new client should be the most important thing, no matter if it’s spec-work or any kind of work. He should research and deliver the best quality if, in the end, he wants to win the client or keep the client.
On the other hand, a client will always know what is best for his company –maybe not the best way it is packed or designed– but surely what will represent him best. Because in the end the designer doesn’t have to sell the product of the company he is designing for.
But careful! Cheap can turn out to be expensive. A designer should know when to post his ideas on a spec platform and which platforms to post his ideas in, and a client should know which ideas to choose from and what kind of contract he is signing with the company that hosts the contest.
In the end, spec work is just like the weather neither good or bad, just spec work.
I believe spec work is just another tool which can satisfy the needs of some clients and not solve the needs of other’s –who’d rather work with the designers they already know, or even the ones they got to know, through a creative contest in a spec-work-based web platform.
What could this mean in the future?
Who knows. Spec work could become a mainstream tool for fast idea creation and innovation or just an inspirational place for clients.
But what is for sure is that good designers will always have work, no matter where, in spec-work based platforms or in the “real world”; where their talent will be appreciated with spec or without spec.
These are the designers that understand the needs of their clients, or potential clients via crowd-sourcing platforms, and they will always deliver high quality work –more or less elaborated depending on many other factors than just spec.
But what surely this means is that when comments and ratings are included in spec-work based platforms, clients get much more than just a fast designed logo. They get the chance of choosing between lots of filtered ideas and also feedback from the rest of the creatives that comment on the ideas. And for a creative it not only means the chance to work for clients around the world, but also the chance to learn from the feedback other creatives give them on their ideas.
In the end, as I said before, spec work is just a tool. So it’s up to every designer and every client to choose if it’s the right tool and the right moment for them to use it.