I think many in the design industry have reached a point of "we're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" in regards to calls for speculative work being masked as "contests." The NO!SPEC movement was launched for the purpose of taking on the issue of graphic design industry "spec" work. Some argue that "spec" requests have always existed in the design industry. That doesn't mean such situations are acceptable or should continue.
The letter written by the designers to The Plain Dealer newspaper, and the follow-up article, are a welcome addition to the ongoing design industry effort to educate businesses, organizations, other designers and the general public about the value of professional graphic design and the processes that may help any design client get the best end result. My previous well-circulated article and bLog-oMotives post, When a "contest" is not a contest, and efforts such as the Graphic Artists Guild's published Suggested Guidelines for Art Competitions and Contests, also are part of that education process.
I seriously doubt that the Cleveland Foundation intended, or expected, to find themselves in the middle of a controversy when announcing the organization's logo design contest. Perhaps the "contest" should have been researched further before putting the specifications out to the public. The newspaper article comments of James Lubetkin, senior communications editor at the foundation, suggest that the organization does have a sensitivity to the situation - after the fact.
I've been involved in situations in the past where an entity seeking a new identity has initially reviewed a great many portfolios. From reviewing past work, a few designers/firms are selected to submit presentations. Those design professionals are compensated with "x" number of dollars for the time spent in preparing and presenting proposals. The business, agency or organization then bases their hiring decision on those presented ideas. I appreciate the search process being conducted in such a manner. As a designer, it conveys to me that the potential client understands the value of the professional graphic design process and the results.
Congratulations to the "Cleveland 11" for putting a public spotlight on the issue.
© Jeff Fisher LogoMotives