From the “Here We Go Again” Department. No point in rehashing the dangers of logo design contests, save this simple “spec work is bad” equation:
A whole bunch anonymous people who may, or may not, be actual designers +
A very small chance of getting paid for their design work +
A web-based logo design contest on ANY ‘design contest’ site =
An extraordinarily high risk of copied work.
The proof, as they say, is always “in the pudding“. So let’s take a look at some recent pudding from our old pals at 99designs, this time in a logo contest for the good folks at Storm Factory, undoubtedly nice people who like to think of themselves as an “awesome entertainment company“. The brief for the $270 contest is pretty straight forward, asking for a design that incorporates “a factory and/or a storm in some kind of creative way.” Cool. This tanning salon logo (designed by our shop back in 2003) features a factory (right), so let’s add some lightning bolts (in a “creative” way I suppose) and we’re all set. Not that this is the contest holder’s fault (other than holding a contest in the first place). They can’t be expected to know every logo in the history of ever. And as 99designs can’t, or won’t, monitor every single contest on their server, identifying knocked-off stuff is left to other contest participants. As is notifying 99designs administrators about the hackery (though “please do this very quietly, lest contest holders realize they’re paying for a bunch of copied logos that they can’t use” seems to be the policy de jour). Not that this “let’s leave monitoring contests to the plebes” concept always works out so well. Anyone remember this spec work parable when it didn’t?
As is generally the case, and after being notified, the lads at 99designs quietly withdraw the copied design (or as in this case, multiple variations) from the contest proper, but leave it on their server so that others can be, ahm, inspired by it (or for search engine rankings, whichever comes first). You can’t imagine how thrilled I am to have work that’s been cribbed from our logo design portfolio, being used to promote 99designs and their services. Nor, how positively chuffed I am knowing that when 99designs claims they’re a better alternative to our shop, or other designers, because “clients” get “more design options“, some of those “more design options” are ripped straight from our galleries. And those of other designers and design firms. While we’re at it, wonder if ripped designs count in the “97 designs” average submissions per contest these guys claim?
Meanwhile, the would be designer who’s now shown us that he’s not above lifting others’ work so blatantly, is free to enter more contests held by unsuspecting contest holders. He’s active in six right now. Ain’t the first time this nonsense has happened. Or the second time either. Copied designs being entered into logo contests and so-called crowdsourcing sites is a regular occurrence. Or is this just another example of someone being a snooty designer who won’t get with the program?
- Yet another 99designs logo contest knock-off
- How to enter a logo design contest in ten minutes flat. Without having to design anything
- Defending crowdsourcing & design contests. The platitudes of spec work.
- The Jon Engle vs. Stockart.com story – an anti-spec work parable?
- Snippets: Crowdspring to offer spec writing, NEA holds a spec work contest & other news