Moleskine logo contest dubbed ‘Molescheme’ by angry designers

On Moleskine's Facebook page

Upmarket notebook brand Moleskine has walked into a social media hail storm after launching a competition that asked designers – its core customers – to come up with a new company logo.

The contest, which challenges designers to create a new badge for the blog Moleskinerie, has been dubbed “Molescheme” by members of the design community who accuse the company of exploitation, crowdsourcing creativity and devaluing design.

Ill feeling towards the brand has been driven by a website backed by a designer who claims that Moleskine was making use of 28,000 hours of free design time.

The homepage of the site reads:

1 designer wins. 3,499 designers lose.  Moleskine is the real winner here. If Moleskine redeem themselves by dropping this dreadful spec work competition I will continue to buy their products. Otherwise I’ll boycott. It’s that simple

The onslaught focused on Moleskine’s 100,000-strong Facebook page, where comments read:

'I am an artist' design on Moleskine's Facebook page “There is a reason why prada does not open a competition for bags and apple does not open a competition for the next iphone.”

“So clueless. I am saving all these announcements as part of my lecture on PR failure and how company can just keep missing what the problem is.

“I think you have just undermined any good you have ever done within the design community. You have lost a lot of ground with your core market. Idiots.”

“Who was the genius who thought to organize the contest that generated this mess was a good idea?”

“I really thought this company would value good design. Shame. Seems they’re just another load of exploiting scumbags. I no longer value their products.”

On Saturday, Molekine issued the following response on its Facebook page, which did not succeed in improving the situation:

As far as the Moleskinerie logo contest is concerned, we would like to clarify that since the nature of Moleskinerie has always been participative, made up of passionate contributions and voluntary submissions, we decided to let the community participate again in creating the new logo of the blog.

We decided to collaborate with Designboom to do so, a leading online design magazine, which is well …aware of how to run a contest of this kind.

If you had spent some time on the “Competitions” area of Designboom website, you certainly have seen that other Brands are running and previously decided to run similar contests, with the same regulation of our with great participation as well as amazing results.

That said, being a contest, there’s a final price for the winner, but all the submissions are free, as well you are free not to taking part to it.

Thanks to anyone who has decided, and will decide to take part to it.

Today, Moleskine issued the following apology:

Dear all,

Let’s start by apologizing for being so late with our reply. We have been reading your comments carefully, in order to formulate a course of action that, in our opinion, takes into account the feedback we received, while being fair to those who have entered the contest.

Moleskinerie is a blog that grew out of the enthusiasm and voluntary contributions of a lot of Moleskine fans arou…nd the world. Since taking it over, we have tried very hard to respect the original DNA of Moleskinerie and running a contest to create the new logo for the blog seemed like a good idea to involve the community on a project related to a blog of this nature. Also, we wanted to reach a part of the design community we rarely work with.

It has never been our purpose to exploit the rights of any of the authors. Therefore, we made a mistake in accepting standard rules for the contest, including the possibility to retain the rights on entries submitted by all participant. This was inconsistent with our intentions and the result of an oversight on our end. We apologize for this.

We have decided to change the contest rules. In particular, we will modify Article 10 of “the call for entries” to only refer to the winner of the €5.000 cash prize of the contest. We will retain no rights on any other entry. Separately, we will continue to review how we can work with the design community at large, beyond those professionals we already work with on a regular basis.

The deadline for competition submissions is November 10, and the winner is to be announced in early December.


  1. Benny
    25 Oct 11
    7:03 pm

  2. This reinforces what the rest of the industry thinks about creatives and why we need client managers to stop prima donnas pooing all over every opportunity that’s fronted to them.

  3. John
    25 Oct 11
    9:26 pm

  4. Cry more.

  5. Speedmaster
    26 Oct 11
    3:50 am

  6. I don’t really get the anger or the backlash. If you don’t want to be “exploited,” simply don’t take part. It’s all voluntary, isn’t it?

  7. P. Donna
    26 Oct 11
    7:06 am

  8. Let’s have a competition where 3500 client managers are set the task of being the best at stopping prima donnas pooing all over opportunities. The one who does it best gets the honour of seeing their opportunity make lots of money for everyone other than themselves (ooh, maybe they could put it in their portfolio). Everyone else gets to enjoy the warm inner glow that comes from knowing that they tried their best.

    Warm inner glow is awesome for paying the mortgage.

    The point is Moleskin is an indulgent “you deserve it” purchase for creatives. It’s a product that says creativity is important and should be rewarded with premium treatment. Running a contest that doesn’t think creativity is worth paying for undermines that message.

