Spec (speculative) work can be defined as, "Providing design services to develop creative concept work for free (or for a nominal fee) as part of a new business pitch."
Spec work and crowdsourcing are universally condemned by responsible design organizations around the world, including RGD, Icograda, Graphic Artists Guild and AIGA, as being an unethical business practice that is harmful to designers and clients alike.
The RGD Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit members from taking part in, undertaking or conducting open competitions for commercial purposes on speculation.
Download RGD Policy Statement on Spec Work
RGD provides a policy statement detailing the harmful effects of demands for spec work and providing advice on the professional methods for selecting graphic design services.
Report Spec Work
The RGD Ethics Committee and Spec Lobby Committee work to issue formal grievances to those who issue RFPs with spec components, host crowdsourcing competitions and more. Professional designers are encouraged to contact us when asked to engage in spec work. Depending on the situation and request, RGD will either write to and advise the offending parties directly, or provide complainants with a copy of the policy on letterhead.
For information on RGD's recent anti-spec successes, and other advocacy efforts, click here.
To inform us of a case of spec work or for further information please contact:
- No Spec Presentation at Style Frames NY by Lionel Gadoury RGD
- What is Spec Work? informational video by Topic Simple
- The NO! SPEC Campaign by NO!SPEC
- Position on Spec Work by AIGA
- Working on Spec: Speculative Work for Free by All Graphic Design
- Why We Don't Make Speculative Presentations by Creative Business
- When a "Contest" is Not a Contest by Jeff Fisher
- Don't Design on Spec by Jeffrey Zeldman
- Spec Work Arithmetic by Gunnar Swanson
- Should Clients Cough up for Pitches? by Gillian Jones
- Giving It All Away by David Robertson FDIA
- Spec Can Be Beaten by Blair Enns
- Time for Us All to Ditch Spec Creative Pitches by Zak Mroueh
- BuzzFeed article: A Lot Of People Are Feeling This Angry Email From A Designer Who Claims He Was Asked To “Work For Free”