Forbes & Crowdspring Fire Up Designers

Bigger Better Faster CheaperIt may have been lost on the general public, but earlier this week a Forbes article was the shot across the bow for most of the professional design community. In the article, Christoper Steiner interviews CrowdSpring about their “design contest” business model. Based on the comments to the article, the topic is one that is close to the heart of many professional designers. In my opinion, Steph Doyle makes a good point about the lack of balance in the article, how it favors the idea presented by CrowdSpring, and doesn’t present a fair counterpoint. Steph also goes on to mention how inexperienced designers are only hurting themselves and the design industry. You may recall last month I wrote an article asking, “How much are you worth?“, which addressed the issues facing students entering the job market. I agree with Steph that the design community needs to do a better job of educating new designers, students, peers & the general consumer.

So what happens now?

The reality is new technology always brings about change in any industry. I call it Art & Business 101. Skilled & unskilled labor are impacted by technology that make tasks easier, or perform tasks better. While I disagree with the business model presented by CrowdSpring, they are catering to a demographic that is not my customer base. If a client company neither has the budget or desire to spend thousands of dollars on a design project, a professional designer’s portfolio may do little to change that company’s mind. I worry little about the company searching Craigslist for “artist for hire” because I’m not actively marketing to that company. I believe it’s imperative that while we educate those around us about our industry, we should also refrain from belittling those who do not understand or share our view. “I hope CrowdSpring burns in hell.” does little to squelch the point that “professional designers” are elitist snobs. The future is coming, you can stubbornly hold onto your way of doing things, or learn & adapt to the changes at hand.

Bigger, better, faster, cheaper. We can’t deny that there are customers driven by those wants & needs. Likewise, we can’t compromise the quality of our products & services to meet the wants & needs of every individual. I encourage you to recognize the impact of sites like CrowdSpring, but not to be discouraged by the challenges ahead. Educate your peers, educate your clients, but most importantly educate yourself to stay ahead of the game.

UPDATE – Thanks to @MrEvil for pointing out an article by the Strobist about working for free. While it doesn’t address the Forbes article, I think it falls inline with how the world is changing and what professionals should consider in adapting to that change.

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  • Here, here, A.J.! I agree, wholeheartedly! You’ve helped me to see, over time, that I don’t need to sweat the cheap guys, just market myself to the customer base I want, which is the people who actually care to have their precious family photo’s restored by one of the best! Is that elitist? No, it’s knowing my worth and presenting that option to the public.

    Great article!

    Janines last blog post..Friday Fly-Bys on [site]

  • AJ – This is really spot on. While you and I might disagree about some of the underlying issues – I absolutely share your views about “what happens now.” You’ve done an outstanding job articulating that point – far better then I’ve ever been able to do.


    Ross Kimbarovsky

    Ross Kimbarovskys last blog post..Friday Fun Facts – Best Case, Worst Case, and Most Likely on [site]

  • Educate your peers, educate your clients, but most importantly educate yourself to stay ahead of the game.

    That cannot be stressed enough. But we need to realize that as our field gets commoditized, we have to do everything we can to improve our abilities, stand out above the masses, etc. Client education only goes so far. We’re never going to get rid of people who expect something for nothing.

  • By the way, it’s A.J. I agree with, not Crowdspring. While I understand there will always be those who will cheapen any industry to get a buck, I still abhor those who do it. I agree that there will always be “Cheap”, and we who are not need to separate ourselves from those who are.

    Janines last blog post..Friday Fly-Bys on [site]

  • You hit this out of the park. We have dealt with some major talent in the past, the kind that can cost easily $5k $10k, $20k, 30k+ for a SINGLE project. The problem is that some of those companies while very talented have an immense overhead to support and demands constant attention to ensure quality. With Crowdspring, that was NOT the case, it was more like a controlled feeding frenzy that accelerated based on RAW feedback.

    We did our first project for $400, and were so pleased that we did another for $1,000 on Crowdspring The results were phenomenal! We got some stuff that really looked good and worked well for us.

    Yes – we DID have some “elitist snobs” one some of the projects, and more than a few people just throwing things out there to distract the process. BUT overall, it rocked and we could voice our opinions when people were on the right track – and when they were wasting our time.

    Crowdspring demonstrates capitalism in it’s purest form. Cream definitely rises to the top via the process…

  • Bill   Reply →

    I recently tried crowdspring and I can not believe what a bad experience it turned out to be. 85% of the work I received was clip art slightly altered but could be found by doing a google search.

    Everyone new to this kind of system should also know that crowdsprings hides any negative comments about copyright infringement from the public. It is only visible to the user keeping everyone else ignorant of the infractions that go on at crowdspring. What do you do if you get sued by someone for using their art? The artists on these sites have aliases, who knows where in the world they come from and you may be held liable for a copyright lawsuit.

    Use sites like crowdsprings at your own risk. I learned my lesson, look at portfolios before you select an agency and stay away from potential lawsuits and bad art.

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