Steve Dembo at teach42 posted about crowdSPRING, a site on which creative projects [logo, website design, etc.] are posted for all to see. Then designers, hobbyists and, as Dembo points out, students can respond to the ad with a design that may be chosen. In “Real World Art,” Dembo writes:
“The site is called CrowdSPRING and what’s amazing about it is that people aren’t competing to win a contract to create the logo/design, they’re actually going ahead and doing the work and hoping to be the one selected as the winner.”
Dembo sums up crowdSPRING better than they do. He goes on:
“At first I was just way impressed at the idea of the site, and that so many professional and amateur graphic designers were participating. Then i started wondering whether any student graphic designers were jumping into the game. After all, why not? If they enjoyed doing design work and wanted to practice in some real world situations, why not try their hand at some logos for real potential clients?”
I’m impressed by the idea, too, and a quick look at something from crowdSPRING’s project tab shows that range of hobbyist to professional. Imagine if Sunkist, who recently tweaked their logo, opened up a similar competition? Very cool possibilities.
Unfortunately, this stuff ruins the world.
First, the crowdSPRING model is a kissing cousin of spec work – and here’s why that’s bad. The professional association for design, AIGA, takes the following position on spec work and design competitions:
“… organizations sometimes initiate contests as a way of developing logos or other identity work. Unlike disciplines in which the designer can bill for implementation of the proposed design (e.g., architecture), in communication design, the submitted solution already represents the bulk of the intellectual work. AIGA encourages organizations to issue a request for proposals from qualified designers. This sample letter may also be sent by AIGA members to help educate organizations offering contests.
AIGA believes that doing speculative work seriously compromises the quality of work that clients are entitled to and also violates a tacit, long-standing ethical standard in the communication design profession worldwide.”
You can see how spec work and design competitions can weaken the sector – but that’s not the big issue here. Especially in education – for developing students’ interests in and capabilities with design – we need to look at the opportunity cost.
The solution is direct, local charity. Walk down the street and give away a design.
If a student researches a crowdSPRING design, mocks one up and submits, he misses out on developing most of the skills that make a designer successful. He’ll have a logo for his portfolio, but he’s not a better designer than he was the day before. That, and he hasn’t done much good in the world.
So how can a student interested in design make a bigger impact on his own development and on the world around him?
1. Identify a business or organization that could use your help. This isn’t hard – it’s fairly obvious who does and doesn’t need a bit of rebranding. Stroll down Main Street, pop in, introduce yourself and offer to do a logo/website design for free. No obligation, no payment necessary. Just ask that you can use the design in your portfolio.
2. Work with them on the design process. This is the skill that matters the most – dealing with the people behind the designs you’re creating. Find out what they want, what they need, and figure out how you can do it. There are loads of free resources that can guide you in that process. Here are a few:
- The Logo Design Process of TOP Logo Designers
- Logo Design Process From Start to Finish
- The Logo Design Process From Concept to Completion
The student learns how to communicate with a potential client and plan/execute project management. It doesn’t get much more relevant than that.
3. Ram home that you’re part of the community – then add to it. These small projects are great opportunities to connect with the people around you. Explain that you’re taking a design class at your high school or that you’re a local student looking to develop a small business in design. You’re part of the community, they’re part of the community. It’s a lot more valuable than an anonymous crowdSPRING design with no feedback process, no connections and no conversations.
Schools especially need all the help they can get with positive PR. Engaging taxpayers, parents, and/or business owners with the fruits of their school taxes – and a bit of promise that local youth aren’t leading their community to Hell in a handbasket – can have a tremendous effect on garnering support of a school’s endeavors.
This isn’t one of those 21st century skills – it’s just old-fashioned, 20th century charity that happens to use Photoshop.
If a business/organization uses crowdSPRING for its logo project and it takes each designer 3 hours to research, sketch and develop a suitable entry, 100 entrants nearly wastes 297 hours.
Hey, one guy’s time will be made worthwhile with his selection and a couple hundred dollars.
My model? 100 students/amateurs go through the design process, build their portfolios and develop professionally. 100 small businesses or charitable organizations get free, high-quality design. 100 schools districts get good PR and 100 communities grow a little.
crowdSPRING’s problem is opportunity cost. It’s a very cool idea, and their PRO section may work out well as a business model, but it’s far less helpful than it seems.
Their idea does nothing to prevent the erosion of communication and community. My model adds to both. You decide.
13 Responses to “crowdSPRING: How the Internet Can Ruin the World While Smiling Sweetly”
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