Have you heard of spec work? Have you created a design contest asking for designers to create a logo for you new start-up business to award only one creative the price? How about crowdsourcing work? Have you entered a contest hoping your submitted design would win so that you would be paid? If so, I urge you to stop and stay away from Spec.
What is Spec Work?
Spec work (or speculative work) means producing a piece of work for a client without a guarantee that your submission will be picked out of other submitted pieces of work from others or without guarantee of payment. Many people starting out in the design industry want to build their portfolio and are easily trapped with this kind of work (myself included) because these types of projects are everywhere. This video does a great job explaining spec work and why it is bad business.
This video was created by the very talented Topic Simple.
What can you do about this?
Now that you have a better understanding, you can see why spec work is bad business. As a graphic designer, I use to think that these design contests or crowdsourcing sites like 99designs.com seemed like the perfect way to build my portfolio. I spent hours working on a logo designs and submitted them to only be left with nothing but waisted time and effort. One day I heard about a movement called AntiSpec, a community filled with professionals fighting agains spec work. I felt that it was my duty as a young professional to show my support. I joined and almost instantly felt empowered. No longer would I support design contests or crowdsourcing sites and projects! If you have been trapped like I was, I would strongly suggest that you stand up as well and show your support for AntiSpec! The best way to fight this kind of work is to not do it! Don’t give in to the urge of taking a shot at a design contest.
You want to build your portfolio?
If you need to build your portfolio, create some personal projects. Design some t-shirts. Do a case study and redesign an existing brand or company logo and showcase this in your portfolio. Search out some non-profits in your area and see if you can offer to design their website or logo. Maybe they have an event that needs a poster design. There are many ways to build a portfolio of work for yourself without spec work.
I would love for you to comment and share your experience with spec work and how you help to fight against it.