  9. Jacob
    26 Oct 11
    9:03 am

  10. Was wondering how long it’d be before someone referred to designers working for free as an “opportunity”.

  11. blogger
    26 Oct 11
    9:08 am

  12. This designer was also assuming that everybody who entered was established. What about new designers straight out of university? Wouldn’t a win like this (not to mention the cash) be a great leg up in their career?

    If you take this no free work stance we can also ban pitch meetings, film festivals, passion projects, working for friends and family…get the picture?

    Get off your high horse and suck it up princess, it’s not hurting you (unless you lost the pitch for the Moleskin job in the first place)

  13. anon
    26 Oct 11
    9:43 am

  14. How dare Moleskine invite designers to voluntarily interact with their brand?
    FMCG brands have been doing it for years; Vegemite, Smiths, Coke, Samboy. It’s called engagement.
    Don’t want to design for free? Don’t enter.

  15. Lucio
    26 Oct 11
    10:03 am

  16. Unpaid pitching gone mad.

  17. Nathan
    26 Oct 11
    10:14 am

  18. Speedmaster, not taking part doesn’t do anything about the core problem. The more that companies take this cheap way out (even though they can perfectly well afford to properly engage a studio), the more it normalises it. Moleskine even used the excuse “other companies have done it”. It completely undermines the value of design, and the proliferation of spec-work disguised as “competitions” makes it increasingly difficult to sustain a viable business in the industry.

  19. Jan Paul Ostendorf
    26 Oct 11
    10:16 am

  20. How can people be so short sided.

    What’s next, corporations crowd sourcing architects to design a new corporate headquarters and paying only one for a chosen design?

    I got it. When I get sick, I’ll go to five doctors and only pay the bill of the one that gives me the diagnosis I like. This is great. Let’s get 100’s of lawyers to review my lawsuit and provide a defense and I will choose and pay only one that will win my case.

    Crowd sourcing will devalue the one thing that separates creatives from non-creatives–ideas. It also is devoid of the creative process and all interaction between the client and the creative. Why doesn’t Mokeskin just go to a stock logo site and buy a generic M logo and be done with it. They will probably achieve similar results. A mark that is devoid from the benefit that is generated from client interaction, collaboration and exploration process.

    Yeah, go ahead an plan a trip without looking at a map or learning about the city or place you are planning to visit. Have fun.

  21. Nathan
    26 Oct 11
    10:59 am

  22. blogger, a win like this would absolutely not give them a leg up in their career. It wouldn’t impress any prospective employers in the slightest, and if shown to clients, shows them you’re willing to work for peanuts. If a graduate wants to flesh out their portfolio, then they’re far better of with self-initiated projects and doing pro-bono work for people that genuinely can’t afford engaging an established studio. Doing free work for companies that have plenty of cash is just stupid.

  23. dave.
    26 Oct 11
    11:30 am

  24. the creative industry continues to amaze me with their anger. it’s like pubescent children fighting for attention.

  25. fraser
    26 Oct 11
    12:11 pm

  26. funny when a similar competition is positioned to consumers its seen as engaging
    however when its aimed at creatives it is deemed exploitation

    Dry your eyes – if you don’t like it don’t enter it

  27. I had an idea once
    26 Oct 11
    2:01 pm

  28. @Jan Paul: If you genuinley think ideas are the one thing that separate creatives from ‘non-creatives’ you better get your CV polished up and search for another USP.

  29. leisai
    26 Oct 11
    2:16 pm

  30. i think jessica hische put it best:

  31. Notmyrealname
    26 Oct 11
    2:41 pm

  32. Outrageous. Just imagine if clients expected ad agencies to line up, do tons of unpaid work and pitch for their account for free.

    Oh, hold on……

  33. Brandon Hillier
    26 Oct 11
    2:52 pm

  34. but…but…social media is a friendly place.

  35. Simon
    26 Oct 11
    2:53 pm

  36. The first part of the problem here is its a brand sucking free time out of an industry that has made it successful in the first place and is actually it’s core profession. Comparing it to a consumer brand like ‘Vegemite, Smiths, Coke, Samboy’ etc is isn’t comparing apples with apples. Consumers don’t spend their 38-hour working week making Vegemite, hence when given the opportunity to spend 5 minutes coming up with a new name, they jump at the chance.

    Secondly, the ham-fisted way the competition was presented and has been addressed via the social media channels is merely fueling the problem.

    Finally, simply telling us to ‘dry our eyes and not enter’ is as equally dismissive as the original competition. No-one likes it when crowd-sourcing moves into their industry, so let’s try not encourage it wherever possible.

