Shouldn’t contractors have to take risks?

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Last week I wanted to create an exciting new website. The designers I work with were all busy and, as an engineer at heart, I don’t have much of a design following in my network. So based on recommendations I went to 99designs. I set up the contest with what details I had and was delighted at the mock ups that were sent in. Those that took part were helpful, understanding and managed to realise a creative vision I could not even articulate.

So it was with great surprise that I was contacted on Twitter by an individual advising against all speculative work and urging me to spread the word of the NO!SPEC movement. I didn’t know this individual so can only assume they monitor 99dedigns competitions to contact those paying for them.

I read their about page and many of the quotes and I’m still not sure about it. Essentially the argument is that designers should be paid for all time spent pursuing work and that a portfolio should be more than enough to determine if you wish to hire them. I can understand the argument but it simply is not how the business word works. Job interviews have tests, public companies use competitive tendering and private agencies need to compete for work, we all have to demonstrate understanding and fit for the task being offered. 99designs competitions may not be perfect but surely they are not unethical?

Apologies if this seemed a little like a rant but what is really going on here? Are designers that different to other professions or are they truly changing the way work is won for all of us?

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