Mark Cuban Latest To Jump On Crowdsourcing BandWagon

585 396 Derek Kimball

graphic design crowdsourcing

Billionaire Mark Cuban has recently taken to crowdsourcing for the redesign of his basketball team’s (Dallas Mavericks) jersey. Here’s what Cuban had to say on his blog:

Who will own your design ? The minute you post it, the Mavs will.  If you think its horrible that the Mavs own your design. Do not post. If you think its cool that the Mavs could possibly use your design and you will have eternal bragging rights , then post away. If we really like your design and you , I may even throw in some tickets.  If we don’t use your design, it will still be here on this site for now and ever more for you to glance longingly at.  If your design is close , if not identical to other designs and we pick one of the other designs, for whatever reason, then thats just the way it goes.

If we don’t choose any of the designs,including yours.then we don’t choose any of the designs. That is life in the big city. Move on. This is your chance to get bragging rights and put your signature design on the Dallas Mavs and the NBA.

So lets get this straight…a billionaire asks people to design stuff for free. The designer gets “bragging rights” and the possibility of a few game tickets, while Cuban maintains the right to profit immensely from related merchandise sales? Wow, what a deal.

Okay, so I can understand why people like Cuban choose to take the no-cost route, or why certain hobbyist “designers” may wish to take part in crowdsourcing. What I comprehend is why any self respecting designer would participate in something that contributes to this growing perception that graphic designers should work for free or work with only a chance of getting compensated for their efforts.

As always, there are varying viewpoints on this subject. Here are two:

“If this is a great new way to find great talent… not paying for professional services, I think Mr. Cuban should apply it to his own team. Let’s see how many professional players would sign up just for bragging rights of playing for Mark Cuban.”

-Carrie Martin (comment on LinkedIn)

“If you think its cool that the Mavs could possibly use your design and you will have eternal bragging rights, then post away. I’m a designer and I will gladly draw something up for free.”

-Evan Clark (Comment on Cuban’s blog)

So what are your thoughts on Cuban’s approach for his team’s jersey redesigns? Do you see harm in designers participation in crowdsourcing? Please share by commenting below.


Derek Kimball

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All stories by: Derek Kimball
  • Robert Paternostro Jr

    First of all his name is MARK with a K. Secondly, do you people have no foresight? As a professional designer/artist myself, trying to get noticed is a big part of what we do. So now I have the MAVS new jersey design inside of my portfolio for future clients to think I am genius. Plus, the opportunity to communicate with Cuban himself- well I am a huge fan- so I guess I am biased.

    Also do you people believe everything someone says? How do you know you wont be put on the Mavs payroll as a designer? I know thats a ridiculous idea.. Because he said you’ll only get bragging rights? WOW

    Foresight in this world is rare and any designer that is not willing to work for free to perpetuate their design career does not understand business and possibly life. Please remove your head from your ass as see the BIGGER picture. Or you can stay the same, I mean, less competition for myself…haha


  • Arden

    I’ve been a graphic designer in Marketing/Communications for 23 years. First, anybody in the business, freelance to Corporate, knows designing for a company means the company retains the copyright. Second, if you are in business, you know you have to give a little to get a little and hope for a lot. Who hasn’t done a little Pro Bono work for bragging rights. Third, Mark Cuban employs designers and pays them. He doesn’t NEED someone to do it for free to save money. He owns or is part owner for about 50 businesses. He’s not being cheap. He is building fan excitement, fan buy-in, fan participation.
    I’m participating because I have ownership and an investment in good art. The green uni’s and the 70’s style “Mavs” needs to be re-done. Not of fan of those. So I’m contributing. Everybody has a right to their opinion, but Mark is a business genius.

  • DesignBuddy

    Robert, I appreciate your reply, even if you have to resort to petty name calling. What I and numerous other designers have a problem with is not with amateurs trying to build their portfolio, but with “professional designers” not giving a damn about protecting the industry to which they belong. If you really think your winning a design contest is going to make you an overnight design star, I’ve got a bridge in NYC to sell you.

    Your participation in design contests is contributing to the growing perception that graphic designers should work for free or for “bragging rights”. There is a reason why no other industry has a stronger “give me something for free” mentality. It’s not the clients fault…they have been conditioned by “designers” like yourself who give them what they want.

    The reason so many designers are against spec-work is because many of us have invested a great deal of time and money into what we do. We know that “bragging rights” don’t pay the bills. This isn’t greed, it’s self respect and preservation. It’s the way other industries operate. It’s how Mark Cuban operates. It’s “smart business”. You speak of “bigger pictures”. I just gave you one that actually makes sense. As for your other arguments, they aren’t even worth a rebuttal.

    Sure, I can see your desire to have a professional jersey design in your portfolio and on the court. I just can’t see your desire to further degrade the field you belong. Maybe we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    p.s. You mention that designers with foresight work on spec. Ok, then please tell me why all of the major players in graphic design seem to be anti-spec?

  • DesignBuddy

    Arden, first off; I would agree that Cuban is a smark guy, but I think “genius” is a bit steep of a compliment for a business man who thinks he actually retains rights because he says so, or for a guy who’s grammar is worse than my 5 year old nephew (just read his blog). Now don’t get me wrong…I’m a fan of Cuban’s…he is a very smart guy and great business man. I suppose I just reserve the word “genius” for a more selective group of people.

    Anyway, yes I was aware of copyright ownership…this topic was actually recently brought up in a LInkedIn design group discussion. It was Cuban who said he retained ownership, not me.

    I can see your point about Cuban just wanting to give his fans a chance to participate rather than his just wanting to save a few $. I don’t blame Cuban for wanting something for free. As mentioned in my reply to Robert above, the problem is with the “professional designers” who think all this crowdsourcing participating isn’t the reason graphic designers, (unlike other industries), are expected to offer our services with only a small chance of getting paid.

  • Arden

    I may be spinning my wheels here but I’ll try this. As I said, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I’ll give you the Graphic Designer discrimination point. In fact, I labeled that my biggest lament when I no longer was able to continue as a designer for my primary income. I don’t do jobs for free(usually-except for a few rare occasions as I said) but the pool has been diluted for awhile. With the advent of prolific software tools coming out my rub was everyone (gross generalization) thought they were a designer-or at least thought they knew good art when they say it. My biggest fight was that most small to mediumsized business owners had no idea what they wanted let alone what they needed. People cheapening the profession by getting their 8 year old Niece to do their logo saves money but they are going to miss a good portion of their market because they have a logo that appeals to eight year olds. So, I’ve been there too. For a long time. But where I disagree is Mark is not the boogie man because he’s not paying someone by getting designs for free. He is paying designers to make the final decision. And if he’s built excitement in 1000-2000 fans in so doing I’d call that (as I carefully said) “business” genius. I tend to say that when somebody has made tons of money and is worth around a billion dollars. I hear your passion as Artist’s are want to do but I don’t think he’s taking money out of designers pockets here. Thanksfor the opportunity to weigh in.

  • DesignBuddy

    Arden, thanks for the reply. You do make some solid points. I agree with you that a big problem is that everyone with a copy of Photoshop now thinks they’re a graphic designer. I also agree with you that Cuban isn’t a bad guy or boogie man for taking the free route (or allowing his fans the chance to participate in his team’s aesthetics). I suppose where we differ is I do have a problem with professional designers contributing. I think it cheapens our field.

    I will admit I have a tendency to over react when it comes to these crowdsource contests. I see my industry being fractured from within and feel an obligation to speak out against it. I do appreciate your input.

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