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I am keeping a close eye on the question about logo design contests, and I hope that my 1st Question here does not get completely slammed.

It never really occurred to me that 'logo design contests' are similar to Spec Work and this could be considered unethical.

I am an amateur web developer and it became clear that my Illustrator efforts looked rookie.

I have two situations where I need help from a graphics designer.

  1. Girlfriend has a TV show on a volunteer based TV Channel. We have had a friend do the logo for free, as for him it was also good publicity (name in credits) and looked good in his portfolio. If we needed more work, where could we ask?
  2. The company I work for, the logo for a product we are developing looks dated. Problem is, the people that hold the purse strings will see this as trivial. Where could I ask for help on re-vamping our logo? It could lead to more work.

So what am I asking?
First off, I completely understand that SE is not the place to be asking for free help (help being, can u do me some graphics).
- Where is the right place to ask for people to do free graphics work?
If you could also squeeze in any thoughts on if you think asking for help for free, for both my 2 situations, is detrimental for other people working in the graphics space.

I work in GIS. Its not such a freelance industry as Graphic Design, so maybe its not comparable.
My thoughts are, if someone was asking for me to put together a map/mapping website, for free, I would not bother.
However, if you had asked me when I was fresh out of Uni, and nothing on my CV, or perhaps between jobs, I think (pending what they wanted done) that I would do it.
- In case of #1 above, I have advised my gf to perhaps put up posters at the local arts uni.

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Related, with some overlap: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/6/… –  koiyu May 15 '11 at 19:18
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I retagged this as per AIGA's definitions; this question isn't strictly asking for spec work (working in hopes to get paid for it) but rather free/uncompensated design work (e.g. volunteer or pro bono work). –  koiyu May 18 '11 at 12:24
    
I stumbled on this and I know I'm suppose to have an answer. I don't. i just really wanted to say that i truly enjoyed the exchange. It actually answered a lot of my questions though Im not a professional in anything so not quite sure about some of the content. Just a surfer trying to make business cards to take people on tours lol. Just wanted to thank you all for some direction. –  user18494 Dec 23 '13 at 23:02
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7 Answers 7

Simon, here's a bit of radical advice: don't ever ask anyone to do anything "for free." Ask, rather, if they're willing to help a good cause for something other than monetary compensation. There has to be some kind of fair exchange involved, otherwise at least one of the parties involved ends up feeling sleazy, and the other feeling ripped off. There are plenty of examples of this kind of non-financial exchange: beginning photographers will photograph models in exchange for prints for the models' portfolios; a rookie film-maker gets actors and crew to help make a short film in exchange for credits and copies of the completed film for their demo reels; a young intern designs, for almost nothing, what turns out to be a multi-million dollar "swoosh" for a sport-shoe company in exchange for experience in their art department. In the last case, the aforementioned footwear folks invited her back, 40 years later (or whatever the anniversary was), and gave her a whopping check, a big celebratory dinner, and some killer PR.

For commercial work (your company's logo), if they don't see the logo as an asset, and they don't put money into it as an investment, you should not try to get anyone, not even a student, to whip something up for them "for the benefit of the portfolio" (which is not compensation). Free or ultra-cheap work isn't often regarded as having any value by the undeserving beneficiary.

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Particularly if it's a company, quid pro quo is often a good arrangement. I've gotten a couple of free months of gym memberships, oil changes, and even a remote starter for my car in exchange for design work. These were all small, local businesses and the quid pro quo was understood up front - "I'll create a front page and associated graphics for that page in exchange for a remote starter being installed in my vehicle". –  lawndartcatcher Feb 23 '12 at 15:06
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Girlfriend has a TV show on a volunteer based TV Channel. We have had a friend do the logo for free, as for him it was also good publicity (name in credits) and looked good in his portfolio. If we needed more work, where could we ask?

The show is volunteer based and and a media outlet. You could probably find someone to do graphic design work in exchange for being mentioned on the show or a free ad spot. This is fair trade and would be beneficial to both parties.

The company I work for, the logo for a product we are developing looks dated. Problem is, the people that hold the purse strings will see this as trivial. Where could I ask for help on re-vamping our logo? It could lead to more work.

Lets say your company makes widgets and there is a cost involved with making these widgets. They have to buy the parts for the widgets, they have to pay you to assemble the widgets, they might have other costs involved like insurance, rent, taxes etc.. Does your company just give away these valuable widgets because someone said hey if we like these widgets we MIGHT buy some more if we ever need them?

