What they are looking for is a design of a full-page ad to run in Neue Quarterly magazine. I took one look at the contest, reminded myself I why I don’t like spec work and moved on with my day. I know, technically, it’s probably not spec work, because the winner will receive some compensation. But still, you are designing something that may or may not be chosen and if it isn’t, you get nothing. Spec work.
I don’t like spec work because it almost never produces the best work. You are usually given a few small guide lines and set lose. Usually those jumping on this bandwagon are people who know how to use things like InDesign and Photoshop but don’t really have any idea about concepting or what even makes a good marketing strategy. Great design comes out of conversations and thinking. The last step is sitting down at the computer to design. Maybe it’s just me but to make something truly great that meets a need, I need time with the client to figure out goals and target markets. You know, minor things like that.
But then my friend David emailed me some ads he’d done for the contest and asked for some feedback. Seeing the great ideas he had sparked a few more great ideas in my mind. And with that little spark, I was off, doing spec work. Why? Because of the ideas. Most designers are always looking for interesting things to work on. This was that idea. It was, to me, worth working for what will probably be nothing. It was creating an ad I’d be proud of whether I was ever paid or not.
I think the ads we came up with are good. However, with a few conversations with the client, again about small things like goals and target markets, they could be truly great and become an actual ad campaign.
I still don’t like spec work. But I do love great ideas.
I’ll post the ads to see once the contest is over on the 19th.