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 work without securing equitable fees for the work and the time to create such work.
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 work under the pretense of a “contest” or “exam” before they would win a potential job and prove their skill levels.
Also, Creatives usually forfeit their rights to their creative work 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.
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 work.
Enter the No!SPEC Movement.
More About What Makes Spec Work Bad Business?
Some clients want to cut costs at the detriment of their Creatives. There is a mixup between “free” work and amazing designs at a reasonable cost. This is a time when many businesses are looking to save money, but this should not happen at the cost of the Creatives' livelihood.
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.
Normally that should be the end of the situation. Unfortunately, some clients take the work slated for a “contest” or “skills test” and use these in campaigns that lead to profit generation for their businesses or part of their brands. So in essence the Creative responsible for the initial concept and work receives no credit or compensation.
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 bullsh.. business practices 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 pay what they are worth, Creatives are treated as Race Runners forced to battle it out for speculative compensation and 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 preying on 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 to how things work.
Check out this light-hearted video showcasing the reaction of other Industries reactions to Spec Work from Zulu Alpha Kilo
As in any, and all, other industries, it is more than reasonable for Creatives to receive proper payment or an equal trade for the work and services they provide. From Content Generators to Graphic Artists to Website Developers – work should not be handed over without proper compensation.
Education on these matters is key to help encourage creativity and growth within the Creative Industry.
I'll cover more about the experiences shared by Creatives, the different types of Spec Work often requested and the bad wrap that it gives to the Creative Community in future articles.
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