    Simon Dell

  37. Caroline
    26 Oct 11
    3:03 pm

  38. Total overreaction me thinks. This concept is really only a few degrees different to and that seems to be pretty popular. Agree with earlier comments that if you don’t like it don’t enter, but a bit OTT to trash the brand.

  39. CC
    26 Oct 11
    3:04 pm

  40. “The point is Moleskin is an indulgent “you deserve it” purchase for creatives. It’s a product that says creativity is important and should be rewarded with premium treatment. Running a contest that doesn’t think creativity is worth paying for undermines that message.”

    P. Donna nailed it!

    Regardless of the ethics behind the comp, it definitely detracts from the premium nature of the brand. It feels cheap. While it’s been done to death, some sort of quality mentoring program or other valuable design related experience would be more fitting. Something that would benefit the customer rather than the brand. A premium brand should be the outlet that people look to for style and design cues, not asking the customer for them. Bizarre.

  41. Alison_F
    26 Oct 11
    3:10 pm

  42. @leisai That link was fantastic! I have already downloaded the JPEG and am thinking about making it my business card! Thanks for sharing! As for the rest of you, anyone who thinks creatives should see this sort of crap as an ‘opportunity’ is laughable.

  43. Kev
    26 Oct 11
    3:14 pm

  44. Hemingway, Picasso all the greats that used a Moleskine were artists. All that equity built up over years has been lost because of greed. Goodbye Moleskine, you’re now as valuable as a $2.50 notepad from China.

  45. leisai
    26 Oct 11
    3:23 pm

  46. @Alison_F She writes some fantastic stuff on her blog too about pricing correctly, knowledge every designer needs to know but rarely gets taught.

  47. Paul
    26 Oct 11
    3:24 pm

  48. Isn’t this just an extension of IMC? Co-opting the customer to co-create.

  49. Tony Richardson
    26 Oct 11
    3:30 pm

  50. Right or wrong, professional designers HATE crowd-sourcing.

    So it would seem that Moleskine (and it’s agency) has failed to understand it’s ‘core customer’ big time.

    It’s a bit like the range of pork products I took to the synagogue the other day.

  51. Tyler
    26 Oct 11
    3:40 pm

  52. Sigh, anyone arguing that this “competition” would be a leg up for the winner or that other designers shouldn’t be enraged if they choose not to participate is completely ignorant. Spec work damages the entire design community, now more-so than ever! Spec work, crowdsourcing …call it what you want, it’s all the same exploitation of creatives, especially aspiring creatives.

    True branding and identity work is a very research heavy process that requires a lot of one-on-one communication between the client and designer and many iterations. This process encourages plagiarism (labeled “inspirations” by crowdsourcing participants) as designers look to cut corners any means necessary. All it takes is some nitwit google searching to start ripping off other hard-working designers, so yes, it does effect us all regardless of who opts into this.

    I personally can’t wait for the new mark to include some kind of inadvertent copyright violation that makes Moleskin look even more foolish. That or the satisfaction of seeing their new mark include some cheesy clip-art version of a cartoon mole. Shame on you Moleskin!

  53. Bec
    26 Oct 11
    3:42 pm

  54. So are you all opposed to crowd-sourcing ads too? Think Doritos ‘Crash the Superbowl’ that was created by fans and was the most likeable and successful ad of the 2010 Superbowl.

    Think there is a slight over-reaction here…sure it wasn’t a great idea but I hardly think Moleskin were actively trying to devalue our industry. And what do you think the effect of this will have on the REST of the industry? Australian clients are already conservative and risk-adverse – we’re just perpetuating it by (over)reacting like this! Now they definitely won’t trial anything slightly risky.

  55. Trevor
    26 Oct 11
    3:51 pm

  56. The advertising industry has been working for free for years. It’s called a pitch. You get to deliver your best thinking to a client who takes it and uses it in-house. I don’t get the drama. Just don’t enter. Pitching is not compulsory either.

  57. Dave Bathur
    26 Oct 11
    3:52 pm

  58. I dont think they have made a mountain out of a moleskin: reserving the rights to award entries that dont win completely sucks: “We won’t award it, but may still use it”.

    Kinda feels like that’s actually the key element of the story; rather than crowd sourcers = artist killers.

  59. Keith
    26 Oct 11
    3:53 pm

  60. 99Designs anyone? This is their complete business model.

    They won a webby, Melbourne born have run over 100K design contests and processed over $25m.

    The concept of a design contest is fine – brand fit maybe not. Also this was a logo for a blog that they are paying 5000 euros for. It could be a big opportunity for an independent designer to get some exposure and kudos. I’m sure many of the designers on 99 designs would jump at it.

    The market exists and is already behaving like this, if designers don’t like it then they probably should convince their peers not to participate. No one will crowdsource if there is no crowd.

