"Call for entries" confusion?

(Note: Over the weekend a thread developed on the Graphic Design Forum, initiated by the posting of a Rotovision "call for entries" for book submissions, making it clear that some design professionals are a bit confused about the difference between "spec" work and a legitimate book submission "call for entries" - and were not familiar with the graphic design book publisher. The following is my posted response to the thread issues.)

I do think it's great that design professionals are so quick to question "calls for entries" when so many posted online these days are for speculative work - or, in other words, requests for designers to create NEW work - without compensation - in competition with others for possible payment on a job or the use of the final art without any compensation at all. It shows that the NO!SPEC movement is making great strides. However, "calls for entries" for EXISTING work - for which a designer has already been paid - to be included in a design book or annual have been part of the industry as long as there has been a graphic design profession - and are a totally different beast.

Rotovision books are incredible design resources, and much better known on the other side of the "pond." Rotovision is a "sister company" of the much more familiar Rockport Publishers in the U.S. Still, the Rotovision logo on the spine of a book should be getting more and more recognizable to any designer spending time at any bookstore in the U.S. with a great graphic design section. I see more of them all the time.

My own work has now represented in over 80 design books and annuals in the last ten years. My work has been published in design books from Japan, Korea, Sinagapore, China, Brazil, Spain and the U.S., literally giving my work worldwide exposure. (The last time I was in Italy I came out of the Accademia, after seeing the statue of David, to see a design book in the store window across the street open to a page full of my logo designs) It is one of the best marketing tools I have ever used in the marketing and promotion of my work. The vast majority of people contacting me in regards to design work now say "I saw your work in a design book at my local bookstore..." It all about making your design efforts work for you, rather than working your ass off all the time to market and promote yourself - creating a high visible extension of your portfolio of great work.

As a result of being published in design books a lot of other things have happened in addition to new clients. I'm often asked for work to illustrate other books on design or small business marketing - and to be included in magazine articles. I've been asked to speak at conferences, write books and magazine articles, and even to submit works for inclusion in the archives of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

Such "call for entries" requests offer great opportunities to present what you consider your best work to an audience much wider than that originally seeing the work. The "damn I'm good" aspect of being included in such a book is great for yourself, your career AND the client for which you did the original work. (i.e. If you don't "toot! your own horn, no one else will) My client firms, and the direct contact with whom I've worked, love having their work showcased in design volumes as an unbiased verification that they did something right in producing the highlighted project.

In most cases the books required no entry fee, or publication fee, for the acceptance or publication of my work - and "free" is a very good price for world-wide advertising. Those requiring entry fees - to offset administration, production and publication costs - simply became part of my business advertising costs (and a much better use of those dollars). The inclusion of my work in such volumes doubles the promotion opportunities when it comes to sending out press releases about the work being published.Many designers do understand the business value of being included in such books, and the personal pride in having work presented in such a graphic arena. Those whose work was included in my first book, The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success, keep me posted about the results of their work being featured. Over 50 design firms are represented in my upcoming book, Identity Crisis!, and most jumped at the invitation to showcase their work in a book that is being sold on Amazon nearly 10 months before it is published. With my office being "closed" on Fridays, I find myself spending most of those days on such marketing efforts and opportunities to have my favorite project receive greater exposure.

One of the oddest things about this world of graphic design books is the number of times I have picked up a new book at a local bookstore - for which I have not submitted designs - only to find my work used in the book without my permission or any attribution of credits at all. It usually turns out that the designs have been "borrowed" from an existing book. Most often these books are published in countries where there is already little regard for copyright of any kind.

I noticed that (a regular forum poster) already posted one of my articles on this topic. I'll post it again - along with a couple other resources.

Article: A Winning Strategy

Article: When a "contest" is not a contest

I also do a bLog-oMotives entry every 60 to 90 days updating "calls for entries" from book publishers and writers from around the world. Here's the latest entry:

Calls for entries: Upcoming design competition deadlines

Good luck!

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives


Kelvin said...

Hello from down under in New Zealand. I have been "tooting my own horn" since Black Friday 13th May 2005, when I started my first ever blog in my life. At first people didn't seem to notice me - I supposed I just looked liked another krazy blogger - but now, well......

Calvin Lee said...

Another great post Jeff!