I noticed these days a significant effort in the promotion of a Romanian-based international design contest for a package design project in which the client asks for spec work.
Because not participating in (and denouncing) projects involving spec work, free pitches and design contests is the best practice, in compliance with the ethics of this profession as they are set forth by design bodies such as AIGA, BDI and The Design Council, as well as the majority of independent design consultancies.
"Like visiting several restaurants, trying the food in each one and then refusing to pay the bill." Erik Spiekermann
Here's a short list of various resources and articles on the topic, from dedicated sources as NO!SPEC and SpecWatch to professional associations as AIGA, from a design legend like Erik Spiekermann to authors like Debbie Millman and Jeff Fisher to business press like Boston Business Journal:
- AIGA position on spec work and AIGA sample letter for speculative work;
- NO!SPEC and Design contests are dangerous for your business on NO!SPEC;
- Pitched out by Erik Spiekermann on Icograda;
- Spec This by Debbie Millman;
- When a “contest” is not a contest by Jeff Fisher;
- Working on spec is a disturbing—and growing—trend by Sean Lorenz for Boston Business Journal.
Right answer: "I do not endorse the practice of free pitch, sorry."
When confronted with spec work requests, free pitches or design contests, the right answer is "I do not endorse the practice of free pitch, sorry."
Either that or a strong NO.
More: The reading list on the issue is vast, here are a few more pieces:
- The “Pros” and Cons of Spec Work by Jacob Cass at Just Creative Design;
- Spec Sucks For Everyone on Adland;
- Don’t Design On Spec by Jeffrey Zeldman;
- Speculative Work by Paolo Pace on Designer Today;
- This Week's 4-Letter Word: SPEC by Drew Davies at Be A Design Group;
- Logo Design Contests Are Bad For Business by David Airey;
- Why We Don't Make Speculative Presentations by Creative Business on Creative Latitude;
- The Naked Truth About Design Contests on Web Designer Depot;
- The Reality Of Logo Design Contests and Spec Watch On Design Contests Logo Design Love;
- When The World Zigs, Zig on Johnson Banks' Thought for the week.