Friends don’t let friends do Spec work

Spec Work

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no-respect spec-soap

Credits : Matt Clarke, Chad Behnke, Jerett Patterson

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In my professional opinion, Spec work devalues the potential of design and ultimately does a disservice to the client. Spec work can come in many forms and from existing clients, referrals and job postings.

What are the Pros & Cons of doing spec work?


Design Vendor : Exposure, Portfolio building, opportunity to work with organization

Client : Test out vendor, get numerous designs for free potentially lowering the cost of professional design services by hundreds or thousands of dollars, get the best for your business.


Pitfalls.  Spec client may already have chosen an agency to work with, and they are just trying to get some free ideas from the community.  It’s easy to recreate something or if worse comes to worse, you can hire the designer, but ultimately have no interest in working with the designer/talent.

“If you’re willing to commit someone else’s ideas to your business, without a clear concept of what you yourself want or desire, you leave yourself open to the mercy of other people’s caprice and fancy. If you’re running your business, don’t you want the right to get it the way you want it without gambling on something that may cost more to fix than to get right in the first place?”- From NO!SPEC


If it isn’t obvious from the title of the post I’m against certain types of spec work.  Doing something to get some experience or get your foot in the door is a career decision, but doing spec work won’t help you grow in some cases.

Or am I so out of touch with today’s economic climate that I’m lucky to stay busy with standard paying clients and jobs?

Why write this post

I follow ACTORSandCREW on twitter and I enjoy finding out about all of the opportunities and film / creative projects around the country.  Many of these opportunities are posted from professional organizations utilizing all outlets to find the top talent in their desired field. Thanks so much for this awesome service ACTORSandCREW!!!

Some of the posts provide people opportunities and chances to connect with work on productions that have a range of budgets from high to low budget in exchange for experience or references, etc.  Great, this is a good way for people to network locally and get their foot thru the door.

Earlier today, a job posting sounded like spec work to me, which I think is unfair to the design vendors, but perhaps great for the client.  For instance, Company X needs a logo, so they create a low paying job post asking people to submit their final designs for their new company logo.  Let’s say twenty designers submit their best work, the client basically gets a complete design package for free and then they can make their final decision.  Or if it is design by committee they can pick elements they like from all of the logos and have their own design agency do the actual work, leaving all of the hard working designers with nothing but their logo designs or concepts.  You can only build your portfolio so much before you will have to focus on what is important, paying your bills, right?

Idea : How to make it not spec work and work with the community!

Create a job post identifying your company and asking people to submit links to their portfolio or work samples.  Smart candidates will submit work that matches the companies industry or corporate culture/branding/potential audience.  Then Company X can pick the best designer to create their logo.  This is perhaps more traditional way of selecting a designer.  This way 19 of the 20 people aren’t wasting their time and you hire the designer that will meet your expectations and project’s budget. Excerpt from July 13th, 2009 followed by my notes of GOOD! or Strike thru for Not So Good.

GOOD! Manager Post & Production at Megamedia Films & Studios, Cochin: A newly started hi-end post p.. #India #Film #Jobs

GOOD! Crewing Up For Short Film (Miami/Ft Lauderdale): Want to build your resume?… #Miami #Film #Jobs is a fast growing Motocross site … #SD #Film #Jobs

GOOD! #LA #Jobs Senior Writer/Producer at Walt Disney (Burbank, CA): The Senior Writer Producer for the Disne..

GOOD! #NYC #Jobs Managing Editor/Digital Media Producer at Walt Disney (New York, NY): Con Ed publishing Sof..

Some Additional Articles.

What is your opinion on SPEC WORK?  Leave your feedback in the comments!  Would you join / stay a member of a professional site that offers a lot of this type of work?

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