Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

99designs: Bullshit 2.0

99designs, a new site of considerably questionable motives and ethics, further cheapens the value of original design and is one of the worst yet. Under the transparent guise of “contests,” the site forces designers into spec work for despicable money, undermining all of the value a proper client-designer relationship builds and furthering the idea of design as a disposable business commodity.

Just when I think the design community is becoming educated about Elance and its destructive and malignant brethren, along comes another site that appears to be even worse. 99designs, founded by some SitePoint guys, uses inane web 2.0 vernacular (“crowdsourcing”), deceivingly open-armed design (“oh look, it’s a paper airplane icon! tee-hee!”), and the thin veil of “contests” to come across as a legit alternative to traditional business practices.

One has to look no further than their About Us page to understand the fundamentally flawed and sheer asinine perspective Mark Harbottle and those that share his vision.

99designs is a disruptive startup which connects passionate designers from around the globe with savvy clients who need design projects completed in a timely fashion without the usual risk or cost associated with professional design.

Now go back and read that again, and let the multiple levels of bullshit sink in before I continue. I’ll avoid pointing out the obvious idiocy (“disruptive”, “savvy clients”), which would be about as sporting as kicking a sleeping one-legged dog, and instead focus on the last part of the mission statement, “without the usual risk or cost associated with professional design.”

Hmm. Yes, by all means, we want to avoid the time and consideration professional designers offer and go right to the lowest common denominator of grade-school dropouts whose portfolio’s crown jewel is a logo for their dad’s wholesale llama manure clearing house. We definitely do not want any in-depth communication. We do not want any understanding of the company, the brand, or the direction and aspirations of the organization. We definitely do not want any long-term working relationships or any real investment in the single most important public-facing piece of design a company owns. We just want a fucking logo for $250.

99designs works by essentially soliciting spec work from its registered designers. You can’t just bid on a project. You have to actually do the project, submit it, and then pray. If you don’t “win,” well, you lose. The time and effort taking a shot into the dark is completely lost. Those “savvy clients” just got a shitty design, the winner got some shitty pittance for their effort, and all of the other shitty designers got jack shit for their shitty work.

Let’s look at some numbers. 99designs actually sucks more than Elance because it encourages shockingly low prices — “$50 to $500” according to their how it works page. At least Elance doesn’t presume any price point and just lets the market play itself out. Here, design being treated as a cheap commodity is mandatory.

At the time of this writing, $1,226,703 has been awarded across 346,171 entries. Second-grade math teaches us this averages out to $3.54 per entry. So playing the odds, over a long period of time, every logo (or website, or business card, or whatever) you submit cannot even buy you a Venti White Chocolate Mocha at Starbucks. By comparison, 99designs pulls in $39 for every posted “contest”. That’s more than a 10:1 differential in averaged earnings. Not only that, you have to transfer the copyright whether you want to or not, so you’re essentially engaging in a work for hire agreement.

To summarize: you’re doing spec work for third-world prices with no option for copyright retention. Everyone wins! Oh wait, except you. At the core, 99design’s business model is as evil as any oil company’s — it relies totally on the ignorance and desperation of its constituents.

And finally, perhaps most insulting is this little ditty on their about page:

99designs was started by designers for designers.

I am struggling to form the intensely negative, logic-dismantling superlatives I need to accurately convey the sheer depth of absolute bullshit this clump of words was pulled from. This is one of the most hollow and forced statement I have ever seen. It insults everything about the real-world graphic design industry and the hard-working professionals that make a living building long-term client relationships, crafting deep and varied portfolios, and routinely putting their blood, sweat and tears into their work.

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commentary + criticism

David Madden

wrote the following on Sunday April 6, 2008

I wonder how much of the $1,221,848 the guy who designed their site got. Whatever it was, it was probably too much.

You always have to question the validity of a business that is focused on selling design when their own shop looks like ass.


wrote the following on Sunday April 6, 2008

I rather enjoyed this post. It’s a topic of discussion I never get bored of. While it is incredibly frustrating to compete with people who are willing to work for pennies because their economy affords them the opportunity to do so; I cannot believe there are still ‘start-ups’ that are supporting such ideals. I mean, it doesn’t take rocket science, as you’ve so pointedly brought out, to realize the flaws in this system and every one like it.

If people choose to support these practices, that’s fine. I’m sure the stakes would be different if it affected these people on a plane they understood. Great post!


wrote the following on Sunday April 6, 2008

I have to say that I agree with you 100%. There is no designer out there that should be shelling out time to design a logo for company without knowing more about what the company is about. This system is trying to destroy the importance of designers and communication and it should be taken down.

Natalie Jost

wrote the following on Sunday April 6, 2008

This part got me, on their copyright page…

You can report clear copyright violations via our contact form. If you spot a member who’s used your content without your permission, you’re welcome to private message that person and ask them to take down the content.


But if you post a comment in a contest alleging an infringement of your copyright, we’ll have to remove it. That’s defamation, and we’d risk all of 99designs if we left your post online.

So they can sweep it under the rug?

In fact the only ‘copyright’ verbage on the page is all about someone stealing content to enter in a contest, so they must expect it to happen.

I expected to find information about the designer’s copyright who entered the contest, but nope, that they’re not concerned about, only the potential thief and his right to make them money.

Chris Monaccio

wrote the following on Monday April 7, 2008

Here here! 99designs is as spec as spec work gets and they’ve gone to great lengths to white-wash themselves of that fact. It’s so bad that it sullies Sitepoint’s image as well. Sitepoint also had the audacity to post an article about how businesses can capitalize on using 99designs for their projects. It’s absolutely ridiculous that 99designs would make claims like, "by designers for designers" and that Sitepoint would then encourage businesses to engage in speculative work using Sitepoint’s own product. These guys have no shame!


wrote the following on Monday April 7, 2008

I’m sold. Where do I sign up?


wrote the following on Monday April 7, 2008


I just enjoy reading your articles. I figure you must have quite a mind to come up with all the colorful adjectives to get your point across. And that’s not even when you’re cursing. :) Good stuff.

I just wrote a similar post and referenced your article.

David Airey

wrote the following on Tuesday April 8, 2008

I can’t help but wonder if someone created that site for a joke, because that’s what it is.

Robert Augustin

wrote the following on Tuesday April 8, 2008

Great post! I can only agree with you. It’s a shitty venture.

The interesting part though is that it really targets “grade-school dropouts”, as you put it quite well. Nobody professional enough would seriously consider taking part in that crap.

People with a copy of Photoshop and Illustrator though, calling themselves designers, and not having enough work on their hands, will most likely appreciate that site. They don’t have anything to do anyway, so the bare chance of being the cosen one is enough for these guys to join in with spec work.

This site widens the gap between business professionals and unsuccessful impostors – high quality service vs. wholesale prices.

Every economist will tell you that it’s only natural: we’re approaching the mature stage of this market’s life cycle. Design is closer to becoming a commodity, and 99designs is only one of the many ventures pushing this trend.

So once again, the client has the choice. Now who will educate them?


wrote the following on Tuesday April 8, 2008

A site founded on the concept of designer spec work and by a sitepoint co-founder, why am I not surprised. I expect nothing less from Sitepoint.

Chris Laskey

wrote the following on Tuesday April 8, 2008

Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.

Couldn’t agree more with your post, or with Robert Augustin’s comment.

You said it all when you filled it under “god help us all”.


wrote the following on Tuesday April 8, 2008

This is just a mess…how can the do this with anything but a sinking feeling in their gut. Screw them.

David Sherwin

wrote the following on Tuesday April 8, 2008

Can you burn these guys at the stake along with BootB? I’ve blogged about the evils of these guys as well, they’re a European site who posts creative briefs for clients and offers payment for the best idea submitted.

Josh Lee

wrote the following on Wednesday April 9, 2008

99designs= the [ie] of startups.


wrote the following on Wednesday April 9, 2008

Gotta give it to them: The word “crowdsourcing” really couldn’t get into more filthy usage.

Excellent article. Bump.

Husain Hakim

wrote the following on Wednesday April 9, 2008

Great post Kevin! is no place for a designer (a problem solver). I feel it’s going to attract only those who are in need of making a quick buck, if they’re lucky to be paid.

I just don’t understand how it’ll work! If I participate, submit my designs and if the client likes it – what are the chances that he/she will take the concept for free, and not pay anything? I can’t get to grips, as to how the participants could trust 99designs and submit their work.

On their site:
<cite>You own the copyright to your designs (aside from allowing us to display the previews)</cite>

A preview is just enough to steal the concept for US$39. Good deal for clients!

Utter nonsense.

Jared Cunha

wrote the following on Wednesday April 9, 2008

I can’t imagine that anyone who takes themselves or their business seriously would go for this crap. At least, I certainly hope they wouldn’t.

Toon @ Design Forum

wrote the following on Wednesday April 9, 2008

I agree with all the points made, the annoying thing is the more people discuss it the more exposure these sites get so it’s kind of a double edged sword.


wrote the following on Wednesday April 9, 2008

You can’t help but notice the inherit contradictions in the statement you quoted above. Their target market is ‘savvy’ clients that don’t see the value in the additional cost of professional design vs. the services offered by them. Wouldn’t that, by definition, make them not savvy clients?

While I agree this is unhealthy for the industry, ultimately if the market will bear it, it is an inevitability. I can’t shake the feeling that discussion like this just fuels the fire (‘See, those overpriced designers HATE US, so we must be doing something right!’).

In the end, I personally am not worried. I think there is room for everyone. Traditionally, I’ve found that budget clients who don’t know the difference between good and bad design tend to be the most difficult to work with. If they want to help weed those out for me, that’s perfectly fine. At the same time, ameteur designers that are putzing around doing spec work like this are probably too busy to compete with me.


wrote the following on Wednesday April 9, 2008

And the sad thing is that many blog publishers are doing similar things, including expecting bloggers to work for just CPM revenue. Not exactly the same thing, but almost in the same spirit.


wrote the following on Wednesday April 9, 2008

Great article – I agree of course. But I think more than anything I enjoyed your writing style and colorful use of adjectives! :)

Seriously though, I’m with Brian on this one – I’ve come to learn that the pie really is big enough for everyone. So, yes, if crap like 99designs is helping weed out clients that want something for nothing, fine by me too.

Greg J. Smith

wrote the following on Wednesday April 9, 2008

Great post! For the record, crowdsourcing is not necessarily a bullshit 2.0 term, it is an idea that has a lot of potential in design. A more positive utilization of it would be to break a job up amongst qualified individuals (i.e. matching best typographer with best project manager with best branding guru with best print shop) and put together a great team for reasonable money. It shouldn’t be some kind of clearance sale!

For your next post can you convince architects that sinking hundreds of unpaid hours into competitions they probably won’t even get an honorable mention in is a complete waste of time?


wrote the following on Thursday April 10, 2008

# Linked from David Airey’s website #

Thanks for posting such issue. Brilliant! This is what I’ve been waiting for. Even though I’m quite new in design industry, I respect and practice as much as I can with professional designers etiquette.

99designs really rip off the industry. The same thing as website which offer bid-on-project based (even as low as $50) for a website. How you can even survive with that?

They want quality result with low price. And that is the main reason why such companies go to these places.

Cheers for the entry~


wrote the following on Thursday April 10, 2008

Tell you what? :) You are a jealous little shit!. I subscribed to your blog since I found those Icons you made but since then, what you are doing is work less and cry more..

I personally have entered the contest at the beginning of my career and needless to say, it gave me a real good start while I can experiment my design skills and earn!. Of course, the entries I made in there were very useful to be displayed in my portfolio, based on which i got further clients.

Sometime you cry over india, sometime on sites like this. tell you what? work hard dude and dont just sit and cry..

SEO Bedrijven

wrote the following on Thursday April 10, 2008

I agree that this isn’t a good initiative. But as you can see it does has it’s audience. So it does serve a purpose.

Kevin Potts

wrote the following on Thursday April 10, 2008

@ Greg — I agree crowdsourcing is not a bad term. I have read The Wisdom of Crowds and it does in fact make sense in the context you provided. Unfortunately, that is not what 99designs is doing. Their definition is “just grab a whole load of designs from a whole bunch of people.” That is not crowdsourcing — that is just strip mining talent.

The Logo Factor

wrote the following on Thursday April 10, 2008

Awesome rant. Truly.


wrote the following on Thursday April 10, 2008

If there are designers out there who would engage in this blatant abuse of their profession, let them. Let them squabble over the table scraps of uncaring clients. Let them worry about the next designer who comes along promising to do the same shitty work one hour faster for one dollar less. Their frustration will never end.

Meanwhile, clients who got their 15-year-old nephew (who read a big book about FrontPage) to build their website will be busy writing fat checks to the designers who can provide a quality service. If a client doesn’t realize what good design is worth they’re not a client you should work for.

Good design costs money.


wrote the following on Friday April 11, 2008

Good Design Costs Money.

It’s very hard for an starting entrepreneur to find reliable design services at a reasonable cost.

I think that most individuals starting out have 2-5k budgeted for a website but no room for mistakes. It’s VERY easy to put trust in a designer, pay half up front and get burned by sub-par work or worse, have the designer flake off with only part of the project complete.

What is the solution to this problem? Where is the middle ground?


wrote the following on Friday April 11, 2008

I posted this same comment at another blog and I’ll post it here too. I think a lot of you are missing the point. is as much about promoting designers and helping them win longer term clients than it is about once-off design contests with a prize at stake.

Many of the good designers at are pulling in decent clients off the back of winning design contests. It’s a lead generation tool for many of them – a way for them to show off their talent in a way that minimizes risk for the client.

Generally speaking clients aren’t afraid to spend good money on good design, they’re just affraid to spend good money on a designer who may (or may not) deliver for them. It’s a risk. Your design portfolio is nice, but it’s often not enough for them to commit.

Design contests are lowering the barrier to entry for many clients who wouldn’t have otherwise committed to spending money with a specific designer. Using design contests they get a taste for which designers they like best — many then go on to spend thousands directly with their favorite designer.

Then there’s the newbie designers and hobbyists – for them is really just a way to build a decent sized portfolio of design work and improve their skills by working on real projects with real clients. It beats working at McDonalds while you put yourself through design school.

I don’t think you have anything to worry about. There’s always going to be room for professional designers who charge what they’re worth to work through creative solutions for clients. Like it or not, is just another channel.

The Logo Factor

wrote the following on Friday April 11, 2008

“Then there’s the newbie designers and hobbyists – for them is really just a way to build a decent sized portfolio of design work and improve their skills by working on real projects with real clients. It beats working at McDonalds while you put yourself through design school.”

Hmm. Must have missed that part – could you point out on your website were you explain this to your clients.

And for what it’s worth, working a McDonalds would pay better. That’s kinda the point.


wrote the following on Friday April 11, 2008

You guys really got nerves speaking so lightly about sitepoint and 99designs.

Here are some serious people whom have speak about “room for everyone” and the the opportunity for new designers to get a grip on the industry. That’s the point at least for me, who no longer enter contest as I long ago build a solid portfolio thanks to the former sitepoint design contests.

Sure the site creators are getting a nice slice of the contest creation costs, but cmon, don’t be ridiculous, how many zillion dollars did the youtube guys got for just hosting crowd source videos (and of course making them usable and fun) the same goes to so many other websites. The diference is that the didn’t charge the subscribers but sure use (and keep doing it right now) without mercy Gigas and Gigas of original “copyrighted” videos.

I don’t see anyone complaining!!! and why is that? cause the common user benefits from the system and got their videos out there. You can watch almost any music video on the history of music television on you-tube, and I don’t hear the video music networks whining about it. They just adapt. In the same way, so many designers, rookies, pros, are happy to take the risk at 99designs. Some of them are not so good, many of them are very talented.

Some of them just don’t have a factible way of getting in touch with serious customers, and believe me 99designs is the only way (you’ll have to live on a 3rd worl country to understand that). If you don’t believe it, I couldn’t care less, that’s the Truth. I’ll could go on and on giving you reasons good reasons for a designer like me to enter to a contest at 99designs, but as you didn’t reply to any more of the comments I guess there are 2 possible reasons for that: 1) you did realize you are unplugged from reality and haven’t got yet (hello 2008) the difference the Internet have made for every business model in the world, or 2) The objective of writing such a dumb and uninformed post is to get traffic to your site by creating polemic discussions.

But you guys are so special that use such words as: shitty, bullshit, crap, and underestimate not only the 99design site but insult all the people who participate on the contest and the work they’ve done. Like you never pass trough the rookie stage. You guys were born as a talented designers.

Let me tell you that now that I’ve checked the portfolio of, I understand why this guy is so pissed of. If you guys don’t believe me i invite you to check some of the 99designs contest and the quality of the work of the designers you are calling shitty and crap.

The key word here is “choice”, as a designer you can choose to enter or pass any contest. As a contest holder you have many choices, and don’t have to limit with the ideas from just one designer. For the contest holder is a dream come true, to have a full staff of people giving ideas and improving them using feedback. For the designers is an opportunity to improve, and fight head to head with some great artists. If the price is low, you’ll get rookies, if the price is hight you’ll get the best of the best, and I repeat, I’m not exaggerating, go and check for yourself the high profile contest they are holding.

The site design is very raw right now, but they are going gradual on that matter, as the former site was a very nice and intelligent application which was evolving from a simple forum system.

Finally my theory is that you are just jealous like Bliss pointed. So please grow up and don’t let the fact that you are editor at ALA get to your head.

p.d. Sorry for my bad English, the fact that I don’t write perfect English is no reason to remain silent.

Kevin Potts

wrote the following on Friday April 11, 2008

Mark —

Thanks for taking the time to add your perspective to the conversation; it is appreciated. I wanted to comment on a few things you’ve said, some of which I agree with, some of which I do not.

First, I have no doubt that 99designs is a fine place for lead generation, and I really have no problem with the idea of getting designers in touch with clients. However, I think the model of 99designs is wrong. I have served in roles as both designer and client, having brought in many writers, designers and programmers for many projects, and I have and never would demand to see work before I paid them to make sure I found it acceptable. And I would never do spec work for anyone else.

I believe that many clients go on to spend thousands with their “favorite” designers. But for every one that lands a truly satisfied client and maintains a long-term relationship, there are a hundred who fail at doing so. And the time and energy they could have spent building a client-base the traditional way is spent working for pennies on the dollar without any guarantees.

In my mind, I continually compare 99designs to gambling. If I walk into a casino and drop $100 on ten roulette tables, I have no idea what the outcome is going to be. If I take that $1,000 and start building long-term investments, I can at least carefully plan my energy and time. Perhaps that is a personality difference between myself and the designers that populate the 99designs community; I would rather build strong client relationships from the outset than just shotgun blast my talent into a whole pile of work and hope something sticks.

There is one thing you and others that have posted are correct about — I really have nothing to worry about. There is plenty of work to go around.

My point — and the source of my frustration — is that 99designs treats design like a cheap commodity, something that clients just need to get out of the way as quickly and cheaply as possible. Design is art, and art is intimate. To reduce it to strip-mining talent does tremendous damage to what I think is an industry trying to find itself.

There are those like me that put design — which is the alchemy of the client-designer relationship — on a pedestal. And there are others, like you, that want to bottle it and sell it to the masses on the cheap. It goes against everything I stand for as a professional.

Steve OC

wrote the following on Saturday April 12, 2008

‘‘Need something designed? Crowdsource it to our community of thousands of designers. Choose a winning design from hundreds of concepts created for you in under a week.’‘

This statement pisses me off. This is aimed at the ‘savvy’ clients (read – sharks) and translates as, ‘‘Are you cheap? Think design is overpriced? We have a sweatshop you can abuse to get that new logo for next to nothing!’‘

Using the veil of ‘competition’ is ridiculous. Are there really that many competitions? No, there are really that many companies who want a logo on the cheap. How about I start a site running ‘competitions’ for the best bespoke shelving unit? I need a new one. I can get hundreds of furniture design students and hobbyists to submit photos and choose the best. I’ll bung them a couple of quid of course.

Steve G

wrote the following on Saturday April 12, 2008

WOW what a read! 99designs what bullshit! I had to add them into my blog as well lol It gets me pissed off because how the hell could I possibly start hiring staff to design 40 hours a week to “spec work” and maybe 1/2 of those hours would be billable at 3 bucks an hour or something haha! Can we open graphic design sweatshops with 12 year old kids working their little fingers off at a G5 computer for 20 cents a day? hehe What is this world coming to… I wish Adobe would only sell their products to fully licensed companies or something!


wrote the following on Saturday April 12, 2008

Shame. Just shame on thee.


wrote the following on Monday April 14, 2008

As usual, excellent post Kevin. Looks like you ruffled a few feathers.

But honestly, did they really believe they’d be welcomed with open arms by the design community? Of course not. They are in full knowledge of what they’ve created. Perhaps even taking tips from another industry favourite, LogoWorks (now owned by HP)?

‘Our model is disruptive …’ (Logoworks)

‘99designs is a disruptive startup …’

I wonder what 99designs thinks about Steve’s post – Are logo design contest sites even legal?

Ellen Shapiro

wrote the following on Wednesday April 16, 2008

Well, here I am at 3:47 am not sleeping and reading these posts. I — one of the long-ago, much maligned advocates of exploring some kind of professional accreditation for graphic designers — took a long stroll through 99 Designs. Does anyone think this site has any kind of redeeming social value? As a quasi “design school” to give newbies a taste of what it’s like to work with a client? I did like reading the client feedback. An agency art director once said to me, “The term ‘smart client’ is an oxymoron.” How true.

Rudolf Lai

wrote the following on Wednesday April 16, 2008

I agree that effective and a successful design is based on good communication. However, as a student learning independently to design, taking the jobs as a practice, and posting them for fun would not hurt, right? Or am I wrong?

Steve OC

wrote the following on Thursday April 17, 2008

Rudolf – It hurts the design community now and, as you are helping to keep these sites around, will hurt you when you are looking for properly paid work. As has been said previously, if you want real world projects as a student, offer your services to local charities, funded arts groups, etc instead. Far more rewarding and they should give you plenty of understanding of the process.
I don’t see why students need any more than that before heading off into the world of work. Do they really all want to be freelancers straight away?


wrote the following on Friday April 18, 2008

Guys, I think you’re all getting a bit too excited about this. First off, I’m in the web design industry, as I’m sure most of you are, and people who want shitty designs at low costs, know what they’re getting and end up getting it. The point is that companies like these are eventually doomed, and everyone knows it. They’re not going to ‘ruin’ the industry or anything. They’re trying to make a buck off of people, plain and simple. Business owners know that. If they’re that stupid to be fooled by that, you don’t want there business in the first place. Peace.


wrote the following on Monday April 21, 2008

People who want great logos and can afford them will pay for them.

Some people can’t afford to spend $1000+ on a logo.

Some people don’t need a logo done by a skilled design professional.

Some people in the world are willing to be paid very little to make a logo.

Welcome to the free market.


wrote the following on Monday April 21, 2008

I just used 99Designs to get myself a logo, not because i want to rip-off deisgners, but because I thought the process would offer a better opportunity to see a different range of styles. This is more appealing for a business owner because once you choose a graphic designer, you better be damn sure they will provide what you want, otherwise you have a $5000 bill and no product, and from this POV, that sucks.

However, after going through the process, I began to feel bad. Some designers put in hours and never reached a logo conclusion that I liked. Not only that, but in the last hour of the contest is when the most submissions came in and I didn’t have enough time to work with the designers.

I was pissed. I sent 99Designs literally tens of emails wondering why the fuck they wouldn’t allow me to work with designers more closely. A 1/3 of the designers submitted crap, another 1/3 just submitted trendy fonts with nice shapes featuring gradients and gloss and the other 1/3 were really cool, tried to be creative and worked with me to create an identity. But the fact remained that there was not a way to engage more with the designers. I am not pleased with the outcome.

After reading this article though, I can see how the entire system is flawed from the designer’s side. But we all must be weary of the fact that if there is recession, we are all out of jobs, and won’t have any choice but to accept penny pay. And remember, our jobs are not going to be worth anything.


wrote the following on Tuesday April 22, 2008

In the FAQ:

How do I become a designer?

It’s no big deal. Just sign up, set up your profile, and start reviewing briefs. You’re free to submit as many designs as you like to whichever contests you like — there’s no charge to designers.

Haha, nevermind formal training or industry experience just sign up and you can be a designer too!

This sort of thing makes me livid.

Steve Firth

wrote the following on Tuesday April 22, 2008

I think sitepoint make some questionable decisions in general, their marketing is overstated or just designed to piss people off into talking about them and this 99designs is no better.

Everything you need to know about it is in the name … they’d happily waste 98 peoples time to get some $ from one of them.

The whole thing seems to expoit the wave of kids on computers who all want to be designers now they’ve made a myspace page and followed a couple of photoshop tutorials.

The 80s gave us ‘LA Law’ which lead to everyone wanted to be a lawyer, 90s bankers and now in 2k its pop star/webdev … to be good takes time in developing yourself AND the product, but these days folks just want to do now, learn later


wrote the following on Wednesday April 23, 2008

Hey, :) tell you what? seems like you aint getting much work nowadayz. Why don’t you try 99 designs yourselves ha? ( and enjoy comparing ur work with others and see that ur work except that icons are crap! and that will smack u on ur face, bringing u down to earth )

about the design.. commodity, the market decides it. if u can compete, u r there. or, just get out of d way!


wrote the following on Thursday April 24, 2008

Unfortunately, no industry is safe from this it seems. Even tech work is getting whored out these days.


wrote the following on Thursday April 24, 2008

welcome to capitalism? why target 99design only? ever heard of outsourcing?

people get what they pay for, they’re aware of it. and people know the effort they put in designing for contests may be fruitless, no one’s pointing a gun at their head.

assuming people who enter 99’s design contests are “grade-school dropouts whose portfolio’s crown jewel is a logo for their dad’s wholesale llama manure clearing house” is such a laughable generalization, especially look at your own portfolio. who are you to speak?


wrote the following on Sunday April 27, 2008

Your math is wrong because it assumes everyone is equally likely to win a contest.

Take this simple example: Let’s say someone is good enough to win 10% of contests he enters on average, and the average winner is $300. That means every contest entry, on average, is worth $30.

If a designer limits himself to spending no more than one hour on each contest, then he earns $30/hour. That’s hardly a slave wage, especially if you’re in a non-USA country.

Reduce the time you spend per project and/or increase the win rate and you’re earning even more.

In other words, if you’re good, limit your time, and enter decent-paying contests, you can make a good amount of money here. What’s the problem?

Steve OC

wrote the following on Monday April 28, 2008

davis – so you think it’s good, thoughtful design when you spend no more than an hour on each one? That’s a sausage factory, not design. Nothing good ever comes of that in the long run from my experience.

Bliss, JY – way to lower the discussion with personal pops. So mature.

Yeah Kevin mentioned ‘grade school drop outs’ but he doesn’t say that ALL the people signed to 99Designs are that, just that it is opened up to this level. Context works.

As for people ‘not having a gun to their heads’, no you’re right they don’t. But that doesn’t make it right for the industry – designers and clients. It encourages hurried designs that have no real meaning, are too obvious or lack skill. There are some good designs on the site granted, but how much did it work out at for the designer? $5 an hour maybe?


wrote the following on Monday April 28, 2008

Actually Davis, it is your math that’s messed. If you take the site in question, and click on the ‘Find Contest’ link, you’ll see that the prize money is closer to an average of $150.00 (or less). So that halves your hourly figure down to $15 per, if we accept your other variables, which I don’t. That’s still not slave wages, but certainly entering the vicinity, especially for a supposedly skilled trade.

Your figure of 1 hour is also extremely optimistic – I dare say that most designers (even extremely experienced ones) take longer than 1 hour to work up decent comps. Once you factor in the time messing around in the contest, the endless tweaks and revisions demanded by the ‘contest holders’ and you’re looking at 2 – 3 hours. At a bare minimum (I’d say that’s still being charitable but let’s accept it for the moment). That works out to either $7.50 or $3.75 an hour respectively (the latter accurately described as ‘slave wages’). That’s if the number of contests won works out to 10% – which is optimistic to put it mildly, and IF the contest holder finishes the contest or pays up if they do.

Here’s a contest holder’s PUBLIC comment from a recent contest after he made some PM requests that a designer found ethically challenged, and subsequently withdrew his entries. –

“If it’s gonna be like that, fine. I’ll tweak your idea, and not pay you since you have withdrawn it. Do me a favor and don’t submit anymore designs, I don’t want to waste your time”.

Thats right – the designer withdrew his entry but the contest holder was going to use it anyway. Without paying.

You’re right – that sounds sweet.


wrote the following on Monday April 28, 2008

@ Davis — Steve OC and SD beat me to the punch explaining why your math is wrong as well, but I’ll just say you have way too many “ifs” in there. I have no way to quantifiably demonstrate who is “good”; I would guess if someone were to come up with an equation to calculate talent for designers it would be a bell curve like almost everything else. Your variables are based on weak assumptions — “increase the win rate and you’re earning even more”. C’mon, really?


wrote the following on Monday April 28, 2008

Bliss, JY – way to lower the discussion with personal pops. So mature.

it came from my observation of kevin’s own portofolio.

Yeah Kevin mentioned ‘grade school drop outs’ but he doesn’t say that ALL the people signed to 99Designs are that, just that it is opened up to this level. Context works.

it’s still a blatant generalization to support his rant.

As for people ‘not having a gun to their heads’, no you’re right they don’t. But that doesn’t make it right for the industry – designers and clients. It encourages hurried designs that have no real meaning, are too obvious or lack skill.

how do you know? a seasoned designer normally knows how long it’d take him/her to do a design demanded by the contest. if they’re experienced enough they ought to know if the contest is worth the time/money. your statement is baseless.

There are some good designs on the site granted, but how much did it work out at for the designer? $5 an hour maybe?

that depends on how much time they spend on it. again, you don’t know, you can only assume. baseless assumptions are bad.

kevin’s ranting has 2 points:

1) designers get jipped by getting paid less, or none at all.

2) clients get sucky design.

both are quite flawed. first of all, if the designer decides it’s worth the time to do it, knowing the risk that his/her design may not win, what’s the harm? this isn’t any different from meeting a client irl.

secondly, the client doesn’t have to choose bad designs from amateurs you know? it’s quite possible that 90 out of 100 entries are bad, but the client will weed out the bad ones. this isn’t that far off from a conventional setting.

i can understand the initial reaction, as expressed by other commenters here. but think about it for a bit longer. this is supply/demand working at its best. not every client can afford shell out a few grands. look at the contest holders, majority are mom/pop type of small business. by holding a contest that suits a small budget, the client can have hundreds of designs to choose from.

Sharon Solesbee

wrote the following on Tuesday April 29, 2008

This is hilarious. Although it is hard to stop thinking about all the deep thoughts that go into designing the graphics and simplifying a logo for a company. Perfection evolves through trial and error until a perfect match is sustained. What looks perfect to a designer is normally declined for some strange reason by a company of strangers. The folks who are good at what they do are insulted by those who feel like it’s so easy to slap up something. Tell ‘em about it! I’m so mad I can’t… stop laughing.


wrote the following on Thursday May 1, 2008

Oooh this article is tasty!! I’m new to this site, and I’ll tell you what… I’m here to stay now!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

I went and browsed through some of the contests, just to see what was being submitted… CRAP! Wait… I take that back, someone might bite my head off for that. There are some (operative word, some) great designs there. The others… well… Let’s just say I’ve taken shits prettier than them!

I’m all for client relations, the creative brief, spending long, mind-numbing hours producing brilliant designs for my clients! I thrive on it! It makes me… A DESIGNER!! It’s the creative process that’s suffering with this site.

I noticed one competition for a dating site’s logo, in which the ‘winnings’ were $1000! So, I’m going to take a picture of one of my oh-so-fabulously-pretty pieces of shit, spraypaint it some loud, fluorescent color, take it in to Photoshop and add some rounded text, a gradient, and a reflection, and hope to win!!

Let’s see… 10-20 minutes to take the shit (depending on the day), 5 minutes to spraypaint, 20 minutes to let dry, 2 minutes to snap a picture, 3 minutes to transfer picture from memory card to my Mac, and another 4 minutes to add the Web 2.0 effects to the shit… 54 minutes… $1000 for 54 minutes??? I’m cool with that wage for only producing SHIT!!!!


wrote the following on Friday May 2, 2008

(sorry for my bad english)

Great post ! we have exactly the same problem in France with a (sort of) startup called “Wilogo” (here for the english version:

It worse than 99design: its a “win win” system, except when the designer HAVE TO pay 40% of its benefits to the startup o_O’ the ratio of win loose is over 50:1

I wrote a post about this startup, and i receive “defamatory threat” too, just like you. funny hu ?

Henry Weismann

wrote the following on Friday May 2, 2008

I think this is a very unfair review. There are designers out there in other countries that are willing to work for less and make good money doing so. There are also designers out there that do not know how to code a website but are awesome at graphics. Some web development shops outsource their graphic work to these types of places and make contacts for further work at decent sub contract rates with full rights to ownership. There is a market for low cost awesome copyright free designs and 99designs (former sitepoint) beautifully fills that need. Most of the artists are great and are simply making extra money VERY QUICKLY. Your view only applies to real design shops that offer the hand holding, coding, programming, marketing and possibly brand development skills along with the concept. Even the coded designs do not make a website, there is a lot more work to do especially if there is a dynamic portion to the site. It is also a great training ground for up and coming designers to flex there artist muscles and get constructive criticism of their designs. I would agree that your going to get the best designs from a higher priced crowd but that can be saved for the higher priced clients.


wrote the following on Sunday May 4, 2008

Quite honestly, I think that was a great article. Obviously a capitalist society will always breed start-ups that make us cringe, but that doesn’t mean we can’t knock them down a peg or two. While it’s true that a service (if you can call it that) like 99designs can provide small business owners with a more affordable solution to their logo & design woes, it also defeats the purpose of truly designing something FOR the client. How can something really be produced with the client’s business in mind when the actual interaction between the designer and the client is so limited? I also think it makes somewhat of a mockery out of design as a profession. It’s more like something you’d see on a reality show. A contest to earn your money? Please. What a joke.


wrote the following on Monday May 5, 2008

People who want to make a career of this design thing should always resist the temptation to submit to these sites. When I started freelancing, I quickly learned that it was ok to spend time looking for a legit client in order to get paid a real hourly rate even if it meant having a number of unbillable hours in a given week.
There are plenty of business people out there who understand that effective services cost money. Heck, they pay their accountant and lawyer more than you anyway. Get out there and meet those people face to face. Show them that you will give them personalized service, and they’ll never regret hiring you, and you’re working relationship with just one client will be far more profitable than 20 “winning” entries on 99designs.con.


wrote the following on Friday May 9, 2008

I started looking into 99designs just out of curiosity. As a designer myself, and being in the industry for 13+ years, i can tell you, most of the logos produced by these newbie, wannabes or whatever else you want to call them is a big bootlegging contest. Ive noticed a few patterns within the first few moments of looking around.

