I'm speaking to professional artists and designers. If that's not you, skip this and listen to Leif Garrett.
Okay. Earlier today, I said:
It's years out of date, so I've been considering either closing or updating the WWdN Cafepress store. I can't design for shit, though, and even if I could, I don't have time to do it.
Rather than just close it down, I thought I'd pose a question here: I'm sure there are lots of good designers and creative people who read my blog, so if I had a contest to design things like shirts and stickers and stuff, would anyone be interested in participating?
The winner would get a signed Happiest Days hardback and credit + links to the winner's website, blog, store, whatever.
Response is mostly positive, but some designers were offended by my suggestion to do this thing as a contest. After reading their comments, I totally understand why, especially after reading the links to No Spec that they shared with me. I didn't think about it until after I read those comments, but I get the feeling that contest is a loaded term in the design community, and though I spoke to this in a comment on my earlier post, I want to be really clear about my thinking, so I'm posting much of that reply in this entry, so RSS readers who don't read or post comments can see it (I've also edited and expanded upon it a bit):
I'd never write something for free, unless I was getting some other form of compensation. One of the main reasons I stopped doing live sketch comedy shows was the poor investment:return ratio on time and money. There was a time when it was totally worth it to me to get nothing more than the joy of a performance out of the whole thing, but over time, something in me changed. It wasn't adequate compensation anymore, so I stopped doing it.
People ask me to contribute to various blogs all the time, just because it would be neat; I always decline, because I write here, and for other places that pay me for my time and energy. But if I got a chance to do something like be an unpaid boingboing editor for a week, I'd do that in a heartbeat, for obvious reasons. This is why I thought I'd offer publicity and a signed book as compensation.
I didn't even consider that it would offend, but thinking about it now, I totally respect that some (most?) designers would feel disrespected or demeaned by my idea, and I totally support and understand those designers who choose not to submit designs to me. You absolutely deserve to get paid for your time and effort, and if what I'm offering as compensation isn't worth it to you, I completely understand.
See, if I had the money to pay someone for the work, I'd do that, but since the store isn't a real big part of my business model (selling books is) I don't have any budget to spend on it. To be clear: if this sort of thing offends you, please accept my apology; it's not my intention to diminish you or your profession.
Contest is the wrong term, I guess. Maybe if I said that I'd be willing to trade credit, links, promotion, and an autographed book, it would be less offensive?
I want to be really, really, pedantically clear here: I totally respect the training and experience that goes into being a successful artist and designer. It was never my intention to demean anyone's work or experience, take advantage of anyone, or exploit anyone.
So, let's try this again, in a different way: I'm considering revamping the WWdN store (the alternative being just closing it down) but I don't have the time or skill to do anything worthwhile with it on my own. I can't afford to pay hundreds of dollars or more to commission designs. So here's my idea: if you'd like to submit something to me, kind of like what Jonathan Coulton did recently, I'll trade you exposure and publicity, as well as an autographed hardback of The Happiest Days of Our Lives.
Comments are closed on this post, but can be left on my post from earlier today, where there's already an interesting conversation happening.