Adam Howell sums up my thoughts on Pixish quite succinctly. Sure, the concept sounds great at first, as noted on the Pixish site, the community is set up as “a way to engage creative people online to submit, judge, and source amazing images.” Nice until you dig into it, just a little bit, and realize that a set of designers are all working on the same project, only one of whom will get paid. Even worse, “paid” may be a prize that is worth far less than they should have been paid.
Now, there’s a part of me that believes that it’s up to individual designers to decide to participate in something for which they may not be paid. But, in this case, as has been noted many times over, spec work weakens the profession, promoting the inexpensive option over a quality piece. Clients will view the talent pool as relatively equal, opting for a crap shoot instead of finding the right match for their needs. We do have an obligation to keep our industry strong.
For Those Starting Out
Some believe that this is a great opportunity for budding designers to build a portfolio, but as Adam notes, “We’ve got, you know, the web. Blogs. Youtube. digg/reddit/lots of other lowercase social sites. There are no longer just three ways to showcase your talent — there are three bajillion. And if you aren’t getting noticed, sorry, you either aren’t trying hard enough or you suck.”
True? You bet’cha.
So, do design contests have any real value? I think so. Competitions oriented towards students and amateurs to help them fill out a portfolio are great, as are contests that may benefit a non-profit, as long as the results of the contests isn’t used as a business deliverable, much less as a part of branding. That a disservice to the client who deserves nothing but the best representation of their brand and services; and it’s a disservice to the designer who should be properly compensated for their efforts.
In this same vein of respect for the designer and the clients, I had a conversation recently with someone who had worked in marketing at a large tech company and was not willing to pay a designer the going rate (actually the lower end of the spectrum) for a Web project. This potential client told me that were he to interview someone who designed a site like Apple.com, he would automatically consider them out of his league. So, even though he respected and acknowledged their skills, he wouldn’t try to find a way to harness those skills, that designer would be set aside because they were too good. Anyone who wasn’t at that tier were then lumped together, as they couldn’t impress him, which means that they were charging too much.
He’s chasing a unicorn: quality and experience on the cheap.
Oh, and this is for a project that he is passionate about, and will represent him to the world. He seemed like a perfectly nice guy, but what does this say about the image he will project?
What does it say about the designers and clients using Pixish?
Derek Powazek has given a lot to the Web community, and I have benefited from his work in the past, so while I have a lot of respect for him, that respect doesn’t change the fact that I disagree with the concept of Pixish.