Every designer, especially young designers, as well as clients, should be aware of what spec work is and what are the risks of speculative work.
AIGA, the professional association for design, has a clear position on spec work: “AIGA believes that professional designers should be compensated fairly for their work and should negotiate the ownership or use rights of their intellectual and creative property through an engagement with clients. To that end, AIGA strongly encourages designers to enter into client projects with full engagement to show the value of their creative endeavor, and to be aware of all potential risks before entering into speculative work. “
By entering into speculative work, both the designer and the client are faced with potential risks like compromised quality, as the designer and the client do not have a direct relationship in working on the project together to understand the vision, values and the strategy of the client, resulting in a poor final product. Also, the designer risks being taken advantage of. For example, some clients may see this as an opportunity to get free work.
In an interview for NO!SPEC, Debbie Millman, President of the National AIGA, says: “Speculative work denigrates both the agencies and the designers that participate. If we give away our work for free, if we give away our talent and our expertise, we give away more than the work. We give away our souls. “
You can read more on the interview on http://www.no-spec.com/archives/interviewing-debbie-millman-president-of-the-national-aiga/
On October 12, 2010, AIGA posted an article “How do businesses balance crowd participation and design?”.
The article talks about how one of the biggest corporations, Gap, engaged in crowdsourcing by introducing a redesign identity on Facebook, asking the public to share their own designs.
AIGA immediately contacted the representatives of Gap to inform them about the risks of crowdsourcing and asking them to reconsider their redesign and how to handle it.
In the end, due to the considerable feedback received from the public and customers, Gap announced that the company would keep the old logo. “This also allows Gap to step back from a process of crowdsourcing a new design that could have put at risk Gap's long-time commitment to strong, effective and consistent communication design. “
More on the article: http://www.aiga.org/how-do-businesses-balance-crowd-participation-and-design/