Spec work has been a staple in the creative industry for years, and while it can be a great way to get new ideas or test out concepts, there is a downside that has been causing drama for Creatives everywhere. It can lead to a stagnant industry where ideas are not given enough time to grow and mature. Additionally, this type of work can often be creatively stifling, leading to less innovative and original content. We feel passionate about the impact of spec work on the Creative Industry as a whole, and we hope that by speaking out we can help make a change. While it has its benefits, we also see the negative force that is hurting the creative industry overall.
Understanding What Spec Work Is
Speculative (Spec) Work is associated with the Creative world because often Creatives (Designers, Writers, Graphic Artists, Web/App Developers, etc.) are asked to supply jobs without securing equitable fees for the work and the time to create such projects. It's a type of work that is done without a guarantee of payment and is usually done as a test or demonstration of an idea.
Not only does this lead to the appropriation of a Creative's work by non-clients, but also leaves many newbie Creatives disillusioned and frustrated with the Creative Lifestyle being “not profitable.” This is far from true. Unfortunately, with the rise of quick fixes in online website development and the like, many assume that the cost of being a Creative should be worth pennies for them to purchase.
Under these misconceptions, Creatives are asked to produce projects under the pretense of a “contest” or “exam” before they would win a potential job and prove their skill levels. I refuse to be a part of this system. It's not fair, it's not honest, and it's not right. Creatives deserve better than this!
Under these misconceptions, Creatives are asked to produce under the pretense of a “contest” or “exam” before they would win a potential job and prove their skill levels.? These types of contests and exams are nothing more than a way for companies to find cheap labor. They're also often poorly designed, leading to unfairness for those who actually do win.
When Contest & Skill Tests Go Wrong
Creatives are usually hit hard by difficult times, and companies look for ways to save money. This is why contests and exams are so harmful: they deprive talented people of jobs without giving them any chance to prove themselves. We need better systems that value creativity instead of just “test results”.
Also, Creatives usually forfeit their rights to their creative ideas when they fail to create contracts/agreements protecting themselves. This happens more often than not to a majority of newbies entering the Creative Landscape – especially as a freelancer.
No one ever gets a fair shake in the Creative Landscape. Newbies are especially at risk of being taken advantage of, as they are not likely to know how to protect themselves. This is often due to the fact that they do not have contracts or agreements protecting them, which is something that should be taken seriously if you want to make a career in Creative Work.
Without such safeguards in place, you could easily find yourself without any rights to your work at all – and this would be a serious blow to your self-esteem and confidence as a Creative Person. So, if you're considering entering the Creative Industry – make sure you protect yourself first by creating contracts/agreements!
Too many clients take full advantage of this failure in the Creative Community to procure “Free Work” without worrying about legal repercussions. Many newbie Creatives do not know their rights as the originators of their thoughts/ideas.
Enter the No!SPEC Movement.
How Does Spec Work Affect the Creative Industry?
Spec work can have a negative impact on the creative industry because it can lead to a lack of payment. This can lead to a shortage of talented professionals in the industry, and it can also lead to a decrease in the quality of work. Spec work often times forces professionals into conditions where they are not given the appropriate amount of credit or compensation for their efforts, which creates an inequality in the industry.
Spec work also results in rushed and less-than-quality assignments, which harm both the professional and clientele. In order to combat these negative effects, we need to shift our focus from spec work to true payment for creative labor. This will ensure that talented professionals are rewarded fairly for their hard work and that the quality of our products remains high.
Why Do We Feel This Way About Spec Work?
We feel that spec work is a negative force that is hurting the creative industry as a whole. We see it as a way to exploit talented professionals, and it can also lead to a decrease in the quality of projects. There's no question that spec work can have its benefits, as it can help to create a better understanding of a project or product. However, we feel that there are too many negative aspects to spec work that needs to be addressed.
First and foremost, spec work is often conducted in an exploitative manner. It's easy for talented professionals to be taken advantage of, as they're often asked to do a lot of laborious work for very little reward. In addition, the quality of projects tends to decrease as a result of this kind of working environment.
We believe that spec work should only be used when absolutely necessary and that it should be replaced by more creative methods wherever possible. By working together we can hopefully create a more positive environment for all involved, and ensure that the quality of our efforts continues to rise.
More About What Makes Spec Work Bad Business?
Clients often want to cut costs at the expense of their Creatives. This is a time when many businesses are trying to save money, but this should not happen at the expense of the Creatives' livelihoods.
There is nothing wrong with providing Pro Bono work or participating in a mutually beneficial Barter. The issues come in when Creatives are made to believe that the work they provide will be the entry factor to gaining a job, yet they are not hired and often times their work is used without them getting proper compensation or credit.
The contest/test should be the final step in this situation, but some dishonest clients take it for their own gain by using it for campaigns that lead to profit generation. So in essence, the person who created the initial concept and work is left without any recognition or compensation under the guise of spec work.
This is bad business and has left a bad taste with many Creatives.
Unlike other industries, Creatives are encouraged to sell their services for dirt cheap. This is a bullshyt business practice because it leads to a quick race to the bottom for many Creatives and often drives the competition of prices rather than creativity. While other industries are encouraged to get paid what they are worth, Creatives are treated as Thunderdome participants forced to battle it out for speculative compensation and presumptive job offers.
Devaluing creative skills is not good for the Creative Community or clients. Together Creatives and clients can work to stop the encouragement of predatory activities aimed at ill-informed designers and Creatives alike.
It becomes the responsibility of the Creative Community and clients to help educate those unfamiliar with the proper terms and expectations that are associated with Creative Work. From deposit submissions to Creative Licenses, we can no longer move forward under the guise of ignorance of how things work. We are Team NO!SPEC, and we refuse to participate in this type of nonsense.
Check out this light-hearted video showcasing the reaction of other industries reactions to Spec Work from Zulu Alpha Kilo.
Creatives should be compensated fairly for the work they do in any industry, especially in the creative fields. Without proper compensation, many Creatives will not be able to provide their services freely, which would detrimentally affect our industry as a whole. Education on these matters is key to helping encourage creativity and growth within the Creative Industry.
For more information…
Check out the NO!SPEC website for more information,
and check out one of many awesome videos about Spec Work thanks to Topic Simple
NO!SPEC: Getting Creatives understanding & respect for their work, creativity, and time
Spec work is something that should be eliminated from the workforce. It is something that should only be done if there is a guarantee of payment for the work that is done. Spec work should not be used to exploit those who do it. We hope that this system will bring an end to the exploitation of those who do this type of work.
Spec work should not be used to exploit those who do it. We hope that this system will bring an end to the exploitation of those who do this type of work. The sad reality is that many spec writers are forced into this profession against their will, and are then exploited by companies for their labor. Spec writing is a difficult and time-consuming task, and companies should not be using it to take advantage of those who do it. This system should help put an end to the exploitation of these workers and make spec writing a more equitable profession.
Check out more of our Brand Misfits Articles below!