Here is a post that was recently on an online forum. I changed the name of the company to disguise their identity.

Hey, you think you got what it takes to make a shirt or hoodie design for ______ Clothing? Then bring it!!!
Email designs to
Looking for bright, hand drawn art that is intricate but compelling and clean.
If we like it, we’ll compensate.

Good luck!

I have seen companies asking for spec work countless times on forums and it’s not the way to hire the best designers. If a designer is established they will not do spec work, it’s as simple as that. Posts like this make a lot of designers mad because they are devaluing what they do. They ask for work without guaranteeing payment and often times the payment details are very unclear.

When someone says I’ll pay $50 – $150 for a design, I usually take it to mean they will pay me $50.

What is the criteria for how much a designer gets paid? All of these things are really shady and most designers don’t want to deal with it and those that will are probably aren’t the cream of the crop.

What is “spec?

“Spec” has become the short form for any work done on a speculative basis. In other words, any requested work for which a fair and reasonable fee has not been agreed upon, preferably in writing.

What’s so wrong with that?
In a nutshell, spec requires the designer to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment.
Isn’t it wise for a client to “try before they buy?”

On the surface it may seem so. But, digging a bit deeper, one realizes that professional graphic design is about creating custom solutions, not cookie-cutter concepts.
But, with today’s computers and software, how long could it take?

This is a common point-of-view for many who confuse the professional with his or her tools. The “process” is more than simply tapping at a keyboard or clicking a mouse. It’s about understanding the nature of a communication challenge and then using one’s brain to find the appropriate solution.

At the end of the day, there is a certain irony in spec work. A prospect requesting it is ultimately saying, “My project isn’t important enough to hire a professional who will take the time to understand my situation and goals and invest the time needed to create a suitable solution.

credit: No spec!

So please do your research. Find artists that fit the style of what you want and send the artist an email.

You may get a lot of work by getting artists to do spec but by contacting artists and paying them up front for work both parties will win and ultimately the designs will turn out better.

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