My name is Saul! I'm an award winning Word of Mouth Marketer, Professional Speaker on the subjects of Social Media, Customer Service and best of all... Word of Mouth. I collect Air Force One sneakers and think you should hire me... (as a consultant) to teach you how to get your company doing interesting things!
the smartest man in the world.

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Photos from the Drupal Conference in San Francisco, CA 2010

Saturday, Nov 11, 2010

Spec Work and Pornography. Why I wont do either.

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In 1964 Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart announced in his court in response to the Louis Malle film, The Lovers.

“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

Essentially saying. I can’t verbally describe what pornography is but “I know it when I see it”. Going by that logic, I have never seen anything in my life time that can be considered as porn because everything I’ve seen has been beautiful (I love that joke, sadly I didn’t write it. If you’re offended you can blame David Feldman)

I have always been fascinated by this ruling, or rather the comment by Justice Stewart because it really speaks to how people view, justify and describe what is right from wrong, and for some reason when I think about this comment it always brings me back to art because most people can’t truly describe what they like and want from a designer when they are hiring them to create a piece for a campaign or an ad and when I think of designers I always think of the the concept of Spec Work.

Just so we are clear, I am against Spec Work. (Not sure what spec work is? Click Here) and go out of my way to support companies who feel this same way (, Friends as well as the designers of this here blog are Spec Free). Asking people to do real work with no guarantee of payment is becoming a major concern in the freelance community and the fact that it is becoming openly accepted and embraced by large brands through “contest sites” is something that while may look outwardly ok and even a consistent way to garner a lot of attention for a brand is still wrong and I, (and this may just be my own wacky opinion and not those for who I work with) would and will only respect these brands when they start a “contest style” compensation program for their internal and full time employees because work is work and work deserves compensation.

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Spec Work and Pornography. Why I wont do either. | Saul Colt – Saul is – The Smartest Man in the World --

  2. Replace design work with legal work and see how far these contests fly.

    And I think the name Spec Work muddies the waters. Why not just call it work for free?

  3. Nathan Hangen about 9 years ago

    Doesn’t spec work have an upside too? It prevents the designer from working with clients that suck, and it prevents the client from getting work that sucks.

    Yeah, it can be abused, but the definition espoused on the link you provided is full of generalizations, and instead of getting the message out, almost reeks of design-snob.

    Look, I’m not saying people should work for free in every case, but it’s not always a bad thing. I hate to sound like a douche, but the anti-spec work movement is reminiscent of the RIAA trying to prevent Peer to Peer downloads.

    • I dont agree with you on this but that is cool. (That is why there is 31 flavours at Baskin Robbins) I don’t see an upside in people getting taken advantage with no promise of payment. “Creative” is the only real place where this is accepted and the point I make (maybe not well) in the post is that a I would have more respect for a company like Adidas who uses Crowdspring often if internally they used the same practices and their executives or managers where paid based on ideas accepted etc….and I am not talking about bonuses.

      I admit I am pretty narrow minded on this topic because I don’t understand why more people are not talking about it but that said I do agree with you that the people who are talking most about it may be speaking in generalizations and need to (myself included) channel their passion in a more focused argument and really deliver the message…we are creative folks after all 🙂

  4. Quite the interesting response on what pornography is, but I think the idea of not being able to place something into works and just knowing it when you see it, can be applied to many situations in life.

  5. Pingback: NOISPEC: November Wrap | NO!SPEC

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