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We should all spam their general address () with this letter:
The AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts, www.aiga.org) believes that doing speculative work seriously compromises the quality of work that clients are entitled to and also violates a tacit, long-standing ethical standard in the communication design profession worldwide. AIGA strongly discourages the practice of requesting that design work be produced and submitted on a speculative basis in order to be considered for acceptance on a project.
Although we realize that such contests are a popular way for organizations to generate publicity and participation—and to save costs—there are a number of reasons why asking for work without compensation except for a single design that is selected, which is termed speculative work in the profession, contradicts the ethics of our profession.
The first is that design is a process. It involves time, creative energy, strategy and, most importantly, client participation. For a designer to generate work without going through this process is to create something that is undeveloped and that does not reflect the client’s input and participation. The resulting work is not truly representative of the value or level of service designers provide, nor does it adequately or appropriately address your needs as a client. Just as you wouldn't seek legal or financial advice from a consultant prior to hiring them, a designer must also be well acquainted with your organization and goals if they are to make informed and responsible recommendations.
The other reason is that expecting speculative or uncompensated work demonstrates a trivializing of the contribution design makes to creating value for clients. Of all the entrants in your contest or competition, only one will be selected as a finalist. The time and work of all others will have gone for naught. This attitude on the part of a prospective client is likely to result in receiving work from students, inexperienced or untrained designers, or those less likely to get work from more traditional ways of demonstrating the soundness of their approach toward clients’ problems. The pool of work from which you will select will not necessarily represent the quality of work you deserve from seeking a professional designer. In the end, everyone loses.
We encourage you to reconsider holding this contest, and instead issue a Request For Proposals from qualified design professionals. I know that selecting a designer can be a difficult and daunting task. To assist you, the AIGA provides resources to help you research firms in your area. This database is available online at www.aiga.org/directory. We have also created a helpful guide that can assist you in researching qualified designers, writing a design brief, and managing the design process. This resource is also available free online at www.aiga.org/design-business-and…...