Update on crowdSPRING and 99Designs


It took just a month, maybe a little less to get sick of these sites. As I was reading a few days after signing up, they're really a detriment to designers. I can see the need for a small company to have an inexpensive logo, but for every "project" to really be a contest that hundreds of people can enter and possibly waste dozens of hours each on is just not a good model for me and anyone who values their time. I don't claim to be a designer. I'm just a beginner who has spent quite a bit of time with vector programs drawing weapons (Shiny Dangerous Things) yet still has a lot to learn. But I've always loved logos and lettering, and have often sketched these things in the past, vowing to one day do something with them. I never went to school for this. College is too expensive. I was an average student with a ridiculous amount of interests and no true focus and an inability to work and go to school at the same time, because about 90 percent of homework bored me to sleep. There are no scholarships for someone like that, so community college is where I ended up and where I stayed. I majored in "computer and information systems" eventually. I learned a little about a lot, but I have nothing to show for it.

Fast forward a decade and I'm still in the same boat. Or, more accurately, still on the same couch cushion. Oh, wait, we got a new couch. Never mind. Anyway, one of my first loves was art, so I was hoping that what design skills I possessed would be enough for contests with itty bitty prizes, but there are so many talented and down on their luck designers that it's just not worth the enormous effort. Too many people and too few projects to go around. Most people I've seen have won just a few projects out of dozens upon dozens of contests, and they have skills. It's quite discouraging and definitely an indication that these sites are only good for the contest holder. Often there is a very short time to research all about the business, product, and industry and then to start designing or coming up with fitting names. Contest holders often add notes to their brief based on what logos they've seen from designers or they suddenly realize that they don't like the words you're using. I understand that, but they can do it as often as they want until we are exhausted, fed up, and tapped out. There should be a limit. 

Most logo galleries I've seen are open for everyone to see, so derivatives of original entries can win because they spruced up another designer's work, which is just copyright infringement. I've seen it happen a number of times, and I've only been doing this for a month. Contests can be extended apparently a number of times. There was one from February that was still open last week with over 1,000 entries! If they still aren't happy then they will never be. And so many contests aren't guaranteed, meaning they can just walk away after hundreds of designers spent hundreds of hours for zero dollars. We would all make more running a lemonade stand on a quiet street in the middle of winter. These sites should be more of a marketplace for affordable work, where companies get a good deal, where designers aren't thought of as beggars, and where newbies can show their best work and have a chance of getting a sale. As it is, 99Designs has a marketplace for unused work, but you have to have won a contest. Why would that be a requirement? Maybe to keep low quality work out, but things can be quite subjective, and designers who have never won may have never won not because their work is bad, but just because it didn't match the company vision. 

Speaking about not matching the company vision, here's one that was rejected without even getting rated. I loved the winning entry, but this wasn't too shabby either.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The naming projects, though, are fun. I've been coming up with company and product names for 15 years. I write them down for later and buy a domain once in a while. I already have dozens upon dozens of new, unused names that either weren't chosen or I didn't enter. I'll keep those for possible future use in my domain side project. The good thing is all naming projects are private galleries. Annoyingly, though, a project that I know had at least five hours to go, and which I had a good name for after doing a bunch of research, was awarded early. Also, I was spending time on a logo yesterday that still had 20 days to go and the project just disappeared...or so I thought. Now I have just teo hours to finish it. Not going to happen. So beware of sudden project closings and drastic deadline changes.

If you're new to all this and are determined to be a logo designer, no matter what route you take, the best tips I've found so far are from Creative Bloq (The Ultimate Guide to Logo Design: 50 Pro Tips)Design Shack (10 Tips for Desiging Logos That Don't Suck), Logo Designer Blog, and Logo Design Love, which is also a book, Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, that I plan on buying.

Good luck on your own journey. Don't get addicted to those crowd sourcing spec work contest sites. Try places like Stock Logos, Brand Crowd (a contest site with a marketplace for unused logos), iStockPhoto, and Microlancer to sell unused logos. For other vector art, try Vector StockGraphic River, and Shutterstock. As with anythng, please do your own due diligence. I have not signed up with any of these other sites. And if you get sucked into contests, expect to come away only with some experience and a lot of frustration. You may be desperate, like me, but crowdSpring, 99Designs, and others will just make you more so. You'll have sleepless nights trying to make the deadline on your fifth idea after your first four were rejected without reason and your "reputation" has suddenly plummeted into the red.

If you find yourself designing a lot of letters along with your logos that don't get used, you might be interested in type design. I have been for a long time, and I'm finally leaning something about it from Just My Type: A Book About FontsBriem.net, and I Love Typography. Complete fonts can be licensed to foundries like Linotype and MyFonts.com.

As for me, what I'm going to do is not delete my accounts...yet. I'll use projects as exercises and only enter those that would be worth the time. This eliminates the stress of extraordinarily tight deadlines and of being judged harshly without even a fair critique of the work. Wow. I haven't felt so free in a long time. So happy I wised up early. Now I can really get to work...or take a nap. Either way is good for me.


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