Spec (speculative) work can be defined as, "Providing design services to develop creative concept work for free (or for a nominal fee) as part of a new business pitch."
Spec work and crowdsourcing are universally condemned by responsible design organizations around the world, including RGD, Icograda, Graphic Artists Guild and AIGA, as being an unethical business practice that is harmful to designers and clients alike.
The RGD Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit members from taking part in, undertaking or conducting open competitions for commercial purposes on speculation. Exceptions include pro bono work, work of a non-profit nature and work done for family.
Download RGD Policy Statement on Spec Work
RGD provides a policy statement detailing the harmful effects of demands for spec work and providing advice on the professional methods for selecting graphic design services.
Report Spec Work
The RGD Ethics Committee and Spec Lobby Committee work to issue formal grievances to those who issue RFPs with spec components, host crowdsourcing competitions and more. Professional designers are encouraged to contact us when asked to engage in spec work. Depending on the situation and request, RGD will either write to and advise the offending parties directly, or provide complainants with a copy of the policy on letterhead.
- No Spec Presentation at Style Frames NY by Lionel Gadoury RGD
- What is Spec Work? informational video by Topic Simple
- The NO! SPEC Campaign by NO!SPEC
- Statement on Contests and Speculative Work by GDC
- Position on Spec Work by AIGA
- Working on Spec: Speculative Work for Free by All Graphic Design
- Why We Don't Make Speculative Presentations by Creative Business
- When a "Contest" is Not a Contest by Jeff Fisher
- Don't Design on Spec by Jeffrey Zeldman
- Spec Work Arithmetic by Gunnar Swanson
- Should Clients Cough up for Pitches? by Gillian Jones
- Giving It All Away by David Robertson FDIA
- Spec Can Be Beaten by Blair Enns