I may not work as a graphic designer anymore, but I do still work for an agency, and I do still have ties to the design world. And organizations/companies that put out calls for spec work or crowdsourcing still kind of annoy me in a way that very little else does. It undermines the value of the industry and adds to the whole "my cousin's neighbor's plumber's son's nephew could design me a logo for $20" mentality that doesn't go away. Everyone with a copy of Adobe is a designer these days.
The American Institute for Graphic Artists (AIGA) issued a statement/letter to the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) berating them for their decision to issue an RFP for a logo calling for - you guessed it - speculative work. You'd think an arts organization would be more sympathetic to the industry, but whatevs.
The entire article/letter is here and worth a read on its own, but here are a few main points I would like to call attention to. As you probably already saw on my Twitter stream.
Speculative design competitions or processes result in a superficial assessment of the problem.
You do not get a quality, professional solution you would when a designer has a chance to investigate the problem and provide you with a comprehensive result that understands what you need.
Capable and professional designers do not work for free.
I shouldn't need to expound on that point.
Requesting work for free reflects a lack of understanding and respect for the value of effective design as well as the time of the professionals who are asked to provide it.
This reiterates my previous point of undermining the industry as a whole. Already people are hesitant to pay for design because "everyone can do it" (you should see this site, too - painful, painful examples of how uneducated the public is on how the design industry works. I get that it's supposed to be funny, but it mostly just makes me cringe.)
There are few professions where you ask all possible candidates to do the work first and then you will choose which one to pay.
That should just be obvious. Nobody who wants to be taken seriously as a professional would stand for this. Why is it okay in the design industry?
Short answer? It's not.
Other answer? It's the unprofessional and the inexperienced that renew this cycle because they don't know better than to not participate. And as long as designers - any designers - allow themselves to be taken advantage of, the world will assume they can do it to ALL designers.And that's bullshit.