Is it Spec or No …

I recently replied to a colleague who was challenged about a contest for designers… Being a part of AIGA, as well as a designer who is working attempting to recognize the value designers bring to work, I oppose Spec work or doing work on speculation “www.no-spec.com” or ” http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/position-spec-work” and the pitfalls against it in a knowledge economy.
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Hi:

I actually couldn’t make the conference, but I think your tweeter is maybe missing the real purpose for AIGA opposing spec work. The disconnect is about not simply doing stuff for free. It’s about the value of ideas and making sure our work—whatever it is, is valued to its fullest extent. To that end, participating in a competition is more akin to “Iron Chef” more than “spec work,” per se, since the work beyond demonstrating the designer’s process and product has no additional life with respect to copyright. In spec work, people participate for actual projects, small (a contest to design a logo for somebody’s baby sitting service) or large, the grand daddy of them, for me, as a Baltimorean: The contest to name and design the Baltimore professional football team and logo and incidentally a lawsuit where a gentleman won the princely sum of $3 after years in court (reversed on appeal).

I think it’s important for us as the mouthpieces to flesh out the nuances here in that redesigned (that could otherwise be ostensibly real) work (that could otherwise be ostensibly real) is not going to be given to (real) clients, nor will it make money in ways that the designer signs away or something. The larger issue is that we as a knowledge economy need to come to grips with idea and notion that our ideas make money for businesses by developing those products into remarkable brand communications and, as an industry, we need to work at getting people cognizant of that remarkable power instead of thinking of ourselves as commodities of factory workers or widget turners — the old archetype.

I think a good way to confront this concern is to address it and note the differences, because the explanation makes your position reasonable and answers questions for those who follow your sphere of influence, I’m sure. I think that much of Obama’s campaign and most of the early decisions/actions demonstrate that openly communicating nuances and complexities creates opportunities for them to understand your positions at the least, even if they don’t agree with them.

That’s about all you can do.

Chris Jones, AIGA
Designer

Brown Hornet Design, Inc.
t. 410.464.1700 f. 410.988.2214
http://www.brownhornetdesign.com

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On Jun 10, 2009, at 11:10 AM, Steve R. wrote:

Hello all,

I and the other board members that attended the Leadership Retreat came away feeling very good about the new direction. We just had our first board meeting last night with incoming board members and we’re all pretty excited about the next 12 – 24 months. Just thought I’d put that out there.

On a side note, we posted a Tweet this morning about the call for participants for Command X and got, what I thought was, and odd response from a fairly seasoned and involved member of the community. Here was the response: “Huh? AIGA simulating spec work to prep kids for design careers? Multiple contestants, 1 poorly paid winner? Glory? Seriously?”

Anyone else received any responses like this? I’m tempted to just let it sit there and not respond.

—Steven R.
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