Tuesday, March 06, 2012

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

My neighborhood brew-pub, Dock Street, is asking local graphic designers to enter a competition to design their newest t-shirt. After they receive the designs, staff and facebook group members will vote for a winner. The winning designer receives some limited edition beer, four t-shirts and exposure to any potential clients who may be paying attention to the voting. Oh, and what the Dock Street site calls "bragging rights."

I have a better idea - stop pretending that you are doing somebody a favor by printing their design on your t-shirt and stop pretending that a handful of beers and a t-shirt are worth anything at cost and just PAY A WORTHY DESIGNER TO CREATE A T-SHIRT DESIGN. It's really transparent to suggest that you are doing anybody a favor - you are Dock Street, a small neighborhood business. The scale of your business does not allow for your crowd-sourcing to reach so many people that the winner of the contest is sure to get tangible free marketing from this.

If you want to be a good neighbor, how about you ask if there are any graphic designers from West Philly (there are tons), and you stimulate your local economy with something that they can spend wherever t-shirts and limited edition beers are not accepted as currency.

You will also get a much better product, because when you pay somebody to design something for you, you can tell them exactly what you want and then they make it to your specifications. But if there's anything we know about business in the 21st Century, it's that everybody wants everything for free.

Crowdsourcing, the act of outsourcing a task to some general and broad population, seems like a slick, 21st century way to do business. Seems like some folks think they can get some kind of cool points for just dropping words they heard Kai Ryssdal use. The only way around this model, in this case, is to tell any graphic designers you know that they ought to keep a little self respect and spend the time they could have spent on Dock Street out there finding clients who pay for good work.

For posterity, since the contest information is on the Dock Street "events" page and there is no permanent post with a URL with the contest rules, here's a screengrab, which contains the awesome line "just for fun and to get your name out there!"


1 comment:

Nicholas said...

Well said. To play devil's advocate for a moment, tho, the responsibility really rests with graphic designers to value themselves higher and not enter the contest.

Dock Street is a small business, and as such looks for ways to save money. We can ask them to be more progressive in how they engage with their community. But doing so will only be in their interest if the opposite (such as crowd-sourcing t-shirt design work) becomes more harmful to their business.

So it's really a question of which small business do we, the consumers, want to up their game - the local brewpub, or the local graphic designers.