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© Truly Ace 2013
The NO SPEC! Campaign for Graphic Designer Freelancers
The No Spec! Campaign has been in force since 1997 and aims to protect the design industry against the damage that can be caused by 'speculative working' methods. The No Spec! campaign is for graphic designers, students, photographers and anyone else involved in, or working in creative industries.
Although the No Spec! initiative is for all creatives, I'll be talking about it from the perspective of being a graphic designer and illustrator.
What is Speculative Work?
Speculative work (often shorted to 'spec') is described as any graphic design work that is carried out for a business owner, without payment, on the hope that if approved the client will pay for it or proceed with a project. With no guarantee of such for the graphic designer who puts time and effort into the design.
The graphic designer involved in this is 'speculating' to 'accumulate' if you will, in the hope that showing the client high quality work will persuade them to hire them for the project/purchase what has been designed.
You may wonder what is wrong with that, I think No Spec themselves sum it up best, therefore in their words;
In a nutshell, spec requires the designer to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment.
On the surface it may seem so. But, digging a bit deeper, one realizes that professional graphic design is about creating custom solutions, not cookie-cutter concepts.
This is a common point-of-view for many who confuse the professional with his or her tools. The “process” is more than simply tapping at a keyboard or clicking a mouse. It’s about understanding the nature of a communication challenge and then using one’s brain to find the appropriate solution.
At the end of the day, there is a certain irony in spec work. A prospect requesting it is ultimately saying, “My project isn’t important enough to hire a professional who will take the time to understand my situation and goals and invest the time needed to create a suitable solution.
How can I support No Spec!?
The most effective way you can support the initiative is first of all by refusing to carry out speculative graphic design work. EVER.
No matter how much of a dry spell you may be going through as a freelance graphic designer, no matter how tempted you may be. Whenever you indulge in this sort of work you damage the very industry you aim to make a living in and therefore carrying out speculative work is counter-productive to your aim to be a profitable graphic design freelancer.
You can also support the initiative and spread knowledge of the damage that speculative work does to the graphic design industry by writing about it on your website, your blog and using No Spec! logos and posters.
You can obtain these items for free on the No Spec! website, and below are some samples of what is available for use.