AIGA: How To Reply To Spec Work Seeking Graphic Design Clients

585 396 Derek Kimball

speak mind about spec work

If you’re a graphic designer, you’ve most likely had your share of “spec work” seeking clients. You know the type…”can you design this for me, I will pay you if you do a good job”, or “I am looking for designers to develop me a logo design…the person who does the best job will win bragging rights and exposure!”.

These kind of requests are a slap in the face to any self respecting designer looking to make a living offering their services. The desired response to these (get something for free) clients may go something like this: “last I checked, bragging rights don’t pay the bills” or “would you ask your doctor or hair stylist to exchange their services for bragging rights or a chance of getting paid?”.

While those rebuffs just mentioned are tempting, consider the fact that many of these clients may simply not understand the great deal of financial and work investment that comes with offering good graphic design work…or they have been conditioned by all the crowdsourcing and spec-work going on in the industry. Sometimes a more thorough explanation may be better suited. AIGA has put together a reply for graphic designers to send to spec work seeking clients. While I like the fact the response is worded well, and properly addresses why spec-work is bad for the designer and the client; it does come across a bit lengthy and analytical for my tastes. Regardless, it does seem to offer a solid starting point for anyone wanting to respond to cheap/ignorant clients without coming across as unprofessional.

If you don’t care about winning over confused/cheap clients, you may also consider a more blunt approach with a sarcastic graphic design video or a hilarious pie chart.

What are your thoughts of AIGA’s recommended response? Do you have your own you’d like to share? Thanks to Carrie J Martin (community outreach director for AIGA Colorodo) for introducing this AIGA reference.


Derek Kimball

Derek is the founder of DesignBuddy and a full time graphic designer. He specializes in logo creation and visual branding. Over the past 13 years Derek has helped hundreds of clients grow their business and establish a stronger brand identity. View his portfolio, or get in touch. If you'd like to receive an occasional free newsletter with useful design related content, please subscribe here.

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