Pratt Sets a Terrible Example by Crowdsourcing New Mascot Design

1 Jun

I am a proud graduate of Pratt Institute (ComD/Graphic Design, ’92), where I received a solid education from some of the world’s top creative professionals. But, I could not be more disappointed that my alma matter is using a competition to crowdsource the design of a new Athletics Brand Identity for the Institute. It’s shameful that Pratt is engaging in this practice, which is harmful and damaging to designers.


My letter to President Schutte and Vice President for Student Affairs Matusow-Ayres. (Click the image to enlarge and read it.)

It is unacceptable that one of the top design schools in the world is asking hundreds of students, faculty, alumni, and staff to work for free, with the promise that one of them will receive only a fraction of the fair market value of their work. As a member of AIGA, Freelancers Union, and the Graphic Artist’s Guild, as well as a freelance designer, I know firsthand how unfair crowdsourcing is to designers, and how harmful it is to the industry and economy. In fact, the AIGA Position on Spec Work, and the Graphic Artists Guild Code of Fair Practice for the Graphic Communications Industry state each group’s specific opposition to it.

I’ve written to President Thomas F. Schutte, and to Vice President for Student Affairs Helen Matusow-Ayres, asking them to cancel the contest, and conduct the project ethically and fairly. If you would like to join me in expressing your disappointment, you can email them, and tweet to @PrattInstitute and @GoPrattGo. Pratt should be setting a much better example for its community, especially its students.

Correction: An earlier version of this post omitted the Twitter handle for Pratt Athletics, @GoPrattGo. It has been added.—JC


11 Responses to “Pratt Sets a Terrible Example by Crowdsourcing New Mascot Design”

  1. Sally Vitsky June 2, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    I graduated looong before you, Joe. But I’m a working freelance professional and I have Pratt to thank for a great education. I’m really stunned to see this and, also, extremely disappointed. It’s a terrible practice and, unless you’ve been living…and working…in a cave, you’re well aware of the impact it has had on the industry (and will continue to have if honored institutions such as Pratt promote it).I will be emailing and will encourage others to do so as well. Thank you!

  2. Mary Richinick June 2, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

    As a professional graphic designer, I find this appalling and hypocritical especially for an institution renowned for art education. Our profession has already been devalued by the misconception that anyone who has graphic software is a designer. Very disappointing and on top of that, unethical.

  3. Sarah June 3, 2015 at 4:09 am #

    Email sent. Pathetic.

  4. Alan Blythe June 3, 2015 at 5:32 am #

    Maybe all Pratt Students should crowdsource their education. Don’t pay Pratt and work a deal with each teacher. As Pratt slowly closes it’s doors maybe they’ll get the picture.

  5. Kurt Finkbeiner June 3, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

    As an alumni have to agree. Well said, could not agree more.

  6. Jeff Woodbury June 5, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    You would think the very faculty would put its collective foot down over this. Its embarrassing to see such an esteemed design institute pull a cheap stunt like this. You’d have to be living under a rock – after it hit you in the head – to think this is the right example to set.

  7. josephcaserto June 5, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

    Thanks for the support, everyone. Please see Pratt’s response, and my reply back:

  8. joseph cimini June 5, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    Pathetic! I’m a ’73 graduate and I’m stunned that Pratt would accept tuition to train professional artists and designers, and then dumb down to a cheesy “competition” like this. I sent an email suggesting that perhaps future students need not pay tuition, but instead “crowd source” their education for free.


  1. Pratt Institute Responds to My Letter Against Crowdsourcing | Joe’s Place - June 5, 2015

    […] my disappointment to Pratt Institute for crowdsourcing the design of a new mascot (please see my last post) received a lot of attention, and a response from Helen Matusow-Ayres, Pratt’s Vice […]

  2. ARTICLE: Pratt Crowdsourcing | INK - June 24, 2015

    […] To read this whole article please visit – […]

  3. Tell Pratt To Ban Crowdsourcing and Spec Work | Joe’s Place - November 6, 2015

    […] spring, I wrote to Pratt Institute, my alma mater, to express my disappointment that they engaged in crowdsourcing to get a new mascot […]

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