  61. Robert
    26 Oct 11
    4:04 pm

  62. We’re not just talking about a competition – it’s about the valur of our industry. It’s about people having a job to go to.

    By allowing companies to run design competitions it implies our product/service is a commodity. Each piece of design is equal in value to the next. Commodities are of uniform quality, and are produced in large quantities by many different producers.

    If this happens we will have no industry left and I for one believe in fighting to keep my job as it is my right as it is for anyone else in any other industry.

  63. G
    26 Oct 11
    4:29 pm

  64. @Simon – Your company’s website looks a lot like

  65. Meh
    26 Oct 11
    4:32 pm

  66. Moleskin’s biggest mistake was not in running the competition, it was in not knowing their audience. They positioned themselves well with unpaid design graduates who have a greater need to earn a buck than to earn industry respect. In the end, they lost respect amongst the real designers who probably used their product religiously up until the competition left a bad doodle on their breath.

    I say get over your heart-felt industry concerns and enjoy watching the spectacle of epic fails by companies who are trying to be relevant, and trying new things, to keep up with every other company who fails to get ‘engagement’ right.


  67. Anne Miles
    26 Oct 11
    4:45 pm

  68. As much as our industry doesn’t like it, the fact is there are many businesses out there running a similar model with far less credibility than this – elance, freelancer, open office, 99 designs, another new one I can’t remember the name of. The sad truth is that there are many millions of dollars being spent in this space now more than ever – it is a wave coming much like the music industry shifting from a disk in your hand to a file online. The industry changes and many are disadvantaged and a the same time many take it as an opportunity (whether we agree with it or not).

    This is exactly the same as the pitch process that’s been around as long as I can remember (27 years) – not that I necessarily agree with the process there. We can all dislike it, and those that are at a more senior level are less likely to like it but there are creative people and businesses that see it as a real opportunity.

    There are many creative competitions for work that generate work that will be used, sometimes for no cash prize.

    I do think that the industry as a whole has a level of professional people that deliver wonderful work to a seriously high level but sadly the true value of this is not clear to many of their clients or even peers. We can be outraged all we like, but until we can put some hard facts and evidence around the successes of such precision and quality then the value wont be tangible.

    I’m interested in helping businesses demonstrate the value in their work so to avoid the free pitching process but I feel the wider community needs to hold together to make any wider impact across the board. Since there are those that do benefit from this ‘opportunity’ then they’ll forever hinder the industry as a group making change. Whinging and moaning is pointless, but some decent action as a total community is needed.

    As far as Moleskin goes I think they’ve at least done the right thing by changing the terms and conditions to be fairer by paying for what they use and releasing what they don’t, and they are committing to work with the community in the future. Their problem has been professionally handled I feel. Given the context of the wider industry I feel they’ve done the best that could be expected.

  69. Adrian
    26 Oct 11
    5:03 pm

  70. @Kev How did Picasso use a brand of notebook that only came into existence in 1997? Oh, and Moleskine’s are made in china.

  71. Adrian
    26 Oct 11
    5:11 pm

  72. Woops! Put an apostrophe where one didn’t need to be.

  73. David
    26 Oct 11
    5:25 pm

  74. @Robert surely design is a commodity. It is surely what we are all selling designers and creatives included.

    I agree wholeheartedly that we should not devalue the creative process and wherever possible we should be charging and getting financially rewarded for everything we do but if we think that our designs are not a product and commodity how then can we properly charge for it?

  75. Simon
    26 Oct 11
    5:37 pm

  76. Thanks ‘G’ for pointing that out. Carsonified were certainly an inspiration behind our site design when we built it in 2009. But as its fast approaching 2012, we’re currently undergoing a re-design to something a little more fresh and unique…..

  77. Howard
    26 Oct 11
    6:27 pm

  78. Moleskin could still turn this around. They could publish a special edition notebook that featured every single entry with designers contact details online. Consumers could contact any designer of the logo they best liked. You have people talking Moleskin. Use it

  79. Michael
    27 Oct 11
    12:03 am

  80. For those outside the design profession, or new to it, I urge you to read Andy Rutledge’s thoughts about being a professional vs. being a merchant. ( If you’re looking for a well-communicated argument against the practice of spec work, pitching, or other work-for-free systems I doubt you’ll find a clearer voice on the subject.

  81. Doctor Octoroc
    27 Oct 11
    5:18 am

  82. I’m actually doing research for a book right now that will pick apart the numeric effects that design contests like this really have on the design industry, more specifically the monetary numbers. Imagine if your industry was, as a collective, going to make billions less next year. That’s thousands of dollars out of your annual salary. You would be upset, too.

