Why CrowdSpring Owners Should Be Ashamed of Their Business


Forbes New Writer

**UPDATE – June 19th – I have closed comments on this post now as I feel that all sides of the argument have been voiced, and it seems the right time to close the discussion on this particular post. I look forward to the continuing debate on other sites/blogs from all of you. Thank you very much for all of your comments here, the retweets and the re-posting.**

For those of you who have not read or heard about the recent Forbes Magazine article by Christopher Steiner, here is a snippet from David Airey’s site explaining what the article is about:

The high-profile business magazine recently published this article: The Creativity of Crowds , which opens with the following subtitle:

“CrowdSpring aims to slash the cost of graphic design work — and democratize a snooty business .”

Now I’m all for competition, and indeed welcome it, but when there’s such a one-sided article about the validity of spec work , it’s appropriate to mention the other side of the story.

For the unaware, CrowdSpring is a design contest website, where people submit (mainly) logo designs in the hope of winning a prize. Prizes are (not always) awarded by the companies who join and host a contest.

You can read David’s full post here . David puts forward excellent thoughts and opinions on the “Design Contest Websites” and due to a huge following, the inevitable debate is often an important read.

Michael Samson, one of the owners and creators of CrowdSpring, is quoted in the article as saying,

The beauty of our site is that it doesn’t matter if you have a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design or if you’re a grandma in Tennessee with a bunch of free time and Adobe Illustrator,” says Samson. “If the client likes the grandma’s work better, then she’s going to get the job.

Dear Mr. Samson,

“A grandma in Tennessee with a bunch of free time and Adobe Illustrator”?! – in the words of the new “Saturday Night Live” feature; Samson…..REALLY?!

A grandma in Tennessee should not be designing a company’s identity, logo, website, print advertising or anything if she doesn’t have design experience, skill, knowledge, etc. Anyone can get their hands on a copy of Adobe Illustrator and call themselves a designer. I am actually quite shocked that you didn’t use “MS Paint” in place of Adobe Illustrator with your apparent knowledge of the graphic design industry.

Hey, I have a hammer and some wood, anyone need a house built? I have never built a house before but how hard can it be. I’m sure I could put something together that SOMEONE will think looks good. And if they think it looks good, then guess what, I guess I am a builder! Sweet! (just don’t come complaining to me when your house collapses after the first bit of wind.)

Mr Samson, or can I call you Michael? Ok, Michael it is, I feel like we have built up a relationship now that I can call you Michael…..or maybe Mike? Mikey….No? Ok, Michael it is.

Michael, your comment highlights everything that is wrong in the graphic design industry.

Some clients do not know what looks good and what will be successful for them

Of course the grandma in Tennessee can scribble a few things together, and someone out there may love it, but that does not mean for one second that it will be successful for that client, or that it comes anywhere close to meeting their real needs as an integral piece of their company’s identity.

As an experienced designer, clients often ask me to “do this” or “do that”, and often what they want is not what they need . They need skilled designers and marketers to help them to see what they need. Designers and marketers research their clients’ audience, and come up with an educated solution. Some clients love an animated gif of a leopard running in place to be on their website, but you and I know (well, maybe not YOU…) that this is not a good addition to their website. The client is not to blame for this, that’s why they hired the professional .

And that is where your website comes in. If you don’t want to hire a professional who values their work, does not research your company, your market, your clients’ needs, and simply knows how to draw pretty things that are meaningless, then head on over to Michael and his website.

An excellent comment on the Forbes article comes from Eric Hillerns explaining this perfectly.

A CAD program does not make me an architect and a copy of QuickBooks does not make me an accountant… And the Forbes writer? You know, the one who penned this article’s ludicrously silly subhead, was likely this year’s lucky winner of Mrs. Winters’ sixth grade journalism competition. Because why would we pay an experienced writer when anyone with Microsoft Word and e-mail can submit a story?

Congratulations, Forbes. You got exactly what you paid for. Sludge. But then again, maybe that was your point.
Eric Hillerns

Mr. Swanson, there is something extremely odd about the article that was written by this Christopher guy. I’m no journalist, but I do understand some aspects of journalism and integrity. When one writes an article about a subject matter that obviously has a strong opposition to it, to merely throw in one single quote from the contrasting side is not only displaying a gross lack of judgment, but also shows that you are an extremely amateur writer, and quite possibly Mrs. Winters’ best student in her 6th grade class. Forbes must have had to lay off the highly paid journo’s and in their place, Westbrook Catholic School got their chance.

I wonder what got rejected…….


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