Scenario 1: borrowing someone else’s logo with a twist. I even saw a comment where the designer said, “well they’re out of business anyway so the concept is up for grabs”. I’m expecting this guy to submit the Enron logo soon.

Scenario 2: Bombarding some neutral logo to every contest. “Hey! i just drew a shiny, glossy, square circular box thing i learned on some tutorial site. I even put a happy face in there! I’m going to submit it to every contest possible!”

Scenario 3: gloss, gloss, gloss and a reflection. yep, thats web2.0 alright.

Scenario 4: People who cant take constructive criticism.
Yes, I understand you are a designer. Yes, this may be your “profession of 10+ years”. But being a freelance designer in some bumpkin neighborhood for 10 years doesn’t mean you’re good.

Theres a bunch more and sure people can add to this list. Sorry, i had to vent.


wrote the following on Tuesday May 13, 2008

I just recently knew about 99templates.

And at first it seemed amazing to me in the designer prespective that you could actually compete with other designers and win money.

Then I made same samples for a cople of works and got has feedback “Your design looks very good and it’s nice to have such kind of works joining in but it’s not what we want.”

So It kinda hitted me instantly. So there are an all bunch of people here working for free even if you work hard!!!

Now my 10 years in the bissness are reduced to competing online!!!
The future of designers is sour and designing level has consquence will become shitty. But that is ok cos when you see people choices you see they kinda should’ve buyed a template.


wrote the following on Tuesday May 13, 2008

I am a ‘‘designer’‘ on 99designs, so it takes some courage for me to write here.
The first thing I would like to say is that I agree with much of what has been said here. I can see how detrimental this site can be and I also know that it must be a source of great frustration to all designers.

However, I would also like to call attention to the fact that i called myself a ‘‘designer’‘ in quotations for a reason. I would not consider myself a designer in the slightest sense of the word. I am, however, aspiring to be one and find that 99designs is a perfect place for me to practice various work. When I submit to a contest, I barely expect to win. But I am able to appreciate the wide variety of work that I can do on that site. It forces me to try things I usually wouldn’t even think of.

Furthermore, because I am only a ‘‘designer,’‘ I have no chance of landing any client 1 on 1. I leave that kind of extensive work to you guys who have more credibility. On 99designs I don’t have to struggle to find a client just so that I can do some wor After I finish my education, etc etc, I think I’ll even consider returning to 99designs for some fun or practice. k, I can try out whatever I’d like. Because, right now, that IS why I am designing. Graphic arts are fun for me and I enjoy trying to think of designs.

So in essence, 99designs to me is a site made for fun and practice. Many clients of the site realize this and if you were to look more closely at the clients you would see that most are either people privately seeking designs for their own art collection or blog, many are from non-for-profit organizations who have no chance anywhere else, and some are just from people that want you to design a nice invitation for their birthday party. There aren’t that many big, successful businesses on 99designs. Actually, I’d challenge you to find 10 clients who even seem like they would have the money for normal design work.

Try not to let this site get to you, because it isn’t stealing away that much of your clientèle.

Finally, remember that markets change inevitably. Every time a new service appears, it is first privatized and ‘‘monopolized’‘ and then eventually, as the service becomes a comodity, that private, cutomer-client connection is lost and the client is thrown to the masses. It is terrible, yet unavoidable, so fighting it is futile.

Sorry if my existence in some way offends you, but I am a ‘‘designer’‘ on and right now I’m going to go whip up a ‘‘shitty’‘ t-shirt design for a high school volleyball team. (I’ll be sure to notify them that if they were smart and honest, they would go find a designer who would charge them 5 times the amount they even have saved up)
Thank you very much.


wrote the following on Friday May 16, 2008

It’s concepts/ideas/“business models” like 99designs, that remind me the world needs legit designers, thinkers and doers more than ever.

And for that, I’d like to thank 99 for increasing my market value.


wrote the following on Friday May 16, 2008

Unreal. Check out this exchange between a designer and a moderator in one of their ‘contests.’ They actually get FREE REVISIONS on the spec work.

Hi, here is my first entry
Don’t hesitate if there any changeyou would like to see!

Hi radial and thanks for a nice design. It’s striking and attractive. From what I can see, it’s only 775 pixels wide. can you please revise it for 1000px wide. The central section (‘Welcome to Clarihon etc.’)needs to be bigger as it’s the focus of the page. There needs to be a client login facility (without ‘forgot password?’ option). I’d rather see the news section as one news item summary with a link to more. The footer needs a lot of work. It’s a good start.

Thanks again for the work.


wrote the following on Monday May 19, 2008

Something i learned a long time ago in this biz and is true off all business. There’s always someone who will DO IT CHEAPER!
The sooner you put yourself and your work above that the better.
Someone should start a competing site that works the same, has no money exchange as is only used by design students with proper work flow and client interaction to help in there education. This would kill them and help students with work experience and portfolio in the industry.
Nice article!

Vance Bell

wrote the following on Tuesday May 20, 2008

There are truly some horror stories to be found reading the contest comment at 99 Designs. Yet, I am not sure whether it is the model or its execution that is to blame there (through I lean toward condemning the model). I could imagine a similar, better, site with the following:

1) Revision rounds and tiered prizes: Clients are required to pay something to the X number of selected designs which will be further reviewed. Designers making it to the second (final) round benefit from closer, extended interaction and better feedback from the “client.” The client hopefully gets a better product. This might even be introduced as an option for those clients who understand that communication yields better product.

2) The site should be, in part, geared toward educating both the clientèle and participating designers on the methods and benefits of good design. I would be nice if they could have fostered a community or even a good group design blog as part of their business model. Think: having the whole thing wrapped in the context of say, the equal of Freelance Switch and PSDTuts, instead of being merely the Dollar Store of design.

3) Increased requirements for client briefs so they are forced to deliver the same quality of information to these designers that they would need to if I was sitting across the table from them at a kick off. Nothing’s uglier than receiving client specs on a rolling basis (‘Oh, you meant to say you needed a site 960 pixels wide and that you already had a design brief written you forgot to provide…’)

Anyways…great post!


wrote the following on Monday May 26, 2008

Then I made same samples for a cople of works and got has feedback “Your design looks very good and it’s nice to have such kind of works joining in but it’s not what we want.”

so your bitching because you created a design which wasnt what the client was looking for? doesnt matter how great of a designer you are, if you just do whatever the hell you want and dont read the brief, what do you expect?

saying this site affects you “professionals”, is like saying illegal mexicans are stealing our jobs because they work in farm fields and mcdonalds… do you honestly want to work with these clients? both designers and clients know what their getting themselves into when using this site.

Kristian S

wrote the following on Friday May 30, 2008


Don’t you get it? This is the evolutionary process of the design industry. The cool thing about this is that 99DESIGNS will keep all the bad clients away from us real designers, and at the same time will teach them the importance of no-spec work and avoiding crowdsourcing etc…

Sometimes the best way to learn something, is the hard way. And MAN are a LOT of poeple (clients & designers) going to learn to stay away from SPEC work. Meaning more work for the real designers.

It’s sad that a lot of people are going to get suckered into it though. But that’s life.

Kaleid Oscope

wrote the following on Friday May 30, 2008

F**K this s**t. I am with you buddy. I’ve not been in the industry a very long time but I can tell you that blood sweat and tears is right. undermines everything we stand for and are a clear threat to something called process.

George McC

wrote the following on Friday May 30, 2008

I found your website because I was researching 99designs. However I am a potential customer, not a designer. I am looking for something inexpensive and decent-looking. I don’t need to win a design award.

You 100% sold me on 99designs: “To summarize: you’re doing spec work for third-world prices with no option for copyright retention”.

Thank you!


wrote the following on Saturday May 31, 2008

Well guys …. you all seem to be under the my-grass-must-be-greener-for-i-spend-hours-on-it syndrome …. creativity is where rules are denied


wrote the following on Monday June 2, 2008

I think I agree with your comments about 99designs, you’re right, there are many designers on there that submit designs without even reading the limited submitted request, which I think is just ridiculous but I think that maybe you are missing part of why this site exists, for me, who is just starting out in web design, 99designs offers me something to build up a portfolio with, I can use the info to build a portfolio content. So if I submit something it really isn’t because I want to win but perhaps get paid for something that I need to do anyway. There is no cost to me to do this.

The majority of submissions seem to be smaller startups, I haven’t seen any major companies requesting designs that have a huge budget. I think that this is a great opportunity for starting designers to get there skills up.
For a seasoned designer I think that (99designs) would hurt ones career if she/he posted there, it would make them look desperate for work.
Which means they aren’t very good.

I have to disagree with you that (99designs)is being (destructive or malignant). They are offering a service for a specific limited audience and type of job with well defined parameters, it is very useful for business that have limited needs, it’s like hiring a freelancer to do only a very specific job. It is by far not a replacement for a skilled, knowledgeable designer, and I think that the people that submit understand that.
They may already have designers on board that they are already paying well, and yet are looking for something fresh. Unfortunately a good designer is general only good at what they do, often versatility is not their strong point but they could be also great at writing code.

Sorry about the long winded response but like I said I’m just starting out and looking for some sources to fill up my portfolio and 99designs gives me a little bit of that.
So I don’t think it’s all shit, it has it’s place and I believe that the internet itself embodies the idea that there is room for everyone here and it is up to the users to determine whether it’s useful, good or whatever…

What’s with the black text on the dark background in the left column of this site. impossible to read


wrote the following on Thursday June 5, 2008

ha ha ha ha, you guys are SOOO funny. THOSE BIG ELEPHANT TEARS!!!

This is free trade. Designers are not forced to submit designs and businesses are not forced to buy.

It wont go away, the work we have received is FANTASTIC!!! The designers we pay are very happy. My staff are absolutely delighted.

The BEST thing is that you spend your (obviously worthless time), crying and complaining.

Not much money in that.. so so so funny

Robert Macklin

wrote the following on Monday June 23, 2008

Welcome to free market capitalism folks!

Many of you designers are on the right, not knowing the difference between Gore and Bush and so you voted Republican. On the left, many of you didn’t give a rat’s ass when illegal immigrants displaced the poor and working class from good jobs because it doesn’t effect you and its not PC to attack illegal immigration. This is the typical American thing to do, allow the rich to get richer and then complain when you become poorer.

We’re in a new era unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The United States is quickly becoming a third-world country having a tiny wealthy, elite class, a very small middle-class, and a vast underclass. Globalism is a bitch! Bow before the beast!


wrote the following on Tuesday June 24, 2008

Great analysis but it seems that you don’t have any credibility. As the way you speak it seems that your the grade-school dropout,the shitty designer with their shitty work, and you want your fucking google ads on your site to make $250. One more thing please keep your Templates on your vault they are crap.


wrote the following on Thursday June 26, 2008

I agree with you buddy. This is an outrage! needs to be taken down. The site is loaded with amateur designers with extremely bad designs. its a rip off system designed to soliciting spec work from designers. I wish I had another pair of hands to give this site a 4 thumbs down. enough said.


wrote the following on Saturday June 28, 2008

I agree 100% ! must be taken down. I used to be a part of Sitepoint but it isn’t worth the time and effort we designers put in.

50% of the contests that i took part in were abandoned (possibly the contest holder was only interested in gathering ideas for a measly 39 bucks)

The statement ‘created by designers for designers’ is ridiculous and every designer on 99designs will be hurt after reading them.

99designs is good for starters and for people living in a third world country who can make a living out of the one contest they win in 5-15 tries.

However to say that the designers in 99designs/sitepoint are shitty designers with extremely bad designs (Jim) is utter rubbish and a display of ignorance/arrogance.

When i used to be there many designers were real quality ones… Designers like lucy_mango, green(something), bearbrick, snk123, frogydesigns (me) :), geniuslogo.. and many others were really talented and deserved more than they used to get at sitepoint.


wrote the following on Tuesday July 1, 2008

Wow, reading this post has given me a new perspective on these design contests. I had no idea they were so controversial. I am just starting out in the graphic design/illustration business after graduating college and came across 99Designs just the other day. The gigs offered look very tempting to me since I need to work on my portfolio and could use the money, but after researching these contests and reading this post, I am very skeptical. I skimmed through several of the contests and I noticed a good portion of the logo work is plagiarized (either taken straight out of books or stolen from stock or logo sites), which doesn’t give me a very warm feeling. Plus, the money offered doesn’t seem to be enough for all the hard work and time you would put into designing a high-quality logo that isn’t even assured to win. Anyway, thanks to everyone for their opinions on this topic. I think I have decided to steer away from these contests for now.


wrote the following on Wednesday July 2, 2008

i think the chaps all out against 99designs should probably leave their comfy europes and americas and travel a bit. for one, come to india. we’ll teach you the business of work and money, the ‘real’ design school with some absolute downright ‘professionalism’ :) maybe then youll understand that the guys at 99designs know their game and so does everyone registered with them. but i guess youre too comfy waiting for the next AIGA conference in Amsterdam and wondering where to get hold of the next supposedly big ‘client’ with whom you shall build a relationship.
grow up, move around, learn and absorb. and for heavens sake, get off these elite helvetica worship online communities. the rules are changing. theyre kind of ‘none’ right now.
jet airways, lufthansa, air france and british airways run daily flights from heathrow, malpensa and frankfurt to delhi, mumbai and bangalore. bangalore! ouch! did that hurt…?


wrote the following on Wednesday July 2, 2008

Amazing, but does this reduce the value of a true designer’s work? I’d say – to a certain extent – yes.
I suggest that a good way to kill 99designs is by having a large number of graphic designers sign up under pseudonyms and for a month or so, innundate the site with thousands upon thousands of worthless, shitty ‘‘designs’‘. Clients will give up in exasperation and hopefully we’ll DOS their servers with all that crap. Of course, this won’t work if they only allow you to enter one piece of work per submission.


wrote the following on Saturday July 5, 2008

I couldn’t agree more. 99 designs is proliferating completely low standards, wasting designers’ time/energy, and undermining the lower end of the market spectrum.


wrote the following on Friday July 11, 2008

I use 99 Designs. It is some of the best money I’ve spent. I’m a one person software shop and I have no money (I live with my mother-she supports me as I try to launch a startup). I’ve scraped together 300 bucks and had my logo made. It is 1000 times better than what I had cobbled together in photoshop and people are really impressed. The logo plus a $60 template makes for a great website that you’d have a hard time discerning me from the competition which are established companies. I have a relationship with the designer that won my contest and he has already made 2 splashscreens and an icon for my software. He’s 22 btw.

All in all, the system worked for me and the designer. Not everything is all bad. There is an upside. Stories like mine is why the site works and will continue to do so. There are 2 or 3 clones of 99 designs that are also popular. The trend is here to stay. Rentacoder, istockphoto, 99 designs, etc.

BTW- I think more contest should have a 2nd and 3rd place prize. It’d help. I sent a gift card for bestbuy to second place because he put in a noble effort. He was grateful.


wrote the following on Sunday July 13, 2008

I agree with this post. Their books are written for numbskulls as well!

To add to the factors not considered when offering a design in these competitions:
1-information architecture and its impact on design
2-Targeting user-demands
3-Building for scale
4-Accessibility and usablity testing

Way to go sitepoint -yu assholes!


wrote the following on Monday July 14, 2008

What a fuzz about nothing. When you’re a brilliant artistic designer with long lasting clients with deep pockets, what are you complaining about?

Its a different ball game. In the old days, the local bakery would make 10 breads a day, nowadays a factory poops 30.000 a hour. People are eating it, and it basically tastes even better than ever before!

And when clients don’t want to pay the full monty for your work: it just may not be that good…
I agree with some designers here, you will have to prove your competitive edge with your experience and value for money work!

Federico Elles

wrote the following on Thursday July 17, 2008

I tried it. It is a sort of fun, but has not much to do with design. The site spec do not match the reality. Most (all?) of the designers are teenagers, students or hobby designers. Sometimes I believe most do not even read the (short) spec and try to understand it. During reading they hang on a word, have some idea and submit it as an entry. It looks not even finished. Then my part starts. The one of an art teacher. “Yes nice, but the colors do not fit and the composition is poorly and what again has it to do with the topic?”… is more of a simple feedback forum for designers. Since there are already great feedback forums, they added the money and prize aspect to make it work.


wrote the following on Friday July 18, 2008


I was just so totally screwed by them. I had a ‘contest’ for a logo and found ‘designers’ sending me constant emails jockeying to take the contest offline and choose them, then there were fights among the designers to the point where 99 had to come in and threaten to kick them out.

After too much of this, I just went with a real design firm and have been receiving harassing nasty messages to my personal blog. One person posted my web address and encouraged others to email me.

Another ‘design’ that took weeks to take down was too vulgar to describe.

Hurry and read over the notes at the bottom of my contest before it’s taken down per my request due to all of the harassment.

The kids on there are young and not professional. I was sent messages from 4 separate designers who were personally mad with me since I didn’t like what they had for me.

Also, on their site you can’t find one thing about what to do in the even you don’t like any of your designs.

It’s a total disorganized mess.

DON’T DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Also- Just one example of an email I’ve received from a designer.

Please respond to my last message. If not we have decided that we would have to send messages to all the people who have answered and visited your blog.This would start looking very bad for you very soon.Sean FarellCommunity Mentor –

this article is crap

wrote the following on Sunday July 20, 2008

Ok.This article is crap.
First it’ a great website,that gives every student or younger person a change to build up a portofolio and win good money.

Second,understand that the designs there are Greatly done and understanded because talent and the sense of beauty it’s not something you learn at an art academy or get when you suddenly get a job at about the age of 23.

And when I say good money it’s really GOOD.
In my country for example 300 bucks it’s the DOUBLE of the minimum wage
I repeat
300$=2 X minimum wage in my country

And you can make a good logo in about 30 min +another 1h to modify it(that much if the contest holder tells you to do that because he likes the design )

You can in 4 hours participate at about 5 contests
And also there’s something very strange that someone posted above
“A logo that looks perfect and fantastic to the designer, often looks bad to the contest holder”
And my point is the following.Even if you design something that yourself feel it’s pretty ugly it’s a good chance the contest holder says it’s great

Just check the profiles and see that every person that has at least 60 contests won at least 1 time

Generally persons with 400 contests+
have about 40 winning designs

Also again I mention designs there are great.100 times better thatn you would get them at any “professional” company
Also the contest holder can choose and can simply cancel the contest if nothing fits his preferences. without needing to give any other money(the way you have at a company altough you may not like the design)

My Conclusion:
-Contest holders get great designs
-Students or younger people that are doing that as a hobby get a GOOD PORTOFOLIO and GOOD CASH
-everybody can choose whether to participate or not:So stop with the shit that’s an insult to the “old ways” of business.
-1 winning design at 60 entered contests is great.I participated at 18 contests in 4 days
that is 250$ at every 12 days(of course it’s not accurate maths)
but you get at least 500$ a month a+ great portofolio

-the only problem it’s there’s no serious protection against designers that don’t pay( altough I asked someone with 40 won contests and he told me only 1 dcontest holder didn’t pay him )
But there’s a slight chance for that to happen because the fact that you have to pay 40$ first for launching a contest it’s a good guarantee that that man is willing to pay money
also generally people give their websites,company names,sometimes even their names.

Daniel Lew

wrote the following on Thursday July 24, 2008

What gets these marketplaces so overly populated is the sheer hype that goes along with it, and someone with such a site as sitepoint and with the reputation and the traffic it gets can easily persuade anyone to go along and join any site they want whether the site is good or bad, people will find out sooner or later naturally. By the sound of things 99 designs gets more publicity than they are worth.

Nancy Robinson

wrote the following on Thursday July 24, 2008

It’s always about the cost, isn’t it. I pulled a design off of 99designs, that may have won, since I got 4 STARS for putting in my blood, sweat and tears. The reason I removed it before the contest ended was because my gut just kept telling me that I was selling myself very short and it was just A WRONG THING TO DO! If I won the $300.00, I would need to deduct my electricity, heating costs, college debt, software and hardware costs, what I value myself at per hour as an artist with a degree, remove any and all copyrights attached to me the creator of the design, receive NO royalties on merchandise being sold,the original design being changed, perhaps in a gross way, becoming a contributer to the design industry in a bad way because I submitted to this beaten down way of doing business, and on and on. It is time for artists to hold their heads up high and stop participating in all of this. Buy the book, The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook, Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. You can get a used book on Amazon for less money, and get your eyes opened wide. Maybe, you will get pissed off enough to stop participating also.


wrote the following on Friday July 25, 2008

I think my biggest beef with 99designs is: &quot;99designs was started by designers for designers&quot;. This site was created for the companies/customers looking to get designs on the cheap.

This is business and they have every right to offer this service. It’s not much different that going to the store and buying modular furniture vs. going to a true craftsman/funiture maker… okay my analogy sucks!

99designs serves it’s purpose but when I’m ready for something of higher quality, and build a relationship, I won’t use 99designs. If I want something cheap and hope it’s good, then I’d use 99designs.

Need less to say, I won’t be using 99designs and I can’t stand sitepoint.


wrote the following on Wednesday July 30, 2008

I share your concerns and frustrations. I thought at first 99designs would be a great way to build up a portfolio and make some extra dough doing what I love. However, its been a nightmare the few times I have tried web design contests. See, I have an actual degree in media design and have lost constantly to designs that would have been lucky to scratch a D-. To the trained eye, they are riddled with usability issues that just plain make you want to cry. There’s no real understanding of brand communication, no elements of design, no usability, none of them are even remotely user centered. When of the winning designs had all the text copy in light blue on white background. Even better, was the paragraph headers underlined in blue at 14px. Sound like links to you? well nope, just headers. Something like this would be a nightmare for most users. The end result, a poor website that people dont want to use or enjoy using so the company wasted all that money, time, and even worse, have given their brand a bad rep of poor usability. So then they will have to scrap it, hire a real designer, and maybe redo the brand from scratch. In the end, it hurts everyone.


wrote the following on Sunday August 3, 2008

As a designer, I have a choice to enter a 99designs contest and accept the prize amount posted, assuming I win. What is most disappointing is the blatant disregard of copyright violations and the copying of other designers ideas. Copyright violations range from simply posting sample images downloaded from sites such as istockphoto, to tracings of movie posters. One didn’t bother to take the trouble…I searched Google images to see what colors a Cheetah’s fur is – and on the first page of results were two contest submissions. One a National Geographic photo where the designer simply added text, and the other, the designer just applied a filter. Although at first I found them to be hilarious, it actually hurts all involved in the process. But more offensive to me than “Buyer Beware”, is when another designer simply steals from ideas that have been submitted. Instead of a Contest Holder working with one or more designers who have originated the ideas, often a winning design has nothing to do with being an original concept. I’ve also learned that many designers are indeed the Contest Holders. Reselling a winning design to their client at 5 to 10 times what was offered in the contest.

I don’t agree that it is a concept [site] that couldn’t work well, but certainly is in need of improvement.


wrote the following on Monday August 4, 2008

Hey all. I just spent forever reading all this and the comments and crap. It’s entertaining at least because I do enjoy a nice free for all flame fest now and then.

Here is why I am posting here though:

I do design as a hobby. I am one of those web kids someone above mentioned. I have had the luck of making some decent money off of my hobby doing different jobs like business cards, CD’s, box art, templates, etc.

I would love to move further into this industry but it is just not feasible when you have a wife and kids and be the bread winner. 100% of what I learned using Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc. is either online or from books…because remember this is a hobby for me.

None of my customers have ever been in an online environment. All of them are meeting people face-to-face or through word of mouth.

Here is the thing. Last year I made around $10K off the hobby. Not bad for a hobby but nothing sumbstantial enough to focus on more at the moment.

I came across the 99designs site browsing the net. Seems like a cool idea to me. But I am not sure about it…it just does not seem…kosher?

It seems cool because as a hobbyist, in my free time I am ppracticing with Photoshop or something anyway…so why not do it ffor the possability to win a few extra bucks?

But then again in the online design community I try to surround myself with people who I can learn from…and I have been told multiple times to never offer sample work for free…which I do understand fully.

So I am kind of back and forth on whether I should give 99designs a shot or not. I do not have any project I am working on right now anyway other then personal pieces.

So given that, what do you all think?

Oh and for the record, everyone in here half ass quoting things from 99designs talking about crap work and this and that…how about ou link us to it so we can see for ourselves because we have no clue who is full of crap, them or you. I am saying this because briefly browsing over entries, there is some nice quality work in there…sure there is bad as well but it is not as bad as it is made out to be by some of the extremist comments made.


wrote the following on Monday August 11, 2008

This is an awesome read that I came across regarding a similar issue with the Music – Apparel Design Industry. It really is worth a read, esp for ANYONE that thinks using places like 99 designs is okay.

15 awful mistakes made by designers in the music and apparel industry


wrote the following on Sunday August 17, 2008

It is the choice of the individual at the end.

Henry Hoffman

wrote the following on Wednesday August 20, 2008

I entered two 99designs competition. It took 1hour. I won £500. I bought an Xbox 360.

Sorry if I undermined all you designers out there.

I say that 99designs is a good hobby for a design student, not a design professional.


wrote the following on Friday August 22, 2008

We went with ‘‘B&G’‘ a design house in NYC where we spent thousands, and got nothing but crap in return.

In the end a template website designed by a kid someone knew was better than what we got from 13 months of web conferences, phone calls, shuttle trips to the city and endless concept meetings. When I visited the place it was run like a high fashion sweatshop, designers looked beaten and haggard and the management team was wearing $5,000 outfits, drinking lattes and one “motivator” was yelling at the designers. That waste cost our company nearly $50,000 and we didn’t use what they gave us.

Design thanks to the interweb is whorishly cheap and damn near free. iStock Photo has put some of my photographer friends out on the street, but only the ones who were living outside their means. Now they have to work harder to compete with a million online users. 99designs clearly spawned from the corporate fueled waste of a design industry.

I got laid off after this waste of money drained our budget for in-house design. Now I’m freelancing, working a regular 9 to 5, and designing for a lot less money than it’s worth. I for one might consider using 99 because I’ve had enough of the ‘‘official’‘ way. I’d rather scrape a few designs together for my own pleasure and work at the post office than suffer through the demeaning and horrible experience of working corporate again. I refuse to stab my friends in the back and that severely hurt my chances of success (However if you start talking about your chosen computer and matching accessories like this is more significant than the actual work you do, I will have no problem stabbing you).

If you want to stop upstarts like 99 from succeeding, you need to go into the city and start tearing down the worthless design houses. They are ruining your reputation and value faster than anyone else.


wrote the following on Saturday August 23, 2008

It could also be that the designers who choose 99designs are simply less conceited. That all of them are ‘amateurs’ is utter, arrogant snobbery to state.


wrote the following on Saturday August 23, 2008

Richie — You actually have a really great point that no one else has brought up. Good web designers not only face competition from places like 99designs and eLance, but from the large agencies that take a lot of money but do not produce work to the client’s expectations.

To me, the bottom line is that clients — no matter how large their company or their budget — need to research exactly who they are contracting for work. There are too many really good web design agencies for people to call foul; a little snooping around and reference calling goes a long way.

And if you really feel as if B&G did not uphold their end of the bargain, report them to the Better Business Bureau. Many organizations take these third parties very seriously.


wrote the following on Tuesday August 26, 2008

Please don’t throw too many tomatoes…as an artist I totally agree with what the crowd here is saying (no pun intended), but as the new owner of a small business I have to disagree. I sunk almost $800 into a designer before giving up. Still no logo, no brand, no nothing. Out of desperation, I turned to 99designs as a way to tap into a big pool of talent. I provided DETAILED info in the brief, and have actively participated in feedback. I look forward to finding a talented designer that I can work with on future projects. 99designs gave me a way to “interview” thousands of designers within a week’s time. I have every intention of paying the designers fairly for good work. Sorry, but a lot of design work is CRAP, and there’s no way to tell until you’ve paid up front.
Until the graphic design world has a better way of training and managing talent, it’s a free for all. Any hack with Photoshop can call him/herself a “graphic designer”. Wish there was a way to separate the men from the boys…


wrote the following on Wednesday August 27, 2008

Sounds to me like a lot of designers who’s work is not getting them the money they think they should get are pissed because they are being under cut by places like 99, Sounds to me like the free market does not work for designers here,Problem is the market is so flooded with designers and designers looking to get a break,Seems most of you here feel your above the new guy trying to enter this field,and no one else but you should be designing, Oh how we all forget that the Nike logo was done by a rank amateur for 50$

What it comes down to is,your design is no better then the next guys, Its all in how the client views it, They either like it or they don’t,you may think you control there thoughts and visions but you don’t.

So its time to get over 99 and Elance and move on and focus on your own work and if your work is that good then no need to worry about 99 now is there?

Cheer Up Have a great day


wrote the following on Saturday August 30, 2008

If you don’t like 99designs, then maybe you should check out


wrote the following on Sunday August 31, 2008

i joined 99designs and i earn like 600 bucks a week. not bad considering i’m living in a 3rd world country. money is money. when there is oppurtunity, grab it even if the system is full of crap. sucks in a way but hell i can pay my bills now.


wrote the following on Sunday September 7, 2008

Oh my god where do I start. I am a working designer and tried my hand at 99designs just to see how it worked. Just to examine the beginning to end process and to see what this crowdsourcing is all about. After sifting through many many contests I thought to myself what is the probability I would win… um yeah slim to none, but I did it anyway.

As I sifted through what I thought would be fun projects, I came across a multitude of abandoned, and “unhealthy” contests of which designers still submitting their designs.

What I realized is the “unhealthy” contest coined by 99designs to provide designers with knowledge that the contest holder is fully participating in their contest with feedback and communication to designers or not.

Many many contest holders were not offering ANY feedback. And on top of it all the briefs offered by the contest holders were vague and conflicting and confusing with very little information offered to the designer to even have a clue as the direction the contest holder is going. Now in the real world at the very least a designer upon meeting with the client can get a feel for the direction and then create something that would meet their needs. What I also found was however, even with very little feedback, the contest holder would change the project mid contest.

Another contest had unreasonable ideals for the contest to create a website based on two websites addresses provided and then wanted the designers to provide a prototype in 5 different colors and ALSO code it for $350.00 winning prize.

So anyway I enter what I thought would be a safe first contest, a 4×6 postcard print design with a winning prize of $100.00. I spent about 3 hours creating a design with all custom art – no clip art and submitted the design and shortly after I received a 4 star rating (out of 5) and thought OK I can be a contender.

Shortly before the contest ended the competitor came out in me and I revised the design with 4 different of the same design with color variations and submitted it thinking that possibly my design was the most stand-out and I might be able to win this thing.

The contest holder contacted me to tell me that he was going to choose my design if I could make a small revision in the subhead, and I agreed after the contest because I didn’t have time to do so before the contest ended. So I win this first contest of mine, and I revise the subhead, and then I submit the design to his email as well as communicate this to him with the 99 design email and wait, and wait and 5 days later I finally got nasty and told this guy off.

My email:
Ok I’ve tried to contact you, and you have not returned any of my emails. I wanted to work with you and assist you on getting the design you want, but it appears if you would rather dismiss this contest and not take responsibility for your choice and YOUR contest. Believe it or not, many designers on here are working very hard for you and good designs take a lot of time and effort and all it takes is some respect while you are building your company this way. So I’ll give you 1 more day to contact me before I am convinced that you flaked.

His reply:
This is the first response I have gotten from you after the one where you
said you would rework the design to have the “subhead”
enhanced. I will gladly send payment. Send me a payment request in
paypal. Let me know if you don’t know how to do that. Regarding the
design, have you made any modifications yet? My email is
Thanks, Xxxx

I reply:
Hi Xxxx
hmmm very interesting that you did not receive BOTH 99 email or your hotmail hmmm that is very odd and very improbable. So if you check your hotmail you should see that I sent a re-worked version same day as the contest end.
Listen be straight with me and I will still assist you if you want. You can send paypal to

So what do I have to do hand hold these contest holders through this process or what?

Ok I know this would never fly in the real world but I’m testing the boundaries of this contest right. MY conclusion is that wow the flake factor is definitely huge all through this site.


wrote the following on Wednesday September 17, 2008

Boohoo, I deserve to get $ 1000 for a logo cuz I need to payoff my $ 30,000 student loan. How can I do that when all these amateur designers who don’t have a degree are taking all my work. I’m gonna contact my congressman and have him pass a law. The cream always rises to the top, right ??


wrote the following on Thursday September 18, 2008

I was wondering, if this “crowd-sourcing” idea is so bad, does anyone have an idea where I can get a higher quality logo drawn up for about $400?

I’m in need of one within the next 2-3 months and have tried a number of “logo design” sites. I’ve paid between $70 and $190 already for four different places to present me with horrible mock-ups and a 2-revision rule.

I need a quality logo for web, print and TV ads, I’m thinking that with 99designs atleast I’ll be able to get a few dozen mockups and can ask for revisions from there…


wrote the following on Monday September 22, 2008

I pay about $85 a shop/hour to have my car repaired. He asks me for a quote for a website. I put together the hours and he balks saying that I’m too high and that there’s a guy that will do it for $250/page.

So a four year degree, 20 years of design experience and 200 hours of formal web training plus countless hours in books and working amounts to being not worth $10/hr.

Globalization, webcommerce, crowd whatever the blank. When we can no longer support ourselves and we are sweeping dirt out of our tents, we will wonder why we bothered to bail out AIG. Is it any surprise that we cannot afford our own homes? You think this bailout is going to do anything but pay back the banks?

This is very, very bad.


wrote the following on Thursday September 25, 2008

I am an up and coming graphic designer and student for graphic design. Being new to the industry I can tell you just how confusing it can be trying to get your foot in the door…despite what some the elitist assholes here would like to say.
I myself did try 99Designs when I first got started, after getting burned a few times I decided to search the net for methods of getting my foot in the door. Finally I found NO!SPEC and got some helpful tips there. I spent (and still do sometimes) a lot of time offering pro bono services to local business in my area as a way to build client relationships and I use which is a damned nice freelancer’s site. I now have a decent portfolio and excellent client references but not everyone catches a break like I did.

To the elitist assholes
You could take the time to explain to new designers different alternatives to getting their foot in the door instead of bashing on them for using sites like 99Designs. While there is plenty of information out there about how to get started sometimes not having someone there to coach you really does make the easy way out seem like a more sensible solution. Think about offering advice to the new designers so they can go out without using sites like 99Designs, if no designers go there they will eventually fold ending the problem.
End to elitist assholes

Wake up

wrote the following on Monday September 29, 2008

Time to wake up guys – as another commenter has already mentioned – designers are a dime a dozen these days and have become a commodity. I run a web development company and I don’t need to pay a designer $1000 a day when I can give the exact same brief to someone else and only pay them $100-$300. I maintain the relationship with the client and everybody wins. Get with the times.