    The problem with contests like this one isn’t just that it “offends” professional designers who can’t get off their “high horse”. This isn’t about some principle or moral belief – it’s about the billions of dollars every year that aren’t being paid for this kind of work because they’re being crowd-sourced to non-professionals and, additionally, what they receive as “payment” isn’t worth the time and effort they put in to the contests they enter. Meanwhile, the geniuses that came up with this idea, and they really are because they’ve found a way to legally make millions off of free labor, are doing just that. It’s borderline slavery disguised as a “contest” or, even more infuriating, “an opportunity”.

    And if you think that these contests “even the playing field” for amateur designers or even benefit the winners of the competitions, think again. While I’m still doing a lot of research, I can say that my findings thus far are disturbing.

    For example, the average hourly “pay” for a given member on one of these sites (based on the average amount awarded per contest, average number on entries, average number of contests won vs. entered for each member, and with a sample of roughly 100 members of various genders, # of entries, etc [basically a random sample of varying members]) is roughly $0.28 per hour. Yes, you read that right. When you break it down on the whole, members on these sites make approximately 28 cents per each hour they spend on the competitions.

    And these contests don’t really help the clients either. The people that enter into these competitions are predominantly students and desperate designer wannabes that don’t know anything about copyright infringement, font licenses, etc., and are therefore endangering the reputations of any client that utilizes a crowd-sourcing site like 99designs or Crowdspring. The number of “designers” that are “competing” for these “clients” is inflated on every site and only amounts to roughly 60% of the actual number they claim, and most of the many submissions to each “contest” are duplicates from the same member with a small color variance so they really don’t get a good quality or quantity of choices. Additionally, clients are forced to choose a design and pay for it, so it will likely be a waste of money for them any way.

    So I dare you to tell me that I’m another snooty designer on a high-horse when you consider that the widespread use of these contests is:

    – Costing hard-working Americans in the design industry billions and billions of dollars
    – Removing that money from the 99% that need it in a bad economic time
    – Awarding that money to the Execs that run these company contests and websites that definitely don’t need it and can afford to pay a proper fee for the service
    – Essentially allowing companies to pay their “workers” $0.28 per hour, which is borderline slave labor, including many instances of underage people.

    Before you make ignorant comments about something which you know nothing, do some research, people. On top of their poor attitude toward their primary customer base, Moleskine has joined the ranks of thousands of companies who have taken part in a shameful scam that, beyond all reasonable comprehension, is only getting worse.

  83. DaveC
    27 Oct 11
    7:47 am

  84. It’s a design competition. It doesn’t mean they are getting “28,000 hours” of professional design time for free, it means they are getting 28,000 hours free time from the kinds of designers who enter design competitions.

    Do you really think Scott Dadich is going to go, “I’ve got a bit on my plate here at Wired, but gee, designing a pisspot logo for a blog… honey, fire up
    Illustrator, daddy’s gonna get his exploit on!”

    Some aspiring designers actually like doing stuff like this. Hell, I’ve designed logos for mates for zilch when I was starting, just to get my eye in and fatten out my portfolio. Didn’t realise I was devaluing the industry.

    It’s not Moleskine’s whole identity, it’s not setting a work for free precedent, it’s just a comp on a blog. Shut down 99 Designs, or shut up.

  85. Anne Miles
    27 Oct 11
    9:08 am

  86. @Doctor Octoroc, I like the idea of putting some numbers behind your argument although sadly your argument is empty to clients who make the decisions. Simply complaining and proving statistically that there is a lost market by using sites such as elance, freelancers and 99Designs is not actually supporting your case at all. It just states that people are moving away from the traditional model of getting design work done to a new model.

    I encourage you to get the emotion and inflammation out of your argument and spend the time creating a case that demonstrates that the current model delivers a better return to clients and that their is value in the work that designers currently do. Demonstrate that design that is done poorly has a negative financial impact on a client’s business so they can see the value.

    Equating it to slave labour is inflammatory and highly emotional and will only go against your well meaning cause.

    If anyone can show how a great design has made a good financial impact on a business compared to a bad one then you have the attention of many clients and will be positioned for growth right now.

    I can’t tell you how many designers I speak to that think they’re unique and that their work is so highly valued – yet they’re just the same as anyone else, they have no point of difference, they have no solid proof that what they do works, they think that being ‘strategic’ makes them different when that’s actually just default these days.

    Making a lot of noise about how unfair the ‘system’ is and how much the industry is hurting will do nothing. @Doctor Octoroc is on the right track with intention, that there needs to be something statistical in place, and that the industry is hurting. Let’s start by great designers being able to show their value and have a point of difference to this kind of work that is superficial and insignificant in the scheme of things and worry about the bigger picture work where your value is really able to shine.

