New Initiative Tackles the Industry's Biggest Challenge
RGD and Nascent Digital launch an interactive tool that helps creatives identify requests for speculative work.


TORONTO (Nov. 24, 2016) - The Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) has launched an interactive tool entitled Free, Fee or Flee? The website walks creative professionals, specifically graphic designers, through a questionnaire to consider various scenarios involving requests for free work. The goal is to help them identify exploitative requests, for anything from spec work to free internships, and then suggest how they can respond accordingly.

"There is a grey area between spec, contests and legitimate pro bono work—and many common pitfalls. We want to help designers and other creatives understand when it's acceptable to work for free and when they should expect to be paid," explains Julian Brown RGD, VP of Ethics. "And even more importantly, we want to suggest how they can respond professionally and constructively no matter what the situation."

Spec work, or the act of doing work for free in the hopes of payment or as part of a pitch for business, is an ongoing challenge for all creative industries that disregards the in-depth research and analysis that creative professionals undertake to produce effective creative solutions. RGD’s Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits its Members from engaging in this business practice, and RGD's Ethics Committee advocates against it.

"Providing creative work for free is a practice most professional designers recognize as a lose-lose, both for the client requesting it and the designer providing it but many inexperienced designers fall prey to these requests in a misguided attempt to gain experience or exposure,” explains RGD President Stüssy Tschudin. "This site aims to develop their understanding of industry best practices early in their careers both to elevate the industry and ensure their individual success."

Nascent Digital contributed their interactive talents and were a great partner on the initiative. "Education, collaboration and doing the right thing are values that are important to us, and this website provides a tool for new designers to feel supported and be informed. We didn't hesitate to work with RGD on this great initiative,” says Linda Nakanishi, Nascent Digital’s Design Director. Writer Doug Dolan supported the initiative by helping us craft the scenarios and responses.

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Contact: Michelle Pereira Hampton, Director of Communications, RGD
E: ; T: 1.888.274.3668 x26


About the Association of Registered Graphic Designers
Through RGD, Canadian designers exchange ideas, educate and inspire, set professional standards and build a strong, supportive community dedicated to advocating for the value of design. Known for its efforts to advocacy against spec work, the Association made headlines last year with the #MyTimeHasValue campaign, which saw students and others boycotting the Government’s controversial Canada 150 logo contest.