I recently posted a project on CrowdSpring for the design of the Light Thinking logo.
Logo suggestions from Fellah, TailoredBranding, Maisartdesign and Bildix.
CrowdSpring is a marketplace for design services. ‘Buyers’ post projects and deposits a sum. ‘Creatives’ upload their designs. The buyer selects a winner who gets the money, the rest gets nothing.
The concept is controversial for sure. You can read angry designers POV if you Google “no!spec”. Being a designer of sorts myself I hesitated for quite a while. But after trying to work with 3 designers (and 4 Interaction Designers but that is a different story) the usual way, I was pretty pissed off. I briefed them, prepared and sent them all the materials they asked for, told them this was a start-up with limited budget and asked for a price. And waited. Follow up email. No answer. For weeks. I eventually made a deal with one guy. Then had to wait on him to finish up some other stuff he was working on. After 3 weeks he emailed me and said there was going to be further delays.
Well, frak that! I don’t have time for this kind on nonsense. Enter CrowdSpring.
At CrowdSpring I uploaded my brief, offered $600 and waited. After an hour the first concept sketch appeared.
So what is the experience? All in all pretty good. There are three types of of designers I’ve encountered on CrowdSpring.
The first type is ‘The Kid’ who produces pretty basic, often immature concepts. From time to time some hilarious ideas as well. Uses low quality free fonts and whatever tools they have. Some will grow up to be great designers, some certainly won’t. 50% or more of the entries were of the ‘Kid’ variety. I’ve tried to offer constructive feedback as much as I could and that is obviously appreciated. Fun too.
The other is the ‘Vacant Professional’ who has a number of generic concepts in the drawer and fires off a bunch of different ones to see if anything sticks. I imagine they work at a design studio and does some spec work between ‘real’ clients. It looks slick and well produced but its kind of bland tasting. Lawyers stationary kind of stuff.
Then there is the designers who actually reads the brief, tries to attack the problem in an intelligent and unique way, and has the necessary skills. These are the people you will be working with during the competition phase and afterwards. You decide how long the project should last. I chose one week. You can post feedback and have a back-and forth with the designer through CrowdSpring like you normally would.
I don’t know if a designer is able to make a living doing spec work alone, but that is not the point. From my perspective as a buyer, I’ve found some really talented designers that I am going to continue to work with. I invested a very moderate $600 and got a logo that I can use for a while. They invested some hours for moderate pay, but landed a long term customer.
I’m not sure spec work is ever going to be the dominant way to design anything complex. But I think it works great as a way for designers to attract new long term customers.