  87. Wtf?...
    27 Oct 11
    10:40 am

  88. Love the backlash here…

    It implies that every designer out there thinks they’re absolutely the best at what they do. 20/80 rule people…

    Grow up. The universe doesn’t rotate around you, and we don’t really care how outraged you feel. We lost interest when you threw a tantrum because your latte had too much foam…

  89. Shane
    27 Oct 11
    10:50 am

  90. This ‘controversy’ sounds like sour grapes from an industry that’s been called out after years of charging tens of thousands of dollars for ‘creative’ input and some InDesign skills.

    eg Brand Development for City of Melbourne cost $240,000. Are you freaking kidding me!? I know full well the work that goes into developing a new brand from scratch. They should’ve just walked into a third-year RMIT design class, told the students that the winner gets $10,000 and ‘City of Melbourne’ on their CV… walked out and come back 2 months later to find 500 submissions of quality work.

  91. Doctor Octoroc
    27 Oct 11
    11:12 am

  92. @Anne – I see exactly what you’re saying about the direction but my research isn’t supposed to be used to battle the system or make them “feel bad” and change their ways…they’ll never stop abusing the system until there’s no longer a reason to. This isn’t an attack and it isn’t emotional, and everything I’m saying has facts behind it – there’s nothing inflammatory about the information I’m putting together. I’m actually organizing it in a manner that would give these contests the benefit of the doubt (if there was one), using conservative estimates wherever it would be beneficial to them.

    The purpose of this information is to educate students because they are the future of this industry and the next batch of likely candidates to fall victim to this shameful crowd-sourcing trend. My plan is to create a concise, informative (and well designed by a paid artist!) booklet on the topic and distribute it to art schools and college campuses nationwide, informing as many as possible about how the only way to be rid of these sorts of devaluing practices (or as rid as we can ever be) is to not enter them.

    The problem I’ve seen while browsing through thousands upon thousands of entries is that there are actually some decent designers out there that use these sites that have been sucked into this idea that they can make a living off of these sites, but they end up working for much less than they’re worth and supplementing income with a retail or restaurant job – then they get stuck in a trend where they depend on the site.

    But most of these people don’t even realize how much less they’re making and how much that effects everyone else in the industry, and the economy as a whole. If they just took a stand with the rest of us and refused to give up their good work for such little profit they would, along with the rest of us, be forcing those that should hire us to do so because all that will be left on those contest sites are teens and amateurs that can never satisfy the world’s design needs.

    Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But I’m not giving up without a fight and I know that if enough people are as passionate and determined to make a difference as I am, it’ll happen. And if not, at least we’ll all leave this world knowing we did our god damn best to preserve a real passion of ours. Sure, in the meantime, I’ll do my best work and be one of the designers that still gets work in this shitty economy regardless of contest sites like this existing.

    The beauty of being a freelance artist is that I have a lot of free time.

    A lot.

  93. Anonymous
    27 Oct 11
    11:46 am

  94. Deal with it, cry babies. Reminds me of this fiasco.

  95. Doctor Octoroc
    27 Oct 11
    1:24 pm

  96. @Wtf? – I don’t drink lattes.

    @Shane – I’ve never used InDesign.

    Prime example of trolls with no purpose, recycling common stereotypes for cheap insults, and you’re asking the professionals of an entire industry that’s being threatened that they need to grow up? This problem is larger than this stupid contest and it threatens all of our jobs. It doesn’t matter what your uninformed opinion is of what it is we do.

    I’m going to guess that neither of you are in a creative profession so don’t open your mouth where your thoughts don’t belong and leave discussions like this to the knowledgeable creative types that like “foam in our lattes”.

  97. Shane
    27 Oct 11
    3:16 pm

  98. @Doctor Octoroc,

    If your entire industry is under threat from a competition or the groundbreaking idea of sourcing the best from what people are willing to give for free, then it was never all that robust to begin with. Perhaps you chose the wrong industry if it can be so easily usurped?

    Maybe next time around pick a skill set that won’t get easier and easier and more and more accessible every time a more intuitive computer is built.

  99. Alison_F
    27 Oct 11
    3:33 pm

  100. @Shane… I think it’s time to get your hand off it and stop trying to bait the designers in this thread that feel we have a legitimate gripe. Your boring opinion is quite clear. But speaking of skill-sets – I wonder, what is yours?

  101. Doctor Octoroc
    27 Oct 11
    4:45 pm

  102. @Shane – I’m also curious, what is your skill set? And by skill set, I mean the series of actions you can now perform because you went to a university or institute of some sort and someone there showed you how to perform them.

