Over 10 years ago, I created an Aztec-themed villain in search of a hero. That hero would use a ring to power up his suit of armor, giving him agility not unlike that of a certain spidery fellow, and he would be the first Mexican superhero ever. Clearly, I hadn’t done my homework on the Mexican part, but it didn’t matter. I still wanted to add my guy to the relatively new pantheon of Mexican characters who didn’t wear ponchos or sombreros.
OK, at some point my character does wear a sombrero. A very big sombrero. It gets hot in the desert, what can I say?
It’s been a LONG time since high school. Since then the character that would have been a villain continued to evolve, and soon he turned into a hero in search of a villain. But the one thing I came to realize was that more than anything, was that my hero needed a purpose. A drive. Something for him to fight for. In short, a story. I wish I’d learned this stuff sooner, but hey, even Albert Einstein once thought the universe was Euclidean. And how old was he before he did that thing with the relativity and the E=MC squares and what not?
God, I hope I can finish this book before I’m THAT old. At any rate, if you’re reading this, you are among the very first to hear news about this project. I’ve kept it under wraps for over a decade, after several reincarnations and numerous false starts. Now it’s official – I’m getting it done. It’s coming soon. If this all sounds vague, it’s intentional. This is only a teaser. Xochitl isn’t even the main character, but she’s certainly the sexiest. Some of you have even seen the hero on my main page, but rest assured, he has also been a victim of my revisionary nightmare. Expect a new look for him.
So stay on the look out, follow me on Twitter, Facebook me, and if you’ve got a copy of the stickers I’m handing out, hold on to them. Collector’s item.
I for one welcome the growing crowdsourcing trend. Many artists in my position loathe the idea because it’s unethical and threatens their own livelihoods. I happen to agree – crowdsourcing spells ruin for the art of design, and pretty much any other discipline that can and will be turned over to the masses for a buck or two, or none.
But there is always opportunity to be found. Not in crowdsourcing, mind you; the risk to the artist is too great to participate in a crowdsourcing project – so don’t waste your time. The practice of crowdsourcing is based on greed and the idea that design is not worth anyone’s time and money. Logos are small, simple images that anybody with Adobe Illustrator can just crank out…at least that’s the prevailing attitude – why pay possibly thousands of dollars for a logo, illustration, or web site when you can make starving artists fight for the “opportunity” to GIVE you more free work to choose from than you can handle?
The truth is that many people will leave the design and illustration industry because of crowdsourcing – not to mention the already damning effects of stock houses. There is, however, the part about crowdsourcing that few people like to thing about and the way you will be able to capitalize on it. A glaring flaw in crowdsourcing is the unprofessional veneer that it gives anybody who promotes or participates in it.
Therefore, I think that if you have the nerve to withstand the assault and not quit, then you can effectively market yourself as a professional. That word is too often taken for granted, I think, because there’s too many professionals out there. Everybody’s a pro nowadays; anybody who can draw can design, and anybody who can design is a professional. What people expect from crowdsourcing is the insight of hundreds of professionals; what they get, on the other hand, wouldn’t pass for a C grade at a community college.
Make your professionalism a selling point and it will set you apart from what I believe is a growing trend that will in all likelihood never go away. But that’s good – finally, it looks as if you don’t have as many professionals to compete with. Hell, you might even be able to charge more, seeing as design pros are harder and harder to come by every day. Compare your work to those of crowdsource houses and it’ll be like comparing a pint of Guinness to that stale shit your toothless cousin makes in the bathtub. Crowdsourcing does as much for the artists as it does for the client – you know which clients to avoid working for in the future; they’re not professionals. Forbes magazine writes an article proclaiming the virtues of crowdsourced design? They must not be professionals – don’t bother with them. Is there a company holding a “logo contest”? They must not be professionals either – why would you fuck with them in the first place? Non-pros don’t know the value of your work and may not even pay you for it either. Non-pros are sloppy and half ass Mickey Mouse outfits – you ain’t got time for all that.
Of course, if you’re not actually in the business it’s OK to be a non-pro. Last week the corner store around my house held a mascot contest in which kids from around my neighborhood submitted their designs. They were swamped with tons of cute picture of animals, and aliens, and monsters. But I don’t expect the corner store to hire a graphic designer for a mascot to go on a banner; why would I? They’re not art directors. They work hard for a living doing their own thing. But would any professional bother submitting a design for a mom and pops logo contest when there’s paying work to be had? Let the small fries submit their pictures of Mickey and Goofy; let them worry about “crowdsourcing” – the rest of us got grown man shit to do.
It’s not that crowdsourcers are bad people; they just don’t know any better. You don’t have time to educate them – work with pros.
A professional logo is worth at least $1000 to anybody with a reputable business. But what do you expect out of a business that runs a logo contest? You may not be aware that logo design contests are unethical and insulting. You say you had 134 entries; that’s 133 chumps who worked for free. The idea is for designers to each spend time and resources to develop designs. They then sit back with baited breath hoping they are chosen the “winner”. After all, it’d be disappointing to have put in all that work for no pay, right? But only the winner receives any compensation for the work he just put in. What other profession do you know of where you can run a contest wherein the “lucky” winner basically does work for free unless he is “chosen” the winner? Writers? Plumbers? Dentists?
And to the designer: you’ve come up with a rather pedestrian logo. Does not say anything about the company other than it’s generic – and cheap. What part of that logo tells me anything about the company you just gave away your work to? Had you taken into account the way the text reads from a business card, or the color palette you use on your page – for starters – you’d have done your job right. As a matter of fact, who ARE you? Not a name to your credit? Not even a link to your page? So much for “exposure”. That’s what you get when you enter a logo design contest. I hope the paltry sum of money you were awarded was good for you. Should cover about half your rent; you DO live in a basement, don’t you?
One thing is for certain – neither you nor the company who “hired you” can be considered professionals. Just say no to spec.