Website Design Derby

wrote the following on Tuesday September 30, 2008

Well; I had never heard of 99Designs before; and just by looking at how shocking the website is, its easy to see they just want to make a quick bit of money.

I would further goto say after browsing the website that they promote “WordART” for sale.

With companies such as this;

Posting work there; what would one expect?

Still; some logo designs are going for $400; which would be worth throwing one quick design at – IF; IF You have nothing else better to do.

Also what is Web 2.0 about that website? Web 2.0 is just some selling bullshit for a non static html site with abit of ajax and shiny graphics. (imo) and a good reason for your website not to validate to HTML.

I think 99Designs should change its name to perhaps mmmmm 99p Designs? 99c Designs? 99 Wordart Designs?


wrote the following on Tuesday September 30, 2008

Very interesting reading.

Funny to read ads such as “100,000+ graphic design jobs online Work from home and get paid!” or “Build your own free website in 30 minutes. You will love it. “ on this site.

Why are your advertising the type of service which seems to annoy so many people ?


wrote the following on Tuesday October 7, 2008

market economy dude, if you like it do it if not move on. In some parts of the world $3.50/design earns you a happy living

Ainslie X11

wrote the following on Thursday October 9, 2008

I used to be quite involved with the original sitepoint contest forums a few years back. The number of bad things which needed fixing there were bundled into countless confronting posts and gradually changes were made. This is the first time I’ve been back to sitepoint for almost 2 years, and I’m horrified to see whats become of the place. They would only need to make clients pay upfront, and drop the copyright nonsense, for the “system” to work properly. Unfortunately, there would be 67% less contests if that were to happen, which should be a telling statistic for designers to take heed of before engaging “the process”. The fact is, only 33% of contests ever result in a winner, and now there’s the added risk that you can’t “background check” clients from their posting activities on the boards at sitepoint. Make enough noise people and they might make a few changes that serve to protect the designers, rather than exposing them to the risk of exploitation.

Ainslie X11

wrote the following on Thursday October 9, 2008

I’ve just read 99HQ blog who say in November that all contests will be prepaid. The folks who know me from sitepoint will know that I spent months doing contest statistics in 05/06, and by my calculations, there will be between 50 – 60% less contests there by December. This shouldn’t serve to discourage good designers, just be wary of signing your copyrights away because any work you do on that basis is not owned by you to put into your portfolio, in fact, your client can take the credit for designing it – you have no rights.


wrote the following on Friday October 10, 2008

It seems like everyone who is complaining either hasn’t been using the internet for more than 1 month, or is too stupid to use Windows…


wrote the following on Wednesday October 29, 2008

Guys.. I live in Brazil. A Fucking third world poor country wich a logo costs $300.
It makes me sick look at this 99crap and see those guys loosing their time/money working for nothing.

Raped Designers.

Chad Bradley

wrote the following on Wednesday November 12, 2008

99Designs will thrive just like the Dollar Stores. Hey, I know that the mugs I buy at the Dollarama may be less quality than the mugs at a wal-mart but “shit” I just paid a buck!

According to my calculations, these guys made over $600,000 by allowing starving designers practice their art and hopefully make a few bucks that they would not have made at all.


wrote the following on Sunday November 16, 2008

This article is just a babble talk. Face it, this already happen years ago in a photo world with microstock industry. Yeah, you sell photos for 0.2$, up to 5-7$ each. And you have to pay the photo & lighting equipment, book the studio, rent a model/makeup, etc… That’s VERY expensive. Yet, there are dozens of people (not much) who got rich and quit daily jobs to work on the stock photography full time.

But the majority of contributors will have to get used to making a $100 for a month or so. Maybe even much less!
But there’s another important thing that your article is missing: the word of mouth and connecting with the clients.

My friend started doing designs on 99design by entering the contests. She won several contests in the short period of time. Now she does not need any friggin’ 99designs site, she has a large client base and plan to open the web design agency.

So yeah, this article is a BS. It’s not that you are not right, it’s just the industry nowdays is cheap. I don’t like that either, but that’s where mass-computing-internet-globalism got us. But if you are smart/lucky/hardworking enough, it’ll only be your first step toward the success in your career.

A Nony Mouse

wrote the following on Tuesday November 18, 2008

I actually signed up and went through the process of entering contests (I am a very old, very experienced designer). Aside from the freelance bidding sites, I’d never seen this type of thing before. I was bored and before I mocked it, I thought I’d better work it through.

Some of the promised fees weren’t too bad. A few hundred for a postcard with one image and a line of text front and a short blurb on the back isn’t a lot to ask. Seemed fair. Would probably take no more than an hour.

Honestly, I believe if you are in a niche for design (you only design CD covers, for instance) and happen to have a few hundred rejects you can revamp to submit, then all you have to lose (assuming you’re bored and were only going to watch TV, anyway) is your time, and if it’s a good design, well that too, because it will most likely be stolen.

With 4 of my designs, maybe all of them, at one point I was the “lead” with the most stars (insert clapping) and within an hour of having my designs given the four or five stars, someone else would pop on, make a slight change to my idea and submit it as their own.

Then there’s the problem of changes. The people holding the contests would write and ask to see the concept in blue, with more “pop” or another font, etc. I took a pass on revisions and told them if they paid me the winning amount, I’d do them. Some of the designers were doing five, six, even seven revisions and not winning at the end of it all.

But perhaps worst of all was what some of the “savvy” business owners ended up with.

One guy, whose target market was women, ended up with a mailout that featured a man’s hand filled with cash. The slogan was something like, “get rich in your spare time.” That wasn’t it exactly — I don’t want to name names on here, but you get the idea. I wasn’t under the impression it was an ad for a brothel before I saw the winning design, but maybe it was I who was off the mark.

Another guy wanted a design to print off on an 8.5 × 11 sheet of paper from his desk top printer. The winner had a full saturation black background with reverse text.

Some people just have to learn lessons the hard way.


wrote the following on Monday November 24, 2008

Sorry for barging in, i just spotted this sight on my way to my contest…

I’m sure professional and hard-core designers find it offensive if bigger companies tries to cut costs with sollutions like 99designs.

But what about small, starter not-even-firms? I started a site with a few friend in a small Eastern-European country – it’s not profitable yet. Local minimal wage is around 300$, mine is quite good one (bit more than 1300$). I’d hire a professional designer for long term relations but i think that would cost me a bit more than 250$ i just want my frekking logo for. And as You might guess even that 250 is quite a sum for us.

So 99d may have some rights to live – targetting people like us. You shouldnt attack them for existing, but for “hijacking” those companies that could and should afford professional work and its rate.

Please feel free to check our site (to see that logo NEEDS some changes) and trash its design, or the contest site ( for the same. Or to enter a design. Or just send a professional logo for us pro bono >:]

Swami Atma

wrote the following on Monday November 24, 2008

As interesting as this post is there is a logical flaw in the calculations. You calculate earnings on a per entry basis for the designers and an a per contest basis for 99designs.

I’m not sure if this was on purpose or not.


wrote the following on Monday November 24, 2008

`In my mind, I continually compare 99designs to gambling. If I walk into a casino and drop $100 on ten roulette tables, I have no idea what the outcome is going to be.`

Yes, but you do not spend your time blogging about the evils of Casinos or Gambling websites do you?

Lets face it, the real truth is that you feel your profession is under threat. It happens to all industries over time. Your fear of all this causes you to attack those who you see as a threat.



wrote the following on Monday November 24, 2008

Im riding at the same boat as you are mister :-).

On a side note…
“ 99designs was started by designers for designers.”

Oh, right… I just raged.

Mokokoma Mokhonoana

wrote the following on Monday December 8, 2008

I’m also against this!

But for as long as nobody forces nobody to join, we’d have no choice but to blame the ‘designers’ that engage in this sort of contest.

My concern is ‘clients’ that think they’re getting a bargain. some clients would be willing to pay a professional designer what they’re worth BUT only if they knew the value of professional design.

I doubt you’ll find good professional creatives amongst those who compete, only people who know their way around design softwares!

Gathering experience is a lame excuse!

Be a designer NOT a contestant!

Communicate DON’T compete!


wrote the following on Tuesday December 9, 2008

Having submitted some designs to 99designs you quickly pickup a number of patterns: 1) It seems it takes at least 20-25 entries before winning, and thats on a good day. 2) I’ve seen some total SH*T designs get selected, why because some cheap ass on the other end has NO IDEA what they are doing.

Your post couldn’t be more true, as a lot of these same thoughts have rush through my head. But still I’m just as reluctant, and attempt some anyway. Why? I hate money. Thats why, but have to have it to live so, this is where 99design fucks a lot of us and think its where your point is validated.

Hell I’ve even seen SitePoint, 99designs sister site which this pig headed site was spawned from, list off ways to make side income. “Moonlight as a Designer”.

I see more and more people also withdrawing entries from previous contests, since so many just steal and run off with them.

What boggles my mind the most is WHERE’s a 99designs watermark, like iStock?! Its obviously in favor of the other end. If we are asses that makes the contest holders the dicks, because we as designers get “raped”.

Something else to consider: Your design wasn’t chosen, only to later to appear on the companies site or such as a promo or banner ad, does 99designs cover us? I doubt it, and even if they do they know if your hurting for a measly $250 I doubt your gonna be calling up big hitter Joe Lawyer.

After reading this and some other related blogs I have to say, No spank you to 66designs. :P


wrote the following on Tuesday December 9, 2008

I’m a design student at SCAD and I’ve used 99designs. I think that for one just starting out, it is a legitimate means to make money while building a portfolio. If a contest goes unwon, at least you have a chance to crank out some nice work and develop skills. Sure, there are a lot of wannabe designers submitting garbage, but all that means is they won’t win. 300 dollars for a simple logo? Shit, I’m a college student, I’ll take what I can get at this point. And all the while I’m practicing and building a body of work to graduate with. Talk to me in 10 years and if I’m still submitting designs to said “crowdsourcing” sites, then I’ll eat my words.

From a contest holder’s (client) perspective, most of them are fledgling businesses, or just small projects. Not everyone can pay a typical designer salary for a logo.

Don’t want to participate? Then don’t.


wrote the following on Saturday December 13, 2008

I have been using this site for the past 2 years while I was in college studying graphic design. I couldn’t tell you how this site has impacted my life as a designer. Yeah, I have entered only 69 contests and only won 2 of them, but I have gained plenty of knowledge, and design DON’T‘s from this site. It is outrageous to tell people that this site is shitty, just because maybe you lost one contest on it and you wanted to write a blog about it.

99designs is a great tool for learning design trends, and other graphic design do’s and don’t‘s.

The site has over 20,000 designers registered to it. If you are pissed that your design did not get picked, then ask collegues why, and gain more knowledge to better yourself.

This blog is absolutely pointless, and idiotic.


wrote the following on Tuesday December 23, 2008

A few years ago I came across SitePoint and their contest section (before it was 99designs). I had just started getting interested in design and so I joined. I didn’t know anything about spec work nor a lot about design and lost the couple contests I entered. I lost interest, and I’m glad I did. I’m not a designer, but I hope to be and I plan on going to school for graphic design. I just checked out 99designs and while looking around, it doesn’t seem like they’re ‘‘for designers’‘ nor does it seem like they’re trying to foster newbies. So what’s the point?

@Aaron: I don’t think Kevin is writing this because he had some designs rejected on 99Designs. He’s explaining why it’s bad for designers who are serious about designing. He’s not just bitter.


wrote the following on Tuesday December 23, 2008

If someone could write a good guide for potential clients that would be good. Why should we use you and not 99 Designs?

For a small start-up the price is right on 99 Designs. Can you clearly and respectfully, articulate why as a professional designer you would advise against against the use of 99 Designs from the customers perspective?

If you can do that I’m listening.

I’ll be putting a job on 99 Designs for my boss in a few days.

Ainslie X11

wrote the following on Tuesday December 23, 2008

99Designs is a cooking pot of stolen templates and thieving desperate 3rd world country scumbags willing to do anything for a buck, and designers, that’s money from your hard work that they’ll be stealing!

There are no controls or measures to protect the legitimate designers from hordes of 3rd world uneducated scam running table coders offering to steal the best designs posted and code them for free.

There are hundreds of unsolicited offers clients receive during the life of a contest, and its simply not possible for any good designer to compete with offers of free code with ‘any design you like best’.

99Designs is a disgrace, it is a platform for criminals to do their deeds, it is not a platform for legitimate designers to practice their talents, and no self-respecting developer or webmaster should endorse this criminal enterprise by posting a contest.

There should be a website that “names and shames” all websites that have obtained their designs using this kind of exploitative contest process.

The world should be wary of website owners who are too cheap or too broke to afford the services of legitimate designers, and while you might thinks there’s merit in seeing hundreds of copies of the same concept, it only demonstrates how indecisive you really are and you probably shouldn’t be in business to begin with.


wrote the following on Tuesday December 23, 2008

For the record, just so people explicitly understand one thing, I never did and never will submit work to 99designs. That’s the entire point of the article.


wrote the following on Tuesday December 23, 2008

I too am going to boycott it!

Ainslie X11

wrote the following on Tuesday December 23, 2008

One more fact we’ve discovered about 99Designs, that should serve as a warning to ALL designers.

99Designs ‘Guaranteed’ contests, are NOT guaranteed at all. Clients can keep extending the contests… for as long as they like!!!

So while the prize might be guaranteed, you have no guarantee that the contest will ever end. Seriously, go ask 99Designs if they let contest holders of guaranteed contests, extend their deadlines, if they say no, they are lying!

And for any website owners considering a contest process to obtain a design. Remember, there is no guarantee that people submitting designs, aren’t criminals, child molesters, professional con-artists, rapists, pirates, gangsters or murderers.

Professional designers have credentials and use their real names, their backgrounds can be checked! But in a contest environment, your money could end up in the hands of criminals, who might also have stolen their designs from another site, or template monster.

And don’t be fooled by unsubstantiated claims that there are 20,000 designers, at the very most, there a less than 50 who could manage an original design concept.


wrote the following on Wednesday December 24, 2008

Unfortunately this service is quite effective and is extremely favorable for the client.

You can blame the owners of 99 but the people that use it are fully aware of the ethics involved of rat race style spec work. Then again that $50-500 logo 99 produces down right humbles me as a starup when I get estimates for $5000 involving full blown have a seat on the couch tell me about your culture type design firms. I am torn trying to get an ethical result without the bullshit but in the face of this economy it’s a no choice for now.

How does it make the designers feel when the client middleman themselves and marks up your work for an unknown amount? 99 is an entrepreneur’s wet dream really. With the proper client base and the ability to elaborate 3rd party clients needs into a comment field, you could making a killing off the backs of students slash 3rd world graphic mafia types that submit to 99.

I will tell you this, after discovering 99 I immediately googled their name with the intention of finding intense criticism from designers, and boy do these blog posts show up on the first few results. What’s interesting is coding went through this stage of freelance bidding (see and they are both popular among programmers and profitable as of today. I wonder if/when 99 will get that rentacoder type creditability?

I also wonder how the factory like production of graphic design people from private colleges all over America is to blame for this inevitability of “crowd sourcing”.. I think of what happens with a commodity when it floods the market and people are yelling over each other ME ME ME!…

Ainslie X11

wrote the following on Thursday December 25, 2008

99Designs should have stayed part of sitepoint marketplace. At least there, members holding contests could be profiled by the past posts they had made.

Who remembers the boy from Deer Park? the bagged-head-pimple-faced-teen of a thousand user profiles… and as many fake contests! Sitepoint eventually tracked him down and he was banned for life, legally, but not before hundreds of designers had wasted thousands of hours entering his fake competitions.

What protection do designers at 99 have from characters like that, the psychopathic-compulsive-obsessive time waster? none whatsoever, it seems a convenient oversight at 99 who have structured themselves to capitalize on vast amounts of traffic from sitepoint, and the exploitation of practically every second person on the planet who has hidden aspirations to work from home designing websites – because its such an easy profession! it suits the average housewife perfectly, they have a pc at home, a stolen copy of dreamweaver, they can do web design, and look after the kids… at the same time!!!

So I wonder how long it will take one of the BIG players on the web to catch onto to Marks little money spinning enterprise? I only hope if they’ve got global design contests on their list of extremely lucrative, money for nothing, web 2 point ‘give-me-some’, autonomous web applications, then I hope and I pray that they have human moderators checking the backgrounds of designers and contest holders.

And no, I don’t mean self appointed zealots like Nadia ‘u-know-who’ crowning themselves ‘Design Team Mentors’, simply because it sounds better than ‘out-of-work-housewife’. I mean, individuals with ‘real-world’ commercial web and business experience who are able to see-through the try-hards, criminals, and wannabe’s by running some elementary background checks, and then having the authority to screen out the bad egg’s, and keep them out.

Most people know how much info one can get by running a contest holders name or domain through a google search. And it doesn’t take very long to profile designers from their past accomplishments, and checking their portfolio against the works at templatemonster and other template repositories.

Its amazing how many stolen templates are at 99 right now, as I type. One designer, who doesn’t appear to speak or understand English, has even submitted the same stolen template to TWO different contests with a header change, and a bad one at that. The fact that the participant can’t make simple design alterations requested by the contest holder, you would think that might set alarm bells ringing. But Noooooo, it seems even contest holders, are thaaaaaaat stupid!

And it begs this question people …


when templatemonster, geddy, or iStock, come knocking on YOUR, or YOUR CLIENTS domain, claiming the template, or photos in it, are hacked versions of their property???

I bet it won’t be 99!

I am sure you webmasters and developers who rightly fear the wrath of templatemonster and photo library’s, will think twice before engaging a process infected by some of the planets lowliest and most unscrupulous criminals …


you thought they were all design graduates??

students looking for work experience???

you have been given a heads-up… don’t be naive!


wrote the following on Thursday January 1, 2009

Normally, in discussions such as this, I side with progress, the new guy, the advancement in an industry rather than the spotted owl hunter who complains about bread being stolen from his table or the auto-worker who sabotages the new assembly robot.

That said, I feel ya man! Sites like 99designs, and to a lesser extent eLance, haven’t done a bit of good to anyone (if they’re honest with themselves). But as always, someone sees a gap in a market, or creates one, and fills it with a money printing scheme.

I applaud the 99d guys for their brilliance in business matters, but shame on them for what they are doing to the world of professional design.

jason rina

wrote the following on Thursday January 8, 2009

GOOD & BAD comment i’ved already seen, but for me i think 99designs help a lot designers AROUND THE WORLD. Designers are not force to enter the contests it’s FREE it’s up to YOU! And for me it’s very challenging because you are competing so many good designers around the world including U.S. designers. And it’s feels great & exciting ‘coz you know that you have the chance to make good designs and maybe selected as a winner but what count the most is that you love your work. And you must enjoy creating great designs. That’s what 99designs need. And if your not that person then don’t enter. If you want to know my story about 99designs just visit


wrote the following on Sunday January 11, 2009

This post makes you sound so f#cking bitter? Whilst no-one likes being undercut by the foreign legion it’s just competition.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s great that people can get reasonable logo’s for a few hundred rather than paying one trick pony designers several thousands for crap ;)


wrote the following on Friday January 16, 2009

Totally agree with alan, I’ve been burnt by too many B Grade designers with egos the size of a house thinking their one-off ‘master pieces’ are god’s gift to everyone…and that I need to pay accordingly (shaking head)…

I think the designers out there need to accept that there’s competition out there, and if they can’t step up to the mark they should find another profession!

Ainslie X11

wrote the following on Monday January 19, 2009

Designers at ‘that place’ need to be WARNED there are individuals attempting to solicit design services, WITHOUT PAYING for them.

Right now, there is a Dutch national, from the region of Noord-Brabant, all of 18, contacting designers via PM, attempting to use charm to inspire them to do work for him without paying a DEPOSIT.

It’s important that you don’t let your guard down designers, and get tricked into wasting a great deal of time scoping the work, before discovering he hasn’t got a cent to his name.

People who are genuinely wanting to use your services, DO HAVE BUDGETS set aside to pay for it. If they’ve checked your work, and portfolio, and references, then there is NO EXCUSE for them to not pay a deposit.

I work in a field of technology, and we regularly buy custom designed components from suppliers in China, Taiwan and India. Regardless of how big our business is, or how long we’ve been in business, with new suppliers the terms are always 100% PAYMENT UPFRONT. And thats fine by us, because we don’t buy anything unless we’ve got a reason and a budget, and we don’t deal with new suppliers unless we’re sure of their credentials.

Web design is NOT THE EXCEPTION folks. Don’t be led to believe your supplying anything less that any other trade or industry. The xhtml code cutters don’t do anything without receiving payment first, so you shouldn’t either.



wrote the following on Wednesday January 21, 2009

Ohh thank GOD there are other designers out there who completely disagree with this site, i could not believe my eyes when i came across it, so signed up to see how it works. It is shocking, people like me and my partner went to university to get our qualifications and the title ‘graphic designer’ yet this site is handing that title out to 14 year olds who have no idea what they are doing! Whilst ‘registered’ to that site i scanned most of the competitions and to my absolute horror found someone running a ‘competition’ for a clothing company, yet when i checked the actual profile of the person running the competition, he was called tripple 4 designs! And very quickly realised that this was someone with a website claiming to be a design company, that is really just one person, that gets clients, charges them a couple of hundred dollars, goes to 99designs, gets these kids to design all different style logos for 100-150 dollar prize, show ‘his so called clients his so called design teams work’ they pick the design they like, the competition holder eliminates the ones they didnt want, Awards a winner and scrapes off the extra 50 – 100 dollars to pocket!
The site makes a total mock out of real graphic design industry. I hope the site fails, but unfortunately i fear it will continue with its spec work and flourish……
Gratz to anyone who IS actually qualified and i wish you all luck and prosperity!

99designs…. in the words of al murray ‘SHAME ON YOU


wrote the following on Thursday January 22, 2009

On 99designs I see a “report this contest” button… but where is the “Report this website” button??


wrote the following on Friday January 23, 2009


Thanks a ton for this post. Fortunately, I hit this page before I started on a web page design contest.

Thank you very much for saving me time and heart burn. :)
Keep it up !


wrote the following on Saturday January 24, 2009

I think 99 designs is the biggest scandal I’ve seen in a long time. It makes you wonder why you go to College/University to get a degree. And all you have to do is to go on 99 designs steal other designers ideas and claim that there yours. This is turning the design industry into a great big scandal and if it carrys on it will take over and there will no longer be jobs for us designers. It needs to stop now before it gets too big. 99 designs is exploiting designers, working for nothing for a stupid “CONTEST”. It’s not a contest, it’s a CON.


wrote the following on Tuesday January 27, 2009

There are a few basic principles that I think some of you are missing. I think so far the most glaring miscalculation most of you are making is that graduating from a school or having formal training in a skill does not, by divine power establish you as the title holder to that profession. Ive known several, really, if not most “designers” that have degrees and formal education for our profession that cant hold a candle to someone with natural god given talent. Dont kid yourself, some of us have the gift, worked hard to get the tools of the trade, taught ourselves and run circles around 90% of most of you “graduates”.

The next thing is that those without any clue, talent, experience, equipment, etc.. pose no threat to the industry, to you, or I, or any client. If you look at 99Designs there is a small group (comparatively to the masses) that achieves any type of success on there. Its actually not that big a risk for people that know what theyre doing (ive entered 4 contest and won 1, spent about 13 hours made $625.00). I had no stress, spent less than 2 hours off and on a day playing around for a week. Out of my 4 contests there was a combined total of approximately 600 entries, I would say 560 of them were of no challenge, it also happens that the 40 or so, (or 10 designs per contest) were from the same core group of designers. I have since been suspended from 99Designs because I called a Contest Holder cheap, which i think reflects badly on 99designs (i was however effective in shaming the CH into doubling the prize, so i guess being right counts for nothing).

The point is that, although I have a firm that is sustaining itself through these rough times, sometimes you dont want or need the constant discussions, and hours on end of concept development, the hand holding, the massive project to manage, the modifications, the production meetings,.. sometimes you just want to be presented with a challenge, an opportunity to compete, and make easy money. If youre truly gifted, if you know what youre doing, you arent exploited, you arent doing anything to hurt your industry.

Do you honestly think the guy who is starting his motorcycle chop shop is going to sink 5 grand into his branding? You think youre above working for him because you think youre too “good”? He’s looking to appeal to a target audience that lives within 40 miles of his little hut, he’s gotta wife, 2 kids to put through college, and he’s staring a recession in the face looking to provide a service for a product that is only purchased with disposable income. You think he needs the “graduate” to slime him into thinking he needs $1,500.00 logo? And 99Designs is a scam?

I agree that the site has its flaws, and that they do the most harm to those that dont have a shot to win, but those that dont have a shot are not threatening you nor I. Their wasted efforts cause no harm to the profession just as the vast majority of those who try out for american idol pose no threat to the music industry. It would seem petty for Bruce Springstein to say that ALL those american idol contestants are dragging down his profession, as the brats from the music universities snarl at those who werent officially trained in vocal harmony in order to suggest that Aretha Franklin cant call herself a singer.

My advice would be to get over yourselves. Are the clients on 99Designs retarded? yes, but no more retarded than any other client. Is the skill level on 99Designs below average? yes, but no more below average than what you would find at any school, or graphic design convention held anywhere in the world. Is the format geared towards cheap solutions? yes, but this has no affect on the tier’d market we live in, you would be hard pressed to find any clients that have anything close to 10K+ budget for any type of branding, ad campaign or web design/dev, so it has no effect at all on upper echelon of business that we rely on to keep our firms open. It does fill a gap between the higher than thou assholes who think theyre designers and the kid with Microsoft paint. And let me tell you,that gap is HUGE.

Some of you need a little humility. “True merit, like a river, the deeper it is, the less noise it makes.” ~Edward Frederick Halifax


wrote the following on Tuesday February 3, 2009

Ive used 99designs before for a logo at a price point of $600. And am not entirely unconvinced of the merit of the site. I did this after working with conventional design firms who just didn’t get it. I was very pleased with the quality of logo I received.

The entries vs dollars awarded is a little misleading. For a $600 prize point I got 10 ‘real’ entries. The other 270 would have taken less than 5 minutes to design.

If you are generous and say that only 15% of designs are actually worth the disk-space they occupy, then the price per ‘good’ logo actually hits closer to $20. but then of the 15% of good logos there will be two or three by the same designer that will be color or font variations on the same logo. But still paltry I suppose.

Still it’s a pathetic price. I noticed from traffic to my site though that many of the designers were from third world countries, and other under-priviliged countries. So it would represent a significant amount of money.

Undoubtedly, (now that I think of it) made with a pirated copy of Illustrator.


wrote the following on Tuesday February 3, 2009

99 Designs is an abomination, ridiculous and dangerous.


WHY ???

Signup, enter a contest and instead of submitting a design submit a jpg saying that you are a real designer, a small text with a disclaimer why this website is irrelevant and why they will not find there what they where looking for, with your contacts etc.

After reading all this articles about crowd sourcing I decided to create an account to see by myself and I must say I was not surprised, I was astonished by what is going on there. This website is a sad joke, and a real threat for creation and the design industry, a scam.

I went there so, spoke to a contest holder, explained him rationally my point, the point of the profession, and 2 days later he contacted me directly for his project which I charged him the right price, providing him a real quality designer work, a real collaboration client/designer.

The clients needs to be educated, they are not fundamentally wrong, they just don’t really now that a good design requires more than design software’s skills, more than a couple hundred bucks and they probably don’t have a clue that this kind of site is no good for them and the designers and.

Instead of complaining and doing nothing, I encourage the profession to go there and to start boycotting from the inside, and instead of all these irrelevant glossy web 2.0 logos to post their business card.


wrote the following on Tuesday February 3, 2009

I find 99designs to be a good one-hour-logo-fire-drill practice.

Scan the list for something interesting and try to come up with a design I am happy with in one hour or less…maybe two hours if I feel inspired. Doing real logo work suddenly becomes easier after this.

If you’re gonna’ practice logo design, why not use real clients for it? Where else can you find 50+ creative briefs to use as practice?

Besides, the 99designs client base would never be in the market for more “professional” or costly design solution. The exception being non-profits perhaps.

I’d rather these folks post projects here instead than my project contact form.

Just my two shares of Yahoo! stock’s worth.


Leon Poole

wrote the following on Thursday February 5, 2009

Fantastic article and I couldn’t agree more with you. I actually read your post late last year and reading it a second time now was still just a good. :)

Oliver Edwards

wrote the following on Thursday February 5, 2009

The poster is stupid and hypocritical.

Later on in the article he talks of the “third world prices” the designers should allegedly care abput selling their work for.

Yet he earlier mentions the site is constituted by “grade-school dropouts whose portfolio’s crown jewel is a logo for their dad’s wholesale llama manure clearing house”.

If the latter statement is true, why does the author care about those third world prices?

And isn’t it immensely arrogant of him to claim a random pool of designers are all “grade-school dropouts” when he hasn’t the slightest clue who they are.

Furthermore, even if they are grade school dropouts, why does he have a problem with a client buying their work if they like it?

He also mentions the benefits of more conventional channels: “in-depth communication…understanding of the company, the brand, or the direction and aspirations of the organization” and so forth.

Well, actually, sometimes people DON’T need that. Indeed, perhaps ironically, a one off logo is a very good example of when someone doesn’t NECESSARILY need a continuing relationship of this sort.

So the only question really remaining regards the admittedly low ratios of successfull designers who submit to each brief. But, since the designers make the decision to do so themselves, is it not a little arrogant to basically say no designers or those in need of logos and so forth shoud ever use such sites.

Pulling the points together, the posters piece is really ITSELF “assinine and flawed” in that if he’s so confident about those flaws, why not just leave the designers and businesses to engage with a site IF THEY WISH.

In other words, have you ever heard of the following concept: a free market.

You sound like a complete snob, most likely one irritated at the thought of not having all companies choose your own design firm (if you have one) to do its logos.

The comments by OC at the end are the epitome of infantile – basically suggesting a boycott or corruption of such sites by purposefully misleading activity on the site. Such desperation in fact only points to the fact that, form the clients perspective, such sites SOMETIMES have a value, and that whether ‘dropouts’ choose to submit design work is entirely up to them.

By the way, you might like to acknowledge the fact that a lot of ‘dropouts’ become very successfull. Spielberg, Gates, I’m sure you know the many more.

One thing I know is that I have a lot more respect for a ‘dropout’ with a considered, unbiased opinion, than a non-dropout who goes around insulting dropouts.

Just a thought.


wrote the following on Thursday February 5, 2009

Not sure why such a hue and cry over this sitepoint venture ?
Check this they are doing the same for long time and no one called them bad .
Now all Designer community well wishers, please start a new blog post to demolish the reputation of this website and its promoters . Happy blogging.


wrote the following on Thursday February 5, 2009

I haven’t used 99designs before, but I think if students/fresh designers get good exposure with their initial experiment and earn money as well. There’s nothing wrong. Client know what they are going to get for cheap and if they do want better quality they can go with other guys.


wrote the following on Thursday February 5, 2009

I am going to have to agree with David who replied on Tuesday January 27, 2009

Though, I will say I do understand both sides here.

I look at it like this:

If both designer and client are happy then by all means go for it, what every floats the boat. For those designers who didn’t make the cut, well they just have to look at it as practice and scraps for their port. Another way to get better. Maybe they enjoy a contest now and then too, who knows.

The post itself was a kick by the way!

Atom Groom

wrote the following on Friday February 6, 2009

Agreed 100%, great job on this article.

I actually just had a conversation about these types of companies last week with some industry folks.

I cannot believe that our industry stands for this type of crap. It gives designers and even web industry a really bad name.

The more of these types of companies:

-$100 logo companies,
-$200 XHTML to PSD companies,
-$50 Template sites, etc.

that get released – the more and more our industry seems like a joke to a non-educated client.

I put a tremendous amount of time and energy into every single project that I accept. It’s how I make a living and how I’ve earned a good name.

It’s insulting to think that these companies are in some way, somewhere along the line, eating some of my business.

I’ve heard mixed feelings about the other side of the coin, but somehow I cannot even find the strength to even try to agree.

If there is something that us “real industry” people can do to combat this plague, I’d be very interested in interacting!

~ Atom Groom


wrote the following on Monday February 9, 2009

Dear Atom Groom,
You’re website seems to give me a seziure, your idea of quality web, graphic and multimedia design differs somewhat EXTENSIVELY from mine. Feel free to email me for a quote on a re-vamp of your logo, I will also insist your branding doesn’t have drop shadows.

The only plague is up-themselves designers with your attitude. You seem to be in cahoots that young and upcoming designers are stealing your clients and money that is rightfully yours? Perhaps some work on your portfolio might up your income.

Dear Blogger,
This article is a piece of inane, dry, white dog shit. It’s as if the writer (you) had been reading several articles from the pseudo-trendy VICE magazine and decided to, in a drunken stupor, create an article about a subject that has been whored in conversation more than documentaries created about Hitler.

Dear rest of readers,
Get off your high fucking horses. If you don’t agree with spec work or design competitions then don’t compete or do spec work.

Ask yourselves these questions:

Why are you trying to combat a site that has nothing to do with your good selves?

Will removing this site up the image of designers as a whole and what we do?

Final statement; educate your clients, educate yourselves and stay on top of your profession.
Writing, bitching and whining about a site that makes money FED by the moronic creators of the competitions does no good. There is call for this kind of crap work for pittance… Now let it die.

Feel free to email me for my references, past clients and sites I’ve created so I can give you all the big middle finger response.

Josh Barron

wrote the following on Tuesday February 10, 2009

Upon having a quick glace on 99Designs, you’d think most of the clients on there are paying a fortune from the level of demand they’re dishing out!!


wrote the following on Wednesday February 11, 2009

Dear Atom Groom, and all of you who wrote up here.
Take a look at this link

and after at this one:

Whom would you hire for you logowork based on portfolio highlights?

A guy who blame 99designs and show us mediocre graphics or the “99design man” whom folio is quite impressive?

Would you hire a hypocrite or a decent man who’s doing is job quite well?