    I’ll await your answer before I even dignify your last string of ignorance with any further response.

  103. Anne Miles
    27 Oct 11
    5:50 pm

  104. As much as @Shane’s comment may well be to razz you up the truth is he is actually just voicing what a great percentage of our clients really think. This is the reality and no amount of complaining here or trying to pull down his credibility is going to be of any value whatsoever. No amount of training university students is going to have an impact on this right now either (as much as @Doctor Octoroc means well and has a passionate vision).

    I think that great creative work can come from anywhere and that University is just one path to get good work out. The real test is not in the credentials but in the results. Being stuck in University mode is the ignorant thinking IMHO.

    Focusing on one big project’s budget is also pointless likewise.

    I spend time working with individual businesses to solve their own challenges around demonstrating their value and being able to charge well for it, but who is working on the wider industry to resolve this? Right now those that are voicing a gripe here in this manner are doing more harm than good I feel.

    So, let’s start suggesting some resourceful ways that the wider industry can actually do something effective at the high end of the business (where the real problem is) rather than pick on each other here and spend energy where it will be lost.

    Let’s begin by educating clients and agencies/design co’s alike, creating some guidelines – and sticking to them!

    – Communications Council (guidelines on pitching available here that helps manage the amount of free creative expected)
    – AGDA
    – Design Institute of Australia
    – Australian Marketing Institute
    – Pitch doctors

    Most of all – question yourself (each of us that is) if you have tangible results and a way to show your own clients that what you do is worth what you charge.. and start a movement. Note that this is not the same as complaining that you are undercharging or continuing with this line of argument that the industry is fraught with exploitation. It is a nuance, yes, but it makes a world of difference.

  105. Doctor Octoroc
    28 Oct 11
    1:28 am

  106. @Anne – Again, you won’t hear any disagreements from me on anything you’re saying. This is a multi-faceted issue and I don’t believe designers are divided on this issue or many, which is a good thing. I think this is an example of “You take care of this, I’ll handle that, we’ll meet back in 20”. Just because we’re all not working on the same task doesn’t mean we’re not all working for the same cause.

    I know it seems like a lot of us are only here to complain and our words can “damage our reputation as an industry”, but it’s just the voicing of an opinion like any. I don’t intend for any of my comments here to “rattle the masses” or start a “revolution” on any large scale. I’ve been making my living as an artist on the Internet for the past 5 years (2 spent with a firm, 3 as freelance) and spend a LOT of time reading articles, browsing forums, and reading ALL of the following comments. I’ve seen many strings of banter, one after another, and the one common characteristic of them all? They all lead nowhere and solve nothing. I know none of my words here mean anything to 99.9% of the people that will read them.

    But I’ve seen a single comment lead to a partnership between two collaborators and I’ve watched a group of people come together for a cause over a single thread on forums. The fact is, the Internet is made for this sort of “fated” connection between people as much as it is designed for more common social interaction on sites like Facebook and Twitter. and putting opinions and passions out there for others to see, regardless of their immediate effect or where you put them, is one of many ways to connect with like minds. I’m looking for people as passionate as me and the comments section of an article like this is the first place you’ll find them.

  107. Anne Miles
    28 Oct 11
    10:37 am

  108. @Doctor Octoroc, thanks for the response. I love good conversation too… this one just got out of hand IMO.

    I wonder if anyone can update on what is being done as a community in an action-oriented way?

    Have there been any methodologies other than those I’ve mentioned around showing results and creating value for clients that have helped businesses get premium prices and clients to value what they do?

  109. Anne Miles
    28 Oct 11
    10:41 am

  110. Oh, this blog post may help designers too

  111. Nathan
    28 Oct 11
    4:49 pm

  112. @ Shane

    “eg Brand Development for City of Melbourne cost $240,000. Are you freaking kidding me!? I know full well the work that goes into developing a new brand from scratch. They should’ve just walked into a third-year RMIT design class, told the students that the winner gets $10,000 and ‘City of Melbourne’ on their CV… walked out and come back 2 months later to find 500 submissions of quality work.”

    Clearly you don’t have a clue what goes into developing new brand from scratch, particularly one on the level of the City of Melbourne. There is far far far more to it then scribbling the first mark that comes in to your head, and handing over a single logo. There’s a huge number of applications and identity systems to consider (and document), not to mention the all important process to get there, nor the endless meetings and revisions that is inevitable working with any level of government. It would have been a huge job, and I’m not surprised in the slightest at the cost of it. The fact that you think that level of design work could be handed over to third-year students is frankly laughable.

