Spec Is So Not Special

“Engaging in spec work is eroding the image of designers. It perpetuates the falsehood that what we do is easy or valueless.” -Drew Davies, founder of Oxide Design
I was happy to see Omaha designer, Drew Davies, in the CA Design Annual this year. Not as a winner, but as a judge–which may be even more impressive. This is pretty refined air for Nebraska, as Drew himself states on his updated home page. On top of all this, he’s quoted in a call out saying something mildly controversial (see above).
For sure, I’ve done my share of “spec work,” or noncommissioned work, in order to build my portfolio. Then I moved on to “free work.” Free work is real work for a real client that actually runs, but compensation for the agency or design shop is limited. “Pro-bono” lawyers like to call it.
I’ve bartered and traded services, as I did with Omaha coffee entrepreneur, Jason Beck, owner of Java Rocket. I’ve helped friends launch or refine their brand identities because I could.
Yet, I know where Drew Davies is coming from and I honor that reality. The reality of making a living and getting clients to invest in design or copy or anything that might be described as “creative.”
Iowa Hawkeye by Drew Davies

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.