Mr. M.T.


wrote the following on Thursday February 12, 2009

Less designers=more money and more clients. More designers=less money and less clients. :)).This is why you’re all concerned about.I know,it’s gonna be bad.


wrote the following on Thursday February 12, 2009

I think you guys are missing the point of this site. Somewhere along the way you have lost your sense of direction and fail to understand the want and need of the customer.
Designers are only good for so many GREAT designs during their career. This leaves the customer searching and hoping they get a hold of someone else who is just as creative as you once were for their next project. After all, why should they risk their project on you if they do not know what you will produce next.
I own an Apparel company and it is imperative to obtain GREAT designs simply to stay edgy within our market. I have worked with some wonderful and creative designers in the past and they have all done an exceptional job. The problem I have incurred is that they tend to go in circles after so many designs have been created and I am back on the internet trying to find the right person to create my next 10 designs.
In addition, I have also found that many designers are charging way too much ($55-$90/hour) and this is ridiculous. I am no PRO with illustrator but I know how long it takes me to create a great design and it should not take a GREAT designer nearly as long to do the same. Yet, I am often charged 5,8,10,15 hours for items I consider to be half that time. Based on this data, I was led to 99designs and I have been able to cut my cost 65% or more and I am receiving awesome designs in return.

Somewhere along the way you have determined your worth to far exceed demand and you are most likely upset at the lack of jobs available to you and your elevated pricing list and you want to blame those who are willing to work for less.

I do agree that there are some pathetic designs on this site and those people should find a new form of income and stay away, but at the same time, there are some really great designers available and it shows because they WIN. Maybe you have posted several designs and lost and this is your way of lashing out, well I say step it up and prove to your potential clients that you are better and you will show them! You will need to do better than what you have on this site because nothing here is that impressive. Looks like the same old thing to me.
If you put half the effort into entering contest on 99designs as you do into bashing them, you should have no problem earning some change!. You choose the contest to enter and see if YOU have what it takes to compete with these so-called losers and wanta-be designers. Prove us all wrong and show us you are better, win win win!


wrote the following on Thursday February 12, 2009

About 30 months ago my sister and I started a T-shirt company with no idea how to do it and based it strictly off of a concept.
We quickly learned that finding a talented Designer for our company was a lot more difficult than we had anticipated.
We were looking for someone to create 10 T-shirt designs (2 colors), Business cards, Catalog (8.5“x11” folded) and vectorize our logo for $2200. We were treated like scum from most Designers and the majority refused to return out email. Several came back with numbers like $3500-$5000 and said we would not be able to get it done for that price.

I started searching more and more and ended up doing a contest at the local college with $250 prize and offer $75 for any other designs. I ended up with my 10 designs and they were much better than I could have ever imagined. I ended up spending roughly $1175 on them.
As for the other items, I paid $35 for the converting my simple logo into a Vector (1 color) and paid $175 for the Catalog and Business cards from one of the students.

Since then I have been working with higher priced designers paying anywhere from $150-$400 per item and not one single design was as great as the third one I purchased for $150.

My point is, I recently began using 99 designs and it is very settling for me to see what I am buying and my options. After working with 15 different Designers over the years (not counting 99design people) I have to say I am impressed with the work. Sure, some of it sucks but that is why I eliminate them.

Stop complaining and start designing, maybe you could win my next contest! $150 2 color T-shirt designs!


wrote the following on Thursday February 12, 2009

As a designer, I have to say that the world is changing. Between 99designs and elance, our skills and business models are changing.

It seems to me though, that all of this may not be a bad thing. Competition is always good, and it brings out the best, and worst in people. The reality, as I see it, is that all of this competition will force people to either improve their skills or fall behind. Sure there are people in India who will be willing to do logos for the price of a pair of jeans, but companies who use that logo will be getting what they pay for.

Let’s assume that there’s a designer in India who actually is talented. Let’s say he’s as good as someone over here who works full time in a design studio. Let’s assume that because of the market in India, his best use of his talent and exposure to the market is doing sweat shop design online. Because he’s good, he ends up being successful. After a while, based on his success, he will be able to increase his rate and charge more for his services. Assuming he continues down this road, his relative rate has no limits. As his portfolio improves, he is able to find clients who are willing to pay more for better work. After a few years, he might be able to open up a design studio and start charging what the rest of us do.

Just because he started on the bottom doesn’t mean that he’s going to stay there. It really is up to him and his skill and the market to decide. The only thing that would happen to slow his progress would be a lack of businesses needing his services. So long as there exist businesses who see the value in good design, there is no need for concern.

In addition, those other designers in India who aren’t any good and don’t improve stay right where they’re at. And there will always be plumbers and community organizations that will need design for nothing. But real designers have had a hard time living off them anyway, even before the internet.

Sure there will be those corporations that try to cut corners by hiring designers on the cheap. But those kind of businesses are most likely making similar cost cutting moves that will eventually bring the business down. They skimp on safety or other services and pretty sure their reputation is down the tubes. And in a capitalistic free market, if one business buys a cheap logo, the next business will probably spend a little more to beat that logo. And so on.

So while I understand how scary this can be, I do think that it simply means that designers need to find where there skills really are and be good at them and the market will do the rest. The good ones will be rewarded, the bad ones will go away. That’s all there is to it.

The only other option, which I know still goes around, is to turn the design profession into a guild or union, in which the industry regulates itself. I think this would be a huge mistake, especially if it ever tries to go so far as the legal profession and makes it against the law to practice without a ‘license’ from the ‘board’.

As for the saturation of talent, again I think the market model works here as well. If there are too many designers and no enough work, then people will stop being designers. Why would people want to work in a field doesn’t pay? If the price drops too low, they will seek employment in another industry and, like magic, those who stay get to charge more. It’s all supply and demand.

And good work will always be in demand.


wrote the following on Friday February 20, 2009

Support your local designers and business clients. Let the bad ones know you will not support them. Spread the word. (formerly Ask Jeeves, based in California), held a logo contest recently on 99designs – received over 2,000 entries battling for $1,000 dollars. Why?

Terrible model for doing business, building community and country.


wrote the following on Saturday February 21, 2009

I came across this post via a Google search. I’m a photographer that also works on a small selection of websites, including my own. Therefore I have often have the need for graphic design and web development work. I haven’t used 99designs, but have used a similar site for a couple logos. As a self employed creative professional myself, I would prefer not to use sites like 99designs if they are bad for the design community. But you have to admit that these types of sites can be good for the customer with the ability to see and choose some decent designs at an affordable price.

So my question to the designers on here is this: how do you suggest buyers like me find designers? Are there websites like 99designs that treat the designers well, where I could post a job and select a freelancer based on their portfolio? Should I just do Craigslist and Google searches to find designers in my area? Are there organizations that maintain a list of designers that I could browse through?

The photography industry is tough too, I understand what you’re going through. So, it’s all good to come complain about sites like 99desings, but you also need to offer solutions to people like me, your customers.


wrote the following on Sunday February 22, 2009

It’s easy for you to talk. I don’t live in the ‘third world’ (though I have the impression many of the xenophobic commenters have no idea what a 3rd world country is) but I do come from a place where the economy is weaker than the average. Advertising is still pretty much at it’s dusk and as a logo creator, no matter how much sweat, tears, hair, bones or buggers I put in, I will still be getting no more than 200$, at best. Entering a contest not only provides the chance for a much more substantial prize but is also great exercise, exposing you to a wide range of tasks no ‘charity’ or university work could, in the same amount of time.

I’m appaled by some of the remarks I’ve read here. As a graphic design graduate, I can’t believe the snobbery some of my fellows display. Getting upset on 14 year old’s stealing their mighty ‘designer’ title, when that’s just a way of separating clients from creatives on a contest site and, in the end, it’s the quality, not a piece of paper, that speaks the loudest.
Some passionately hate ‘third world’ (though most third world inhabitants have much more stringent issues on their mind) designers – their so called greatest enemy – not considering the fact that those didn’t choose to be born in such economical conditions, they have to adapt and many of them will do a fair job. They have the right to ask for as much as they feel they deserve (which might be putting things into balance, actually).
Some even go to the lengths of compare graphic design with medicine, science or law, saying no lawyer will work without being prepaid. Open your eyes and dare to face the truth: it’s just an image, the world can live without it. Ever thought this stuation might have stemed from the fact that advertising has become a spoiled industry? I mean, come on, is so often overpaid some need to get back with the feet on the ground anyway.

If the designers entering those contests were all so bad, nobody would be shooting themselves in the foot by actually paying them money. I’ve seen many good and sometimes great designs and I’ve also noticed that the best tend to gather around highly paid contests, so things balance themselves naturally. Contests provide a multitude of ideas for the contest holder’s budget. Many times they seem to be very pleased. They’re no idiots, they will choose the best work to represent them, weeding out the 14 year old – third world – dreamweaver stealer – housewifes dirtying up the ‘designer’ status. As for those who don’t, they’ll have to pay with their company’s image failure – and then come running to you!

I have a feeling this is just the expression of being frustrated by not being able to put your foot in the client’s door and make him to pay for your work..because ‘it’s best for him’. If you’re talented folk, you’ll be ok. The world is a big place; there’s plenty of work for everyone!


wrote the following on Monday February 23, 2009

This reminds me of fashion shows.

Acclaimed designers creating clothes no one would ever wear. USELESS. That’s what the first 10 people remind me of. You add an ideology to your work and think you’re GOD know who coming to save the corporate world from horrible designs.

WELL nobody wants your “long lasting relationship”. Sure, there are some people who want that but most of the population shops at the mall, not at fashion week in Paris. I don’t need a tailor made suit to look good. Sure it’ll look better, I agree, but better and good are so close that it doesn’t really matter. Unless you’re a designer, you won’t notice… and luckily there aren’t a lot of people who are willing to fork over $50k for a design degree.

Face it. You’re services are greatly inflated. The world is headed to globalization and I don’t need to talk to my designer. Especially for something like a logo.

Look at some company logos. They are just text. “Panasonic” “SHARP” “Kodak” Anyone of those people on 99designs could have made those logos and they have nothing in common with the company name. I don’t have to know anything about Kodak to make the Kodak logo.

To me, the logo defines the company image INSTEAD of the company defining the logo.

What do you tell your clients? I added this swoosh cause you guys are always quick and on time? In the end you clock in some extra hours for sitting and listening to their bullshit about what they do, and then you go and make something that looks good anyway.

Lawrence Meckan

wrote the following on Thursday February 26, 2009

At the end of the day we have competing priorities.

The client, who believes (unwittingly) that the best price point for their brand is the cheapest crowdsourced solution.

The designer, who has to be concerned with the intellectual property they are creating, the usage rights entailed within the project, the timeframe (remember.. we do rushes), and the overall R&D on the theme/scope/identity of the brand.

99Designs shifts the priorities in favour of the client, who then determines what (subjectively) will be a good brand for them and what won’t. This is a misnomer.

The client seeks firesale prices for their brand when in reality the best price point is far above the lowest market rate.

There is also no education on behalf of the designer as to why and how the designs created are meant to communicate and build that brand as part of a larger strategy.

This seems why 99’s customer base seems focussed on small enterprise (e.g pizza) and apparel (mass production of cheap shirts..nothing new, the markets already saturated). Then there’s the dilemma with copyrights, usage rights and licencing.

I’ve already found reliable evidence that a crowdsourced logo has been used by competitors of the competition winner to the point where it’s hit the courts. This shows there is insufficient protection for a business using crowdsourcing because there is not a contract between an individual designer and a client stipulating protections to the brand.

This is a major negative to any competition holder on 99 / Crowdspring, and a poor reflection on the designers who undertake such contests since they fail to understand the business relationship between a designer and a client in regards to commissioned artwork.

Since 99’s own competition pool shows that the logo itself for each competition develops over time by designers sharing similar designs inside the competition in an iterative fashion, copyright law regarding derivative works is also invoked. Since the designers who did not win may in some ways hold copyright over the final design, there seems no brand protection in place for the client.

The million dollar question is: has there been any evidence of a crowdsourced logo, which has subsequently applied for trademarks, been rejected for trademarking ?


wrote the following on Thursday March 5, 2009

I agree with you about everything.
This whole concept is just slave labor.
Decent graphics and design takes thought and understanding. Those who don’t place value on their own work, will be paid accordingly.
I just stumbled upon the site 99designs and I was shocked.


wrote the following on Friday March 6, 2009

@Atom Groom and other ‘industry folks’
-I think next time you should think twice before you provide links to your portfolios -most of them are back from the nineties!

But don’t get me wrong here, I would sue those 99designs founders (co-founders) and 80% of those contest holders if I could! Why? They treat designers like slaves -all for their profit.

I was part of 99designs, won every sixth contest… but they treated me like a dirt, …

At the moment they are having this announcement on their blog:
“over $4 million dollars awarded to designers” ( )
It’s a fat lie! I commented it with some facts against it but I was banned -it’s the commont treatment on 99designs; if you say, write or do things that are true but would, even slightly, hurt their ego, you’re banned.

Here’s a few portfolios from the site specially for Atom Groom and alikes: – – – – –

By the way, there’s at least 60 excellent designers, most of them are from so-called ‘third-world’.


wrote the following on Wednesday March 11, 2009

“You can make a small fortune in art,
if you have a large fortune to start.”


wrote the following on Tuesday March 17, 2009

TOTALLY 100% agreed!! Great post.


wrote the following on Tuesday March 17, 2009

Dear Friends,

35 years of my life, I have come to understand and learn one lesson –

nothing is this life is black and white, its gray most of the time :)

99 designs is NO EXCEPTION.

I understand though that this may not be a good place for a professional graphic designer.

Because what we do not understand about this game is that the most clients understand NOTHING about design. YES, I SAID NOTHING.

they have no clue about color, propotion, the power of photographs, contrast, line height, grids,emphasis…i can go on…all that we designers – atleast the professional ones learn so pain stakingly in the design school.

we know, every pixel, every height, every shade MATTERS. THEY DONT.

and needless to say — “Half knowledge is more dreadful than ignorance ?”

And that is what happens – half baked designers win the game because they have the advantage of doing stuff for half baked clients…ITS A PERFECT MATCH

Having said that I have to admit I work on the site, why ? 2 reasons – great way to get some cash if you r lucky (I haven’t been till now :D) and number two, it gets my creative juices flowing, I want to make a pet sitter site because I am tired of working on corporate designs all the time !! I want to be BAD for a change ;) and make those shiny green buttons with luminious text ;)

Does it make sense ? :D

Its a senseless gamble though…


wrote the following on Tuesday March 24, 2009

I’m a real young graphic artist trying to make some more money, I’ve been using 99designs for a short while and I can’t say that I’ve won anything or anything, most of the designers are better than me on there. But I am getting lots of practice that’s for sure.

But hey where could an 18 year old can make a some money in graphic design, any suggestions?


wrote the following on Friday March 27, 2009

I’m a designer-developer who had not exercised my design in a while, so 99Designs was great for rebuilding some weakened skills.

I was making between $15-$25/hr.

What I didn’t understand was the strange application of the rules. I was kicked off the site permanently for calling someone a “class act”. That not something I’ve ever said to a client but at 99Designs you do get “Contest Holders” that will respond to your work by simply eliminating it without comment or saying they could have designed your palette and first round type treatment in Microsoft Word (no they don’t understand textures, kerning, font selection…)

Yep, that’s what being temporarily unemployed in the US and competing in a world market is like.


wrote the following on Saturday March 28, 2009

Dude, you come off like the biggest f***in whiner. 99 Designs is great. Just because you probably paid more money for you education and have a distorted perception of what you’re worth and an arrogant sense of entitlement to be paid more, that you you have to knock on a site that connects designers with individuals or small businesses that need affordable design work. Well, the website is doing great, the market doesn’t lie, tough pill to swallow I know but seriously stop whining..


wrote the following on Tuesday April 7, 2009

i presonally don`t like sites like 99designs but you have to adapt to any environment since the web is changing. I respect some of the contest on 99designs as there are only like 4-5 entries and the contest holder gives alot of feedback but even then you are going on luck.

but 90% of the contest are stupid since with sites like these designers just put random designs which don`t make sense.

The amount of money is not alot but I respect it anyway because it helps people in third world country make a living. $200 in Canada, US, England may not be enough but for someone it is alot.

But most of the time the prize is too low for the amount of time I have to put in. Because creating a logo is hard since you have to research the company and design it so it finds into the company`s image. then a person rights the company name in a overused font and wins. seriously.

as I said for some of it is little money but for others it is alot. my position on this is on that it is spec-work in the sense that people from different countries are competing.

A better way would be to create multiple sites and only allow the residents of a single country to enter. such as for canada and for india.

I mean $200 for a brand name and a logo for a car company.

seriously if you have the money to build a design and build a car…


wrote the following on Thursday April 9, 2009

One of my designs was copied and won the contest THEN to rub salt into the wounds they banned me for several days for what they call harrassing. So sending two messages to the Contest Holder with no insults or jibes or anything derogatory is deemed as Harrassing. Yet copying a design concept is deemed perfectly reasonable. It’s something which you should be wary of, it seems the Contest Holders have a lot more rights than the designer and even after telling 99designs of my troubles they have yet to message me back with any sort of input.

It’s a good site in general if you want to take a risk on spending hours on designing and building a portfolio, I absolutely enjoy doing designing and I have a passion for it like I have all my life so when there are people out there who aren’t original with their design approach then I have every right to tell people what I feel isn’t fair.

Just be wary of slimy filthy worms who are looking for a cheap bit of money.

I. G.

wrote the following on Sunday April 12, 2009

Why should real designers worry about this crap? 99designs is the perfect place for third world scum in their parent’s basement on pirated Photoshop and fonts to meet with cheap ass, lowballer retard ‘clients’. Pro designers should be happy that this type of ‘clients’ won’t bother them with these crap ‘projects’.


wrote the following on Wednesday April 15, 2009

The people posting projects on these spec sites are the same guys that win the project, they just sit and watch while the ideas float in.

I can prove it

A project was posted on crowdspring under the name curiousjorge, jorge was the name of a guy who came to my personal design website and took 6 rough designs from me for a kill fee.
The winning design to the project was a guy named vdeny, who had the same elements as I did on my submittals. In other words he won his own competition.

Ben's Kite

wrote the following on Thursday April 16, 2009

As a seasoned designer with 15 years of success and satisfied clients I entered two contests on 99Designs. In both contests I have received either 4 or 5 star ratings on the designs/revisions I submitted. In retrospect it appears that there is way too much opportunity for fraud whereby a designer/design studio gets a logo design contract for $X,XXX and then turns around and puts it out on 99Designs for low $XXX and gets free spec work/ideas then turns around and recreates it for themselves.

I believe that the problem “professional” designers face is that everyone with a computer and $8.00 bucks can register a domain name and start an online business. They submit their brief to 99Designs and solicit a “logo” and “99Percent” of the submissions are complete shit!

Sadly, I don’t think there’s anything we can do but adapt because in ebusiness, like in the brick and mortar business, the failure rate is going to be very high but the startup costs won’t make you mortgage the farm when you can get a logo for $100 bucks!


wrote the following on Friday April 17, 2009

I actually used 99design for my logo design and came up with a great logo that fit.

Do I think it undermines a lot of designers in the US? Yes. But I’m a young entrepreneur starting up out of pocket.

Paying $400 for 3-6 designs from one designer and only 1-2 revisions seemed absurd to me when I didn’t see any of designs in their portfolios that stood out. I posted on craigslist, I contacted AT LEAST 10 different graphic design companies in the area…I had a hard time committing to paying $400 for a logo with no guarantee I’d even like it. At least this way I got over 100 submissions and one designer that altered a design multiple times for me. I’m indecisive and making a logo is a big decision.

Granted most of the designers are in fact from third world countries, but as a person who also works for a non profit focusing on international sustainability, I actually think this is a great opportunity. $200-$400 is often half a years salary so submitting design after design is worth it if you can win even one contest. My top designer is from Indonesia.

If designers in the US would open up their design choices to say 10 designs EACH from 2-3 designers and unlimited revisions, I might be more open to finding something here. But the choices just weren’t enough for the designs that they offered. Want to keep the market high for designers? Open up your options. It’s a crappy economy especially for a start up business. We can’t risk throwing dollars away…


wrote the following on Tuesday April 21, 2009

They have a lot of novice designers on, some using canned logo design programs and others bought PixelPaintPro or something like that. I have actually posted a few quick designs the site when I was bored—I know the shame. One design was extremely slick and original for branding. The contest holder contacts me and I get suspended. LOL

The true funny thing is…Why would anyone want one of these people as a client?

Another thing the site does not tell you: Most of the buyers don’t have the first clue. They want logos as PNG JPEG and PSD. And, guess what they can make revisions AND they can request refunds. This probably happens when they buy a sucky logo and they don’t have the first clue how to brand it correctly. LMAO

Anyway, these contests are here to stay. Trust me when I say you don’t want these guys to be your client unless your rent is free! LOL

Andrew Keir

wrote the following on Wednesday April 22, 2009

i love that once you do the math, the “prize” averages out to be less then $4.00. ha.

Ben Cornwell

wrote the following on Thursday April 30, 2009

Sounds like a serious case of sour grapes to me. I think 99 Designs is a great idea & wish them the best of luck with it!

I’m guessing you’re just playing the miserable, jaded douchebag because you didn’t come up the idea first.


wrote the following on Friday May 1, 2009

I see a lot of comments here to the effect of “$200 is not a fair price for design, and therefore 99designs is evil and no one should participate.”

To those who say this, my question is this— what makes you think you’re entitled to a certain amount of money for your work? Where does this sense of entitlement come from?

In a free market, the market determines what a service is worth, period. And guess what…if free market only wants to pay you $200 for your work, and you find that amount too small, that’s the market’s way of saying there is an oversupply of designers. At that point, a rational participant in the market finds a more profitable use of his time rather than whining.

Ijoma Chucwuemeca

wrote the following on Saturday May 2, 2009

Really you do not understand, why would a small business pay $1000 to have a logo done?
No I don’t what you to understand the company
No company strategy
I want to give you an idea and you design something.

99designs serves a necessary function and I am glad it is there

Ijoma Chucwuemeca

wrote the following on Saturday May 2, 2009

Really you do not understand, why would a small business pay $1000 to have a logo done?
No I don’t what you to understand the company
No company strategy
I want to give you an idea and you design something.

99designs serves a necessary function and I am glad it is there


wrote the following on Wednesday May 6, 2009

99 Designs is a total waste of time for each of the following reasons:

1) No rhyme or reason to the selection process. A client can totally dis an entry (or worse yet, not even leave feedback), only to inexplicably fall in love with a later design from another person that clearly took inspiration from your entry or did it in the exact style that got your design rejected in the first place.

2) 90% of the time, it’s the latecomers or design thieves who win. Design thieves win because CH’s are too gluttonous to just select ONE frontrunning entry and have that designer finesse it. They would prefer to have an entry that contains elements of all the different entries that were submitted.

Latecomers win because after being indulged with dozens of knockout entries for days, the CH suddenly gets burnt out on them all and falls in love with the novelty of a brand new entry submitted just a day to a few hours before the contest’s end.

And of course this entry will look absolutely NOTHING like what the CH has been demanding in feedback from all the other designers. If he has been ranting that the entries should have a palette of blues and greens, the winning entry will have reds and yellows. If he complains that the entries are too cartoony, the winning entry will be exactly that. If he insists that a cartoon character design look “Pixar-ish”, the winning entry’s design will look South Park-ish.

3) Some of these clients are the rudest, stupidest and most obnoxious ppl you will ever meet. I’m not going to bore you with the horror stories; you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

In short, don’t waste your time with 99 Designs. You’ll be better off.

Dawn Pedersen

wrote the following on Saturday May 9, 2009

When I came across 99designs today on a “40 resources for freelancers” blog post elsewhere, I saw immediately that they were asking for spec work, taboo #1. I found your insightful, scathing post here as the second return on Google for “99designs”. Thanks for confirming my gut feeling on this scam.

Mr Plow

wrote the following on Tuesday May 19, 2009

Just read your rant… How true…so true…We the web design/development pro’s have the same trouble with offerings of web sites designed and built for $99, in most cases the site is full of copyright and IP infringments. Which when the customer finally realises it’s when he gets a nice fat bill from Getty or other Image sites, they then tend to do a bit of home work and seek out professionals.

Chris R

wrote the following on Thursday May 21, 2009

@C: You write:
Paying $400 for 3-6 designs from one designer and only 1-2 revisions seemed absurd to me when I didn’t see any of designs in their portfolios that stood out. I posted on craigslist, I contacted AT LEAST 10 different graphic design companies in the area…I had a hard time committing to paying $400 for a logo with no guarantee I’d even like it. At least this way I got over 100 submissions and one designer that altered a design multiple times for me. I’m indecisive and making a logo is a big decision.

So you need ONE HUNDRED choices and multiple revisions to find one you like? I’d say your problem is you have no real idea of what your company’s value proposition is or how to position yourself in your market. If you knew these things, you would not need someone to come up with 100 options, because only 1 or 2 would best answer your strategic objectives.

I guess what I am suggesting is, I doubt your business will succeed. Perhaps you could then go to 10 high-end restaurants, order 5 meals from each and then only pay for the one of 50 meals you really liked.


wrote the following on Sunday May 24, 2009

OMG get with the program people!

You think you’re the first to be outsourced? You think you’re the first to make the quality argument? Do you think that will stop ANY small businesses taking the option that costs a quarter of what it did last year? No. Sadly nobody gives a crap that you’ve spent 20 years getting “educated” and, as I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now, most people don’t share your refined sense of aesthetics, they just want a bloody logo for a couple of hundred bucks.

If you want to make a living in the long hallowed ‘information economy’ you’d better make sure you live somewhere where you can buy more than a latte for your 3 bucks, coz someone somewhere wants that 3 bucks pretty bad.

Unless you are the hottest talent in your town you’d better retrain in a useful manual skill that can’t be outsourced or crowdsourced e.g. Fixing cars, Plumbing, Electrical work coz this isn’t going to get any better any time soon.

Personally, even though it affects me directly I think it’s no bad thing. The massive disparity between wages around the world needs to be reduced at some point. It seems though that most everyone here would prefer the status quo to remain and us to stick to only exploiting the third world for cheap clothes while we get paid top dollar to create the logos.


wrote the following on Thursday May 28, 2009

There are a couple of great posts above and it comes back to what the market will bear. The web has brought alot more smaller ventures being created literally every minute because the barrier to entry is so low cost. With that, people expect lower cost hosting, dev, logo production etc. 99Designs has sprung up to meet that evolution. It ain’t going away!

Once that said small venture makes it and needs to involve the marketing company they can now afford to hire and really look at their branding – they’ll come and bang on your door. Until then, someone with a $3k budget for a startup isn’t going to give $1k of it to you for a logo.

In todays marketplace, particularly with anything web related, you throw up barriers and you will die. You either need to adjust your thinking and evolve to meet this rapidly growing market or bed down in your niche and focus on the clients that wouldn’t use 99Designs anyway.

I have held more than one contest on 99Designs and gotten great work done. I keep in touch with the designers I like and encourage them into my other contests. I’ll certainly continue to use 99Designs while my project budgets warrant it as will countless others.

Sorry – but thats just the way it is with small business now. Particulary in this climate =(

iftikhar awan

wrote the following on Saturday May 30, 2009

well here i go i cannot understand how the logos i created on 99designs get improved and posted again on the same contest and win a prize seems like this site has team off graphic designer and they automatically copy your work and r enhance and change and win it.and i often see the time of contest changes.and this is confusing how cn a client dont get so much talent work connot understand art and want more time when thier more then 200 logos of same product thier.

i think 99design is a faker and robbing us

iftikhar awan

wrote the following on Saturday May 30, 2009

i think 99design is a faker and robbing us. it think i got an idea i don’t have a job but soon i i will have a job then i will also visit this stupid 99design site and take the logos and template of poor graphic designers and do my job effectively
just kidding.hehheh

iftikhar awan


wrote the following on Saturday May 30, 2009

I completely disagree. I understand that for the corporate client, this site isn’t something that would be in their best interest. As an executive in a mid size business, we would go to a designer that we had a relationship with and contract with them over time. Sites need to be changed and updated too frequently for freelance. But for a personal website this site is AMAZING! $150 for a logo that helps my site look more professional? Why wouldn’t I? In addition, you can always go back to that person for more work in the future – which I plan to do. And I might even use him for corporate work.

Open Season

wrote the following on Thursday June 4, 2009

99Douches is a thieves’ paradise. All these openly exhibited unprotected trademarks and logos up for grabs on the contest forums, it’s SOOooo easy to pick and choose one and sell it. Just grab something from the spread, modify it, and make it yours! 10% of the work usually required.

The only thing corporate design houses have over this kind of foolish display is they don’t show the entire planet their concepts. The scrappers don’t see anything except the copyrighted final design, which is much easier to protect.


wrote the following on Thursday June 4, 2009

It is really interesting how this post is still creating a torrent of comments. :/
I really would like to link your post in a post on my blog, but I just think it would be another backlinks for their website.
They do not deserve it.

The Graphic Post

wrote the following on Thursday June 4, 2009

Here’s an idea. Set up a vending machine in all 7-Elevens. Type in your business name, and the machine displays your choice of logo based on the 100 top logostyles. Pick one of three, throw $5 into the slot and BINGO! Out pops a CD with your cherished logo.
I bet you think I’m kidding.


wrote the following on Friday June 5, 2009

Of course business owners will often go with the lowest price, especially these days. Although I think they’re missing the point

TO ALL DESIGNERS: Unless you want your profession to end up with the vast majority being paid on par with burger flippers, go ahead and design a logo/identity for a business for 300 bucks. Just remember doing “professional design” at these prices is a disgrace to all of us who worked hard for our degree and our livelihood.


wrote the following on Tuesday June 9, 2009

Just to add to some ridiculous claims of the supporters of 99designs.

1) Clients of 99designs are small startups with 3k budgets. ••Well sure some are, but many are not. Some are large corporations looking for logos for their new multi-million dollar housing development.

2) The wage difference around the world is so great that we should even it out and do things for super cheap.
••What a bunch of BS!! Like we really have control over that. We all have to pay for gas, the high price of food, mortages/rent, etc. in this country. The corporate top end sets these prices so blame them and not us designers who are trying to make a living.

Two Socks

wrote the following on Monday June 15, 2009

Couldn’t agree with you more, but they only see dollars. Sitepoint couldn’t give a damn if their site looks crap lets face it the dollars just keep ticking over for that company and that is ALL they will ever care about. They see a need and filled that void. Whats completely farcical is that actually write books aimed at programmers and designers yet completely denegrade the community with a spec work related site like 99 designs!


wrote the following on Wednesday June 17, 2009

Wow… this is a lot of posts on something that I guess isn’t going away.

I’m not a designer. I’m an entrepreneur. I haven’t bid on 99designs but am considering it as a limited risk to see what happens.

You are all right. The grandest decision would be to sit with a graphic designer, discuss my value proposition and where I want to go… however, right now I want to do something a little different with my business cards, and a $39 roll of the dice seems worthwhile to get some ideas that I may end up purchasing.

What strikes me the most is everyone’s focus on the average of $4 or less for your work.

The original post says
“$1,226,703 has been awarded across 346,171 entries.”

What it doesn’t say is how many of the 346,171 entries actually purchased.

Right now there are 18 pages of contests but ONLY 4 pages of guarantees. That COULD mean a lot higher average payout.

You may be right, you may be wrong, but you don’t know.

Now you could cry foul that what I am suggesting is that people are working for nothing if the client doesn’t buy, but don’t you face that now? In the real world you have to qualify your prospect. The same goes for on 99designs, if it is worth the risk.

Instead of complaining a ridiculous amount, you have a few options…
1) Post yourself and see what you can make.
2) Flood the site with junk so it loses value
3) Build a bridge and get over it.

As a group, many of you are assuming a lot of talentless hacks. That may be true, but there are also likely students trying this out to see if it is a career direction that they want to pursue, perhaps some retired who just want to fill their time, or maybe other professionals like yourself who see it as another avenue.

If you start losing business in your markets to “talentless hacks”, then when you go by their place of business, why not offer some of your own ideas as to their potential and what you could do for them?

None of you want the bargain hunting clients anyway so why worry about it.


wrote the following on Sunday June 21, 2009

I just had my first experience with 99designs. I thought it would be good for my portfolio (I’m a graphic design student). My suspicions were raised when I saw the CH was from a firm offering web design as a service. They were requesting a website design for a client. On further investigation they had also run a contest for a logo for the client.

Personnally I’d like to contact the client and see if they know that the web design company they have hired is outsourcing their design work on the cheap.

Oh yeah, and lots of borrowing of ideas from each others designs.

I won’t be going back, though I will probably steal CH’s design briefs for my own practise!


wrote the following on Monday June 22, 2009

I especially like this example of a professional web design company hosting a contest to design their own web page. Granted, they did the coding themselves (well, I assume so anyway). They also hold contests for their client work.



Talking about cannibalising their own industry (or is it just capitalising???)


wrote the following on Friday June 26, 2009

Chill out guys, not all of the clients want to spend thousands of dollars on a logo or a website.

and you guys haven’t lost any clients at all becuase if the clients had thounsands of dollars budgeted for their design work they would definately want to work with a pro with a proven track record.

so, i don’t understand what’s all this anger about? just because some beginners or not-pro designers are happy that they are making money or even a living with what they know. they definately are happy. That’s not a bad thing or is it ?

think for yourself, if you had the money to buy ferrari, you would at least buy something good if not ferrari, you definately wouldn’t buy Chinese QQ. ( yeah thats the name of a car)

Shinin X

wrote the following on Wednesday July 8, 2009

you just browsed and haven’t used the site yet but your whining like a pussy! Some of us designers on 99 have also professionalism on our works. we follow guidelines and also have our design process from sketching to the actual rendering of the logos and illustrations . You are talking in general about logos and other categories how about us illustrators? I’m a newbie on the freelance industry and 99designs has helped us a lot. you are not giving an opportunity for others to excell and maybe put up a name someday in this industry maybe you are just afraid or too selfish that you want all the clients by yourself. if you are very good, you can succeed!
if you want you can challenge us designers from 99! and if you are talking about us hungry for money then there will be no money involved! this if you can render your precious time and your super god-gifted skill. I’m up for illustrations! try me! one-on-one!


wrote the following on Monday July 20, 2009

Chill out – there is plenty of work to go around!

We point our more budget conscious clients to this service and we’ve seen some great results.

It definitely has a place in the market. People who use it understand that they aren’t necessarily getting serviced by professionals, but in the end it all comes down to the end result… and if it works, it works :)

Designers don’t have to participate, but for those who want to it can be extra pocket money, or at worst, experience. Don’t forget also, to some who participate $300 might represent a pretty sum.


wrote the following on Friday July 24, 2009

Don’t forget, those multi-million dollar corporations who choose a $350 logo should expect their company to go down the pan…

Unfortunately the internet is killing everything.


wrote the following on Sunday July 26, 2009

I came across this page as a potential user of 99designs. If you browse the projects, these designs are obviously not very professional and often copied themes – yet it seems that’s what a lot of their buyers are looking for, cheap with no frills. The Graphic Post said it well with the 7-Eleven vending machine, this is one level above 99designs. That being said, what are all of you professionals with obviously a much higher level quality to offer bellyaching about? The quality I’ve seen on 99designs would not do for our company.

