The U.S. Department of the Interior currently has posted a design brief on crowdspring.com asking for graphic designers to work for free in order to try to 'win' the prize of being paid for logo design and branding work. This is outrageous, especially coming from a branch of the U.S. Government.
We are against crowdsourcing of logos due to the harm it typically does the company or organization as well as the damage it does to the general public's understanding of the graphic design profession and the amount of work that really goes into logo development and branding. A federal agency that supports these practices is upsetting to us all. While crowdsourcing may appear like a win-win scenario on the surface for any company or organization, there are many reasons this may backfire and cause more harm than good.
First, when you create a brief, this may appear on the surface to cover all facets of what you're looking for in a logo, but a real professional and a real relationship with a designer will prove to be far more fruitful because it develops a partnership built on trust and respect for one another and the designer has a vested interest in your success as a company or organization. If the designer helps you to succeed, they can be proud of their involvement. They will put in the time necessary to research, develop, and revise the logo based on your needs and customize a solution that is more than likely, better than you could have hoped for. However, when using a crowdsourcing designer, in most instances, the designer is located somewhere remote, does not know your country, your business, or your client or target market and is simply churning out designs as quickly as they can in hopes of making some money from creating hundreds of logos in minutes in order to guarantee 'winning' some contests to make an income. This often results in poorly designed logos, no research, plagiarism, copyright infringement and recycling of a stockpile of logo elements or clip art they have at the ready. This doesn't even begin to address any follow-up needs you may have when your crowdsourced designer 'disappears' and you can no longer track them down if something is wrong with the file/artwork once you have paid for it… (Helpful Tip: Crowdsourcing sites are not accountable for the contest entrants work or content - you are on your own. Read the fine print!)
Even if designers are in fact US citizens, know your market and are willing to do the research to develop appropriate concepts, these designers usually give up on crowdsourcing sites quickly because to produce a viable logo/branding design takes hours, weeks, or months at a time with no guarantee of payment. You are asking designers, who have paid for their education, have experience in the field of design, and have the knowledge and skills you need to work for free. The United States economy is not based on practices like this so why should the government be supporting this type of practice against the Graphic Design Industry?
In the worst case scenarios, the US Department of the Interior could be facing hefty law suits from companies or organizations whose investment in their branding and logo development has been stolen and plagiarized under copyright infringement law. Look at the case of Citibank vs. All Citi Pawn: http://leightonhubbell-blog.com/logo-design-articles/it-would-have-been-cheaper-to-use-a-designer - are you willing to take this risk?
In a time when our economy is still struggling to recover, and many of our U.S. citizens are struggling to find work to survive, do you really want to set a precedent that you'd rather 'outsource' such an important part of the U.S. Department of the Interior's image to just anyone rather than support the economy that is supporting you? This is a horrible position to take and we hope you reconsider. Hiring a designer or design team one-on-one is not only a benefit to you, it benefits our economy to keep the work in the USA and make sure our designers get paid for the work they do.
Please sign this petition to urge the US Department of the Interior to hire a U.S. Designer, or Design Team, to design their logo instead of asking people to work for free in the crowdsourcing 'competition' environment! We value our educated, experienced and professional designers and hope you do too!
P.S. If you would like to read more about crowdsourcing and the pros and cons, please read the blog by Leighton Hubbell, an established expert in the field of logo design, here: http://leightonhubbell-blog.com/logo-design-articles/what-you-wont-get-when-crowdsourcing-your-logo or another view from Michael Foster, a Graphic Designer based in seattle, here: http://biznik.com/articles/crowdsourcing-your-graphic-design-work-its-bad-for-you-i-have-proof
The U.S. government's involvement in crowdsourcing sets a horrible precedent. Designers go to school and invest lots of money into their education - not to mention the years of experience and professional research and development under their belts for creating branding. The Department of the Interior's use of a crowdsourcing site is a slap in the face of American citizens who work very hard to do what they were trained to do.
Many questions have been raised about the quality of crowdsourced design projects. Problems abound with copyright infringement and theft of original designs, and many participants make money off these contests by recycling the same ideas over and over again. Many of these participants reside overseas. Has the Department of the Interior considered how this contest conforms to the Buy American Act?
In a time in our economy when so many graphic designers are out of work and struggling to make ends meet, this is definitely a bold and offensive move that our government should not be endorsing.
I'm asking the Department of the Interior to end its involvement in this botched crowdsourcing project by fulfilling your obligations with Crowdspring and instead contracting with a design team or designer to properly design your logo.