This article on the CR Blog has created a bit of ‘passion’ from the design community and it got me thinking about 99design.com and the concerns I have.
99design.com is an American website where a business can brief, let’s say, a logo to a so-called ‘design community’ in which the winner of the logo will then be paid from as little as £185 – it goes under a very trendy term called ‘crowd sourcing’ – sounds fine!
But this is not a collective intelligence solving a design challenge – it’s a competition in which you set your talent against other designers and so-called designers.
How can something like this work? Where’s the in-depth communication from client to designer about the company, the brand, or the direction and aspirations etc? What’s the legal small print? Will the designer own their designs? Are there consequences if they plagiarise? If they don’t win what is actually the point?
I mean, it’s not Blue Peter you don’t even get a bloody badge! – just some criticism from a business who don’t want a relationship with their designers but are instead looking to solve their design problems quick and dirty.
The argument for such a website is that it’s a place where an aspiring designer with no formal training can acquire the skills to work in a competitive creative environment.
But one can argue that part of acquiring those skills is doing the leg work – making opportunities, making mistakes and making chances to get their foot through the proverbial door and ultimately being responsible for their work.
One of the problems is that novice designers on sites like 99design.com are not aware of the legality of typefaces and stock devices and are quite happy to rip off other work with almost no consequence to themselves.
But probably the most terrifying thing about so-called ‘crowd sourcing’ design sites is that all the power is in the business or ‘contest-holders’ hands.
There are hardly any safeguards for designers and surely working in such a one sided environment can not be healthy for the industry? And what if clients start specifically asking agencies to adhere to budgets they receive from a crowd sourcing website and those costs start to become standard. Then no one wins, the standard drops with price – and you literally get what you pay for…
In my humble (and thoroughly indignant) opinion, a load of old tat.
Which design has been created by a designer and which by our Boulton who thinks powerpoint is the program of the gods.