“Spec Is So Not Special” Follow Up

I mentioned before that my friend Drew Davies, owner of Oxide Design in Omaha was a judge for CA’s Design Annual this year and what a major distinction that is, especially for an Omahan. I then drew attention to a remark from Davies concerning spec work. Below please find his commentary on the issue, further refined for your reading pleasure.
Thank you, Mr. Burn for your supportive comments. I was very pleased that Patrick Coyne decided to use that thought I’d shared with Communication Arts for a pull-quote. It’s something I believe in very strongly, and take very seriously. I suspect all markets are like ours here in Omaha: we compete not so much against other design firms, but against the perception that design is without value, and budgeting dollars for design is just below “pretty artwork for the corporate restrooms” on the list of priorities. I truly believe the solution is simple, if a bit optimistic: if all designers stopped engaging in spec work, the problem would be reduced to insignificance. What we do has huge value. It’s time for us to start believing that, and making the companies of the world believe that.
And let me be clear that I am referring to spec work here, not pro bono or donated or bartered work. The practice I am talking about is, most specifically, producing work for a client who will then decide if it is “good enough” to pay you for it. Particularly despicable is when companies ask several firms all to submit creative, and then the company decides who “wins” and gets paid. You don’t see any other professionals (e.g. lawyers, accountants, etc.) engaging in this kind of devaluing behavior.
As a side note, I should make a clarification to your post: the streamlined Iowa Hawkeye logo was designed by Bill Bollman, Bill Basler and myself. It is the product of a team collaboration, not one designer.
Drew Davies
Oxide Design

About David Burn

Fired up to write it down. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. Chief storyteller at Bonehook, a guide service and bait shop for brands.