The Logo’s Bargain Basement


It didn’t take long. The logo is now following the path of the stock photo.  Not only has the value of the logo been slashed, the whole designer/ client relationship is on the rocks. There was a time when the client met with the designer, (his fedora in hand filled with expendable pesos) and face to face expressed his need for a new “corporate identity”. The designer, (pentel in hand) produced a grouping of logos for submission. And acceptance. Because, through an ages old tradition of mano a mano, the mission was accomplished. If it was good enough for Michaelangelo, it was good enough for Logo Joe.

We now are entering onto a new field of play. Except the participants have shifted locations. “Crowd sourcing”, it’s called. A mega-marketplace for cheap stuff. Specifically cheap logos. Where hundreds of good guys and god knows how many not-so-good guys get to play. At the rate it’s growing and the quality of the output, the name “mob-sourcing” seems appropriate.

Recently on “crowdSPRING” over 1,100 logos were uploaded to the “VICTORS & SPOILS” gallery. A new ad agency player in Boulder. They, a least, had the decency to offer a decent payout to the participants. But the skulls, cross-bones, sabers, daggers, crowns and crests submitted boggles the mind. More icons of individual destruction assembled in one place than in the history of graphics. Except, perhaps, at your local tattoo parlor. Then again, it was Halloween. A letter of desist finally had to be issued to all those who failed to comprehend the term, “advertising agency”. Nevertheless, amid all that carnage, there were some damn fine logos.

Which brings me now to the “buyer”. Or client. Whatever. This new player is armed and ready with a quiver of brand new words and axioms. Icon, font, branding, sans-serif, negative space… the list goes on. Now, the “seller” (designer), is asked, “Can you try this with a bunch of different fonts?”. Or, “This is too digital, can you round it out?”. No man, (to yourself). This is what my design sense and intellect produced. If I wanted sans-serif I would have fucking used sans-serif.

So there you sit on your 3 star rating, (out of a hoped-for 5) while the buyer stalks the gallery for other sellers who will gladly join his multiple font festival.

Here’s how I feel after all the ranting. This “crowd-sourcing” concept is nothing short of brilliant. And crowdSPRING is an inspired piece of design. Just beautifully crafted. An unprecedented place where young, (and old) designers can submit. A chance offered nowhere else. My problem is with the prices. No logo is worth a lousy $200. Once again the computer is undermining another industry. The graphic design studio. Is it now doomed to go the way of the typographers? The engraving houses? And if so, there is nothing very unexpected about that. All forms of human endeavor have always evolved along with it’s tools. Make way.

But at $200 a pop we are going to lose a lot of excellent existing talent. They will soon grow tired of beating up each other and go on to other forms of graphic expression. The big winner here is the buyer. Right now he’s getting some of the top talent in the country, and even the world. For chicken feed. Will that pool dry up?

As for me, it’s a game. I’m retired and I’m not looking for the extra bucks. I simply enjoy designing logos. I love designing logos. Win or lose.

(But deep down inside, I’m a little pissed.  $200? It’s a felony!)

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