I Wish I Had Written This

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Fabulous post over at NO!SPEC:

To those who are looking for someone to do work for free… please wake up and join the real world

Every day, there are more and more CL 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.

Keep Reading…

4 thoughts on “I Wish I Had Written This

  1. This is all well and good… But I ask should you not do a favor for a family member? Or a Friend? Technically this is Spec work.

    I have not and will not do spec work intentionally.

  2. With family members, it’s definitely different… and that is something I’ve struggled with my own family with, because I don’t exactly feel right charging my dad’s business for some of the work I do for him from time to time. Fortunately, he made the decision that much easier for me… he told me to charge him (fairly) for everything I do for him. He realizes that what I do comes at a premium… plus he can write the expenses off :)

    But as a rule of thumb, I am more willing to help a close friend or family member out for free, versus a business associate or an acquaintance asking for hand-outs.

  3. Thinking about it some more. I think that when people write against spec work they should consider two things: 1) are you a professional or a student; and 2)have you had any previous relationships with the individual or organization.

    1) Student v. Professional

    Student: If a student is trying to build a portfolio with more than classroom based projects and knowingly accepts a job where he/she may not get paid then that is their choice and I believe that it will be a great learning experience. The student will gain some real world experience and time working with a real client. Criticism will come from individuals who have no real art background and hopefully students will embrace that challenge and find a way to produce great work. They may not be getting paid with CASH, but they are being paid with something so much more valueable than that, knowledge and experience.

    Professionals: This is where I make a stand. As professionals we are attempting to make a living by what we do. We have families to support and bills to pay. My opinion to competition in this industry is very simple: if you do not want to lose your clients to me or another designer DO A BETTER JOB THAN ME. This applies to everyone who is your competition, Joe Blow on his computer at home with dated software or the guy who is independently wealthy who enjoys design and may be cheap. Spec work sucks, but do not use it as an excuse on why we are losing business in this industry. Do not say it is the down fall of the industry. Just do GREAT work.

    2) Relationship with the individual or organization requesting work: I think Chris touched on this subject and I want to expand a little with a few additional thoughts. I think when considering the topic of spec work, individuals writing about it should consider the type of relationship that may have been developed between the designer and the company requesting this type of work. Consider work that is for an organization or individual you are personally or professionally involved with. Often times AIGA asks it members to produce the direct mail that is used to promote the organizations activities. The design firms are not paid, but get a credit line on the piece. Pro-bono work can often help organizations delegate their limited supply of money to more important things that will make their event raise money for important causes. Design can affect so many people. What we do IS valueable and should not be taken for advantage. However if the relationship exists where you find yourself available to help out I feel that you should do the work. It is once again a personal decision that designer knowingly makes and therefore I view it as acceptable.

    In closing I think that we as a design community need to start looking at the whole picture and stop being so selfish. Spec work is often agrued as unethical. However who defines what is trully ethical. You and I must make the decision based on our own moral values of what is right or not. I think if doing work for no money will benefit others: a student or a cause, then we need to discard our desire for physical payment and look for fullfillment elsewhere. The money will come and go away, but what we have done will be remembered by those you have helped and in your own heart.

    Define what you think is ethical in design. If you feel your work will help someone that can not pay for it, then volunteer your services. But watch your back and follow your gut because there will always be people/companies out there looking to take advantage of your talent and for a freebie.

  4. You make some valid points, but in the case of students… the argument against spec work is really designed to protect them. The kind of work we do has inherent value to it, and a lot of kids still wet behind the ears might get taken advantage of.

    Plus, there is a world of difference if YOU, the designer, decide to do something free: to benefit a cause you support, to help a friend, etc.

    Define what you think is ethical in design. If you feel your work will help someone that can not pay for it, then volunteer your services. But watch your back and follow your gut because there will always be people/companies out there looking to take advantage of your talent and for a freebie.

    Well said.

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