I don't know if it was a coincidence or what, only once I visited a well-known website that holds contests just to see whats up there. I clicked, opened up an open contest to see what type of entries they get and I was shocked! I reported 4 entries which were copied from Google by so called designers!
Spec work is fine when you are working with people that you can trust. We've all stayed up to finish an RFP only to find that the project gets cancelled and your suggestions appear on your client's website a few months later.
I agree with Luke. If you do a service, get paid fairly for it. There is something to be said about well designed/photographed images or Graphic designs having a ROI (Return of Investment) for clients. The good clients understand how it impacts their business. The bad ones just want it free, now, and don't care. It is a great thing to be able to choose which clients you want to work for.
The funny thing is about the poll conducted is that it resembles a bell curve. Which by theory some people are fully against and fully for something with everyone in the middle.... except in this case it was the indifferent and for spec work that ended up being the ends of the bell curve. I agree with the majority.
Locally we recently saw a retail center ask agencies to complete a fairly rigorous RFP process - just to be considered to PITCH for the agency of record opening (how is this different from spec work?)! In our market - which was pretty tight-fisted before the economic crunch hit - I often suspect that these companies are not sincere in wanting to build a solid working relationship; they are out to grab whatever they can from the bargain bin and get on the fastest horse outta Dodge City.
@Ru - Complex systems must be properly specified and documented. That isn't what is being referred to as "Spec work" though - here the "spec" means speculative!
What can I say - spec work is evil!
Graphic design isn't the only industry facing the challenge of too many workers willing to work for too little, supported by clients who don't appreciate the value of quality results and professional service.
I'm a photographer, and it's the same for us.
My take on it is that you get what you pay for, and clients worthy of our work know this. Just like overnight "professional photographers" aren't going anywhere, neither is spec work ... the challenge for us is to prove our value to our clients and build our businesses on referrals to others who believe in getting what they pay for.
Foot-stomping achieves nothing. Or very little ;)
I have been opposed to the concept of speculative work throughout my entire design career. Not only does it degrade the value and importance of my own work, but it degrades the value and importance of the work of my peers, and the practice of graphic design at large. (I generally quote AIGA's stance on speculative work, as well, but Aaron Riddle already did a nice job of that in his comment above.)
Spec work is evil. I stand firmly behind the AIGA's stance on the subject: AIGA believes that doing speculative work seriously compromises the quality of work that clients are entitled to and also violates a tacit, long-standing ethical standard in the communication design profession worldwide. AIGA strongly discourages the practice of requesting that design work be produced and submitted on a speculative basis in order to be considered for acceptance on a project.
With the economy turning around as it already is, there should be no need for spec. Someone out there is ready to PAY you for your work.
I'm actually about to do a Uni assignment on this too!
I think at the end of the day, spec work is bad - when it is exploited!
I.e. spec work is good for emerging designers and the like. But when professional designers move into it, it cheapens the industry as a whole, which is bad!
Guys and Girls,
I love to know how complex web systems can be budgeted, controlled and supported without documentation?
12 years of web management experience shows documentation is a painful unavoidable reality.