Thursday, September 6, 2012

Worse than stock illustration?

     I remember when I was in college at The Cleveland Institute of Art my teachers always preached about the negatives of stock illustration. Obviously they were right, stock illustration is a real problem in our field. You do tons of work for next to no money and you give away the rights to your art. Who wants to do that?
     Unfortunately there is yet another problem, a bigger problem, in our field and it's called crowdsourcing. The concept of croudsourcing makes sense, the problem comes with the implementation. Many designers and illustrators have undoubtedly seen sites like,, and even (probably my least favorite) What these sites are for has a great premise, post jobs and get creative people working on projects. The problem is they completely degrade our value as artists.

      Most of the sites mentioned above let you post a profile with some of your work so potential clients can see your skill, talent and style. You bid on jobs you are interested in and hope for the best. Unfortunately, it all comes down to money not creativity and certainly not skill. While I do see a lot of people bidding on jobs with reasonable compensation, I also see people willing to do logo or website work for pennies. I'd say in my experience 9 times out of 10 someone from India or China gets the logo job for $25 over the great designer who was willing to do it for only $250. Not that people from other countries aren't entitled to making a living, but how can we as illustrators and designers ever compete against such low wages? Even worse than competing at low wages is the crowdspring site. To get work on this site you have to do work and submit it and hope you are picked. So you do hours of work and potentially make absolutely nothing. This completely devalues our hard work, what self respecting commercial artist does work for free?

     I get emails every once in a while from one of those sites and it makes me laugh. I see a potential job I know I could knock out of the park, I go check the post, and to my surprise the job was already awarded for a quarter of what a professional would charge.

     I personally believe that it is on all of us to educate clients, and really anyone that will ever be in the market to purchase art. We need to make it known that sites like these are not the answer. They need to understand that cheap will never equal quality. Unfortunately long as potential customers can get content for pennies on the dollar we are basically toast.

      In an economy like this we all must make sacrifices to make ends meet and to feed our families. Does that mean we have to sell our soul and our art for next to nothing? Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Am I crazy? Are you having success on these sites?

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