This is what I got in my inbox in April. Thrilled about this, since I ranted about this plan a couple of years ago:
“Logos & PNGs
Many of you have been asking about the status of our Logo and PNG projects so we wanted to provide you with some definitive answers now:
Since being announced in September of 2009 the iStock Logo program has been repeatedly delayed by a number of business and technical considerations. At this point iStockphoto has stepped back to reevaluate the whole Logo initiative. After careful review and a lot of discussion, we’ve decided to cancel our plans for this program. We need to focus our time and effort on other initiatives that will have greater positive impact on the company’s overall success.”
Sigrid, the principal of StepUp, is an “urban sketcher”, documenting the city of Vancouver and especially her own neighbourhood of East Van. She walks around with her $7.99 Canadian Tire camping stool until she finds a suitable subject to draw, pulls up the stool and sits down for an hour or so with her sketchbook and ink pen. Most interesting to her are ordinary subjects like the characteristic Vancouver alleys with dumpsters and power lines, rather than tourist sights.
Sigrid also sketched in Lisbon, Portugal last summer where she attended the Urban Sketching Symposium held by urbansketchers.org, an international sketching group founded by the Seattle sketchblogger and award-winning Seattle Times sketchblogger, Gabi Campanario.
Janine Vangool of Uppercase Magazine in Calgary found Sigrid’s urban neighbourhood sketches on Flickr and asked Sigrid to contribute some of her sketches and an article to issue #12 (January 2012). Check it out!
We are working on a new website. It is high time. We will be running it completely on the WordPress platform. Catherine Jordan is in charge of key words, tags, and SEO. The new website will also showcase our website design and our book design capabilities, which are missing from this website. However, we can explain: this website was meant to focus at first mostly on our specialty in employee communications. But that focus proved too narrow, so we expanded the website to showcase our external and internal corporate communications capabilities. Now it’s time to show that we can do websites as well. Sigrid has been doing websites since 1995, we’ve just never showcased them. And believe us, you won’t want to see the websites we did back in 1995. They belong into the museum of the very early web.
I just got a call at my office from Canadian Foster Families Association, asking me for a donation towards taking some kids on a bus to a Christmas play or whatever. I decided to give them some money, but I had an amount in mind, so I told her what I could give. But the fundraiser on the other end of the phone proceeded to try to talk me into sponsoring a whole bus of kids, then a half bus, which was more than I was willing to contribute. I told her “I said I can give X,” to which she replied, “Sorry, but we only sell these amounts in packages.” I said, “Surely you can take any amount of donation?” “No m’am, we can’t.” “That’s not very flexible, is it?” She kept talking, trying to talk me into a “package”, so I finally said, “I am at work here, and have to get back to it. Goodbye,” and I hung up on her.
This is not the way to fundraise. She could have gotten me off the phone very quickly with my donation commitment, and proceeded to call other people, trying to get the package. Instead she wasted my time and her time, and did not get any money.
Fundraisers have to make it easier for the people they call, offer flexible donation options, direct them to a website with more information, don’t insist on your own structure. All I really want to do is get off the phone once I’ve made a decision to donate. I don’t have all day to listen to explanations.
Better luck next time. I am sorry about those kids not getting my contribution, so I may just send it in anyway.
But this could have been so much easier and more pleasant.
Here’s what I wrote to them. You can also see my comment here:
As a design professional, there are many reasons why I can’t support this move by iStock.
I don’t feel personally threatened by cheap logos. My business chooses clients who understand the value of professional graphic design. A basic logo and stationery design package for a small company starts at $3,500 in my business.
1. I have an ethical problem with the crowd sourcing structure. Many hours can go into even the quickest logo design to meet a basic standard. Each logo design can only be sold once. Many logo designs will not get sold at all. It’s not the same as posting snap shots which have the potential to get sold 100s of times. This results in innumerable hours of unpaid labour, mostly by inexperienced designers. This is very similar to logo contests. You can read more at http://www.no-spec.com and find out why most established design professionals agree to not participate in crowdsourcing or logo design contests.
2. There is also a concern from a creative process point of view. I think young, inexperienced designers who are starting out, may feel they have no other options but to give away logo designs. Sometimes the reasoning goes that doing these kinds of crowdsourcing logos gets you great experience. Well, it doesn’t. The great experience comes from learning the process of communicating with the client, getting a good briefing, doing research, presenting and refining ideas in a team environment and in communication with the client. The absence of briefing, research and customization will result in cookie-cutter logos.
3. Crowdsourcing is also a bad start to a client – designer relationship. To run a profitable business, you have to establish ongoing relationships with your clients. Single-project clients are not what you want, anonymity is not what you want. An established design business usually takes care of its clients’ visual communications needs over many years. It may start with a logo and stationery, but continues with websites, ads, brochures, displays, signage, and marketing. There is history and knowledge built up over the years, and the accumulated experience in a company’s branding makes a design studio very valuable. We become a business resource to a company much as a lawyer or accountant would.
4. And from a business perspective it’s not a good idea either. Young or inexperienced designers often don’t understand how a business works and what a billable hourly rate must cover: equipment and software upgrades, rent and other overhead, your own wages, benefits, and hopefully even a bit of profit. The profit structure which carefully takes into account all expenses and overhead as well as revenues and growth is what all of the Getty Images corporation is based on, this is what every profitable business is based on. Crowdsourcing takes advantage of the poorest and most desperate, and the least educated. The cheap fee for a unique symbol that can only be used by one client, unlike photos which can be sold to many different clients for different purposes, will not even cover a minimum hourly wage, never mind overhead.
I will not use istockphoto any more if this logo design product becomes a reality. There are many other sources for stock photography, including shooting my own.