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Perplexing proposition: spec work.

Never deliver services without receipt of compensationI’ve been aware of an organization called NO SPEC for a while and have been following their commentary online. While I support their efforts in education and outreach, I do find it rather perplexing that this kind of organization has to exist.

Why work for free?

Misguided battle cry?

Why is there a need to “educate” people who deliver creative communications services that they should not work for free?

If anyone proposes to call themselves a professional and they have chosen a line of work to support their livelihood, why is there even a discussion about the need to receive fair and reasonable compensation for delivering services?

If someone makes a proposition for you to deliver your services without receipt of compensation by participating in a “questionable contest”, it is not a proposition, it’s simply exploitation and idiotic. I would go further and add that this definition is appropriately attributed to both sides of proposition—those asking you to work for free and anyone who accepts.

The unfortunate take away from this organization’s existence is that there will always be a segment of a community that devalues what others work so hard to create. Unfortunately, it’s painful to realize that the population of this group may be growing.

What are your thoughts on this misguided trend? Is this good for either party? Does it set up a mutually beneficial relationship or does it foster resentment and ill-will? Shout out and let’s hear what you have to say!


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  • I agree, the idea of giving away Intellectual Property to a client is a crazy notion.

    It continues to be used as a general practice for some companies seeking Industrial Design services to “create competition” between ID firms and ask for a free “Phase One Concepts” in
    hopes to win the entire project. Many ID offices I know are refusing to play the game and hopefully this will eventually end the practice.

    The value of creative services must be held in high regard by all those participating in the process. If not, the entire outcome is compromised.