Brian Y

wrote the following on Friday July 31, 2009

Agreed 100000%. I just found out about 99designs and can’t help but to wonder why aren’t there more posts like this about them??


wrote the following on Sunday August 2, 2009

I fucking HATE 99 Designs! Just wasted a week with this bullshit so that some cheapshit client with no conception or ability to convey what he wants can not pay me a dime but still see my ideas! Demeans the entire design profession. We should all target 99 designs and just flood the contests with a million duplicate entries and spam it to hell. Also I believe copyright laws in the USA only applies to design work done by US citizens. That means that Mr. Punjab and some dude from Croatia can just steal your design without consequence.


wrote the following on Monday August 3, 2009

This is called the free market. Us photographers had the same gripe with A photo job that use to pay $1,000 is now reduced to a $10 image.

When your market gets commoditized, it’s time to look for a niche or other ways to differentiate yourself.

Don’t complain about 99designs, just don’t use them. We all have free will.


wrote the following on Monday August 3, 2009

I’ve been browsing through the ‘contests’ and found a disturbing number of withdrawn briefs. These are instances where the client has basically done a runner – fled. All that’s left is the evidence of hundreds of hours of work done for no reason. And who’s to say the client doesn’t have a nice little bag of designs for next to no cost.


wrote the following on Thursday August 6, 2009

I was browsing this site a month or so back, just checking it out when i come across a logo contest. So i read the brief and the logo was for a retail staffing company called JigSaw Soloutions. One of the designs.


wrote the following on Friday August 7, 2009

There’s nothing like a good helping of ill-informed, emotion-charged generalisations to make an argument convincing! Sure, there are problems with 99designs (as confirmed by a few people’s sad stories) but it does provide some great opportunities. It’s not ideal for making a living (although some people do quite well out of it, compared with what they might get in a design house, or a factory), but maybe – just maybe that’s not what it’s there for.

I’m not a graphic designer – I have a techie day job – but I can produce some quality designs (and I know that because of feedback I’ve received from successful designers and artists). Participating in a few 99designs contests over a number of weeks has pushed my skills and creativity more than any of my little spare-time projects in the past year.

If I make some extra pocket money, great. If not, I can still add my work to my portfolio, and spend time doing what I love. Just because people aren’t American-born graduates of design school doesn’t mean they can’t have a go – and that’s exactly what 99designs provides me that your average $5000-per-logo studio doesn’t: a go. A chance to develop my skills, work to a brief and be creative in a low-risk environment where I have an incentive to push my designs, without spending another 3-4 years studying or quitting my day job. (I have a mortgage and a wife who is studying so right now that is just not an option). What’s more, there is no risk of biting off more than I can chew (which is easy to do without industry experience) so I don’t have to stress about deadlines!

There are a lot of self-aggrandising comments in this thread, to the effect of ‘those plebs/third-worlders/grad-school dropouts/clients are hopeless. They do not understand design or the process or the blah blah blah.’ Having studied film, drama and creative writing and spent time in architecture circles I am familiar with this elitist rhetoric, and at times it infuriates me. Sure, most clients don’t understand design, or the process behind it, but, seriously, understanding the process-god and having a degree doesn’t mean you understand everything about good design or clients or their needs. Some of the most skilled artists are completely self-taught, and completely unaware of the ‘proper’ design process. And sometimes (as you’ll see if you actually bother to look at some of the winners on 99designs) it doesn’t take six weeks of studio time, ten client meetings, an in-depth analysis of business objectives and a post-grad degree to come up with a great design that’s perfect for the client’s needs. Sometimes it just takes a good brief, a great idea and an hour or two of tinkering.

I appreciate that some of you are worried about losing business. Well, I was personally made redundant, partially due to off-shoring of jobs. It sucks to lose your job, but hopefully one day those of us in first-world countries will realise that we have been living comfortably off the cheap labour of our less-affluent global neighbours for centuries, since long before globalisation, and maybe it’s about time we shared the wealth and learnt a little humility (well said @David). I’m not advocating cheap labour, but rather opportunity for all.

Wayan Parmana

wrote the following on Thursday August 13, 2009

ehm..actually all of these are right..nice post…i like it and inspired me so much


wrote the following on Friday August 14, 2009

“$6,282,099 awarded” is a significant pile of cash. Assuming they’ve actually distributed this amount of money to designers of any skill level, don’t you think a few people perhaps in parts of the world with limited economies have gained huge benefits from 99Designs?

Just a thought really. Be honest. It might not suit us who enjoy the comforts of our own economies but if a person is willing to provide a service through this vehicle, and a client is willing to source a skillset this way, who are we to judge?

The attack on 99Designs in this discussion sounds a bit like fear wrapped in arrogance to me.

Remember when the 2012 UK Olympic committee unveiled their new logo costing £400,000 (about $600,000!!!!!)? Absolute mediocre design. A designer getting paid $500 on 99Designs could have launched their entire career with that job. I’d bet my left nut that if 100 designers from around the world had submitted entries, 10% of them would have produced a better result.


wrote the following on Monday August 17, 2009

a-fuckin-men brother.

Jura from Bosnia

wrote the following on Wednesday August 19, 2009

99designs make sense if you are from a country where is better do to high quality illustration for 100$ than to do no illustration ‘cause there is no market for it. Not to mention that those 100$ cover 10 days of life costs. I know it sucks for you guys, but hey! Your rich western economies are rich because you exploit small countries like mine. This is a rare case where we can benefit from that situation.


wrote the following on Wednesday August 26, 2009

I remember participating in the old sitepoint design contest days. How stupid was I? It led to handful of freelance job leads, which I definitely enjoyed, but other than that I wasted so much of my time doing these design contest sites. They’re good for new people trying to develop their portfolios, but you can even do that while getting paid for it. Don’t undersell yourself!


wrote the following on Saturday August 29, 2009

99designs is definitely something I’m going to be ashamed for participating and losing so much time on contest holders who simply want a image of something under logo contests and stuff… but, hey… Shit sells itself. There are no quality work on 99designs. I say that as a designer. That place is waste of time and eventually money… Most of stuff designed there could be done by monkey with brain cancer…


wrote the following on Wednesday September 2, 2009

if u get 300$ a month for working in a design firm in some 3rd world country. you will know thats 300$ for making a simple logo is sweet.

if the company doesn’t even care about their logo.. why should we bother to waste our time trying to mix every element of that company into a logo.

every thing is fair in love and war. and man biggest war is providing food for his belly.



wrote the following on Sunday September 6, 2009

Crowdsourcing is here to stay…a part of the new world order. Too few realistic comments here…99D is global which means even $100 prize will feed a family for a few weeks in some parts of the world – you wouldn’t try for that if your kid was hungry?. The primary complainers seem to be those who’ve probably never traveled to a developing country, those who are now suffering because their prior unreasonably high wages have been dramatically reduced, and those who have not yet grasped that the previous model of constant over-indulgence leads to chaos.

To call 99D designers amateurs indicates a closed mind to begin with. 99D has some very impressive designers. I think $250 is fair for a logo. The petulant pros who say you can make one in an hour…so, then how much did you earn? A lot less than $250.

Wake up arrogant overpaid designers…it’s time to go collect your unemployment…or get ready to

Stop Dreaming Start Action

wrote the following on Wednesday September 9, 2009

i feel very lucky can find this page..
finally i find something that i want to know..
thank you for this usefull informations..

100-1Designs Experience

wrote the following on Monday September 14, 2009

I was trying 99 Designs for fun sometime. Very fast I’ve found that its not a place for real designers. In a single contest there are 5/6 rip off designs/concept of other famous designers and sites. When I informed 99Designs about those fraudulent act, they replied they will take necessary action. I’ve also informed them about some Contest Holders, who ask for entries but do not give feedback properly & keep the designer engage unnecessarily, even sometime they withdraw their contests in the end & its make all the designer so demoralized. After all of this complains and comments 99 Designs kick me out of the contests.

I will request all the designers to try 99Designs to have their own creative fun experience.

Dave T.

wrote the following on Wednesday September 16, 2009

There is ton of talk on here about what’s right, what’s best, what sucks. But what matters is whether this approach works. If it does, then it’s serious competition to professional designers who want to make a lot of money. If it doesn’t work, those clients will be looking for better performing stuff. This is pure capitalism. If you could make a quality car for $1000, you would sell a bunch. But if it didn’t really last or run well, you would sell very few more.

Marty Jones

wrote the following on Thursday September 17, 2009

I’m a senior in high school. I work a minimum wage job and earn MAYBE 350 every two weeks for 50 hours of dealing with dumbass customers and idiot managers.

If I can spend a few hours a week getting practice for what I plan on doing in college, and maybe earning an extra buck (and mind you, one logo pays as much as two weeks at my shitty job), I’m gonna take that opportunity.



wrote the following on Monday September 21, 2009

99designs has built the best business model I have seen since ebay. Sure its bad for designers. Does that mean that the site should be taken down? Doing the right thing and making money rarely dine at the same table.


wrote the following on Wednesday September 23, 2009

I like 99design, it fits my budget, that’s all. The rest of you who cried over here that you loosing business over it… suck it up. If you good, you always have job. Adapt to fast changing environment. The times of 5-7 thousand dollars per logo has past, I don’t care about name as long as logo is good and it fits my needs. I spent too much money in my carrier on professionals which had hundreds of diplomas but didn’t have only one major thing, A GIFT AKA TALENT. I better give it a shoot to a guy or a girl on 99design for 500 bucks than spent countless time and money and end up with the same product for 5 thousand. If you are Pablo Picasso or Rembrandt or Dali I understand what am I paying for, if you are not, become one.

(I’m sorry for my poor English, just moved from Russia and still learning)


wrote the following on Sunday September 27, 2009

I could not disagree anymore. If you wanna work as a designer you gotta learn to adapt to changing times. Complaining about it isn’t going to do anything. Some clients are gonna go the elance/99designs way and some are gonna go the old-fashioned way and hire a designer. Boo-hoo, suck it up.

“You have to actually do the project, submit it, and then pray.”
Oh wow, such a horrible thing! Actually having a client choose which design they like best. I mean, having a client hire a designer, pay a down payment, and then find out they don’t like the style of design the designer tends to go with is such a good method. What injustice is being spread here by clients seeing the work.

Reality Check: Do You Spec?

wrote the following on Monday September 28, 2009

Hi guys, remember the days back when you were out looking for a job?

You polished your resume, made it looked good, put in all that nitty-gritty details, and all that effort and sent it off to the job on the listings.

No call.

2nd time around, you up your resume, customized it to the next job’s requirement. Sent in, and a week later got a call for an interview. Yes! Suit up, drove all the way and answered the interview questions. Hell, even throw in some killer ideas of how they should do their marketing plans.

Then, no call.

3rd time, you repolished your resume … and the cycle repeat itself.

So don’t go preaching you don’t effing do spec job because that is participating in a spec job to me. You could have said you were a professional, college grad and all that shite that comes with it and you didn’t need all this waste of time. Just apply one and they effing hell should hire and pay you for what’s worth to the job. Designing that resume and taking the effort to attend interviews, money and time spent on travelling. You’re spec-ing yes? You know can’t get the job unless you try.

Yeah keep that attitude up that you’re not going to work for any company that specs on candidates. You’re too professional for that. If you want me, just hire me. Spare me the ‘I need to interview and see your past work’ first. Go ahead and try.

Ok some of you may be lucky, doing generic resumes (yes you lazy buggers) and also did managed to get the job, doing complete cut and paste work. Just like how some designers on the site. Sometimes you do get lucky by being lazy. Employers do choose bad employees just like how clients choose bad designs. It happens. Welcome to Earth.

And for all those companies out there, c’mon you spec job everyday when you put your job postings up and hope hundreds of resume to fly in. You made the candidates write, you made some of them drive all the way, spill their ideas. You made them talk.

And you only chose one for the job.

Jon Day

wrote the following on Thursday October 1, 2009

I think it’s important to point out the number of submissions that utilize stock art for logo designs. Potentially the biggest “no-no” in logo design, is utilizing something that can be used by anyone. A logo is supposed to be…essentially…100% unique…or as close to it as possible. A ton of the winning entries that I’ve seen on the site are created by slightly manipulating stock art…usually from istockphoto – it’s pretty sickening. Not only that…but when you open up the contest to the public, where there is no regulation as to who can enter…you are really pushing the boundaries of gaming laws. When you hold a contest…you are supposed to award a prize. There are supposed to be clear and concise criteria for winning. In other words…if you hold a contest with the parameter of “pick a number between 1 and 10…pick the number we wrote on a piece of paper…and you win $500”. This shows us a clear and concise criteria for a contest…you are to pick a number, and if the number you pick is the same as the number on the piece of paper…you win. The design contest does not do this. What specifically is the winning criteria? Just that the person likes it? That doesn’t seem very legal to me…but I’m from the US not New Zealand or Australia or wherever the fuck they’re from…maybe the laws are different. Of course there are international gaming laws…and there’s also the issue of them opening up potential trade between nations that have trade embargos on each other…making them a funnel for international chaos. Also…if a person who enters the contest is not a designer…and is merely someone using their computer software to create a graphic…then they have not entered a design…they have merely entered a graphic image…a design is not the end result only…it is a process…hence the word DESIGN…therefore anyone who is not technically a designer by profession, and did not utilize a design process to acheive their result is not entering a design, and should not be allowed to participate. 99designs claims to link a client with a designer…if someone is not a designer and is entering the contest…99designs has LIED to the client and has had them pay for a service under false pretense.


wrote the following on Thursday October 1, 2009

Maybe you folks all have volatile artistic temperaments because I don’t know what you are getting all worked up about. There are lots of little companies, including one person operations, that simply can’t afford professional logo design services. I presume this service is a fit for them. They pay a little money and they get a simple little logo. And some designer in a poor country makes some decent money. It’s win-win for both of those parties and no skin off your back because they couldn’t afford your services anyway. They are not your potential clients. As for whether designers in poor countries want to do this spec work, it’s just a risk/reward equations. It’s like if you go to Vegas and have a chance of winning $10,000, you might spend some money and time working on the chance to get that even if it’s not likely you’ll get it.


wrote the following on Wednesday October 7, 2009

As stated I would have to agree that 99 designs is good for new people trying to develop their portfolios in a low-risk environment and being a saviour for those who would rather not work in mcdonalds.

Beyond that, spending too much time on the site can lead to much wasted time.

Keith Glover

wrote the following on Friday October 9, 2009

I tried 99designs as you suggested. At first it seamed nice…I won the very first contest I entered…rock on!, right?
Well not so much. After doing designs for 99 Designs over the past few weeks I have had this experience:
You submit a design with no guarantee of payment (ok so im not going to put “my all” into the design) The people get you to do all this work revising your submission, “Can you change this colour, change this font” (Still no payment) Then they can decide not to award anyone the design and they get their money back! What a scam! Erin Gordon with Kim Law Advisors of San Francisco, California ( Got me to work on their logo and provide 3 different revisions, and she got 2 other designers in the same contest to do the same. Erin lets the contest close then after almost a week she decides not to award the contest to anyone and gets her money back. Thats Lawyers for you I guess, scamming the little guys trying to make a buck. I have no recourse to go after them even if they do use the logo I created for them. I do NOT recommend designer use this site. For the people looking for designs, well you may have a large advantage over your designers using 99designs but its not really a good reflection of what is available to you in the design community. Paying bargain prices get you bargain designs. You all know that … garbage in … garbage out!

wrote the following on Saturday October 10, 2009

Think about iTunes. And IKEA. Now i’m not comparing them to this crude, shitball start-up of 99Designs but I hope you get the idea that these companies succeeded because they recognized what the people want. It’s essentially the same strategy. We all want to buy songs, we want to buy furniture – but all we have in common is that we don’t want to spend that much. This is greed, our own human weakness.

Right now, 99Designs is serving their own market of cheap-os. Because there is such a market of cheap-os. This is the Law of supply and demand in action.

The design scene will not remain the same. We can’t always afford to be design elitists and traditionalists who just sit, worry and whine. There are still people who want quality design, and who could afford it – so best thing to do is to take care of this market better so they won’t fall off to the dark side.

I personally am not worried about it anymore, and I just have this hope that these kinds of pattern changes will eventually lead to something that will work out for the good of all.


wrote the following on Sunday October 11, 2009

I’ve been following about 15 contests over the past several weeks on 99Designs….6 have been “Refunded”, 6 are “Locked” which means they will most likely be Refunded, and 3 “Won”. So, if those stats are indicative of 99D flow then the prize money would actually be distributed to less than 25% of the entries they claim. I don’t think all the work on 99D is crap…there are some very good designers that might not have chances elsewhere. But as long as 99Designs persists with their “100% Money Back Guarantee” to the contest holders then it can only stand as betrayal of designers considering 99D was conceived by designers. Launched contests would drop significantly were 99D to do the right thing in order to protect the designers…and so would their figures. But I figure they’ll protect those figures at all costs…until another design site comes along to “correct” 99D flaws.

David M Sellers

wrote the following on Monday October 26, 2009

An instructor of mine, years ago, once told me… Do NOT work for clip-art companies. It hurts the industry.

This seems very similar.

Hmmmmm… Good point.


wrote the following on Wednesday October 28, 2009

Damnnnnnnnnnnn, Lots and lots of oppinions here. I just posted 2 designs on 99 design, and don’t consider myself a hack. I graduated from a 4 year school with a BFA in graphic design and right now cant find shit for jobs. Im tired of living with my parents and doing probono work would be like shooting myself in the foot. Hey if I win these 2 500$ contests (i know its pretty unlikely) Ill have enough money to post up rent and continue my job search. I totally understand that this site waters down the talent pool, but 500$ for 2 hours? COME ON! On another note this site allows me to keep my skills up otherwise I would likely forget half of what ive spent 4 years learning at school….

Steven Lee

wrote the following on Friday October 30, 2009

Would like to tell you that i

have profile on another website.

There I have a nice profile with many wins. You can

consider that site.

ShopForDesigns does NOT charge any listing fees and

has lots of talented designers too. You can get good

designs at half the cost you are spending here. has the same operational model as


Since the site is new it has less number of projects

so all designers will concentrate on your project.
So you can try it…


wrote the following on Saturday October 31, 2009

I’d much rather choose what I pay for, than work with some pompous designer (theres a lot of them in this comment thread), who works on a pr hour basis, and after 5 design revisions still does not understand my brand or organization any better, than a guy who spent 15 minutes reading my design brief. Some designers are just not up for the specific task, no matter how many revisions, all the while the clock is ticking, and I end up paying 2000 USD for something I can throw straight into the wastebasket.


wrote the following on Sunday November 8, 2009

This company has a market for the amateur and the 3rd world designer by far, but to designers who have seen loss in demand figure wise it’s pitiful. People in 3rd world countries and teenagers having opportunities like these is a real step ahead, I wish had them. It beats working a fastfood job where you take more shit than you learn. In the business world nothing is more valuable than experience. 99 D is definitely valuable to the amateur I like to think of them as a potty training class.

aaron m

wrote the following on Monday November 9, 2009

I hear you: you rail at the notion that “everyone’s a designer.” As an editor, I feel the same way. “Everyone’s a writer,” right?

As an editor, I would have encouraged you to let an editor have a look at your missive before you posted it. Because, as Mark Twain said, he who edits himself has a fool for an editor.

Please change “statement” to “statements” and change “that” to “who” in the following graf:

I am struggling to form the intensely negative, logic-dismantling superlatives I need to accurately convey the sheer depth of absolute bullshit this clump of words was pulled from. This is one of the most hollow and forced statement I have ever seen. It insults everything about the real-world graphic design industry and the hard-working professionals that make a living building long-term client relationships, crafting deep and varied portfolios, and routinely putting their blood, sweat and tears into their work.


wrote the following on Wednesday November 18, 2009

I disagree:
I am at new start-up tech company and I like 99 designs. I just need a simple logo and dont have the time to do it. The interaction you talk of is BS. The “skills” you have can be learned by anyone that has illustrator, a bong, and enough time. Why would I pay a “professional designer” a huge amount of money to do something that a high school kid can do. This make it sound like I dont think designers are useful. This is not true they are very useful. Really good designers tend to have a hardcore technical background (MS/PhD) and then they can think there way through the stuff with no interaction. Sometimes you dont need that. Dont hate on people for providing a service that is useful and puts you out of business. Why do you charge so much? Maybe you should look at that and actually think about the service that you provide. The logo is extremely important but your own companies product will really tell the story. If I get super rich and need to waste money I will get a designer and if I fail everyone here can blame me for not getting a “good” (read expensive) logo. You pay for what you get. I will not pay a lot of money and I will get what you consider an amateur logo (which is just as good as a professional one). That is what I want right now. Stop crying.


wrote the following on Saturday December 5, 2009

I can’t believe there are people who still don’t see this as a problem.


It’s bullshit, and it will stop. If it doesn’t stop…in the next 10 years…there will be no good design work…anywhere. Not that all these mindless little corporate whores would notice anyway…since they have the aesthetic awareness of a 3 year old…which…let’s not forget is the reason they can’t do something like design a logo in the first place.

In Response to Morten

wrote the following on Sunday December 6, 2009

So designers are pompous because they want to be paid for the service they provide? What kind of horseshit is that?

The reason you have had the problems you’ve had is simple…you suck as a businessman. You mean to tell me you let yourself get duped into paying someone $2000 for something you could throw in the wastebasket? What kind of an idiot are you?

Designers have portfolios for a reason…so you can see if you think they’d be up for the task. Designers will generally offer revisions…up to a limited number. However, that has changed. I personally offer unlimited revisions on all of my projects…simply for this reason. Seems to me like you went in…being pompous…thinking you know anything about design and hired an unqualified designer…because you DON’T know anything about design. In addition to that…who says you understand your brand and organization in a visual way? Are you a designer? If so…why not design it yourself? Just because YOU…a person with no aesthetic background, no design training, and clearly no business sense…don’t like a logo, that doesn’t mean the logo isn’t qualified. We go through a rigorous training process to learn how to visually express ideas and concepts. Some schools even make you take extensive training in marketing and psychology to better understand how people interact with symbolism, color, etc.

Do you know anything about these things? If not…why would you think you know more than a designer?

Face the facts…you’re just cheap, and have no real knowledge about how to run a business. Why is everyone trying to come up with these crazy justifications…just admit it…you’re cheap, and you want to pay the smallest amount possible for something. If people would just admit that…me personally…I wouldn’t have nearly as much of a problem with it. Just be honest…you’re a cheap bastard.

Hopefully next time your out trying to peddle your wares or services…you’ll have to do them for free along with 100 other jackasses like you, and hope that you get paid. I bet you wouldn’t like that would you. Graphic designers don’t care…they’re “artists”…“artists” do this cause they love it right? FFuck that. I’d rather work at McDonalds than be a designer in a world of crowdsourcing. Once it gets to the point that crowdsourcing is the #1 way to hire a designer (and it soon will be)…I’ll be in a different profession. Right now…I do alright. Of course I have to compete with a bunch of fucks from Indonesia who can’t get work in their own country, and have had to lower my prices beyond belief.

That’s one other thing…you guys who are in America, and are farming your work out to Singapore. FUCK YOU. YOU ARE WHAT IS DAMAGING THIS EECONOMY. YOU CHEAP FUCKS. FUCK YOU.

But…as long as you got what you need for cheap that’s fine. Of course…if every single thing were outsourced to Indonesia, India, Singapore, etc….what would happen here in this country?

Have you been upset at all by the value of the US Dollar these days? Well take a long hard look at yourself, and your business practices…you’ll see a solution…then take that long hard look and shove it right up your ass.


wrote the following on Monday December 7, 2009

I plan on using 99 designs or genius rocket for my start up at some point over the next few months. Some of you guys have intelligent comments put the original post was weak.

Remember something: sites like 99 designs are around because both customers demand it and designers choose to submit for the prize. That’s the beauty of the market, all exchanges are voluntary. If your old fashoned business model is working well, then you have nothing to worry about and no need to complain on this post.

If you want, you all can form a special interest Logo Design labor union and crush 99 designs with coercive force. But … then I’ll just outsource to India. Peace.


wrote the following on Tuesday December 8, 2009

And after all this bad-talk about 99Designs, can you tell me which website is best for a part-time web/graphics designer? GetAFreelancer?


wrote the following on Tuesday December 8, 2009

It’s great to have principles like that for professional and successful designers like you people.. or for some of you, if not all of you. But I think 99 designs and all those other crowdsourcing and bidding sites out there give benefits to a lot of the starting designers or even pro ones in the 3rd world countries who couldn’t afford to get such income in their own countries and especially not a chance to go abroad despite their great talents and skills. As much as you want to talk about the lines that separates who real designers are from those who are not(based on your definitions of designers), these “designers” who just want to earn a living or an extra income for their families ( maybe some of you are not aware of how hard it is to earn enough money even for well educated designers in 3rd world countries), these designers who just wants to be a part of the real world even just through the sites like these because there aren’t that much opportunities for them in their own countries.they just want to showcase the world their talents and be of use to other people and somehow achieve their dream of designing and being creative while helping their families at the same time. these people.. They don’t mind being a lower designer, the way you see them, the people joining bidding and design contests sites as not being real designers and stuff. They don’t mind even if they really do.. because of the money that they bring to their families. Yeah.. they just suck it all up. You smirk or laugh about a logo being $50 or so but in some countries $50 means a whole week of good meal for the entire family or a monthly electric bill. I hope you get the point people. i do get yours. your pride as designers. the real great designers. the westerns, the europeans, the americans. and the likes. the authors of the design blogs that the lower-pride designers are always checking out and the people behind every tutorials that the lower-pride designers. These people they adore the real designers, they read your stuff and learn through them. And just want to be like all of those people. but they aren’t given much opportunities as you do. So they find opportunities through the world wide web. I understand your side.. but maybe you don’t have to ask or dream for the extinction of those sites. for a lot of people, 3rd world designers and their families who will lose a major or an extra source of income. You do what you do as designers of the real world, if yo don’t want things like these, then don’t participate. Just let others do. or at least don’t condemned them from joining. You’ve got your own clients to attend to. And they’ve got theirs. Not as much stable as yours but still.. they are designing at their best. Giving their best shots and designs without any assurance of income at all. And I think for me, that’s just one of the bravest thing to do. Maybe you remember the feeling when you’ve got your first client when you’re a starting designer. And you gave all your effort and passion just to win that very first client, well that’s how it feels joining every bidding and contests in those sites. I know. that’s my point. You’ve got yours. We maybe got different ways and principles of showcasing talents, gaining clients and income. But still, we all design from the heart.

-Designing from the Philippines


wrote the following on Wednesday December 9, 2009

You know, before the change to 99designs, the Sitepoint Marketplace was a very good place to ‘‘hock your wares’‘.

The contests were fair and quite competitive before they got so many idiots that think that since they installed a pirated copy of Photoshop or Illustrator it makes them a designer.

When the number of designers wasn’t nearly as large as it is now, the contests were fun and profitable.

It helped me hone my skills when I was starting out and actually paid a couple of bills so don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.


wrote the following on Thursday December 10, 2009

I work on designs for 99designs while i’m at work. It’s just a good way to build up my portfolio doing designs even if i don’t win.

Sure most of the contests look fish because of the ratings certain logos get. Lets just call it the Walmart for logo and stationary.


wrote the following on Thursday December 10, 2009

To all Design Agencies, you are the monster rippers. You just rob your clients business capital. You guys are just jealous of the new trend.

Yeah right! Logo Contest Designers just good in rippin’ off? but what do you call the Logo Designer’s from Design Agencies that puts a tag price of 3,000$ for a logo that was taken from a school drop-out designer in a logo contest? Worst! Shame!

Clients better watch out for the greediness of these design agencies, they’re the highway robberies. Logo Contests is a real deal, just do your part, google it! The rest is up to us, Designers!

To you, the writer, suck it up! you’re one of those pest in the media!


wrote the following on Saturday December 12, 2009


Re:this “Designers”.Your all starting to look like warhol here hi hi hi,welcome to the net fools!

Adam Cleaner

wrote the following on Saturday December 12, 2009

i read this article and was convinced not to bother with 99designs after the trouble i have had with scriptlance, but reading the commenters comments i’m not convinced a single designer is what i’m after either as i have had a problem with another that just didn’t get what i wanted. It seems to get a decent useable logo you need to pay £500 or more, which although is fair for a decent company, i just can’t justiy it but i really need a logo. web design seems to be the smllaer cost and can give great results, compared to a decent logo.


wrote the following on Wednesday December 16, 2009

I came across your site looking for other types of websites that have the interface like I am a member there also trying to build my portfolio. I just came out of college and where I live there is no work. I feel this is a great opportunity. I don’t mind spending time to work with the client to get the job done RIGHT. I’ve participated in 3 projects. Some I think are ok here and there, but it’s great to get to work with a client and get that hands on expereince to help improve a design.

I’ve made a client in the process and have been there for a few weeks so far. So I am excited I almost one and that makes me feel good. I feel like I have no chance for the bidding sites with my portfolio being empty and this way I can pick my contest I feel that I can do real good in and work with the client.

Yea if you lose it does suck but it’s great way to build a portfolio if you get good reviews about it.

Times are changing new ideas are going to arise it’s always been that way. I do think that 99designs needs to have an award system for 2nd and 3rd place too. Just to make it a bit more fair.


wrote the following on Friday December 18, 2009

Wow… your argument is pretty bad, man. I’m thinking you entered a contest or two, and got rejected.

Refine your craft, or quit charging ridiculous prices for your amateur designs. 99Designs is fine.


wrote the following on Saturday December 19, 2009

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the low pricing is forgotten.”

Leon Cautillo


wrote the following on Wednesday December 23, 2009

I have experience getting designs like this. We just get a template or two that are in layers we are expected as programmers to take them apart and make into a working web site. It can be very difficult when there is no communication between management who posted the design request or contest and the programmer or programmers in the company who are expected to put out something fantastic and eye catching because the manager looked at a layout in photo shop or illustrator.

We have not contact with the designer as programmers. We have to make many design changes or tweaks to the design to make it work. It ads many hours to the end result. Lots of wasted time trying to make it look like what the manager expects due to a “photo” of a web site.

I do agree that there are many talented illustrators out there but they don’t understand and neither does the parent company or others how much effort is required in order to make it work as a real high end web site.

There are many set backs to the community caused by sites like these and others. If you are only a designer then chat with a programmer and try to understand what is really needed – not just the graphics but CSS files, functionality, something that can really direct people to your site with minimal rework.

All this is just causing rework and heat and heartache for the ones who work in the real world.

And you do get what you pay for. There are some sites that offer to allow you to create your site for as low as $50 dollars and believe me you only get $50 dollars worth of a web site.


wrote the following on Saturday December 26, 2009

I’m a professional wedding photographer. Photography has been my sole profession for over 16 years. I’ve seen this industry change, change, and change again. Everytime a “treat” to the industry steps in, my fellow photographers would have all these dooms day predictions of what that would mean instead of finding a way to adapt to an ever changing and technologically advancing world.

Truth be known that people are wanting all their images on a disk with printing rights these days (for us photographyers). Yes there was a time where most of our income came from selling prints, but not a time has come where our field is getting cheaper and cheaper, and friends are photographing friends weddings to save a couple of bucks. Therefore we have been forced to lower our prices and offer digital images on disks.

We can sit around and complain that times are changing, but if we do, then we are longer thinking in the best interest of our clients, we are only thinking in terms of our own best interst. We are looking to be served instead of served. We are insane to think that things will always be as they are and not change for the worse…that is the world we live in whether we like it or not.

I don’t say this to be negative, instead I say this so that perhaps one person on this bored who is greatly distressed over this change will realize that there is nothing in this world we can control…especially other people. Life is more peaceful and pleasant when we stop trying to control things. There is nothing we can do about the changing of our industry because it is the CLIENTS who truely run it.

I know most of you on here are designers and I you have my sincere sympathy on the changes you are facing. However, this is the direction the industry is slowing moving towards and one day will be the norm.

I will be honest and say that I too hosted a contest on 99designs and couldn’t have been happier. I had hired four designers previously over the span of my business being around and was greatly frustrated that the work I was shown in their portfolio was their best of the best over a long period. It did NOT reflect what I received. My instructions where very clear and I felt more time was spent talking about what I wanted as opposed to actually designing it (which I did like). However the result was not 100%.

People want variety and they don’t want to pay full retail for that variety. Its just the way things are now and there is nothing the design world can do to stop it (no offense).

I will say in the designers defense that the minimum prize should be $1,000. I don’t agree with cheap labor. I made my contest for $1,500 about three weeks ago and received over 370 concepts. I loved that!! I will also add, at the risk of offending my readers, that about 50 of the concepts where EXTRAORDINARY!!!

I hope you may find peace in an ever changing industry. Its just the way it is and there is nothing the design world nor the photography world can do to stop it.


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wrote the following on Monday December 28, 2009

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wrote the following on Tuesday December 29, 2009

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The CBC, I grant you has a liberal bias, but then most Canadians are liberal, so it reflects their values. It can’t be blamed for not pandering to right-wing hyenas; the broadcaster would not be able to plunge to the depths required to represent [url=]uggs outlet stores[/url]the squalid opinions of such people.

Kyle Rackiq

wrote the following on Friday January 1, 2010

@Morten – You clearly have had a bad experience – don’t let it spoil you.

The classic adage applies; Two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because you worked with a couple bad designers (if that is the case) doesn’t mean the industry or profession is tainted. And certainly it doesn’t justify using 99designs.

See a post I recently wrote about the subject, called <a href=“”> 99designs: Hacks and Cheapskates unite!</a>


wrote the following on Wednesday January 6, 2010

ha! recently i heard about 99designs from a co-worker who thought it was garbage. im an ambitious designer and i convinced myself that no matter how sketch-balls the site is that i could win a competition AND get paid (wouldn’t hurt since ive spent most nights ranking up on MW2). i entered 3 simple competitions winning 2 of 3 (the easy part). the two competitions i won the designer bailed. i still don’t understand how it was possible when the competition was supposedly pre-paid and guarenteed…or some shit. regardless, i scored the highest marks on these competitions and the contest holders raved about my logo work. despite all this the contest holders still managed to slip through the cracks and not pay a dime to me or any other designer. the site is a scam pure and simple. competitions should be prepaid (in full), as in credit card/debit card directly paid to the site with no possible refunds, it can’t be done any other way. fortunately i wasn’t entering this site for anything more than to prove to my friend that i could get paid from this Whack-Arnold operation. the competitions are filled with the lowliest of designers, most of which probably make their stuff in MS Word. in hindsight i would’ve been better off ranking up in MW2.

