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 head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.