Obama for America in Hot Water Over Spec Design Contest

Those against spec work have been fighting an unlikely target of late: President Obama. In case you missed any of the anger, the story goes is that Obama for America organization recently launched a poster design competition called “Art Works,” which would help promote the President’s jobs bill. The irony, of course, is that the winners of said contest won’t be paid, i.e. like a real “job” would traditionally provide. Instead, the three winners picked by the campaign will receive a print of their poster signed by Obama. This caught the ire of vocal designers like Mike Monteiro, recently made all the more famous for his “F%& You, Pay Me” video, and the AntiSpec organization who writes that “using creatives for free work isn’t supporting your ‘create jobs’ campaign.” In the Huffington Post‘s conversation with cartoonist Matt Bors, he calls the contest “the opposite of jobs” and says not only does it take advantage of the designers who choose to enter, but per the usual complaint about spec work, hurts the entire industry as a whole. “You don’t have contests with your plumber,” he tells the site. The story just yesterday was picked up by Rolling Stone who dug into the legality of the contest, wondering if it might violate campaign contribution rules. In speaking to a lawyer familiar with election law, they find that it all seems on the up-and-up, that technically the winning entries will be viewed as donations to the cause, so long as they aren’t designed by corporations, unions, et al. The contest closes on November 4th, but following such a negative response, we’ll have to wait and see if it actually reaches the finish line in the end.