@ Dan

wrote the following on Friday January 8, 2010

Well, Dan, I don’t know what kind of designers you hired but most of sure the problems it yours. If in the eyes of a designer the problems is solved and he is professional then IS SOLVED, dude. That’s what you don’t seem to understand, you and the crowd of clients who start contests on 99designs.
The difference between a professional designer and those dudes, at 99 designs is that the professional designer thinks at your clients, while those bidding there, just want to satisfy your eyes. So, now do you work for yourself or for your clients, who pay you, basically ??!?!!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I MEAN ?! You most probably don’t. And that is the difference between a designer and a dude from Indonezia who sells you clip art with your company name near, with no knowledge about the market, colors, shapes, psychology and the impact of a strong image. A real designer WILL explain you all that stuff and what you tell me here, comparing true designers with those dudes, is like comparing doctors with witches, dude, rally. A witch can make you feel better also, but she won’t cure your disease. She will just take your money and lie you over and over till you ultimately die. A doctor, will probably operate you and cure you. And that’s cause he is a PROFESSIONAL. Not a witch who just make you feel good, while taking your money.

Now, think about that. If you go to the doctor, and he tells you you’re sick, you take the pills or not ? You take them dude, I tell you EVEN IF YOU DON’T LIKE THEIR TASTE. Many taste just bad.

Now, by comparison, take the real designer as a doctor, while the as witches. The witches make you happy, don’t give you the nasty and bad taste pills, no injection, they just give you some makeup. So you don’t look that bad anymore ! What do you prefer, now, if you got the flu, let’s say ? The Aspirine, or some makeup ?!

That’s why many businesses are doomed from the beginning, cause they don’t understand the whole thing. Their owner thinks he’s smarter than he is. He judges the work of another people and he tries to cut corners but here, in your image cutting corners is a bad move. You can end up being happy about your “new” image from 99designs, by a dude from Indonezia while your clients will think you’re really dumb. And you will laugh satisfied, with your new make up.

Now, Dan, I don’t want you to take this as coming from someone incompetent or something. I am one of the big designers our there. I don’t keep portfolio online, on public pages cause I KNOW. Got it ? I am one of those who can model YOU in 3d, who can create the next big thing on the market tomorrow or who can do you a logo that will REALLY make you successful. I’m no joke dude, take it serious, I know what I say and I’m not hasty to speak here.

For your info, I do photographs also as a hobby. is cool. Now you probably know about those microstock(other crap) agencies. Well, looking on logo “designs” on, I could recognise a lot of clip arts stolen from there, by all sort of Indian/Indonesian dudes who call themselves designers ! Also, some dude sold an entire artwork you can find on or deviantart as a logo. Now, where else you can find that, other than on ?! That level of theft, kitsch and stupidity ?

You say that in your opinion the future is like this ?!? Yes, do you really think that ? How long it will take till real artists will stop posting their works online and then what ?! The Indonesian dudes won’t have from where to steal and that’s it.
Or what will happen to you, if you buy a logo from an Indian dude and after a while, you find out that it’s a stolen piece or worst you got sued by someone ? Or what if you find the graphic you liked and payd, sold to other 100 people as logos, after a while ? What you do then ? You go and sue ?! HAHA, really, have you thought about that, before judging like you do ? Do you think that those big professional designers are to expensive now ? They form you an IMAGE and GUARANTEE is unique. They can solve the theft problems, they have the copyright. THEY MAKE YOUR BUSINESSES ID’s dude. Cause that’s what your clients see and know !

When we see a Coca Cola commercial we see the logo. We don’t know who the owners are, what the bottle contains chemically, we just know the logo and that’s it. We don’t see the factories, the papers behinf it. What do you think now ?
Ask yourself why AT&T, SonyEricsson and others didn’t had their logos made on places like
And another one, do you think that Vodafone, when they rebranded, they made it for the owners to like it ? Or for the clients ? Think about that.

I tell you, if you got the flu, go to the doctor, not to witches. Aspirine, is better than makeup. That is the civilized way, the other, an insult to common sense and NOT the way to go if you are serious about anything.


wrote the following on Monday January 11, 2010

Seems to me that there’s a real ‘class distiction’ between designers over this issue.

The people who use 99 Designs are students, graduates, or new starters who either need practice, portfolio work, or a chance to do something different. The clients are people who don’t have very much money. These people don’t appreciate being sneered at by well-off seasoned professionals.

The people who loathe 99 Designs are established designers who don’t like what its doing to their industry and cheapening good design. They don’t appreciate ‘scabs’ giving society the wrong idea about good design.

So where you stand on this issue depends on where you are. Being a new designer myself, I needed the practice and experience since I was living in a small town and might design 5 business cards a year if I was lucky. Otherwise I drew up tax invoices or just made alterations to previous designs. 99 Designs gave me the chance to do something interesting for once. And honestly, seeing high-priced designers acting like I’m bringing down the entire industry is pretty bizarre, if not laughable. I was trapped in a small town, people, I’m not out to get you.


wrote the following on Monday January 11, 2010

I am working to start a business and I an lucky to understand branding of the company. I am a jeweler and spent years in the jewelry packing business before becoming a jeweler. I hired a designer to do my logo and have not been happy with the results thus far. I want to use 99Designs as sort of an interview for a new designer. I need everything from logo to website for two companies. I need someone that I click with. I have clients come to me that I have handed off to another jeweler that I think better serves what they are after. If you come to me and want a cool clean and bold piece I am in. But you come to me and want all art nouveau I will send you to a friend that does much better at that. Can I do what you want? Yes, but someone who loves that type of thing will give you a better product. I think I have a Art Nouveau designer and I am an Atomic Age client. So am I wrong to pay someone $200-300 to do my logo and then be able to hire that designer for everything else? Plus I don’t have a problem giving a young fresh person a chance to do some work to build their portfolio if they have the right ideas for my company. I don’t need a big “brick and mortar” company to get my ob done. I need someone to “WOW” me.


wrote the following on Wednesday January 13, 2010

I’ve been following this thread for awhile, and I’m noticing that there are several things people here have said that I’m taking issue with.

1) The 1st issue— that 99 Designs is a danger to the pro design industry. It’s not. If you’ve ever participated on this site and know its history (it used to be part of Sitepoint Marketplace), you’ll know for the most part that clients are amateur business owners (eBayers, ecommerce), webmasters, and web design companies outsourcing the design part of their jobs. These are not Fortune 500 people or high profile clients. These are just stay at home entrepreneurs, bloggers, webmasters, start ups, and studios looking for something on the fast and cheap.

2) The 2nd thing I’m taking issue with is the position that pros have no right to determine how much anything should be priced for.

For you amateurs— who mostly do your work with pirated software— let me tell you a THING or to so you can understand how this all works.

The REASON why pro designers charge what they do is the same reason why dentists and other professionals with high rates charge what they do— their services require expensive TOOLS. Professional designers spend spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for equipment and software to do their work. Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, etc., are expensive (running into well over $1K). High end computers and scanning equipment are expensive. Cameras are expensive. It’s these expensive tools that DICTATE the costs of any professional work that they do. So they have every RIGHT to demand that they get paid a certain rate for a graphic.

If you as an amateur do design work using free or cheap software like The Gimp, Swish, Front Page, or PhotoPlus, you’d be perfectly within your rights to charge $500 for a complete website or $75 for a logo. In short, you’d have the right to challenge the work of pros. But what you guys do is basically illegally download the exact same programs the pros use! If you’ve never spent a nickel on any of this software, where do you get off then telling designers what they can charge for their work? They PAID for their equipment— that’s why they have to charge what they do. How much did YOU pay for Photoshop? Dreamweaver? Flash?

No, really— how much did you pay? What? Nothing? You stole software that an exact pro paid $999 for and now have the sheer arrogance and unmitigated gall to feel as if you have a place in this debate as to how much a pro can charge? You’re an illegitimate business. You’re no different than a guy who steals tattoo equipment, sets up a parlour in his garage, undercuts the local tattoo artist by at least $100 and sneers, “Who is he to charge $200 for the same work?”

So get it through your thick skulls. Pros PRICE the way they do because of the COSTS of running their business, not because they’re pompous or entitled or feel special. You price the way you do because you have no costs.

Now before you argue how do you know we didn’t buy Photoshop, Illustrator, etc, I know EXACTLY how. If you’d actually spent money for these programs, you would never, ever question the wisdom of any pro asking for XXX amount for X logo/ header design/ banner ad. Because having spent well over $1K for Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, etc, YOURSELF you’d understand WHY a pro would balk at the idea of designing a logo for $75. Furthermore, you’d stop making the stupid argument that designers wanting to get paid $XXX are doing it out of a arrogance, rather than out of necessity due to the COSTS of the tools— and even the training— of running their business. (cont’d)


wrote the following on Wednesday January 13, 2010

3) The last thing I’m taking issue with is the sort of arrogant, smug, gloating from amateurs about the nature of the business needing to change.

You fools kind of don’t get it. You may think that because of crowdsourcing, microstock, etc., you, the amateur, are finally getting a piece of the action. But you’re getting nothing. You’re like starving peasants in a revolt who storm the palace walls expecting to find a banquet feast and only finding chicken bones and scraps. You feel superior to a pro because you can now successfully steal his business by undercutting him? Really? If you sell a mascot design for $50, let’s see how smug you’ll feel if the business you designed it for suddenly becomes internationally famous and makes millions of dollars— thanks to your design— and doesn’t give you a cut of the profits at all.

Or better yet, let’s see how smug you’d feel if the photo you gave away for $25 on a microstock site (true story!!!) winds up on the COVER of Time Magazine, lol… And to add insult to injury, you don’t even get credited (roflmao)! Are you going to feel smug then? The Shutterstocker whose image wound up on Time sure as hell didn’t. In fact, she whined and sobbed like a baby at the forums about it.

That’s the reality of all of these things— microstock, crowdsourcing, etc. Everyone loses, including amateurs like you who snidely think that they’re gaining something. Now that microstock et al are making design a level playing field, clients don’t feel obligated to treat everyone with the respect and consideration once offered to designers. That’s because regardless of getting paid by clients, you’ll never be seen as a pro, just some dumb kid or amateur willing to give away his artwork for anything, even if it means being uncredited or not caring about things like royalties and rights.

So enjoy your smug sense of superiority while it lasts, folks. Cuz it won’t last long.


wrote the following on Wednesday January 13, 2010


Oh, please, lol! Now you’re trying to paint the actions of so-called 3rd world designers with a air of nobility, by making them out to be impoverished people living on a subsistence level. Gimme a break— if a 3rd world designer can afford the computer, software, and DSL connection required to submit work to 99D, he’s hardly impoverished; he’s doing a helluva lot better financially than a really poor 3rd worlder who can barely feed his family or pay the electric bill.

So you’re really not fooling me with this nonsense about impoverished 3rd worlders turning to design to live above poverty level, especially since my family is from one of the poorest nations on earth. No one who has modern day technology, internet, etc IN a 3rd world country is struggling to make ends meet.


Designers have a right to be pompous and charge X amount of money. They actually pay for their tools. The amateur that undercuts pros by $200- $400 doesn’t. It’s why they offer the same exact work from a pro for a fraction of the cost. They pirate the same software the pros buy well over $1K for. Since they pirated the software, they don’t have to factor in the costs of having bought Photoshop, Illustrator, etc into their services.

So basically your patronization of these people is no different than buying iPods from a street vendor, who can afford to charge you $30, since he just go them off a truck and didn’t have to spend money out of pocket to purchase them wholesale or rent out a space to sell the,.

So… pat yourself on the back, mortem! You’re basically a supporter of illegal businesses. Aren’t you proud?

Favori partner Escort

wrote the following on Thursday January 14, 2010

very nice. thanks.


wrote the following on Friday January 15, 2010


I’ve never used 99designs, that being said you’re a presumptuous twat. You automatically assume someone is using software they didn’t pay for because they are able to charge low prices. How do you know they aren’t using freeware or FOSS? Or maybe they are in college and got a student discount on expensive software? No, you just assume they are using illegal software, because you can’t fathom that someone may be willing to sell their work cheaper then the “pros” while remaining completely legal.


wrote the following on Friday January 15, 2010

Dee, Kevin,

Have a look at my entries on

I think you’re elitist and protectionist. You exhibit this through your disparaging and holier-than-thou rants. The internet will yet pose many more threats to cosy cartels with their overblown egos and prices. Not just in design. It’s inevitable. It’s free space. It’s open. And you are closed, angry, jealous, unrealistic and just plain nasty. If you truly represent the design business, heaven help you. But you don’t of course, you just represent “business”. Could be any old business. Protectionism and elitism ain’t new. It’s like watching the wankers self-aggrandise on the first episode of each Apprentice series. You’re money- and self-obsessed. Grow up. There are a lot of us, post crisis, watching you types as you fold. Frankly, your attitude disgusts me. And it’s sooooo transparent.

3rd world designer

wrote the following on Sunday January 17, 2010

you’re going down, unskilled designers from so called 1st world country, because we’re the next generation that will strive even though we have no $$$pride.

peace out ;)

For @ Dan

wrote the following on Monday January 18, 2010

Damn, with your attitude, i wouldn’t hire you as a designer even if you have the skills. It would probably be a pain in the ass to just communicate with you with your consistent dissing of developing countries and your little respect for everything else.

Designers must also display character and obviously you’re not showing it. Care to post your personal website up so that we all know not to hire a douchebag like yourself? I’m serious.

Simon Cox

wrote the following on Monday January 18, 2010

The irony is that computers removed a lot of the traditional craftsmanship associated with design. No more darkroom techniques, no more working out how much type will fit into a galley at a set point size at a certain leading, no more hand lettered logos etc. – it’s all done on computer these days (most of it). So I heard the same moaning when you could do first all this on a computer – no professional would use a computer etc. The problem was that the clients saw a cheaper way to produce thier material using high school drop outs and that’s potentially what is happening here with 99 designs. Put yourselves in your clients shoes and ask the question about what they get for thier money. We all have to build strong business cases for using us as real designers with all our experience, else the smaller clients especially will use want to 99Designs etc. As any recession bites designers will be looking for work and may well sign up… Things change.

Jeannette Sinclair

wrote the following on Saturday January 23, 2010

For those who like irony:

After reading through all the comments here, I scrolled back to the top of the page and clicked on the “Freelance Designs” link located under the Google Ads column.

Guess who’s banner ad was prominently displayed at the bottom of the page?

Intuit’s crowdsourcing site…powered by 99designs.


wrote the following on Tuesday January 26, 2010

unfortunately, there isnt much middle ground on this issue where the real opportunity exists for designers on both sides to learn from and incorporate into their own individual practices. i moved from a small market to an even smaller market, i work on a mac and have purchased and registered all of my software through adobe. there is benefit and bane to 99designs, and while i have ‘participated’ on the site i also have separate ‘professional’ fees that i charge the clients i deal face to face with – as Dee said, this shit aint free! and it isnt arrogance to have higher fees for the designers choosing to play at a higher level than the process thats currently in fashion. no one is telling lebron james or bret favre they should play for the same amounts as anyone else on their respective teams.

the people who argue about ‘talent’ are ignoring the aspects of ‘value’.
it takes money to play and succeed where the higher profits exist.

AIGA should start its own crowdsourcing site to compete with sites like 99designs, while also educating those same designers about the real value of what they do. its mentoring, which is missing in this new global economy.
show a $75 designer how he can make $2500 and what would be his/her response?

higher-end designers should take a more paternalistic role in guiding lesser experienced designers instead of taking on a contentious stance (not that you arent justified to do so, you’re perfectly within your rights if you do) – but Sylvester McMonkey McBean is now part of the design equation and as long as designers on both sides remain pitted against each other the professional field will continue to suffer.


wrote the following on Thursday January 28, 2010

CHECK IT OUT!!!! The winner of this 99design contest spelled the CLIENT’S LOGO INCORRECTLY.



wrote the following on Friday January 29, 2010

This is very interesting. I signed up to 99designs but quickly seen the down sides.

Unfortunately, the people who win contests (the good designers) will stick with it. It is after all sit-at-home tax-free money from around the world. And the businesses are only doing what they are meant to do and getting the best value for their cash.

The capitalist world thinks this is a good idea.

For it not to work would be difficult – design world would all need to say ‘we are professionals and we are worth more money and respect than this’. And the business world would need to say ‘we are professionals and must act professionally to those whose skills we need and use’

The worst attitude is summed up by jeweller Rodney who says ‘I need someone to “WOW” me.’ You need to part of a community Rodney. Exploiting young designers is wrong. If you want ‘wow’ed go see cirque du soleil or a qualified prostitute.


wrote the following on Saturday January 30, 2010

I feel like I might get beaten to death by saying this but I used 99 designs for a logo and loved the process. Yes, I’m the schmuck who said give me a logo, I’ll give you $250, then you get lost. You have to remember that some of us are start-ups and can’t afford the premiums of an individual designer and it’s great to see many different versions and visions of what you wanted originally.


wrote the following on Friday February 5, 2010

Stfu talking bad things about 99designs.
If you are a good designer you can win 1 entry /20contests (average).
So if you enter 5contests/day that means 1 contest/4days. Let’s say the average contest prze is 300$.
So you can easliy win 2100$ / motnh.

All who complain about 99 designs can’t go over a loss.


wrote the following on Friday February 5, 2010

Really glad I stumbled across this piece. Thanks. I wonder where the £1.2 million ended up.

Sebastian Speier

wrote the following on Friday February 5, 2010

Thank you for writing this! Ever since I discovered 99Designs I have felt like the standard’s been lowered in my field – visual communication, graphic design, branding and identity creation. Some may argue that the creative industry is, on average, over paid, but that argument is moot because the folks who actually submit work to 99Designs “competitions” are grossly underpaid regardless of the industry standard.

It’s businesses like these that are ruining the creative industry for everyone. Someone I know recently got fired from a project because they weren’t “feeling” her logo work and instead they’ve decided to do a 99designs competition and they’ve told her she’s going to have to prepare the logo they choose for the brand package. How insulting is that? Working on a brand package that’s costing more than the fucking logo that’s inside it!

This is the stuff nightmares are made of.

freelancing career

wrote the following on Monday February 8, 2010

I tried to work for some time in 99designs, crowdspring and but then something didn't work out. now i have opened my new site where i tell others what went wrong and want them to learn from my mistakes.

Its solely for freelancers and is called :

LA Home Photography

wrote the following on Friday February 12, 2010

I just found out about 99designs while researching for a logo that I want to have created.

I came across this page while checking to see if 99designs was legit or not before I gave them my money.

Here are some thoughts I come away with from reading some of the posts here.

1.) If you are as good as you think you are, 99designs shouldn’t worry you.

I shoot people and architecture. I charge $325 to shoot somebody’s headshots. That usually takes less than an hour. Now with digital cameras getting better and cheaper, everybody thinks they are a photographer, so there are people on Craigslist offering to do it for as little as $50. Some even do it for free for experience.

Do you think I care what other people charge. No. Do I down the other photographers for basically working for free? No. They don’t pay my bills and I don’t pay theirs so it’s none of my business how they choose to run theirs.

Because I’m good at what I do, people are still willing to pay me my rate even though they know they can get photos for next to nothing. They see my value and happily pay for it.

2.) The bitter people who are against 99designs need to learn to move with the cheese (

Look at the music industry when they were loath to adapt. They killed themselves by suing Napster instead of getting in bed with them. Now they have to bow to Apple iTunes when if they just would have made that early deal with Napster they would have controlled everything and been stronger for it.

3.) If you can’t understand the appeal of 99designs from a client point of view then you don’t understand your client and that may be why you aren’t getting jobs and you’re bitter.

Bottom line is I have a new web site that needs a logo. After reading posts here I’m going to give 99designs a shot because I like seeing the comps and knowing what I’m going to get up front. If the experience sucks then I’ll let you know.

D One

wrote the following on Friday February 19, 2010

Report these “contests” to your state senators. Ask them to write legislation to stop this crap and put some regulation on this. Contest have to be open to people without paying and giving work for free is a from of payment, right? If you do “win”, $250 for 30 hours of work should be illegal since it falls below minimum wage in CA. There should be fare market laws governing 99designs type of companies. You can’t hire interns for free in CA, why should you get 399 designers to do spec work and pay 1 $250?
Write your state senator. Contact the media to investigate. Our economic crisis cannot afford to perpetuate this degradation of our work.


wrote the following on Friday February 19, 2010

Wish i had found this blog post before i wasted my time designing a website for a 99 Designs contest that ended up with no winner awarded and the contest holder got their money back! So much for it being designed as “healthy” and “prepaid”. To add insult to injury – out of 44 submitted designs i was one of only 4 designers awarded 4 stars (no-one got 5 stars)the rest got nothing. so what happened about the 4 designers whose work they liked enough to award 4 stars? It wouldn’t be so bad if 99 Designs made it mandatory that anyone awarded more than say 4 stars should get a cut of the contest price in the event of no winner being chosen – unless they had a really good reason for not following through. 99 Designs also have a responsibility to the designers and should give us an explanation rather than simply posting a notice that the contest was cancelled! i am willing to bet that 99 Designs still got their fee for hosting the contest! it makes a mockery of their scoring system for “healthy” contests as opposd to those whith a “caution” marker.


wrote the following on Sunday February 21, 2010

I’ve had the misfortune of entering a few contests on 99designs and it was nothing but frustrating. The encouragement of competition utterly diminishes any emotional value of the graphic element. Graphic design is a form of art and should not be treated as an item.

As a consequence there is a ocean of templates in use on that and similar sites. I’ve made the mistake of taking it seriously and invested some pretty hard work and patience only to be beaten by someone using a template.

Spot on for the post.

nike outlet

wrote the following on Tuesday February 23, 2010

Yooo great job with this post! LOL it did something for me.


wrote the following on Wednesday February 24, 2010

I started to work on 99 designs because a friend of mine told me it paid well and that she actualy was living only of it. I’m currently unemployed and in my country design isn’t a recognizable term…or rather , it’s a white business card with times new roman. That’s how huge design gets around here. Seemed cool to make some thingies for my folio based on actual briefings but…the contradictions on “About Us”, and some “clients” saying “ i chose your design” and they never got back to me for the prize and left the contest abandoned… Pissed me off. I worked hard to finish my degree in Comunications Design and now i see slave work in 99Designs. Low prices, work hard and don’t get paid. Life is Good…for the ones that get free designs. I do want quality design and i worked hard for it but besides people copying my work as i have seen, and “school dropouts” ripping ppls work AND people posting at the last minute and snatching the prize, i seen it all. It’s a piece of crap when you spend time solving problems like a designer should and then some out of the loop PS junkie places a “cool looking” design ( but not functional) on top of yours and the client goes wild…is this design? Making pretty shiny thingies? Hell i seen people winning prizes when they even didn’t follow the briefings. I didn’t sign up for this. I love design and the challenge it brings an i hate to see it going down the drain like a huge turd…despicable…

Guthrie Watson

wrote the following on Wednesday February 24, 2010

Absolutely have to agree.

You wouldn’t employ a builder or an electrician this way so why should a designer be any different?

That last comment on the about us page was a killer to! If you are designers why aren’t you working as a designer? Not setting up this spec work factory!


wrote the following on Wednesday February 24, 2010

Plus, check this out :

What happens if a guaranteed contest is not awarded?

If a guaranteed contest is not awarded within four weeks of the contest ending, the prize money will be distributed evenly between all designers who entered the contest providing they have at least one win under their belt on 99designs.

Why do we do it this way? We want to reward not only our loyal designers but our best designers.

—-> basically i have been working for other designers. My hard labor is given to them for doing crap. How good is this?


wrote the following on Tuesday March 2, 2010

99designs, why isn’t their slogan &quot;99 ways to scam&quot;?

To name a few scams…other designers will steel ideas & graphics. My favorite is when I &quot;win&quot; but I tied with someone else or was second so they ask me for my design at a reduced price.

Then there are the clients that get scammed…designers post copyrighted material or copy logos.

The you also have to deal with the trolls. As far as I am concerned, 99designs makes graphic design bad business.


wrote the following on Monday March 8, 2010

if there wasn’t a demand for this sort of work they wouldn’t be in business now would they? I’ve used 99designs and quite successfully after spending a boat load of money on designers from both design firms and independents. I didn’t like their work in spite of the impressive portfolios. People think they’re worth more than they are these days. I don’t like having all my concepts coming from one mind. And I certainly do not have budget to pay for multiple designers who’s hourly rates are high enough to pay for their espresso machines and downtown office. If your good at what you do, why worry about 99designs? For me, a small business owner who spent eight years doing UI design and usabililty, I find to be a great source for ideas from third world creatives desperate to earn a living. What a great opportunity for them. You write a good design spec and stay active with your feedback you can have success.

To each their own but crowd-sourcing business ventures like this are growing, not shrinking.


wrote the following on Tuesday March 9, 2010

Great article.

After all I’ve read and seen, I kind of get the feeling both the clients and the dropouts using 99designs get exactly what they deserve. It’s sad to see from the perspective of a designer and it will no doubt inexperienced people in the wrong direction concerning design and the value thereof.

Then again, do we really want to work for people who can’t afford a proper brand design? I certainly don’t…

logo design

wrote the following on Sunday March 14, 2010

What i also feel is that anyone who gets 4 star ratings or above in any contest should get a portion of the prize money even if his design is not choosen.

Else its a loot and you dont stand to win a penny if the contest holder decides to cancel the contest. He simply gets his money back!!!


wrote the following on Wednesday March 17, 2010

Wow, I totally enjoyed this flame-war! Lot’s of fun in the brawl, as happens with all brawls.

In India, there is enough low quality competition squirming about to snatch away your work. People who don’t know proper english, learn haphazard ways of designing “websites”, and offer the shit at EXTREMELY low prices. You’d earn better if you were a construction worker, in fact.

Most of the clients here are never ready to pay any advance, and despite the shortcomings of whatever shit “Your competitor” has put in as his portfolio, and no matter how good your work is, they simply don’t care.

All they care about is how little money they spent on getting something or the other to display on their visiting cards done, and how much of this saving translates into money saved for their customers.

Basically, its an endless chain of miserly people who don’t want to pay for what they are getting. Especially, computers have a halo of “easiness” about them, and people think that making art work on the computer can be done by anyone.

In short, the third world’s entry as competition to the first world has ruined everything for everyone in the first world. Now companies get very bad quality work done at very low prices, but the third world guy is happy coz he can live a better life…

Neville Franks

wrote the following on Thursday March 18, 2010

This is indeed an interesting topic, one which seems to me very similar to the issue that “professional programmers” have when it comes to the rug being pulled out from under them by free open source software.

Free OSS often attracts people in full time jobs who can sneak some development in during work hours (at there employers expense) or as a hobby at night – often for the kudos.

I could rant and rave about this for ages, but see little point as it is unfortunately unstoppable, much like 99Designs and the like.

I came across this (and another highly critical blog) while doing a bit of research on 99Designs because I want to get my Surfulater web site redesigned. I now need to ponder whether to use them or not.

My interest is finding a good designer and not spending a fortune. How do I do this? Clearly 99Designs is one answer. I’d welcome any suggestions for others.

Neville Franks

eugene Schroeder

wrote the following on Sunday March 21, 2010

from the minute I learned about 99 designs i knew there was something that didn’t sit well with me about it – and this underscored all of those feelings – thanks for that – I am so frickin tired of the world trying to get anything artistic for free – because art is just so much FUN to do why should you have to pay an artist for it??… sorry but art is not FUN it is work … hence the term ARTWORK – not artplay. One big reason you have to pay for art is because of the sacrifice it took to produce it, just like any other product … in my case the tip of the iceberg is the $100,000 student loan for going to a decent school to learn all about art.


wrote the following on Wednesday March 24, 2010

The big thing we need to remember is that graphic design is really fucking easy. Also, a lot of people do it for fun.

I spent some time on web sites like this years ago, and it actually really helped me develop my aesthetic sense. I was a kid over summer break, learning design, and hoping to win something. Never won anything, but whatever. If you look at the general ratio of wins to entries on 99designs, it will become obvious that most designers on there do it for the fun and experience.

Most companies posting contests on there do end up with a slick looking design as well. It’s not hard to make a slick looking design.

There is the brand identity and marketing issue that some of you raise, and it’s a valid one. However, how much marketing training do most graphic designers get? I am convinced that a marketing or PR professional, posting a contest with a high prize, and communicating extensively with the designers, will be able to get much better results than most pro designers.

Anyway, these sites are booming, and it is a legitimate economic activity between two consenting adults, so how can you complain? We live in a capitalist society.

James Tohant

wrote the following on Wednesday March 24, 2010

If all of you are so good, why are you worrying?
I don’t see big firms as nike entering 99designs, cause by the look of it all of you are designing websites for big companies.
As a test, just enter a contest and see if u’ll win it.

Raul Varela

wrote the following on Sunday April 11, 2010

Love all the posts. I actually called out the deplorable 99 designs on my Web site. I believe we all need to come to grips with how the Web has changed our business and do something about it. We are going to do something about this and I need the support of the entire design community. Please visit my grass roots campaign to help us establish a design certification system at

özel ders

wrote the following on Thursday April 15, 2010

There are enough comments to get to the heart of the point. There is no designer out there that should be shelling out time to design a logo for company without knowing more about what the company is about. This system is trying to destroy the importance of designers and communication and it should be taken down.

Dinero rapido

wrote the following on Sunday April 18, 2010

Oh gosh! These kind of sites are really cheapening the desing industry, not happy! :(

nike shoes

wrote the following on Tuesday April 20, 2010

I am pretty amazed after reading these comments on how some are using the Feelmax Kuuva. The product is the most minimal on the market that works but I can see that these comments above are written by people who obviously do not know how to wear minimal shoes. I recommend that instead of whining and directing folks to websites in the UK to get 25% off that you keep your negative comments to yourself. I know over 100 people using the product and loving it but I think it is a given with superlight flexible materials that you have to have some sacrifices.

ED Hardy clothing

wrote the following on Tuesday April 20, 2010

Thanks for enjoying this article.


wrote the following on Wednesday April 21, 2010

Quite anti from a design point of view.
I am intending to put up a competion for my business logo design.

I don’t want to get to know a designer, I hate art doing art or looking at it.

But I relise the imporatnce of a good logo.

99 Designs suit my purposes really well.

I think it is a great idea

The Hoov

wrote the following on Tuesday April 27, 2010

99 Designs seems like its more for people new to the graphic design world. Not only giving them experience while they wait for work… but also if you do not win the contest you can always use the work for your portfolio.

What’s really sad about the 99 Designs.. is that some “designers” will go as far to use Paint to make their LOGOs! lol. Which do not usually win but you’d be surprised. And I’m sure many a contest holder has not received the correct files needed.

And some designers are theives… contest or no contest… and it’s a shame.

I’ll admit it.. I’m a 99 Designer. After winning 3 contests, but submitting so many more entries than that. I figured I had made $4.50 a design! :( And it was heartbreaking, but I have admit the first few designs I submitted were utter crap. And lately my designs have actually won.. and I’m seeing a great improvment in my designing abilities.

I love designing.. so its not painful to shell out the hours and receive little pay. Of course I’d prefer to have clients running at me with dollars… but seems to me I’ll have to 99 Design it in the meantime. :P

Dom Moreci

wrote the following on Wednesday April 28, 2010

Great post. It’s sad that designers are being used like that. Really undervalues their talent and efforts. And if any of them spent money on an education, it devalues that too. Maybe we should make a site called 99Doctors. or 99Engineers. Or 99Teachers.

Good design is problem solving – not a commodity.


wrote the following on Thursday April 29, 2010

I just got a juvenile and insulting “Vote for us!” email via my Sitepoint email subscription (which is currently hanging by a slender and frayed thread).

I still can’t believe SP let this garbage go out via their server, but, frankly, the increasing presence there of SEO scamming types has been pushing me toward the door for a while.

It’s really quite disrespectful — disgraceful, even.

I’m all for new business strategies; I’m not interested in cons, spam, and scams.

Vet Tech

wrote the following on Monday May 3, 2010

I paid 99designs around $400 to design a logo for my site.. The entries were all junk.

They promise a “money back guarantee”, but after getting a ton of junk logos, I did not pick any winners.

I asked them for my money back, but they claimed that because I did not leave sufficient comments and ratings to the designers, I would have to hold another competition!!

Stan Lee

wrote the following on Thursday May 13, 2010

The only people who benifit on 99 designs are contest holders and poor designer who know nothing about designing. Its bad enought the price award is low but if you’re a professional or you might say a real deigner you won’t win contests on there.

No 99 designs doesn’t work for real designers. A designer can’t build a career off it or not even get quick money from doing a contest even if they are professionals. The contest holders don’t know anything about design, have poor taste, bad eyesights and low expectations. A designer can design over and over for the same project but won’t get chosen and you can even try designing for different contest/projects but its unlikey you get chosen rather a person who barely knows anthing about designing will get chosen because the contest holder like the color scheme or some lame scheme to that design.In their brief reports or design descriptions they never stick to their word or say what they mean. They give standards but usually pick designs that go against their standards. Designers will design hundreds of designs for one project and get eliminated though they put alot of effort but in the end a red text thats shining will get picked though they claimed they wanted something great, spectcular. They, contest holders, are picky until the end of the deadline and will keep changing their minds until its over. Some thing will be eliminate because it had a wrong color scheme but they don’t care. These contest holders are usually the ones with bad designed websites. Some of these people, contest holders, are lazy people who are to lazy/dumb to use microsoft fronts to get same results for the designs they pick at the end though they claimed they wanted something great but don’t stick to their word. Their is a reason design companies don’t use 99 designs cause they would go broke and likey wouldn’t get chosen. The only loser are the real designers and a person who barely knows how to design will get chosen because of the bad taste of these contest holders.

Stan Lee

wrote the following on Thursday May 13, 2010

The only people who benifit on 99 designs are contest holders and poor designer who know nothing about designing but get chosen for a peticular reason though their designs might not having anything to do with the contest and it may be poorly made while you the real designer might get eliminated repeatly each time you enter into that contest or each time they chosen to enter into different contests because you arent a liability to them, they those contest holders who have low expectations and know nothing about designing. Its bad enought the price award is low but if you’re a professional or you might say a real designer you won’t win contests on there.

Don’t try entering you’ve find its a waste of time.

