20,000 Designers Are Better Than One /

by Jeff Barlow

Recently, AIGA Seattle board members were able to convince One Reel, the organization that runs the well-known Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, to withdraw a logo contest that it had already publicized. As those of you who followed the story know, we objected to the contest because it was an open call to design a permanent logo for the festival—with only festival passes as the “prize” for the winner and with all the losing entries owned by One Reel.

If AIGA members hadn’t spoken out, One Reel would have gone on with their contest completely unaware of the fact that this kind of contest is considered to be “spec work,” which isn’t ethical. And they most likely would have caused themselves problems by commissioning a new logo done with no strategy, no process, no connection to the Bumbershoot brand, and no thought for how it would function for the future.

Fortunately, though, the folks at One Reel were willing to sit down with us and discuss the matter. (It certainly helped to get their attention when we mentioned that we were coming from a group that not only has almost 700 local members but is 20,000 strong.) Locally it also helped our case that we had intelligent members of the design community speaking out in a professional manner. And nationally we had a boatload of information from AIGA about the problems with spec work (all of which was well thought through, persuasive, easy to access, and ready for us to use).

Not only did the One Reel staff engage in the conversation; after our meeting, they actually withdrew the competition and substituted a different event, an outcome we believe was not only beneficial to Seattle designers, but better for Bumbershoot, too.

We were able to bring this about because we’re a professional organization. No single designer or office could have accomplished this on their own. Being a member of AIGA—with its local chapters and national reach—amplifies each of our voices. If you haven’t yet joined AIGA, please do. The more of us there are, the more we can help shape conversations that are important to all of us.

With the AIGA connection, we have the power of more than 20,000 designers standing with us: a powerful, intelligent, supportive, experienced, diverse family supporting each of us and our careers.

Jeff Barlow was president of AIGA Seattle for the past two years. Jeff runs a design studio in Ballard called Jelvetica.

AIGA Seattle encourages thoughtful, responsible dialogue. Please read our policies on commenting.

Margaret Oliver

Thank you, Jeff, for this informative article about what's happening with One Reel, and how AIGA of Seattle handled the logo contest issue. Good point about "spec work" and keeping awareness of it at the forefront of our minds. Yes, we are 20,000 designers strong, and solidarity on an issue of this nature is key to doing something about it.

Chris Mcinerney

Glad to hear you were able to come to an understanding. Contests like these seem to be popping up more as companies struggle with marketing budgets. In fact, just today I received an email from GD USA regarding a contest they are holding to design the cover of their publication. I find this most unfortunate since GD USA is a design industry trade publication.



All of my questions settled-tahkns!


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