Category Archives: Design Contests

So I just saw a facebook status update from Gary Vaynerchuk, who I respect as an entrepreneur. But is having a design contest to design his next book cover. He specifically says it’s not spec work, because the winner will be paid. You are correct, it’s not spec work for the winner, but what about the other hundred designers who send you a cover idea? They aren’t getting paid and aren’t under contract with you.

Here’s his video introduction to the contest.

Here was my comment on his facebook status update:

There are so many comparisons I could have used, even one that would hit home with him. How about I ask multiple stores that sell wine to send me a bunch of free wine. I’ll drink it all in the next month and the one that I like the most… I’ll pay for. The rest, I’ll just send a thank you card to.

Or I could ask my dentist, who says I need a tooth removed, to remove it and if I like what he did, I’ll pay him, but if not, I won’t pay him.

UPDATE: A lot of people responded to me, so I responded to them and have posted the thread below. What do you all think about spec work?

Check out this article on whether freelancing is a commodity or a profession.

My favorite part is this:

There seems to be a basic disconnect between what is needed to earn a living as a freelancer and what clients seem to want (at least on these outsourcing sites) to pay. The disconnect goes even deeper. Suddenly a client can define all aspects of a job from price to design, causing the designer’s role to change from that of a professional to that of a technician. It is unnerving.

I have to admit, though, I HAVE entered design contests in the past. I did so knowing that I may not win and get compensated for my work. I actually did win one contest for a website header, but it was the worst experience. because there were probably 20 revisions by the client and there was no contract to set the limits. Essentially I had no control over the project.

I won’t say that I’ll never enter another design contest, because I did enter another one only a month ago. I can say that I will do so with caution and much forethought, if for no other reason than to build my portfolio, when I’m looking for a particular client or project to include in my body of work.

I watched the second episode of the new series of HGTV’s Design Star. I like watching these sort of shows that redesign rooms in your house, because it’s fun to see the overlap that interior design has with graphic design.

I caught the last few minutes of the season premiere and contestant Michael Stribling said something cool. He was asked what his design style was. He said, “Whatever my client wants” He got blank stares from the judges.

But isn’t that what it’s all about?

Meeting the client’s needs while at the same time creating something you are proud to put in your portfolio. That’s the number one difficulty when working with clients: giving the client what they want while making great design (because we all know that clients will go for bad design, if you let them).

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I recently posted this in a contest that was later cancelled. I’m begining to enjoy creating website for practice. I can mess up and learn from my mistakes while waiting for another website job.


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