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Entry no.: 877

30 Oct 2009, 4:19 PM

Tags: , , ,

Comments: 6

Design Spec work, free pitch, design contest

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.

As a rent-paying, salary-paying and tax-paying designer I'm strongly against this practice—it should go without saying after I wrote The 'free pitch' practice and On design contests.

"Spec Hurts Everyone" by Von Glitschka of Glitschka Studios for NO!SPEC

"Spec Hurts Everyone" poster by Von Glitschka of Glitschka Studios for NO!SPEC. Click here or on the image to enlarge.

Against? Why?

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.

Says who?

"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:


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:

You can also follow @nospec and @specwatch on Twitter.


Reply no.: 1

30 Oct 2009, 5:58 PM

Rares Budac:

I totally agree, here's one more example: What about the Carpatica Bank "rebranding pitch" in wich they ask for 3 logo proposal and a new mission and vision statement...
Where does that qualify?

Reply no.: 2

2 Nov 2009, 12:48 PM


That would be a free pitch with "solicitation of design concepts to be produced on a speculative basis." Spec work, that is.

Also: we're at the third bank branding project (Brandient) and I can say this is a job that cannot be accomplished without a lot of face-to-face access to the CEO and the board of directors—even so it takes many months. Rebranding by e-mail is an absurd concept in the category. It might work for a hairstylist or a small bistro, but not ever for a bank.

Reply no.: 3

2 Nov 2009, 2:05 PM

Reply no.: 4

5 Nov 2009, 1:07 PM

Rares Budac:

I know, i just pointed out that we still speak in vain for most people. No marketing executive in his right mind could think rebranding has to do with logo and mission proposals:))
So to sum it up, we speak and protest and make efforts to evangelize the market yet our words fall on def ears. So once again to the world: there is no rebranding project without audit, strategy and consulting from a team of profesionals!

Reply no.: 5

28 Nov 2009, 6:24 PM

Ralf Schuetz:

I'm completely with you. Why is it always that a designer's time and experience seems to be worth sh*t?
If you go and ask a few dentists to pitch on your root canal and do some spec fillings they would chase you out of town...

Reply no.: 6

14 Dec 2009, 2:08 PM


This is really awesome and I am glad that you have shared the information, thank you very much.

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