The state of design in 2009

Design in 2009

It would be too easy to bash istock photo for treating logos as a cheap commodity. They’ve just announced they’re going to sell them for five bucks. You can read all about it at If people are stupid enough to belittle their work that much, and people are believing they’re going to get something valuable for the price of a large coffee, who am I to suggest they’re going to get exactly what they deserve? And by the sounds of it, lots of people at TechCrunch seem to think it’s a great idea. If you’re a designer that holds any value in what you do—read the comments. If you’re in a meeting with someone that shows any of those characteristics—be careful.

From five dollar logos to fake ads in contests: after DDB Brazil and WWF blow up of their one run newspaper ad that won a merit award from the One Show, the One Show now has now spelled out their rules in a press release at Funny thing about that press release that I don’t know if anyone has questioned is that within those rules DDB Brazil’s WWF ad would not have been disqualified.

On a better note, there’s friend to me Debbie Millman’s recently given speech at the 2009 AIGA Design Legends Gala titled Why celebrate design during a recession? It’s a timely talk considering the bs going on these days.

On one side there’s design that’s being devalued to the price of coffee, people making fake ads for free, others celebrating achievements in design, and than there’s the PHD level design educated people. The spectrum is quite long. Where in the spectrum does the designer that’s passionate about what they do fall? While the recession can be blamed for the state of design, I think it’s more of a reflection on technology and the way people communicate. Just ask yourself how you get info that’s valuable to you, and compare that from three years ago. Even if the housing market hadn’t tanked and banks hadn’t busted, design would be in the exact same spot today. I don’t have any answers for this, I’m just stating what I’m seeing in front of me. I guess we should design our way out of this issue…

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  • Joey

    I got an e-mail through regarding this from iStock asking to buy any unwanted client's logos.. I guess if you've already done the hard work on rejected ideas then there's no harm in it, but I wouldn't be interested in creating new ones to sell.

  • michaelsurtees

    That's kind of tricky—I'm pretty sure that if a reputable branding firm saw old design work on iStock, the designer would be fired on the spot…

  • pandasneezes

    The continued undervaluing of designers services and expertise makes me perplexed and am left feeling sad. I can only hope that some really terrible logos are submitted.

  • Pete

    Where did you see the $5 price tag? From what I saw, they'll be sold for 100-750 credits (~$150-800) and the designer would get 50%. Thats still rather insulting as a designer, but more tolerable than$5

  • Clayton Shumway

    Personally, I don't see the iStock $5 logo move to disrupt the professional graphic design industry too much. This group will just move from Microsoft Clip Art to iStock logos. Well, at least that's how I hope it plays out.