I'm a junior graphic designer with main focus on vector illustration and UI design.

I'm working in the industry professionally for 2 years now. And so new recruiters often give me design tests (even after rounds of interviews and reviewing my portfolio).

I'm not against it totally (although it becomes often frustrating to complete assignments for free with no offer in sight). And thankfully I didn't have to take the design tests with materials that are personal to the companies like their web-ui or logos or their brand illustrations and such.

I often was asked to take the test on made-up cases or generic briefs. So I'm now wondering who owns the rights of those 'tests' I have been taking?

I would very much like to add those in my portfolio. But I'm confused who owns the designs, illustrations etc? The recruiters or I?

  • 2
    AFAIK, these things are not really in the domain of either party exclusively unless you sign a contract that says otherwise. I think it's fine to put it in your portfolio. May 20, 2019 at 20:24
  • 3
    Never work for free, as a "test" or otherwise. That's what a portfolio is for.
    – Scott
    May 20, 2019 at 20:42
  • 2
    @Scott Most the time I agree, but some companies, especially bigger ones (Google comes to mind) require it and require theoretical mockup type of work, so if you want to work for them you simply must partake in the test May 21, 2019 at 0:34
  • 3
    In my experience software or knowledge tests are fine, but no one should ever require a design test. It's one thing to prove you know how to use ApplicationX or write language Y, it's another to design something for free. Just my 2¢ :)
    – Scott
    May 21, 2019 at 1:22

1 Answer 1


There can be a trap. They can have somewhere in the web their "general rules" which state that all rights of presented works belong to them, the participant accepts it by taking part to a test. By filling their design test sign-in form you at the same time accept their "general rules". It's surely there with a small print. If you send that form you probably give all rights to them.

Why should they settle for something less? No reason, there are hundreds skilled and talented people who in hope of getting a job gladly give to them valuable free work.

Surely some of the recruiters have a long time ago noticed two things:

  • no actual open jobs are needed
  • no future notoriety harm, if the visible recruiter is a specialized middleman and nobody knows the actual benefit collector

Avoid losing the rights by signing only such sign-in forms which explicitly state that all rights stay in your ownership. You can also ask them sign that declaration before you participate. If they do not accept it, then they have not an intention to actually recruit anybody.

  • This makes me thinking! Anyways, I didn't sign any form. They simply told in interview that next step is design test and sent the brief in email...
    – Bluebug
    May 21, 2019 at 1:31
  • They sent an email. OK. If you answer to that email so that your answer somehow can be interpreted to accept what they sent, it's signing what they sent or what they refer having more about the case. If it's important to keep the right of your work, do not give anything before you have an agreement you still have the rights and their rights are limited to (a list).
    – user82991
    May 21, 2019 at 5:10
  • So what your saying the asnwer to design test is sure, if you sign this contract and then the aplicant brings a contract.
    – joojaa
    May 21, 2019 at 18:46
  • As a side note, you never have to accept a contract as written. You are always allowed to write in changes and initial them. For the contract to be valid, the other side needs to also initial the changes before signing. Oct 1, 2020 at 20:54

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