What is Spec Work?
Spec work/Crowd sourcing/Spec competitions: Working on spec is when a single designer or agency design works for free in the hope of winning a project.
- Anti Spec
So What’s the Big Deal?
Spec work is a huge DEAL. It makes me furious, actually. What makes me more angry is that people in our own industry don’t even recognize what spec work is!
I sent out this tweet a little while ago about 99Designs:
Just saw an ad for @99designs. Wanted to smash my computer.
— Janna Hagan (@_jannalynn) June 15, 2012
I had a couple individuals respond because they didn’t understand what the problem was. I also sent out a tweet again, about a spec work contest that was recently set up by Arizona Ice Tea. Long story short, it’s a contest to design a label for their newest flavour. Prize money: $5,000. This is one of the responses I received:
Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but I disagree. It is obviously a design contest where designers submit completed work in the off chance of winning $5,000. Why couldn’t they use that 5 grand to hire a designer ethically? I believe that Doritos asking for chip flavours is marketing. They aren’t asking their consumers for design work, they are asking for submissions, which doesn’t take near the amount of time it would to design a label.
Options for Students
I don’t care how much experience you have. Don’t work for free for companies who are obviously trying to exploit you for your skills. You do have options! Don’t fall into promises of more work, more money and “exposure“. Contact a local charity and ask if you can design a website for them pro-bono. Design fake websites for fake clients. Design a website for something you are passionate about.
Oh, and this is the response I got from Arizona Ice Tea about their design contest:
@studentwebguide We employ plenty of artists. This contest is for fun and the winner will receive national recognition.
— AriZona Iced Tea (@DrinkAriZona) June 18, 2012