Hey, You, Behind the Buffalo Seal; This is Bull!

11 Jun

Here’s a raw deal for you: design a logo, with no guarantee of getting paid, and if you do, it’ll be for a fraction of the fair amount. What’s worse is that the client is no fly-by-night snake oil salesman, it’s the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI). Learn more after the jump.

Dept Of The Interior Seal

The DOI is using crowdSPRING.com, a crowd-sourcing website, to run a logo design contest that ends on June 15th. Prizes will be awarded in the amounts of $1,000 to the 1st place winner, and $250 each to the 2nd and 3rd place winners, with the winning design getting applied to official hats, t-shirts and jackets.

While at first glance, this may seem like a clever way to reduce government spending, it’s actually harmful to the professional design industry, and may deprive American artists of income, while taking advantage of our foreign counterparts. Speculative work (also called Spec work for short, and essentially meaning free, in hopes of getting paid) devalues the work of professional designers and denies us the opportunity to make a living. AIGA, the professional association for design, is against this practice, because it can harm both designers and clients. (Click here for more.) What’s worse, by crowd-sourcing this project online, it means that the income may very likely be taken away from American designers by our own Government, which will instead pay it to foreign designers, who will actually be exploited by earning way less than what the work is actually worth in the U.S. Market.

Think $1000 isn’t so bad? Think again. According to the Graphic Artists Guild‘s Handbook of Pricing & Ethical Guidelines [13th edition], professional fees for a logo range from $20,000 to $50,000 for the design and buyout of copyright.

If you think that it’s outrageous for a Department of the U.S. Government to be conducting business this way, as I do, here’s what you can do:

1. Read the Guild’s open letter to the DOI.

2. Go to change.org and sign the petition asking the DOI to cancel the contest.

3. Post a (civil) comment with your disapproval on the DOI’s Facebook page.

4. Write to DOI Secretary Ken Salazar protesting the contest; multiple letters from multiple people are more effective than a petition:

Mr. Ken Salazar, Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240

For more information, read this post at Brandchannel.com, which includes details on the contest, and comments from the DOI and Graphic Artists Guild.

This practice by the DOI is shameful. The U.S. is slowly recovering from one of the worst recessions in our modern economic history, which hit the Design Industry hard. Simply put, our Government should be helping American Designers, not contributing to our hardship.

Note: I belong to both the Graphic Artists Guild, and AIGA.


4 Responses to “Hey, You, Behind the Buffalo Seal; This is Bull!”

  1. Mary Koster June 11, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

    Great aritcle, Joseph. Thanks for publicizing and sharing the petition and the issues that surround this logo crowdsourcing. Hope we can keep putting pressure on the DOI and pressure on the government in general to not ever do this again. Here’s hoping we make some ground on this issue. Thanks again!

  2. Michael June 16, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    CrowdSpring is really very big company in designing market.. Crowdspring always perfect with his work ..!! Here are some good reviews about Crowdspring must watch and let me know its true or not ..

  3. Michael June 16, 2011 at 7:10 am #

    I forgot to add link .. please check ” http://www.logocontestreviews.com/crowdspring-review/

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