In early 2010, the National Endowment for the Arts released a controversial logo design RFP requesting speculative logo designs for their ‘Art Works’ initiative. The design community promptly expressed its collective distaste for spec work, which we all know devalues professional design and usually results in poor results for the client. Furthermore, this opportunity had a RFP laden with confusing submission technicalities, and the NEA did not seem to have anyone available to answer the myriad questions of hopeful contestants. However, the winning design was to receive as much as $25,000. The hefty price tag, the subject matter, and the high-profile nature of the organization tempted hundreds (thousands?) of designers – including myself – to submit a proposal despite knowledge of spec work’s evils. The experience – as is usually the case with this kind of job – was frustrating, highly impersonal, and ultimately disappointing.
Regardless, the results of the contest have been published online – although I don’t know when it was launched or if the NEA made any noise about it at all. They almost seemed to lose interest in the project shortly after launching the RFP – and who can blame them? They must’ve been swamped with questions and backlash from day one.
In conclusion: just say no to speculative design work.