What Every Designer Should Know About Spec Work

Buried in the terms and conditions of a typical design competition will be clause stating that you surrender all your rights in any design you submit. So suppose that 1000 people enter a design competition. One of these folks is going to win, and they’ll probably receive some token payment for their effort, but 999 other designers are going to be turned away cold and hungry.

But those who ran the competition now have 1000 designs that they can use, royalty free for as long as they like, and in any way they like. So there you are in a year or two walking around in Madrid, or Melbourne, or Mandalay, and you see some guy wearing your design on a T-shirt. That’s when the penny will drop. Some guy is making millions off your work and you didn’t get a dime for it.