No 99 designs doesn’t work for real designers. A designer can’t build a career off it or not even get quick money from doing a contest even if they are professionals. The contest holders don’t know anything about design, have poor taste, bad eyesights and low expectations. Contest holders will write a brief report on what they expect but its unreliable as they always backstave it. A designer can design over and over for the same project but won’t get chosen and you can even try designing for different contest/projects but its unlikey you get chosen rather a person who barely knows anthing about designing will get chosen because the contest holder like the color scheme or some lame scheme to that design.In their brief reports or design descriptions they never stick to their word or say what they mean. They give standards but usually pick designs that go against their standards. Designers will design hundreds of designs for one project and get eliminated though they put alot of effort but in the end a red text thats shining will get picked though they claimed they wanted something great, spectcular. They, contest holders, are picky until the end of the deadline and will keep changing their minds until its over. Some thing will be eliminate because it had a wrong color scheme but they don’t care. These contest holders are usually the ones with bad designed websites. Some of these people, contest holders, are lazy people who are to lazy/dumb to use microsoft fronts to get same results for the designs they pick at the end though they claimed they wanted something great but don’t stick to their word. Their is a reason design companies don’t use 99 designs cause they would go broke and likey wouldn’t get chosen. The only loser are the real designers and a person who barely knows how to design will get chosen because of the bad taste of these contest holders.

Designers on 99 designs are not a liablity to them, contest holders,like a firm/design company would have with a client company so they can eliminate you without any worries and backstave their own requirments in their brief reports they had when the contest began without any legal stipulation against them.

Yes they are those poor, lousy fonie designers who have been on 99 designs and already know how to win and keep on submitting until the dim-witt finds what he likes.

Mike Gemi

wrote the following on Thursday May 13, 2010

For some contest holder on here don’t complain to us because you use 99 designs because you shouldn’t have been using it in the first place. Take it up with 99 designs. Is this website suppose to try to eliminate spam for 99 designs i don’t think so, its a good thing spammers are spamming it.

Orbis Technology, Inc.

wrote the following on Friday May 14, 2010

Designers are highly skilled professionals. Graphic design is a well-established discipline with its own history, foundations, and innovators. One cannot simply commoditise the creative power in a well-trained and vastly-experienced graphic designer.

However, “beauty” is in the eye of the beholder. Some culture-less bastards are never going to know the difference between a Van Gogh and their 3rd-graders water-color hand-print-turned-turkey Thanksgiving Day greeting card.

That said, I think 99designs is for businesspeople who, frankly, tire of the wearisome discussions that professional designers want to have. Yes, your talent is so vast it is almost criminal to confine your unbounded creativity to a corporate marketing manual. Yes, of course you want to talk about the company’s vision, customer response to certain color schemes, and insist that Times New Roman clearly sets the wrong tone as the typeface for internal company memos.

Get over it. Businesses want to pick from options and pay a modest cost. They don’t want to win an art contest. They don’t care about the color wheel or the golden mean or the rule of thirds. They execute ideas that are at 70% maturity. Businesses don’t have the time or inclination to be “excellent” at anything. 70% execution/excellence/satisfaction keeps customers and makes money. Bottom line. 70% gets things done.

tinggi badan

wrote the following on Saturday May 15, 2010

I’ll avoid pointing out the obvious idiocy (“disruptive”, “savvy clients”), which would be about as sporting as kicking a sleeping one-legged dog, and instead focus on the last part of the mission statement, “without the usual risk or cost associated with professional design.”

The devils advocate

wrote the following on Thursday May 27, 2010

No matter how much you whinge and no matter how elegant your blogs are the fact of the matter is that, this site meets a market need.
You can ignore this at your peril, things are a changing and you all need to think about the market place you work in!
History teaches us that ignoring customer’s needs does lead to disaster. I applaud the passion and respect your skills but if you a 3 to 10 times the price for little value then I won’t buy and neither will prudent, cost restricted clients.
Examples o f ” head in the sand mentality”

1. BSA motor cycles. No body will buy those Japanese motor bikes! Ours are much better.
2. American motor industry 1980s. Those Japanese imports aren’t a “threat to our business” they are no where near as good as our cars”!
3. “The corner shop will never die”
4. “The internet won’t stop people buying records”

More up to date. The British Airways dispute has been caused by poor management market forecasting (head in the sand again) of threats to their business during the 90s and 2000s. Market penetration by low cost airlines has lead to significant review of their cost base. BA may survive as a niche and reality says in time graphic design will go the same way.

“Wake up and smell the coffee guys”

P.S. And just because there’s a lot of you with the same opinion doesn’t make you right.

E.G:- 98% of the world once thought the world was flat !!!!!!!!!

P.P.S. Cheer up, embrace change and enjoy your lives, always look for the good in every thing!


wrote the following on Friday May 28, 2010

I do contests every once in a while if a project strikes me. Of the few I’ve competed in I have noticed that most contest holders choose some of the least professional looking logos possible. Ironically they give a big spill on the brief about how long they’ve been in business and how qualified they all are, then they end up choosing a Microsoft Word rendered logo. Remember never compete in these contests if you can’t use the design later for an actual client or find someone who might get use of it. The contests I’ve lost I’ve been successful in keeping the logos/designs for other clients so that the contest wasn’t a complete waste of time. Also, never compete in these contests if you have expectation or are needing a quick buck. Don’t push aside real work for your clients to do something on 99designs. Actually, you’re better off going out in your area and finding new clients instead of wasting hours designing for something you probably won’t win. Comparatively for the price of a logo on 99designs I can design something for my clients in roughly 5 hours, AND they actually appreciate good design.

Just go out and find some clients to do some design work for rather than compete against Asian kids who have no understanding of copyrighting.


wrote the following on Saturday May 29, 2010

While I understand where the author is coming from here, I think that maybe people are making a mountain out of a mole-hill.

Before the dawning of “crowdsourcing” there were generally 2 types of logo users:

1. Serious professionals with an understanding of the importance of effective branding. These people hired designers to create logos and help brand their business/product.

2. People with little or no understanding of the importance of branding, who only see a logo as something to cover that blank patch on their ad. These people generally “hired” their 14 year old nephew who was “a real whizz on computers” to do their logo design, or were suddenly overcome with a burst of artistic flair which they felt the urge to express through the ideal graphic design medium that is Microsoft Word.

Since the arrival of 99designs and its ilk, the logo-needing demographic landscape has reformed, although not as dramatically as many designers might suggest. It seems that, between option 1 and 2 another group have formed (let’s call them group 1.5 shall we?). This Group 1.5 consists of the sort of people that use crowdsourcing sites; these are people that don’t want the expense or hassle involved in talking to a designer and just want a logo that’s better than their existing one, the one that they designed in Microsoft Word a few years ago… waaaaait a second! They’re just the Group 2 guys from earlier but they’ve smartened up a bit.

The point I’m getting to: If you are a serious and talented designer who actively seeks out new clients, rather than sitting on your ass waiting for someone to contact you through that fancy “Contact Us” page on your site, then you have nothing to fear from 99designs. The people that want a logo “quick and cheap” will never come to you anyway, they would just keep bashing away with WordArt and MS Paint indefinitely if it were not for crowdsourcing sites. In my opinion, 99designs offers a glimmer of hope for humanity, as it shows that even Group 2 knuckle-draggers are capable of some sort of evolution.

P.S. The pro-99 argument that “it helps budding designers create a portfolio” is a load of utter wank. Due to the nature of the copyright agreements, if you actually do create something which is chosen, I’m pretty sure you surrender the right to use that image in your portfolio. On the other hand, if your design isn’t chosen, I’m pretty sure there’s no point in you showing your portfolio to a prospective client and saying ‘This logo is the new Nokia logo that I designed for them. They didn’t use it and I’m not really sure if I’m allowed to use their brand name in my own self-promotion, but it’s a sweet logo huh?”


wrote the following on Monday May 31, 2010

I think 99designs is a great idea and provides a valuable service for many small businesses, most of which will be short lived anyway. The first few years of my business I wasted a lot of money on designers who did not provide me with design that reflected the image I wanted to project of the product I manufacture.
No one “forces designers to compete” for work on 99designs. No client has to pay for poorly conceived designs. Most design is already a “disposable business commodity”.

Surrey Web Design

wrote the following on Saturday June 5, 2010

Hear hear, it’s about time companies stopped perpetuating the acceptability of this kind of abuse in the market. Of course anyone can cut your hair, and do it cheap, but as with professional design you look a lot better in front of your clients with a professional logo.

Duane Neveu

wrote the following on Tuesday June 8, 2010

This kind of cheapening of the industry is morally reprehensible, and at its core, I agree with the article.

Might I suggest, however, that in many ways a site like 99designs helps pre-qualify our clients. I personally don’t want a client that would consider using that service. He has obviously devalued his project already.

Beyond that, clients who DO price shop and choose to farm their project there, sometimes learn a lot from the experience and end up born-again seekers of professional designers the next time around.


wrote the following on Saturday June 12, 2010

99design & crowdspring are scam & i have proof, once my all project awarded i exposed them.

stealing themes & backdoor there. i always enter in project at last hour. once i check the previous entry & make a new theme, when project closed, after 2-3 days it’s showing a new design on my theme submitted before me. my mind is stunne.

Small Business Owner

wrote the following on Saturday June 12, 2010

Alot of these comments are clever and very well written and I wish I could organize and express my thoughts just as well as the authors. I just wanted to say that I recently submitted a contest to 99designs for my logo because I’m looking for a logo in a variety of styles for my company, but I can’t afford to go to one or multiple designers after spending around 1500 for a logo I’m not happy with. I’ve already paid waaaaaay much more than I wanted to a designer that made me feel like I was wasting their time once they had used up the hours I paid for. They were very thorough in trying to find out about me and my business, but once the project started, I hardly heard any feedback from them. They gave me a swirly 3d logo, which to me, isn’t good logo design. Don’t get me wrong, they were very talented artists, but I don’t think they implemented the elements of good logo design (printing efficiency and costs, ease of use/transferability between b/w and color, unique and easy to remember).

Now that I’ve paid all this money for a logo I don’t really want to use, and a business card design that they aren’t even going to print (I thought the cost covered the printing as well), I can’t afford to hire another designer. I’m paying for all this out of pocket, too, since my business is basically a start-up business at this point.

So this contest is kinda my close-your-eyes-cross-your-fingers-and-hold-your-breath last shot at getting a somewhat decent logo from a variety of artists for a more affordable price. If I still don’t like what I get, then I’ll have to take a stab at the ol’ MSPaint. Wish me luck!

The link to my contest is at:


wrote the following on Tuesday June 15, 2010

This practice has been going on in the tech industry every since 90% of the population learned how to make a web site. Sites like these are only going to separate the men from the boys. Likewise, the people who purchase products from this site are more than likely people who don’t have the budget for a “real designer”.

I have a friend who wants to start doing photography on the side and wants to get a brand presence with $250 (which includes the printing of business cards). Which one of you would like to design a logo for him? I’m pretty sure the answer is none. Now you might call him cheap, but he has never made any money off photography despite the lofty expenses of purchasing photography gear.


wrote the following on Friday June 18, 2010

After I discovered 99designs, I stopped playing games on my ipod. Whenever I needed a break, I looked for interesting contests and played with creating designs.

Pictionary Design Office

wrote the following on Saturday June 26, 2010

We’ve just got kicked out from what seemed to be a serious business relationship because the client considers 99designs the “proper budget friendly” way to go. Such bullshit! Great article!


wrote the following on Sunday June 27, 2010

Fantastic article. Thanks

RMB Web Design

wrote the following on Tuesday July 6, 2010

99designs can be a helpfull thing.
It is far better to have people proactive and actually getting involved in designing than playing games.

99designs makes it easy to get doing stuff.

Sure I would rather people use our company, sure there is no comparison compared to a company, but designers have a chance to earn a little extra money. Its nice

air jordan

wrote the following on Thursday July 8, 2010

It is far better to have people proactive and actually getting involved in designing than playing games.

air jordan

wrote the following on Friday July 9, 2010

We’ve just got kicked out from what seemed to be a serious business relationship because the client considers 99designs the “proper budget friendly” way to go. Such bullshit! Great article!


wrote the following on Monday July 12, 2010

I have not tried 99designs or any other logo design contests before. But I personally think that 99designs can be one option in search for logo designs for small companies during their starting point. I might give it a try just to see what the beginners can come out with. The only logo design company I’ve tried before was the Logo Design Creation. I’m glad I’ve chosen them to design my logo. The latest involvement with the company has for me been frustrating due to my time constraints, but Logo Design Creation patiently awaits for my edits, then responds to the edits in a professional but cordial manner. The responsiveness in turnaround time was great. There was no delay in the interaction making the process go smooth and efficient. In addition, there was no pressure.The designers are always on point to work through the process as I have instructed. I have had a great relationship with the Logo Design Creation team and look forward to continue for all my design needs.


wrote the following on Tuesday July 13, 2010

Well It is hard to get paid for your work as most of the time the client picks some douche design. I am looking at this site as pure competition and working on it when I have some free time. It is not like working for client where u got the brief and “U” r the designer. In here the better wins!!! So it looks like that you r just frustrated that u never hack it right mate. lol


wrote the following on Tuesday July 13, 2010

The advice offered by everyone here is greatly appreciated but can you ladies and gentlemen suggest positive alternatives to 99designs, etc… websites and actual industry related companies / firms that would agree to at least discuss someone doing website design and logo creation work for them?

logo design

wrote the following on Sunday July 18, 2010

99designs is good for people and startups who do not have truck loads of money to spew on professional logo design companies. its the best bet for newbie entrepreneurs who are on a shoestring budget and have not yet been able to lay their hands on a fat venture capitalist.

Budding Designer

wrote the following on Monday July 19, 2010

Hmm interesting article, but unfortunately i gotta hand the kudos to the positive comments (like Mark’s especially-nice going man!)…

I discovered the world of graphic design and its limitless possibilities through 99designs, thanks to a friend who introduced it. And like some of the comments mentioned, it takes one away from passive habits into a creative ecstasy. My friend (who was once a troublemaker) even went so far as making his otherwise unimpressed and frustrated dad, proud of him for once! Impressive, no?

I understand that designers’ creativity isn’t something that clients can just simply choose from a colorful variety like one would do at the snack aisle of a grocery store. But then again, just like any fast-growing industry, there’s bound to be competition – clients want more value for less money. Unfortunate but so true…

It’s a good place to practice, grow, and perhaps even flourish. Designers have a choice to join the wave or move on elsewhere.

I don’t think there’s a good enough reason to complain for the existence of a casual site allowing budding contenders (like yours truly) to get a taste of a what a competative environment is like.

Besides it’s really convenient, and it inspires the rather hopeless creative living in underdeveloped (i find the term 3rd world racist) nations to look up to themselves.

I don’t know, maybe you’re just insecure? Can’t take the competion? I think you should be motivated to keep competion away with breathtaking designs instead of condemning it with internet poetry.


wrote the following on Friday July 23, 2010

So are there any other websites out there we can use which are held in a higher regard than


wrote the following on Sunday July 25, 2010

I know, I agree that these sites are totally screwing it up for us designers. 95% of the designs I submitted were given 4/5 stars and after 50 entries i only got one paying gig. I lost my job due to the economy over a year ago and I honestly didn’t know what to do, I haven’t work in the field at all since i got my degree and I didnt have a portfolio to be able to go out there and find jobs. There was no work that I would want to do and finding clients proven almost impossible, they to want everything done for very low prices because of the sites like these. I honestly work hard on my designs and I don’t mind doing several corrections as long as I get feedback from my client and as long as I am guaranteed to get paid for my work. I had a client tell me that he wants me to do the project that I should just submit few design so he can take a look, I spend weeks doing research, collecting books and imagery, making sketches and finally I submitted the layout. After all that what I got was, I’ve decided to have someone design and code the site so I will not need your services. I said that is fine just pay me for the time I did spend on your project and we go our ways. Guess what, he told me to go F myself. I am not stating that I am top notch designer out there but looking at some entries on 99designs I am often simply offended that my design was not chosen. There are many flaws with that site, first of all so called “designer” companies post projects there for which they get payed good money but they pay 1 lucky designer a tiny part of that and they get 100s if not thousands of concepts for their future gigs. If they would at least limit how many designers can participate it would be better but sometimes it is impossible to compete, even if you had a great design there are 100s to look though and 100 of those people look and see your work and get your ideas. So I chose to participate in blind contests at least others can’t see your work. But even then the contest holder can easily put a mole in their own competition and award the money to themselves but they see all the concepts and simply copy the ideas as close as possible.

I know it messed up but I am honestly desperate for work, I need to make money to live and I am hoping that at least some of my work will sell, I am sticking to this for few more weeks after that I should have at least a portfolio to show and will start looking for work.

It would be great if there was a way to stop sites like these from profiting but it seems impossible, in foreign countries $100 is a lot of money when to us its not much at all. I would be happy even with 100 at this point, what I dislike is the fact that we spend hours and days doing work and chances are you will not get ANYTHING at all out of it, often even some rude comments. Its just frustrating at times :(


wrote the following on Tuesday July 27, 2010

I read the article with interest, being a current customer and provider on Elance, and a customer on 99Designs…

I am not a graphic designer but I am a web developer. Much the same as the comments indicate here – competition is stiff on websites like Elance for the easy, cheap buck. Convincing customers it is worth the extra couple of hundred or thousand to develop their website with you is a never-ending task. But it is something that you improve over time: i.e. selecting customers who you know fit your business.

I used to think about competing on Elance with dread – how am I going to come in under budget compared to cheap labour elsewhere in the world with lower living costs?

Well I was thinking about it the wrong way – I am not competing on their level. I offer something different and unique: true customer service, amazing translation of technology requirements to real-world business requirements and outstanding attention to detail. These are things that are sorely lacking in many bids for websites on Elance. And most people who use Elance as a customer more than once know that to get that – they need to set their budget higher and expect a higher price. And thats who I target. I don’t waste my time with low price projects – I just bid on higher priced projects that meet my values and unique service delivery.

So now I don’t look at sites like 99Designs or Elance with dismay. What they do is target a specific market, as some of the other comments have noted -small startups, people willing to take a chance on low cost designs etc. And we surely can’t argue with that – doesn’t every small business start with really low cash flow?

From a design side, I have personally shelled out both thousands of dollars for a logo from a single designer and hundreds of dollars on a logo from 99Designs. And I am equally happy with both.

Do you know why? It is because my expectations have been set. I don’t expect hundred-thousand dollar designs on 99Designs – I expect what I pay for.

To give all the designers here my perspective as a prospective customer: what I do like about 99Designs is variety. Sometimes if I go to one designer I get a design with similar elements or style in all their designs. If I go to 99Designs, I usually get 40+ designs that are very different (because I can choose to hide designs from other designers), expanding my horizons and vision. I will pay for a design (I NEVER take it and run, although I understand some might in this world) and then I do one of two things: I go back to the original designer and ask them to refine it for additional money; or I may even go to my local designer and ask them to refine it and pay them to make it even better.

I guess what I am trying to say is: don’t be dishearted or threatened by cheap, stiff competition like the lower priced 99Designs competitions. As professional businesses, we all have the commodity challenge – no matter whether we are IT, graphic design or even a mining company. Instead: target the customers you know will pay you the money for your unique services, build relationships with the customers who you know will value your services and differentiate your business based on your unique branding and unique value proposition.

If you do this, you will find those cheaper designers will always be scrambling for customers, while you are expending less energy and time making long-term customers happy and gaining their ongoing business.


wrote the following on Thursday August 19, 2010

and on top of everything they made the 99designs logo store so the designers put their left-over work there and for what? just for the unethical thief designer to get inspired.
and they’re all copyrighted designs anyway.
it’s so frustrating and depressing
99designs stinks!

Sean Coleman

wrote the following on Tuesday August 31, 2010

99 Designs should be called 99% Crap. The prices are low and attractive, but if you’re on a budget (e.g. $300 for a logo) there are much better alternatives than doing spec work with inexperienced “designers”.

I posted a project on once to get my logo designed. It’s all college student designers, so the cost is low like 99Designs/CrowdSpring but I was able to work with one girl over a week with several iterations (she was quite patient with me).

I’m all for supporting students starting their careers, and since they are looking to build their portfolios, they’ll bend over backwards for your design, and aren’t looking for a quick buck.


wrote the following on Saturday September 4, 2010

hey everyone here is cursing 99designs but can anyone tell me what small time entrepreneurs like me will do if i need a logo designed for less?

and moreover if designers dont have a problem in designing in logo contests then whats wrong with it?


wrote the following on Friday September 10, 2010

I’m with “Wondering” here. I’m looking for design services (logo first, treatment, complete website soon, then print collateral, etc.) + I had a network of designers at one time, but they’re currently all engaged in F/T gigs. Searching Craigslist for designers yields almost nothing. So — is there a portal where we as potential clients can look at multiple designer portfolios + understand designer capabilities + price ranges — that is, an alternative to the 99designs model, else, as a way of at least starting — it’s quite compelling (and I’m saying that as a friend of many designers + someone who wholeheartedly believes in the design process). So — put the rants on hold. Where do we go online to find designers?


wrote the following on Wednesday September 22, 2010

Let me tell you a story about a guy in the US who outsourced using 99designs:

The wining design for the patriotic looking book cover, Justice for All Saving Justice in America, is from the Philippines:

The winning site design you ask?
The winner is from Pakistan:

As a designer there is no way I can make a profit from 99 designs, I have kids to feed at California prices. Yet Good Morning America states, “Each month about $125,000 in business from the site goes to U.S. designers”. As if 99 designs is helping people from the U.S… Outsourcing right… How does that help?


wrote the following on Thursday September 23, 2010

I have used 99designs previously (basically just to see how it worked) and it was an absolute joke.

And the designs submitted where absolute ass.

Any how, I really enjoyed your article and I’m glad your called them out..

nb: Another site that I think will start popping up on people’s radars soon is activeden (envato). They claim they sell thousands of ‘professional templates’ (for $30~).

Now if you stalk any of their ‘designers’ , ie: Read their twitter profiles, or visit their websites, each and every one of them, almost seems like a ‘ghost designer’ ..

They’re all young (amazingly gifted ‘kids) running out of romania, or asia and the only work they’ve EVER done, is the one theme on the activeden site.. It all seems a little suspicious to me.

Food for thought.

Omnipresent Marketing

wrote the following on Friday September 24, 2010

“…can you ladies and gentlemen suggest positive alternatives to 99designs…”

One alternative is We’ve used the site with some level of success after reading a review in Wired magazine.

Another alternative is where you can post a fixed-bid contract and ask for satisfaction guarantee. If you work with individual designers and make your specs clear, you may get some results for even a better price than 99designs.

My 2 cents…


wrote the following on Saturday September 25, 2010

Guys…this is business. The internet doesn’t care about your feelings. Napster came along and upset many musicians. Did it go away? No. If the market is there (or is created through the technology) then it will stay. You can jump onto the bandwagon or get left behind. Either way…the pride you take in your work is irrelevant.
And the term disruptive? That means it is a technology that is changing the status quo. I get that you artists rely on feelings to inspire your work but when it comes to the technology that allows you to create and promote what you do…your feelings mean nothing.
Welcome to the world of technology guys…if this was so bad then why are so many artists using it? Better question…why are so many businesses using it?
Here’s an idea…drop the irrelevant emotions that nobody cares about and learn how the real world works.


wrote the following on Sunday September 26, 2010

I’ve slowly worked my way down this post, realizing it’s gone on over two years. And. Of course, these spec work sites have become more prolific.
It’s a power shift.
Say what you like about designers with bloated egos/bank balances, but i think it’s a shift too far. it feels like begging for scraps.
once again it introduces instability into yet another workforce and sets a damaging trend.
I’d never heard of these sites before, when i came accross one called the ‘design crowd’, I thought it was a freelance/bidding site at first but as soon as i saw this concept of ‘‘competition’‘ my bullshit detector went haywire.
contrary to what i’ve read it seems like there are some big players in this game, in it to save a few bucks in places where they really should be investing, no doubt at the sacrifice of bloated management. To be honest their precence isn’t dominant, but it’s a trend that could well lead to a good old fashion ‘race to the bottom’ with everyone losing out.
I know we’re marching boldy towards a more mechanized world. a world of cost and lessened ‘actual’ human interactions, the one store i don’t shop online at is the supermarket which has a 50/50 human/self checkout feel to it. It’s ‘progress’ yes i’m sure, but any serious designer who celebrates his craft becoming just a faceless, mechanized, knock-up job really should question themselves and question the future of their career.
The thing that really astounds me from reading all these posts is how many people who are so eager for supposed progress. So fatal and worn in to believing that false ‘bottom line’ progress is inevitable and how we all just accept it.
Atttitudes have certainly changed, especially with the younger generation. I’ve seen all sorts of workforces displaced in my lifetime, but i’ve sympathized with them, tried to change things in what way i could, not sat there bleating ‘‘tough shit, that’s change.’‘ So eager and excepting of the dog eat dog philosophy slowly bred into their minds since birth. ‘‘That’s just the way it is’‘.
if allowed every single aspect of life will be reduced to the bottom line. It will be a world of bloated, rich management and a massive skilled workforce working for factory labour prices. Any kind of artistry, pride or skill will have long ago been sacrificed in the face of ‘‘change’‘ as the artist becomes completely displaced and reduced to a bargain bin commodity.
Luckily it’s just logos they’ve bitten off which can just about be blagged, but believe me the rest is all for grabs and being sized up with ‘bargain bin’ glares.
it comes down to that. Those who see design as a serious discipline, an artform and those who see it as something to be knocked up as fast as possible with no thought and process, no soul, perhaps plagiarized then handed out for a stipend.

Would you sell you’re soul for a sausage roll?

Esvelte Web Design

wrote the following on Monday October 4, 2010

Wow, this post hit a nerve two years ago and is still absolutely relevant today. Points made comparing this kind of service to Napster-like file sharing services and the plight of musicians does have a ring of truth to it. Are technology and market forces taking us towards a scenario where design is something which is considered in the same way music and movies are to today’s teenagers (i.e. not something that you save up for and buy from a supplier but just download for free or cheap from the internet). If so, the role of a designer will no longer be a professional career choice and will be for hobbyists who go and work in a bank during the day (or whatever) and design for fun in their spare time (bedroom musicians would be the parallel from the earlier comparison).

That said, larger companies and big brands will always have the need for specific design work to meet their business objectives. Therefore there will always be work for designers at that end of the business. However, for the designers working small jobs (musicians playing in bars and clubs?), we may well be approaching the end of the road.


wrote the following on Friday October 8, 2010

You guys are just whiners. Obviously large companies with large budgets should invest in design work to secure their brand and image. But keep in mind that we operate in an open market online. And if the market dictates that online jobs (design work/ coding) go to the lowest bidder than so be it. That means you’ll have to work harder to earn your pay in your real world communities, rather than continue to pull from your honey pot that has been there for this long.

There are kids online who can run circles around your sophisticated design staff who “understands” where the business owner wants to take the company, and come up with far more impressive designs. They however do not have any credibility in your world because they have not worked for a large management bloated design company.

So don’t be mad they have an opportunity to earn some of the money that would normally have gone towards you, and they are doing it for lower cost. To be quite frank I’d rather see multiple designs from multiple designers than be promised I’ll love something from your company before I’ve even seen your vision.

Just my two cents


wrote the following on Tuesday October 12, 2010

I haven’t laughed so hard in ages! I can’t believe that you so-called ‘professional designers’ can be so precious about your jobs. Yes, it’s just a job like any other in this capitalist system and your sacred logos are only commodities just like all art. You can fight against capitalism for a better future for all of us (though I’d wager you couldn’t give a shit) but you can’t just declare your profession above it.
I’m a working class man working hard at a shitty job that pays the bills and I do a bit of design work as a hobby in my spare time.
If that threatens your livelihood then I must be a pretty good designer and you’ve got competition. If it doesn’t threaten you and you simply dismiss me as a ‘shitty designer’ churning out ‘shitty work’ then what’s the harm?
Of course I’m being expoloited; just like I am in my day job! What’s the fucking difference?
Yes, most of the work on 99 Designs is absolute crap. It’s so crap that I can’t belive people have the nerve to submit it but it provides me with some chuckles and that can’t be a bad thing.


wrote the following on Friday October 15, 2010

I agree. 99designs has become the Walmart of so many industries. Mom and pop stores are getting destroyed by Walmart around the country just like many quality designers are missing out on business. It is definitely hurting the little guys and very sad to see.


wrote the following on Friday October 22, 2010

I’ve found the occasional scrap of work on 99designs (and been paid for it). If nothing else, it helped hone some skills in a pseudo-real-world environment and I’ve made some work of which I’m rather proud.

What’s been bothering me lately is the apparent lack of caring on the 99designs staff regarding copyright infringement. Sure, they pay lip-service to “caring about copyright infringement” but the evidence from taking action just doesn’t seem to be there anymore.

I just reported a design from a ‘designer’ that took an image — lock stock and barrel — from a site for Photoshop artwork, tossed some text on it and submitted it as a final piece of CD booklet art. And he did this at least twice with at least two different images from at least two different sites. The response from 99designs was “the user has been warned”.

WARNED? The user clearly STOLE someone else’s work and is trying to use it — unlicensed — for commercial gain. The user shouldn’t be “warned”, he should be permanently banned from the site and reported to the local agency who prosecutes copyright infringement. It’s pathetic.

I see unlicensed images nearly constantly on the site. Any time someone requests a specific element in a logo, for example, the clip-art comes flying.

I’m writing this here to hopefully caution other users of 99designs — particularly those who might be looking for something to be designed — that, really, you get what you pay for. The design you choose may be copyrighted by someone else and you could end up in legal trouble.

Tom Fulep

wrote the following on Tuesday October 26, 2010

Designer snobbery!


wrote the following on Wednesday October 27, 2010

Welcome to the world of designer sweatshops.


wrote the following on Saturday November 13, 2010

Dude, 99designs is all about scamming, stealing is complete crap. Only a fool would go to start a “contest” there. All the “designers” there are thieves who steal clip art or logos from legit logo websites or designers, change them a bit then post them for the clients. That’s the worst place you can look for a logo, plus all the crowds sourcing schemes like crowdSPRING and other dirty places like that.


wrote the following on Sunday November 14, 2010

When you lose a client who seems to want to go the way of 99designs, because they can get a logo for $50 then it makes you realise this 99design website, is yet another nail in the coffin for many struggling artists, I am all in support of petitioning and getting this 99design site taken down.

Astral Projection

wrote the following on Wednesday November 17, 2010

GGdedesigns is by no way an acceptable alternative for business solutions that I would adapt!


wrote the following on Thursday November 18, 2010

Let me start by reminding you folks that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. It makes no difference how much experience or formal education you have when it comes to the arts. All that matters is the opinion of the person you are designing for.

John Q. “Contest Holder” probably doesn’t give a rat’s backside where or if you went to school or how much you think your precious “vision” is worth. He’d also probably just as soon give his money to an eight-year old Haitian kid with a pirated copy of Adobe Creative Suite if he liked his design better than yours.

News Flash: The world is over-populated and there are billions of other people out there looking to make money, some of which who possess enough technical ability to…wait for it….USE ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR or PHOTOSHOP!

Oh my God! How do they do it? Are you telling me that it doesn’t take the intelligence of a particle physicist to create some text and draw a snappy little icon that conveys the persona of a business based on the proper interpretation of a client’s instructions? Wow! Do you realize what could happen if this gets out? We’ll all be out of work!

Unless you’re a complete moron, or you just really suck as graphic artist, you know that 90% of today’s advertising and corporate corporate clients are looking for simple, clean & modern designs. It doesn’t take a mental giant to put together a nice quiet sans-serif font with a simple but clever abstract icon and make it pleasing to the eyes.

It takes real talent to be a great graphic artist, but it only takes an I.Q. of about 110 or so to be a good one, even without formal training. Almost anybody can observe the latest trends in design and then figure out how to recreate and incorporate those elements into new designs. Whether you want to admit it or not, we all take inspiration from work that already exists on a regular basis.

I think we all can agree that there’s no shortage of moronic clients out there as well. Reminds me of that old saying.. “There’s no accounting for taste”. At the end of the day, all that matters is what the person who is paying for the work is happy with.

Yes, the “prize amounts” from sites like 99designs could be a little better, but I’m not complaining. Perhaps that could be because I am winning some of the contests that I enter. Hmmm? Of course I lose three contests for every one that I win, but it still works out because I’m fast and I’m getting pretty damn good compensation for the hours that I put in.

Spec work is not for everyone, but it is great for some. My question is that if you are such an accomplished and visionary designer, then what the heck are you even looking at sites like 99designs for? Shouldn’t you be off somewhere creating your next masterpiece of modern branding? Oh well… they never understand you anyway. That’s just one of the burdens of being a creative genius!

Try not too worry too much about it. Just get back out there and keep being “God’s Gift to Graphic Arts”.

Web Design Cardiff

wrote the following on Thursday November 18, 2010

sites like 99designs will kill off the design industry.

They undermine what we do – they encourage ‘design cowboys’.

You get cowboys in the building trade, you get them in web design…which destroy the industry….

There is nothing worse when a client is convinced his ‘mate’s brother’s kid’ can create a website or graphic for a fraction of your quote

What some people fail to see is the amount of work/experience that goes in to your final product.

great article!!


wrote the following on Wednesday November 24, 2010

Ok – reposting this (issues the first time, sorry!).

Question from a different line of work – software. Regardless of how large (or small) the software company is, clients usually ask for a demo of the app before buying. For clients that are businesses, this usually involves a demo tailored to the client’s business process.

For customers that are consumers, many offer a trial period. Try-before-you-buy works, and that is mainly because it is the same piece of code and can be sold to someone else as is, well, for the most part anyways.

In design, of say a logo, there is almost always no re-use. So, I can see why spec work, especially design contests, could hurt designers especially those that lose.

Now for the question – how then do those of you that dont do spec work, convince clients to buy into your services? There is mention of the time and effort required to cultivate a long term relationship. But even these have to begin with something. In software, almost always, a demo or proof of concept is needed. So what replaces the demo, in design work?

Please believe me when I say this is not an argument for or against spec; I am merely trying to understand.

Thomas R.

wrote the following on Tuesday December 14, 2010

99designs is not as bad as some of you are making it out to be. Some small businesses simply do not have the budget to throw at a local designer, that’s just the way it is. You may not spend $50 on a white shirt made locally, but you’ll probably buy the $5-10 shirts made outside the USA. Furthermore, crowdsourcing design leads to a superior number of ideas… just think about it. One mind won’t have all of the ideas for a brand as 100 minds.

