Design association calls Huffington Post contest unethical for seeking free logos

Huffington Post
The executive director of professional design association AIGA, which has more than 20,000 members, says the Huffington Post’s contest for a new politics logo is unethical.

Ric Grefe writes:

The creative profession­als that read the [Huffington] Post expect more from you.

This practice violates a tacit, long-stand­ing ethical standard in the communicat­ion design profession worldwide. …

Requesting work for free demonstrates a lack of respect for the designer and the design process as well as the time of the profession­als who are asked to provide it. This approach, therefore, reflects on the integrity, practices and standards of the Huffington Post and AOL.

Comments on the contest story are overwhelmingly negative, like this one from Jody Shyllberg:

Really?? Asking for design work with the payment being…ge­tting credit for doing the work?! Does everyone at AOL work for kudos for a job well done in lieu of a salary?

Some journalists have raised questions about whether AOL’s and Huffington Post’s history of free labor makes this sort of “crowd-sourcing” problematic.

Spokesperson Mario Ruiz told me by email the contest “was in no way an attempt to solicit unpaid design services.” Ruiz also said:

We asked fans of HuffPost Politics to submit suggestions for social media icon designs as a fun way of enabling them to express their passion for politics — and for HuffPost. As readers of our site know, we frequently engage our community with requests for feedback and suggestions. So while AOL Huffington Post Media Group employs an in-house team of more than 30 talented designers, we felt this would be a lighthearted way to encourage HuffPost Politics users to express another side of their talents.

Thanks to Mallary Tenore for the tip.

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  • Anonymous

    Thanks you for your insight into my grammar. No comment about the bag handler, eh? Now you move onto sentence structure. Congratulations. You still think you are better then me buddy boy? Your grammar check is nothing to my weekly check…see what i did there? I’m more of a man than you, based on your logic. And you would be right.

    Your union hating has nothing to do with this post, so you sound very stupid- that has been pointed out to you several times. Dude, AIGA is no union, i guess “you dont read well”.Businesses dont exist to serve workers, okay…but hmm, who does the work? Oh right, its the CEO’s. Everyone deserves to earn a livable wage, even your foolish self. Workers need protection because corporations love to dick their workers around- that’s why unions were created in the first place. Look at the situation teachers are in- the modern scapegoat for a failing educational system which your buddies- corporations mixed with government- have raided the funds for decades. The media has actually demonized the people that teach our most prized assets- our children. And they bring fools like you along for the ride, with ludicrous claims that because of some bad apples, everyone must suffer. How dare they have tenure, and job protection- just because your low skill doesn’t earn you one. People like you need to lose your job and livelihood so you can gain some perspective- I’d like to see you cheering on the corporations when you cant feed yourself or provide for your family. Because even if you get crapped on, its just business, who cares.You are so gullible. All they do is pit workers against each other, then rob everyone when they are not looking.

    Business has no feelings. People do. Learn the see the forest for the trees. You are a very well trained lapdog. I’m proud of you.

  • Anonymous

    WKYA, please check on your education level. China and Republican are proper nouns.

    Your writing is horrible for such an educated person. I would capitalize “I” too. It makes you look stupid when you don’t. It figures you are in TV.

    I have no insight? I have seen unions at work. I have watched union workers walk off the job and take their prescribed union breaks when the chips were down and work needed to be completed. I have watched union workers bully, beat and destroy property and businesses when they didn’t get their way.

    Here is a lesson for you.

    Businesses move to China and elsewhere because it is good business. Idiots like you think businesses are in business to give you a job. Businesses do not exist for workers. They exist for profit and their CUSTOMERS.

    Let me say it again. Businesses exist to make money and serve CUSTOMERS, not workers. That reality may hurt your feeling and make you feel less important, but it’s the way of the world. The same applies for me as well. I don’t work for someone and think that they owe me anything more than the pay I have earned.

    Brittany Spears? What are you rambling about?  You don’t write well for a person who describes himself as highly educated.

  • Anonymous

    Dear jmdaniels

    You obviously have a clear lack of experience, knowledge, and insight into how entire professions become commodities and then destroyed when specialized workers can’t make any money from it anymore.

    And as for myself being a bag handler or however you put it, I can pretty much guarantee that I mAke more money than you, am more educated, and my benefits are quite nice, as I hire and manage creative talent for a fairly large media network you probably have a favorite show on. Yes, your ignorance shows well. And what if I was a bag handler of sorts, would I not be as good a human as you are? Would i not need the simple honor of being able to make decrnt wage to take care of myself and/or family? That reeks of republican “money makes the man” overtones, but whatever.

    Check yourself before you make a fool of yourself. Why don’t you go and speak to all the industry workers who built this country so you can ramble on the Internet, and tell them that their companies that shipped their jobs away to china is not really a big deal. Tell them that life goes on when they are forced out into the street. Tell them life is tough because they should have been smarter after putting 20years into companies that were supposed to look out for the workers that made themillions. This is real people’s lives we are talking about here, not some childish approach to “leave her alone” like that crazy kid said about Britney spears.