  113. Surf Dog
    30 Oct 11
    10:45 pm

  114. Jan Paul Ostendorf says “What’s next, corporations crowd sourcing architects to design a new corporate headquarters and paying only one for a chosen design?”

    Sorry, Jan, this has been common practice in public buildings for years. Didn’t you hear that the Sydney Opera House design was chosen this way?

  115. Andre Friedmann
    2 Nov 11
    8:56 am

  116. The Suck-It-Up-And-Stop-Bothering-Moleskin Crowd wants you to think pointing out the scam and razzing Moleskin is crybaby behavior.

    Nice try, assholes.

  117. Charles Smyth
    4 Nov 11
    5:42 am

  118. Thanks for this thread, I’ve read both sides
    and now I’m not buying anymore moleskins.

    The recycled paper and leather notepads you
    get at the markets are much better anyway.

  119. renee
    9 Nov 11
    8:32 am

  120. Well I think this thread was so very insightful and well argued *apart from the trolls of course* and I am not a designer or artist but a very passionate consumer (which is why I am fascinated in blogs such as these as I like to know the full picture) and maybe the answer may lay with me – as in the consumer. You certainly make a good case to me, could you not just educate consumers better on what is behind the true designs, to conquer all the mystique and non-appreciation?

    Then surely the clients would want to appease our savvy tastes and need the best ads and the best ideas to sell them. I do think Anne is so passionate and well said in this piece but I do like the earlier idea to quantify the money and the value of pro Vs pro bono (for both sides artist and client) because it is the beancounters that sign off on the money, which is the reason the artist can do what they love for a living in the first place?

    I just wanted to say that consumers are the audience and rest assured we may not be able to draw but a good lot of us can appreciate design – but we dont know the struggles of your industry enough, we hear things said like our mate Shane espouses to be as informed opinion and cringe at the london olympic logo and think “we could have done better than that”. Yes, that may be ignorant, but we are not all sheep and tasteless morons, maybe more could be done to educate the public, as well as the suggestions here of peer education, statistical and solid empirical evidence informing a wider scale of your audience. We need you!

  121. Don Juan
    10 Nov 11
    7:20 am

  122. Since the beginning of time, there were always those who create something and those who ‘barking”.

    Many of these “barkers” are seriously threatened the Moleskine with boycott of their products. So what? Do they buy Moleskine products because of their quality or what? Or just expect somebody to praise them for their loyalty?

    Everyone is free to make own decisions, without ‘soul-savers’ who do not have better things to do, except to ‘care someone else’s worries’.
    Barkers, if you do not agree with the rules of competition, whatever they are, please, do something useful for yourself; take a walk or fuck your wife or boyfriend.
    Before you even start to share advice and ‘expert’ observations to others, ask yourself, what is your credibility, to be a ‘wise guys’.
    And when you find answer, if you ever do, then invent something, develop your own company, create and design good products and become a famous and well known subject at the world markets.
    Only then, you’ll gain right to ‘enlighten’ others with your ‘know-how’ strategies. Until then, read sentence above about walking and fucking.

    However, as I can see, Moleskine are no better than ‘barkers’.
    They were frightened of losing the customers and quickly retreat into a hole where it seems they really belong. Nomen est omen.

    They started to give apologies and patronizing comments and even they change the rules of competition. Pathetic and disgraceful.

    There’s a saying: ‘After the fucking, there’s no regrets’.
    Or, in translation, ‘Think what you want to do, before you do anything. After that, stick to your decision or do nothing’.


    … to all of you who doesn’t belong to ‘wimp-cunts’ :)

  123. Mr Happy (Hazard)
    10 Nov 11
    10:32 pm

  124. “angry designers”

    Imagine a load of people wearing tight jeans, strange t-shirts and ‘crazy’ hair cuts, losing their sh1t… he he he…

  125. Mr Happy (Hazard)
    10 Nov 11
    10:37 pm

  126. Actually, (not the Pet Shop Boys), please can somebody create a game app called “angry designers”?

    What would the designers do differently to the birds…?

  127. Lawrence
    15 Nov 11
    2:38 pm

  128. Crowdsourcing is here to stay so the industry should adapt or die.

    Best in class will always be able to justify costs. The rest… sorry, you’re not so special.

  129. msc
    19 Nov 11
    12:27 am

  130. On top of everything that was said, Designboom just ruined everything…

    They made the Moleskinerie shortlisted entries accessible through LVQR (another competition) results
    It’s fixed now but yesterday, during ALL DAY, we were able to see the designs…

    Brilliant for someone that asks us to “keep your design(s) confidential until the results of the competition are published”…

    Way to go!