Graphic designers are businesses no different than any other. A designers time is valuable they have expenses and it's insulting to ask them to do something for FREE.

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"Where is the right place to ask for people to do free graphics work?"

There is no one simple response to this. It's as much to do with the project as it is to do with locale.

Consider:

  • colleges and schools that offer courses in the skillset you require. You mention placing ads at the art college - that's a good idea.
  • make sure any materials or efforts that support the projects carry the message that you are looking for help. This could be in the credits to the TV show, it could be in a project meeting with folks running the channel, whatever.
  • look for websites where traffic is likely to be of the kind of folks who could help. I know of research projects that posted on SE lists with specific requests for advice that ended up with them obtaining free services. But also consider craigslist, etc.
  • check in places where people are advertising their services. Often to get a foot in the door folks may be looking for paid work, but they know the benefit of getting real work, even as a volunteer.

As you'll no doubt see from some posters on this thread, it's not everyone's interest or need. But people are out there: Good luck.

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Where is the right place to ask people to do GIS work? What about plumbing? Where can I ask people to re-roof my house? If you do a good job on my roof, I MIGHT have more work for you...

As you can see, asking people to work for free is a bit of a silly concept.

If you are running a non-profit you can usually find designers willing to donate their time to a good cause.

If you're running a for-profit entity, there's lots of spec-work/"Crowdsourcing" sites where you can get stuff done for cheap. It's typically not good work, by any means. And the sites are dependent on having very naive designers work for them.

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"As you can see, asking people to work for free is a bit of a silly concept." There is an entire world of people who provide services for free - for a host of reasons. You may not like the idea or have any time for it, but for those of us who do, we derive enormous benefit from it. –  gef05 May 17 '11 at 13:03
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I'm all for people doing free work for me. Not so much me doing free work for others. ;o) (Obviously, I'm making exceptions for donating time/effort to charities and non-profits. That's a different scenario) –  DA01 May 17 '11 at 13:06
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Fair enough. My only addition is that when getting started in a field a little help can be beneficial - and that includes situations such as Simon has described (for me, at least). If it was a large company I'd be more leery, but it would depend on circumstances. (Having said that, I've only ever worked pro bono for non-profits and colleges.) –  gef05 May 17 '11 at 13:15
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Just to be clear, donating time to a non-profit can be good experience. It's a real job, it's just that you are donating your billing. There's a timeline, an objective, a budget, a real client, etc. It's a good thing. But doing free work for crowdsourcing sites is not good experience. It's not real design. It's random design, at best. It's not something you want to put into a portfolio if the goal is to get work in a legitimate agency. Also, I can't stress this enough: No 'free job' compensates you in 'publicity'. That's an old wive's tale. ;) –  DA01 May 17 '11 at 13:58
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The free in freelance doesn't mean what you think it does, and I can assure you your volunteer based TV channel still has a budget. If money really is your stumbling block then try to think of non-monetary exchanges that could benefit both parties. Ad time, swag, access to equipment, etc.

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Thanks for ur thoughts. The TV show does not have a budget. LAter down the line she might get sponsorship. We dont have control over the ads either. But as the show has a lot of art content, we can do features on artists, but will need to be melbourne based (hence asking around the local unis) –  Simon May 14 '11 at 6:56
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I have advised my gf to perhaps put up posters at the local arts uni.

Also try to look for student graphic design clubs/organization within a university. A lot of the graphic design clubs are willing to do graphic design works for free to boost their experience and club portfolio.

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Not at the better schools. A good school teaches the woes of spec work. There are good schools that will take on non-profit projects, however. –  DA01 May 18 '11 at 15:15
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Although I've never used it myself, I came across http://www.idealist.org/ a couple of years ago.

There are volunteer projects in all disciplines on there, mainly for charities, graphic design included. Here's a graphic design listing as an example: http://www.idealist.org/view/volop/BW8gSNNb8tnp.

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A similar thing we have in the U.S. is Tech Corps. I was involved in it in high school, and it's basically a non-profit designed to connect IT professionals with other non-profits (including public organizations like public schools/libraries). I find it a little disturbing to be honest that so many people here are so deeply offended at the thought of a designer simply volunteering their time without any kind of compensation. I personally know quite a few designers who do pro bono work on a regular basis. It's no different from volunteering at a soup kitchen, just using a unique skill. –  Lèse majesté Feb 24 '12 at 4:58
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protected by Matt Dec 23 '13 at 23:26

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