Wine & Graphic Design: A Crowded Undertaking
When I entered the wine industry in 1990 at a small PR firm dedicated to serving wine clients, my first graphic design project was a newsletter for a client. I was pointed to a particular designer whose work was outstanding. Like most others, he did not use computers, laid out the design on a board, had film of the mock up made then passed it to the printer. It was a fairly long and detailed and expensive proposition.
It is now more than 20 years later. I recently oversaw the design of a new logo for a wine-related client. More than 60 designers from around the world submitted over 300 designs. Those 300 were narrowed down to 100, then to 6 then to 1. The cost was $500 and the entire process took just over 1 week.
Welcome to the world of Crowd Sourced Graphic Design.
I’m not the first to discover this. There are numerous sites that allow you to create a “design contest”, have multiple designers submit designs, then choose the one you want. I used 99Designs.com. But there are other Graphic Design Crowd Sourcing Sites including DesignCrowd.com and CrowdSpring.com.
But here’s the thing. Despite being extraordinarily happy with the results of this graphic design project, I feel a little bit like I had crossed a picket line where my brothers and sisters were involved in the strike. Let me explain.
Crowed Sourcing is extremely controversial in the graphic design world. It is believed by many that by getting numerous graphic designers to work on speculation (Spec), you devalue the craft, as well as drag down fees and likely don’t get the high quality results you would get by working back and forth with a single, dedicated designer.
I can promise the last objection simply is not true. However, there is no question that crowd sourcing graphic design DOES drag down overall fees for graphic designers and in its own way does devalue the craft. And yet, the combination of new technology, easy to use graphic design software, access to millions of inspirational graphic design on the web and a proliferation of folks trying to make a living in graphic design in the U.S. and around the world creating one big pool of accessible designers makes this method of purchasing graphic design services seem practically inevitable.
I do sympathize with that contingent of graphic designers that despise crowd sourcing (and believe me when I tell you that “despise” is the correct word here). Yet I see indication that the trend will abate. Where wine is concerned, I would in no way be surprised to see a larger and larger percentage of new labels be developed in this manner.
Why not have your client get 60 PR firms to write a press release for the new wine and then give $100 to the one they like best?
You read my mind.
Film of the mockup? He must have *really* been good. I think you mean paste-up?
Molly….it’s been a while…so, the lingo has alluded me.
WBR’s logo was created using this method. While I’m cognizant of the effect that it has on designers as a trade, I didn’t know any designers when I needed the logo developed, and LogoTournament was a good deal.
Subsequent logo projects for me have been developed with a local designer, mostly because I now know some designers that I trust and who have a good eye.
Randy, It seems that crowdsourcing is a GREAT way for young designers to break in. And frankly, I was very impressed with much of the work that was submitted. So, while I do feel a bit dirty, I am a happy dirt bag.
Tom, I am a graphic designer, and I find fault with this post (you knew this was coming, I’m sure). I’d like to start by saying, in a sort of informal introduction, that I work mostly with wine and hospitality clients — some of which are internationally distributed — so I have some experience in this area.
My first point of contention, and the obvious one, is this statement: “[ …don’t get the high quality results you would get by working back and forth with a single, dedicated designer.] I can promise the last objection simply is not true.”
I’ll be the very first to point out that many crowd sourced logos are attractive. Hell, I could develop a great looking logo for a hypothetical client and keep it on file until a real client comes along (hint: that’s where a lot of those crowd sourced logos come from). The thing is, a good logo has to be more than good looking. Like a spouse, a logo needs to be meant to last, and it can’t be all about looks. There’s demographics to consider, user perception, how the logo will work on different marketing materials and media, how the logo will translate into different cultures and languages, whether or not the logo will look dated in ten years (web 2.0, anyone?)… I could go on, but you get the drift. There’s more than the client ‘liking’ how it looks to consider.
My next issue is with this bit, “Where wine is concerned, I would in no way be surprised to see a larger and larger percentage of new labels be developed in this manner.” And I suppose it’s not as much an issue to me because I disagree.
I’m not worried about losing my gig, because another designer educated me in this regard long ago: The clients who don’t want to pay me are not the clients I want. If someone really thinks their brand should be built on a $500 logo designed by someone with very limited brand and market knowledge, than OK. That’s their prerogative. They’re not my ideal client the same way I’m not their ideal designer. I don’t mean this bitterly, it’s just something I’ve accepted. I’d love to provide them with something better than “pretty”, but I can’t force anyone to make an investment they don’t want to make.
It’s almost like someone assuming that the only thing they need to make great wine is the raw ingredients — grapes, yeast, maybe some acid and sugar — and there you go! As good as any wine, and cheap too!
I jest. We all know the intricacies of our own craft.