  • Anonymous

    You sir, and every other idiot that would “like” this comment, are just that- idiots.

    How do you pay your bill? Money. How do you get to work every day? Hmm, ill let you think for a sec.

    You damn well better believe that people- including your idiot self- should be protecting their livelihood. You need a slap. Or your boss to tell you that hey, your job has been terminated, but if you would work for free we would love to have you.

    I’ll let it sink in.


  • Anonymous

    They’re chiselers.

  • Anonymous

    Social Media Grifters (SMG).

  • VenturaCapitalist


  • Anonymous

    You know, you have a legitimate underlying argument here, but because you insist on reacting emotionally, looking for “enemies,” and making everything political, you undercut it entirely because you come off as juvenile. Your arguments would be better received without all the “brown shirt” nonsense and the use of “union organizer” as if it were some kind of epithet. Calm down, remember that you’re supposed to be an adult, think a minute before writing, and maybe you’ll convince some people that you’re right. Unless you real aim is simply to attack people and vent emotions over which you have little control, in which case you’re just pathetic. 

    The ironic thing is that you’re mostly right. If the market price for the design HuffPo is looking for turns out to be zero, there’s not much the design industry can so about that. I think Rob’s point, though, is partly just to note that professional, paid designers will likely make HuffPo more successful in achieving its aims. Also, as I imagine that you’re one of the “liberty” people, what’s your objection to Rob’s points? He’s letting his feelings be known. And he’s not calling on the government to shut down HuffPo’s contest or anything. Where is the brown-shirtiness, exactly?

  • Anonymous

    It’s not about the business process is about the design process.  Yes, anyone can do whatever they want.  But the goal of AIGA is not to control people but to inform people about what they see as a more positive outcome for designer and client alike.   I see crowdsourcing as turning design into a commodity which it most certainly is not. 

    Of course their are dues but this issue has nothing to do about dues.  Nor is this first time AIGA has spoken against work-for-free contests.  You wouldn’t ask an architect to design a building for free, now would you? So, why is it okay to as designers to do the same?  

    Look, I’m all for the free market and I know that there’s no way to stop crowdsourcing.   But when I can, I will try and inform those that want to listen that design is a process and not something that should be thrown up to whims of a contest.   Yes, amateurs designers abound and many I’m sure are quite good.  But they shouldn’t work for free either.  But it is a personal decision and if anyone wants to work for free, then we can’t stop them.  But as much right that those designers who feel their work is worth nothing have to do it that way, AIGA should have them same right to educate people about what’s wrong about it in their view. 

    I, for the record, am not a union organizer, AIGA is not a union, and I am currently not a member of AIGA.  

  • Simran Sethi

    “Asking for design work with the payment being…ge­tting credit for doing the work?!”  This is exactly what HuffPost asks of its writers. 

  • Anonymous

    No, I don’t work for free. No, I don’t think it’s wise.

    But it’s none of your business if someone else chooses to. Respect the process? What?

    A graphic designer can decide whatever business process he or she wants.

    Who made you or this organization the arbiter of the graphic design business? You sound like a union organizer. You need to be able to go and compete in the market without trying to control it. And if people in your industry are giving their services away for free then you need to find a way to compete instead of whining. Telling designers they all have put on a brown shirt and follow your “standards” or “process” is a bit much.

    What if an amateur, hobbyist designer with talent wants to take a crack at it? They have to stand down to “professionals” with “standards” and “respect for the process”? Ridiculous.

    So, there are no dues paid by members of this organization? It’s free
    and open to everyone? If no member pays any dues or anything to the
    organization then I’ll admit I was ignorant on that point.

  • Charles Stough

    How about a gray circle (with 12-point blue ripped-newsprint border) enclosing the red letters (Comic Sans) saying, “This Here Is the Huffington Post.”

  • Sylvia

    Huffington Post: America’s most famous sweatshop.

  • Anonymous

    That’s really an ignorant statement.   AIGA members don’t funnel money to the AIGA.  And there should be professional standards for design that respect the process.  Yes, they can do what they, HuffPost, want but AIGA can certainly disagree publicly on that without uneducated statements like this.  AIGA has a long held position on comp work and it’s not about whining it’s about protecting all design professionals whether they are members or not. 

    So JM,  do you work for free?

  • Morey San

    They should send the huffington post drawings of spiders

  • Anonymous

    It’s their website and they can ask for whatever they want. If someone wants to do a free logo for the HuffPost it’s none of the AIGA’s business.

    Why doesn’t this organization just say the truth?  Why don’t they be honest and say what they really mean, which is, “Hey, HuffPost, what are you doing? We want you to hire and pay one of our dues paying members who will funnel a little money our way. We want you to do it our way, not yours. Your way makes us irrelevant”.

    Working for free is not good business, but If someone wants to work for free it’s no ones business but the people involved. Quit whining.

  • Anonymous

    What they want to do is charge an entry fee, say $50 per design

  • John Zorabedian

    Unpaid bloggers, unpaid designers. It’s part and parcel of the AOL/HuffPo way.