Obama is soliciting unpaid design work for a campaign poster promoting his jobs plan. Those of us who make our living from freelance projects are predictably livid. Design contests are a particularly insidious and annoying justification for free labor. (it’s fun and contest-y, you get exposure!) Especially for a project about creating jobs. Especially for a billion dollar campaign.
A Huffington Post article on the matter quotes me.
Syndicated cartoonist Matt Bors said the contest represents “the opposite of jobs.”
“Everyone’s time is wasted except for the winner, and they’re not even compensated,” said Bors, whose work has appeared in The Nation and The Village Voice, among other outlets. “It brings down rates for everybody. Just imagine this scenario with any other profession. You don’t have contests with your plumber.”
And yes, I’m aware of the irony of HuffPo writing on this subject. I made sure to mention to the writer (a staffer, I believe) that Arianna constantly uses unpaid labor by offering writers and cartoonists “exposure” while she rakes in millions.
You could argue that donating services to a campaign is perfectly legit. And in some cases you would be right. Phone banking and canvasing, however, actually use the labor of the volunteer. This contest pulls in hundreds of hours of unpaid labor that will never even be used under the insulting guise of a contest. Only professional level designers could possibly win. It’s simply an excuse to crowd source their labor without paying.
If you aren’t convinced, ask yourself if a campaign would hold a contest for its bus driver, plumber, speech writer, or any other conceivable professional level position. No. They would simply hire the person they need and pay them in money.
The Obama campaign knows the value of a campaign posters, having been associated with the most famous one in modern history. (It was donated.) They should pay a professional designer to do their work and get professional results, the same way they do with with their television spots and, you know, create jobs.