To those of you who are looking at running your own 99designs contest and are afraid of the lackluster designs submitted, know that the contest holder drives the project. If you can properly communicate with your designers then you’ll make out with a great logo; however, if you don’t have the time to properly communicate with your designers then you’ll probably get an OK logo.

My first contest I did not expect to spend the amount of time that I did with the contest… it was overwhelming to say the least. My second contest I was too busy with other projects and found a company to manage my contest for me. I have to tell you, it was well worth it. YBR Design’s 99designs Logo Service ( ) took care of my entire contest for me. Not only did I receive more entries, but overall better designs because of the way YBR Design communicated with the designers.

All I am saying is:
1. Not everyone has the budget for a local designer.
2. Crowdsourcing means more ideas, don’t limit yourself to one brain.
3. Not everyone has the time to run a quality 99designs contest.
4. Find someone, such as YBR Design, to professionally manage your contest for you if you cannot do it effectively.

Bill Shadrach

wrote the following on Wednesday December 15, 2010

After reading lots of rant posts by designers about design crowdsourcing and how crowdsourcing is just a spec work ripoff, I started wondering what is driving the rage? I’ve seen it before…when Walmart moves into a new area, everyone starts raging about Walmart. When Boeing starts building plane parts in some other part of the world then Unions start ranting about exporting jobs. Want to see rant, then watch Cspan any day…someone is ranting about something. RANT, Rant, rant…seems as though it’s a common response. These are not crazy rants either, they are on point, fact filled (albeit one-sided) and generally lucid. In fact, I think the rants are really just an expression of designers righteous indignation. Yes, that’s right, let’s get righteous. How dare those rich so and so’s ask us poor designers to show them our work for free?!

So, when a design contest holder runs a design and gets hundreds of entries and then flakes out on the prize, the assumption is that they are stealing someones work to make their own logo. I agree, it probably does happen, but not in my contests! I’ve run almost 20 successful contests with hundreds of entries each and every one has paid the prize. I value the designers work and collaborate with each one to ensure that they are maximizing their chances of winning the prize money. I grade each entry and respond with direction and also treat them with respect. For a look at some of the results of our contests, check out the results here. Also, these designers are world citizens, embracing technology that brings clients from around the world into their design studio. Wow! Isn’t Al Gore amazing.

Let’s face it, the internet and design crowdsourcing is a game changer. The current big design studios who are getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to generate new logos like the new Gap logo or the new Tropicana package are one step closer to the grave. As their old paradigm of “pay alot to get alot” is challenged by the new crowdsourcing model. CMOs’, VP’s and Directors of Marketing, Brand Manaagers and Marketing managers are beginning to awaken to the new reality…hey, we can get alot and we don’t have to deal with a “suit” and pay tens of thousands of dollars to some snotty guy with round glasses (you know who you are). It all kind of reminds me of the Dr. Seuss book, The Sneetches. You remember; “Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars. Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small. You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all…. To the Sneetches it was all about “stars.” To the big design companies, it’s all about maintaining their giant BS factory that creates logos for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What’s the connection? Well, what if you couldn’t tell the difference between a great logo from,, or any of the other contest sites. It’s coming…big design, watch out. Great design doesn’t have to cost alot and there are tens of thousands of designers all over the globe waiting to show you that new paradigm.


chris tabor

wrote the following on Thursday December 23, 2010

Whether your for or against 99designs (et al) is irrelevant to the damage it can cause many professions. I put together an article discussing current and future implications of crowdsourcing, please check it out and comment!


wrote the following on Wednesday December 29, 2010

Well I agree with you to an extent. I agree designers should respect the design community and this might affect not just the customers but also the design industry as a whole.

I however think sites such as these are a Godsend for designers from other countries where the value of the $ is much higher. Ive been designing, and designing well enough – I am not the “lowest common denominator of grade-school dropouts whose portfolio’s crown jewel is a logo for their dad’s wholesale llama manure clearing house” you have so romantasized – for many years now. I shifted career paths and Im a Software engineer now who designs as a hobby and the kind of clients we get in India is abysmal. I was asked to design a Christmas Card for a huge and very, very prestigious car manufacturer in India for their local office employees (about 2000). They wanted me to use a stylized version of the logo in it, and the amount I had quoted was just about $50, and they declined coz it was “over budget”. Considering I was supposed to spend at least a couple of days on this, the amount in India ($50) is a good amount to earn in that short a span. And yet, such a comparatively small amount in dollars was a large amount for the company.

Taking this as an example, a minimum of $200 for a logo is a HUGE amount to earn in India for freelancers. In India, freelancers working on Logo design cannot expect more than $50-$100 for their design, and that is IF the client is a good guy :(


wrote the following on Monday January 3, 2011

I have only one question. Why is it that sites like 99designs are allowed to register users that do not pay their Adobe license? This is where big software companies must step in. I’ve payed 6k $ for my latest Adobe collection, and a teenager from Farfaraway Land can compete with a p2p downloaded software in the same industry?

If a license check on 99 designs will be instituted , the site could be renamed to “”.


wrote the following on Wednesday January 12, 2011

WOW – this is a really interesting string of responses. I use 99 Designs and Crowdspring to post competitions for – as it basically gives us a vehicle as a newer start up to run competitions we wouldnt otherwise be able to run (as you have to run T&C’s through legal departments.

I genuinely hope I’m not hurting any designers in the process…i am actually an amatuer designer myself.

I can kind of see both sides of the coin…I think a designer in India won one of our $500 dollar contests, whic is like the lady above me said – A LOT of money in India.

It’s really all driven by market forces and technology rather than some sort of ‘disruptive behavior’. It’s similar to the market it work in – microstock photography. It’s a new market area – stock photos can now cost a few dollars rather than hundreds or thousands. And the worlds designers flocked to companies like istock to buy them.

Anyways – I am not sure if I am right or wrong! It think a lot of crowdsourcing comes for students and juniors and people overseas. But you never really know I guess.

Don’t hate me too much for using them!


Como Ganar dinero

wrote the following on Thursday January 13, 2011

The ideas offered by everyone here are greatly appreciated but can you please suggest a good alternatives to 99designs

Budding Web Designer

wrote the following on Thursday January 27, 2011

Alright, alright, alright; I don’t care if you call me a “newb” or “stupid”, but I just got into the industry of web design and I have no idea who these 99design people are. From the sound of both the article and the comments, they are a site I should in general stay away from, but I don’t want to base my entire opinion on hear-say. Can someone perhaps link me to an example of their work, or support this argument with proof? That would be great. I want to know exactly what I am getting into.

Orbis Technology, Inc.

wrote the following on Saturday January 29, 2011

It’s been some time and I’ve reviewed some updates.

I’m an information technology professional. I have hundreds of hours of training, tens-of-thousands of hours of experience, and I know what I’m doing. I’m in an elite class of professionals known as “our computer guy.”

All sarcasm aside, I deal with people who expect they their networks will never go down. Clients tell me “Google never goes down. How hard could it be?”

As a professional, your focus is your work. For some, it is your life. For everyone else walking this planet – they don’t care.

99designs works because it delivers what people are looking for, in an efficient manner, for a fair price. Hate Walmart? Check you bank statements. My guess is that you’ve bought product from Walmart. Most people do. The “corner shop” with someone you know and trust brings a level of comfort to a routine transaction, but in reality, what more are you really getting? Walmart is a global retailer that uses weather information to determine how to stock stores. Can the corner store bring that kind of efficiency to the table? Doubtful.

True artisans and craftsmen – of which I am one – live in a world of guilds, niche markets, personal relationships, and boutique businesses. We don’t cater to every style. We don’t cater to every client. We pick and choose the projects that interest us.

Educating the populous about why your skills are in need are pearls thrown to swine.

99designs, Walmarts, Geek Squads, and other big names will always win with numbers. There are a few consumers that appreciate quality; that buy a chair, or piece of art, or a car, or a design, or a computer from a true professional because there is something more than the commodity that they appreciate. Focus their.

I love 99designs. Just as much as I love a farmers market, a kit car built by a local mechanic, or a rare Ferrari. The world is bigger than one website.

Go forth and develop your skills and your market. Work diligently and defend your principles. You won’t become Walmart, but how sexy is Sam Walton’s story, anyway?

logo design new zealand

wrote the following on Monday January 31, 2011

Interesting post Kevin. I see your points and tend to agree on the most part, however I do see 99designs view on lead generation. I personally dont like the 99designs way of business either, but just because its not for me doesnt mean it doesnt have its place, at the end of the day if the clients and designers using 99designs use that site and get value from that is what really matters. Those that use 99designs and feel ripped can only take a good lesson depending on which side of the fence they are on… that woudl either be, you get what you pay for or working for penuts isnt much fun.


wrote the following on Monday January 31, 2011

Its been almost 2 year since I first went to 99designs.
was still thinking about use them..

Any good alternatives to where to find good designers?

José de Ponte

wrote the following on Wednesday February 9, 2011

I understand the point of view of a professional designer that hates 99designs, because whether you like it or not: they take a chunk of the market from professional designers, and it is also true that the quality of some projects may be very low. but if a monkey could get to a computer and learn the basic of how to work with illustrator and then came up with a good concept for a logo or for something else, would it really matter for the client that the concept and the project was designed by an illiterate and unprofessional monkey? I don’t think it matter.

PS: clients don’t need to be educated about their tastes and desires, they want a certain product, they pay for it and obtain the quality they payed for.


wrote the following on Tuesday February 15, 2011

Hum,…the business model,… is hazardous to a designers pro income.

1. Standard pricing and bonus money per design,..

2. a 10% down per client design request. ( if design is rejected, fix it,… reputation is everything ).

3. Designer portfolio, will sell skills to clients along with a client rating per design, will keep up quality control.

4. 5% per design goes to the business ( excludes client bonuses ).


Steve Adams

wrote the following on Wednesday February 23, 2011

WARNING to any designer thinking about opening an account with 99designs…You will not be able to close your account.

I am posting this because of the deplorable, unprofessional and deceitful attitude shown towards designers on this site. I have been submitting designs in contests on this and other sites over the last eight months and have now, due mainly to lack of time decided to close them all. This seemed simple enough until I made the same polite request to 99designs to close my account. It seems they ‘cannot’ delete my account despite my repeated requests to do so. Not only will they not do this but they evade my question as to ‘why and refuse to offer any explanation as to why. However what they do repeatedly ‘offer’ is to falsify my account by changing my name and email address to something completely false and suspend this fictitious account….this whole situation has become totally astonishing.

In all my years in the design and art world, which started in 1973 and has included work for many of the larger high street brand names and book publishers, I have never come across such underhand deceit from an organisation that is supposed to be Professional. I am only left to conclude their reason for not letting designers go is to maintain the illusion of credibility by stating they have 80,000 designers on their books ready and waiting to produce designs…how many of these are fictitious ?… can this figure of 80,000 be genuine and substantiated ? how many other designers have had their accounts suspended in this way. There actions are completely deplorable and just drag down the design profession.

Because their attitude has become so hostile I though you all might like to see the complete transcript of the e.mail correspondence between us………………….astonishing……..

1st message sent to their support dept on Wed 9th Feb 2011

Although I have only been with you a short while I would now like to
close my account with 99 designs. Please could you remove all my info and
previous graphics from your site as soon as possible.Thank you for your
time and services.

Best wishes,
Steve Adams

On 11/02/2011 03:15, 99designs Support wrote:
Hi Steve,

Apologies but we are not able to delete your account – you can however
remove your entries if you wish to.

Kind regards

99designs Customer Support

On Sun, 13 Feb 2011 22:06:13 +1100, Steve Adams wrote:

> Hi Ryan,
> Please could you explain WHY you cannot delete my account and all my
> associated graphics.
> I have just closed my other two accounts with – click 360 and
> CrowdSpring without any problems., so why can’t you do the same.
> Regards
> Steve

On 17/02/2011 02:19, 99designs Support wrote:

> Hi Steve,
> Thanks for your email.
> What we can do is change your username, email and suspend your account if you like?
> Kind Regards,
> Ryan
> 99designs Support Team

On Fri, 18 Feb 2011 02:01:26 -0800, Steve Adams wrote:

> Hi Ryan,
> Thanks for your offer but—
> I DO NOT want
> 1. You to change my username
> 2. Change my e.mail
> 3. Suspend my account
> All I want you to do is CLOSE my account and remove all my graphics, it
> seems simple enough to me.
> As none of my entries in 36 contests were chosen as the winner none of
> my work is being used by anyone.
> You are very fond of reminding designers of their responsibilities
> regarding a professional attitude to work and clients, now it’s time for
> you to do the same, act professionally and close my account.
> Regards
> Steve

Hi Steve,

Thanks for getting back to us! Unfortunately, we cannot delete your account. As previously discussed, we are more than happy to change all of your account details and suspend the account – which essentially is the same thing as deleting it since you will not be associated with the account anymore at all at that point.

Please let me know if you’d like me to do that. Again, we cannot delete your account.

Thanks Steve!


99designs Support Team

Get Real

wrote the following on Sunday February 27, 2011

The market for designers is kind of like the market for realtors. Too many people with not a whole lot of skill that will sell you the world to get your business only to not deliver. Sites like 99designs work because it weeds out the talentless hacks that waste people’s time and money while allowing international competition for a skill set thats frankly nothing more than a cheap commodity.


wrote the following on Thursday March 10, 2011

Bill Shadrach = SPAM

Clearly you have an agenda / vested interest in crowdsourcing since it’s a ‘service’ that you push via your website.

Not understanding why people dislike / rant about Wal-Mart and Boeing business practices proves that you are more of a businessman than a creative thinker / designer. But that’s a whole other topic.

Your blanket statements and generalizations on your website are equally telling of your character – “ In our blog, we often write about the absurd antics of big design, their outlandish expense and heavy tactics…” – and you say about freelancers “…each person has a limited imagination, limited design style and frankly, a limited amount of time to get the design work done.”

Generalizations like that serve only one purpose – to discredit others in the field and convince potential clients that your solution is “ different “ and the one that they should choose. As a freelance designer myself, I take such unfounded claims as a personal attack.

You have no idea how much time others designers spend on projects or how many design options they show their clients. To claim that you do know is disingenuous at best and slanderous at worst.

Looks like you’ve found a great niche´ for yourself. Convince potential clients that design firms are too expensive and local freelancers aren’t creative enough. Outsource the work (for no pay) to as many people as possible and play “ art director “ (I use that term loosely based on your portfolio) until they’ve created a logo you can use, then only pay that one person a flat fee for their creative output.

In my opinion, you’re doing nothing to help the design community, instead you’re doing everything you can to damage the integrity and value of the people who work in this field. All of this to manipulate your audience and SELL YOUR SERVICES. In my opinion, you shouldn’t be allowed to call yourself a designer if you’re really just a salesman.

Just some guy

wrote the following on Saturday March 12, 2011

You guys are a bunch of whiners. Grow up. If you don’t want to live in a competitive capitalistic business world, then don’t participate.

There are different levels of any trade. Graphic designers are no exception. There are good ones and there are bad ones. Obviously the good ones charge more. Higher quality products usually costs more.

You wouldn’t expect to pay much for a shitty car would you?

So if the designers at are soooo shitty, and you guys are soooo talented and deserve more money…then what are you worried about?


wrote the following on Sunday March 13, 2011

A lot has sure changed since this blog entry was published. Seems now Coca Cola, Apple, Google, and the likes are all using crowdsourcing to some extent. Must’ve been a brilliant idea and one all graphic designers better embrace if they want to stay in business. Find a way to make your service more valuable and you’ll still keep yourself busy. It’s all about customer service, and I’ve had better service from eager 99designs contributors motivated to give their very best—than I have from the hooty tooty expensive designers I used to use, who often snubbed us if we didn’t like their initial $3,000 design that they spent an hour or two on.


wrote the following on Sunday March 13, 2011

I think it is crap that you are slamming 99designs and the so Called “high school dropouts” that use the site. For me as a new person getting into the graphic design world it gives me an outlet to get practice and try different ideas. It is a lot more useful than doing the school projects. I have payed for my software i am not using the 30 day trial. As any artists, painter, etc practice makes perfect. It may not be the best idea but for me for right now it is a way for me to try new ideas and get feedback on them. I just see a lot of people who are paranoid that work is being taken from them. If you are that good these companys would seek you out. A lot of the contest holders are small start up companys who cannot budget thousands for a logo design. There are some quality work on that site. And i am not a high school dropout i will be getting my AAB in graphic Design then continuing on to get my Bachelors. Sites like this are a way for me to build some kind of portfolio and not have a bunch of crap that i did for the fun of it or for school projects.


wrote the following on Tuesday March 15, 2011

Wow. What a bunch of whiners. Sitting on your ass and clicking a mouse is not hard work no matter how “artsy” it may be and how stressed out by deadlines you are. Like one of the comments says, this opens up the chance for an “amateur” to compete or somebody from another country where $500 is going to go a helluva long way.

Some designers want $10,000 for a website and a logo. That’s just stupid gate-keeping, elitist crap.

[click-click, click-click, sniffle-sniffle]

You guys are just pissed because now you have to be REALLY good at your job. These are the same people who are pissed that Wordpress sites can compete w/ professionally developed sites (well, not in your “trained” eyes).

Welcome to the Interwebs, folks. You are victims of your own success.


wrote the following on Tuesday March 22, 2011

Hi everyone

I have to say i have used designers from agencies, I have used designers from Odesk, and elancer and they definitely lack creative ability…I have spent 4 hrs explaining my business model to 1 in particular to get a half ass design….

I have not used 99 designs as of yet, however i find the concept interesting and at the end of the day…May the best man win…

I have to bid on jobs in my business why shouldn’t designers??

Aanchal Bharadwaj

wrote the following on Saturday April 9, 2011

Well I’v been working 99D & its not been so bad for me except for 1 occasional contest that was there, I always get paid :)


Steve Fitzpatrick

wrote the following on Tuesday April 12, 2011

I think 99Designs is a great concept – I’m actually just using them for the first time to see if they’re any good.

what I will say is this; If you sit on the other side of the business fence, and employ local designers and spend weeks of development with them only to find their concepts are rubbish and you’ve wasted hours and hours of your time and paid them for something that will not be used. Then you’re left to make the decision of either accepting their work which you may need to do especially if a deadline is looming or you need to go through the whole process again with someone else.

Now can you see how crowdsourcing this kind of work is an excellent idea.

Victor C Luo

wrote the following on Monday April 18, 2011

I dont see how designers can go on just designing for companies without much information about them. What happened to consultation? I do not think this 99designs is any good.

Daniel McMullan

wrote the following on Wednesday April 20, 2011

I like your article.

I feel the same way as you do.




wrote the following on Tuesday May 3, 2011

i just think it’s bad for my own economy. look at this competition awarded to a Phillipine designer

brief We are launching a book in one month that will talk about what is wrong with America’s Financial System, Court System, Healthcare System etc

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with America’s financial system. Companies like these are hiring guys who can work for an awarded amount of $3/hr in Thailand instead of hiring local graphic designers who have higher living expenses and actually have to pay stiff fines if they get caught with pirated software. Nobody hires locally anymore, that’s what’s wrong with America’s financial system!!!


wrote the following on Thursday May 5, 2011

i used 99D once and i am happy with the result.


wrote the following on Monday May 9, 2011

I agree with the most users, which wrote their positive resume and commentars down: This is a nice article, which included some truth.


wrote the following on Wednesday May 11, 2011

lol at all the bitter professionals. If there are so many amateurs over at 99D, why not join a few contests where you will clearly outshine everyone with your superior skills. Perhaps you are upset that you spent thousands of dollars to get some certification that labels you a ‘‘designer’‘, and some self-taught amateur may be just as talented as you. Spending hours at school only ensures you have the knowledge of your craft, it doesn’t provide you with creativity. Reading a few comments reminds of the music industry where people have spent years in school becoming an audio engineer and are broke complaining about the people getting money with an entry-level recording set-up. bottom-line is you pros may think someones work is shitty, but if the client absolutely loves the design, than who gives flying fcuk what you think. your not putting money in my pocket. ive handed over work i was less than thrilled about, but its what the client wanted.


wrote the following on Sunday May 15, 2011

Just wanted to thank the folks here… I’d never heard of 99 designs until I stumbled across it from this post a year ago. There was so much conflict over it I figured at the least it had to be interesting to look it and had to check it out, and then a month ago I had a project so I figured I’d give it a try.

I got so many good designs compared to my normal design guys that I felt obligated to let folks here know that it’s really a decent site with excellent value for a good price. It’s not the same experience you get with a regular designer, but the wide variety of options and wide access to creativity is amazing. I almost think it’s a different niche than a regular design guy, but I’m sure there is crossover and competition for the low end, low quality designers. I think some of the people complaining here are just miffed because they can’t compete in the international community. Welcome to to life in the new USA folks. Most don’t realize that this is the true biggest cause of the recession. I had to make serious adjustments to my career and basically reinvent myself to compensate. You can spend your time complainin’ or you can spend your time evolving. It’s up to you.

Dinero con AdSense

wrote the following on Monday May 16, 2011

I think 99Designs should have stayed as a part of sitepoint marketplace. That way, members holding contests could have been profiled by the past posts they had made.That is my opinion.


wrote the following on Tuesday May 24, 2011

I’m starting a company and working on a small budget. I’m planning to use 99designs or a similar site for my logo design and everything I’ve read here convinces me that this is the best way to go.

Price is only part of the reason, although it’s a big part. I like the idea of being able to see a wide range of ideas from many different people, not just a few ideas from one person.

There’s really no argument being made here against using 99designs, for people who don’t have a big design budget. I understand that many people who are trying to earn a living as designers have made a career choice that’s not working out the way they hoped.

But that’s true for anything that can be delivered electronically. Programmers who are competing against people working in India are having a tougher time, too. Travel agents hardly exist any more thanks to on-line travel sites. Some kinds of photographers are hurt by the price competition of stock photo sites. E-books are changing the way publishing works.

I’m sure that being a designer was much different when logos were primarily for business cards and letterhead and print ads. I can sympathize. I came very close to majoring in an artistic field, but chose engineering instead and often regretted not following my heart. Large paychecks helped me cope. But a few decades later I discovered that my chosen field had changed and I hadn’t kept up … so I’m unemployed and trying to re-boot my career. It can happen to anyone. Things change and you have to roll with the changes.

Objective Observer

wrote the following on Sunday May 29, 2011

As a student and constant researcher, I always tried to look at the design field from a long-term point-of-view.

So far, sites like 99designs, are obviously only hurting the field. Sure, it fill a niche in the free market, but for promising students in the design field, these students are only hurting themselves in the long run. Those who aim to be a professional graphic designer are only gonna lose clients to these type of service, and will only be hypocrites when trying to convince the clients otherwise. What is going to stop the clients from going to sites like 99designs, when they found out your portfolio consist of only logos from these contests? (And even if your portfolio does not, would not that confirm that the designs was a wasted effort?)

All in all, if you are an amateur or a student and is trying to be a professional, there are other ways to get into the field without selling out. It will only hurt you in the long run if you are supporting these type of websites. Please do not add fuel to the factor that is cheapening your profession.


wrote the following on Sunday May 29, 2011

was still thinking about use them..


wrote the following on Saturday June 4, 2011

We’re in the middle of a 99designs contest right now. We wrote an extremely clear, detailed brief, providing plenty of examples of what we were looking for. It’s 4 days into the contest and not one submission even remotely matches what we asked for. Only one of the 13 designers who have submitted so far seems to have actually read the brief. I put a comment on the “contest” to the effect of “please don’t submit XXX-type designs.” In the next few hours, ALL of the submissions that came in were XXX-type designs, as if the designers seem hell bent of doing the opposite of what it said in the brief.
Hopefully something useful will come in the remaining days. I’m very disappointed. I won’t use 99designs again.


wrote the following on Sunday June 5, 2011

I think the reason is that many people do not want to pay much for web design.
Just about there are such companies.


wrote the following on Tuesday June 7, 2011

Hey your site is really great I came across while in search for brand info on bing and it has lots of related information on it. Will be sure to come back again and bookmark. Keep up the great work!


wrote the following on Wednesday June 8, 2011

I actually came here via google trying to ‘figure out’ 99designs and seeing what other people think because I have NO idea why any self-respecting designer would essentially do spec work. Look. I’m a struggling graphic designer. I never made it on the corporate track so I dropped out completely, have been unemployed for over a year, and have now run dry of $$ and am desperately trying to go from unemployed to selfemployed (I started my business about a month ago) but it hasn’t been a smooth transition. I HATE sites like elance and freelancer because all of the bids are basically third world rates. So naturally, I hate the concept of 99designs. I’ve been struggling emotionally to figure out how much I’m worth, and pricing myself low.. And I DO feel a bit desperate in my financial situation at times (bouncing bank accounts, etc) but I absolutely will NOT stoop so low as to do spec work, or elance..

Regina granite

wrote the following on Monday June 13, 2011

I know more than a few “successful” companies that built their whole operation around this philosphy.

“without the usual risk or cost associated with professional design.”

Some how they keep on getting new clients.


wrote the following on Monday June 13, 2011

What a bunch of whiny fairies. You are anti-free market Marxists who can’t compete, so you complain. Losers. I have no vested interest in 99designs, never used it, but as a friend of liberty I find your whining to be seditious and ignorant. Go on welfare where you belong. Losers.


wrote the following on Wednesday June 15, 2011

You are obscenely refreshing. I’m learning a lot, too.


wrote the following on Sunday June 19, 2011

where everything goes wrong.
and doesn’t know why it goes wrong.

on the contrary
I don’t know why this site remove my last comments.

but again.
I encourage more people to use 99design
and encourage them more to refunds!

just think how many designs and ideas you’ll get
multiply the times you refund.

Aloe vera

wrote the following on Tuesday June 21, 2011

The interesting part though is that it really targets “grade-school dropouts”, as you put it quite well. Nobody professional enough would seriously consider taking part in that crap.


wrote the following on Tuesday June 21, 2011

This comes from my perspective, a client. I have recently used 99designs for a web design project. The reason for using this resource is because I was quoted for the design by a number of local designers, and the amount was up 5 times that of the ‘gold’ package I eventually chose on 99designs – so it was budget related (if my budget had been more then maybe I would have picked a local designer). However, 99designs it was. I run the contest over two weeks with a guaranteed prize at the end. There were designs that ranged from abysmal (If my 5 year old had done it I would have banished him from ever touching a computer) to excellent. The excellent ones had clearly read and followed the brief. I had to choose from one of the designers, which is where I can empathise with the designers – it was clear all three had put in a mammoth effort, but only one could be picked. That I found hard, but the bottom line was that I had to pick what was right for our business. The winning designer is one that we are now using to do other design work (outside of 99designs). I am very happy with the designs for the website, but can see both sides of the argument, presented in this blog and by some of the pro 99design comments.

Matt Lambert

wrote the following on Saturday June 25, 2011

Having read a lot of the comment here – and it’s still a relevant conversation these years later – it is worth going back to the original point. The problem is not that the eventual price paid is low, which is one thing, it’s that you have to do the work without any guarantee of being paid at all.

That’s a problem wherever you live.

Martin Varesio

wrote the following on Monday June 27, 2011

Sure, it fill a niche in the free market, but for promising students in the design field, these students are only hurting themselves in the long run…!!


wrote the following on Thursday June 30, 2011

Lol, this post is still up after all this years…

Paul Murray

wrote the following on Thursday June 30, 2011

As a designer, it’s frustrating to see sites like this belittle and trivialise the work I do: the hours put into research, sketching, brainstorming and client meetings, not to mention the years of study and financial commitment.

For someone to come along with illegally downloaded Adobe software and be able to suddenly call themselves a ‘graphic designer’ and start producing sub-par work is something that I’m sure many professional designers see as an insult.

However, I can understand from a clients perspective why sites like this are attractive. Approaching a professional can be daunting if you’ve never worked with one before, but ultimately you get what you pay for. If you expect to find professional, experienced designers and the high standard of work that comes from them on sites like 99designs, then you’ve been sadly mislead.


wrote the following on Wednesday July 13, 2011

Hey genius – “$1,226,703 has been awarded across 346,171 entries.”

You are aware that not every entry wins, correct? Usually, one in 100 designs will win. So, divide 346,171 by 100 and THEN figure out about how much a winner gets. Or open your eyes and look at the Contests page.

That’s about.. $350 per winner.

David Quamby

wrote the following on Friday July 15, 2011

As a marketing person, I have often had some difficult times with designers because they have often created something for my clients that resonated with their own artistic temperament yet did not fulfill the brief of what we wanted (or liked). In these situations we still had to shell out large chunks of cash for something we wouldnt use because we essentially paid for some graphic artist to wank off with some flavour of the month design outcome.

Whilst I think its cruel and unfair that graphic artists are potentially being ripped off, I do like the idea that you get to choose from amongst a pool of designs to make sure you get what you want. In this way it is forcing graphic artists to consider the clients perspective after many years of the reverse situation where you called the shots and took the customer for granted.

At the same time I want to compensate the artists in some way for their efforts. What would be good is a system whereby the winner gets a decent price for the design (not a discounted one) and you have the option to donate compensatory dollars to designers that came close as a consolation prize. I myself would be happy to pay the winner at least $1000 to $1500 for a winning design and 5 lots of $100 to runner up designers as a thankyou for your effort.

Why dont you guys come up with an in between program for marketing guys like me so we can acknowledge the effort, pay the winner properly and we get a design that we know we will be able to use for our client.

As for copyright, you guys are kidding yourselves if you expect to retain rights to the work, as us marketers need to be able to fully exploit the brand without any restrictions. If you want to retain rights then become a ‘real artist’ and get out of graphic arts for business (i.e. a hired gun). At the same time though, I think a good extra clause could be that if the logo or design does well for the business and the business hits large revenue targets, then perhaps a bonus fee could kick in an pay the designer a chunk of the brand value. E.g. if the brand hits $1 Million in revenue the artist gets 1% in royalties (capped at say $100k in royalties).

I’ve been wanting to say all this to your community for some time now, and feel better for having got it off my chest.


wrote the following on Sunday July 17, 2011

Personally, I am quite on the fence regarding the use of a crowdsourcing site for a logo design. It is still a touchy issue for most designers who said that crowdsourcing is a no-no for obtaining a logo design. I have tried crowdsourcing before and I know the risks involved but it comes within the territory. But there are other no-frills logo design websites online such as,,, etc. which are actually great in getting a professional logo design at a fraction of the price and minus the risks of crowdsourcing (plagiarism is one of them). Seeing that there are no consultation services, the price is significantly lower than that of conventional design firms. For instance, I have tried and the experience was indeed a positive one. I managed to get my business logo design at an affordable price and the turnaround time was great as well. Highly recommended. Although crowdsourcing for logo designs could be a bane for some, many find it to be a viable alternative to get a fast logo on the cheap. It all depends on the individual actually.

Roger Vivier 2011

wrote the following on Friday July 29, 2011

You are aware that not every entry wins, correct? Usually, one in 100 designs will win. So, divide 346,171 by 100 and THEN figure out about how much a winner gets. Or open your eyes and look at the Contests page.

Wigger McGavin

wrote the following on Sunday July 31, 2011

When I need a logo or a header or some other design work I go to

I pay five bucks and it looks just like the logos I used to pay $250 – $500 bucks for…

Never again. I don’t fucking care about all the design certificates and design briefs and yadda, yadda, yadda bullshit spewed from high priced graphic artists …
Blown deadlines, half done sites, excuses and more bullshit than you can shake a stick at. Not to mention using someone else’s designs for your portfolio…

If some kid in India is willing to do the work for $5 bucks thats better for me. I’m responsible for feeding my family not his.

I’ve used 99designs dozens of time. I’ve always had a good ending. Of course you get some shit template designs, but you just have to sift through them and you’ll get some good ones. Free market rules.

Stop all the whining. If you can convince some fool to pay you $10,000 for a website that’s the same quality that I can get for $250 then more power to you! I just won’t be that fool anymore.

If you can’t charge the exorbitant prices you’ve been extracting in the past then tough cookies. You shoulda went to med school.

Bamboo Flooring

wrote the following on Tuesday August 9, 2011

I don`t like the idea of 99 designs, because what if a business needs to improve there site over the years, ie SEO. I would rather have a a web designer consult me if I wanted to improve the web site.

VCA cursus

wrote the following on Wednesday August 10, 2011

We need to be professional. I think in time qualty always win. Just give it some time.

iPhone Applications

wrote the following on Thursday August 11, 2011

I think a good extra clause could be that if the logo or design does well for the business and the business hits large revenue targets, then perhaps a bonus fee could kick in an pay the designer a chunk of the brand value.

frustrated designer

wrote the following on Friday August 12, 2011

losing to an amateur like this is the suckiest part of the crowdsourcing sites

Gold Silver Tips

wrote the following on Tuesday August 16, 2011

I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I?ll love to read your next post too.


<a href=“” title=“Gold Silver Tips”>Gold Silver Tips</a>

El Douche

wrote the following on Wednesday August 17, 2011

@Wigger McGavin And that’s why your sites looks like scammy pieces of shit. In this digital ecosystem, we all have a role to fill: as long as you’re cool being a bottom feeder, go for it. That money is just as green as mine. But don’t ask kids out of school to get hosed in the provess, that’s just taking advantage of people. Let me guess, you’re a Republican, right?


wrote the following on Tuesday August 23, 2011

“losing to an amateur like this is the suckiest part of the crowdsourcing sites”

Wow dude, her winning entry for the “online rim store” is a tragic mess, and I’m being generous. I’m staring at my monitor with my jaw dropped at how bad she is, but yet she wins these competitions somehow. The contest holders that pick these honestly must have absolutely no sense of what looks good, generally speaking. I understand that design is subjective, but c’mon, you gotta be kidding me.

$550.00 for this…×800.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAI3LSG4ZVTVQPOWJQ&Expires=1316736000&Signature=pkoRnZxS1G1h47GEAERpQRmwOdk%3D

It would be a crime to pay that if she got a one on one client in an honest manner. It’s even more of a shock that this design actually beat out the other ones. I’m in shock.


wrote the following on Tuesday August 30, 2011

Oh, where to begin?
1]Frustrated Designer: “losing to an amateur like this is the suckiest part of the crowdsourcing sites”

The problem with crowd souring is that it is like relying solely on Wikipedia for your education. The truth is the client is not always right; good GD/AD along with creativity, the ability to interpret and render, possess the ability to save the client from his/her own naivete. I had a client who runs a small distilled water distribution operation. I designed a logo, which went smoothly,more agreeable than any previous client I’ve had to date. Think: Look and feel of the Apple logo in water drop form. Very minimalistic and clean (very apropos for “clean water”). No snag in the client /GD relationship… not even about the $. UNTIL the whole thing was done and the client decided that THE COLOR was the issue. Worse, he fixated on making the water drop YELLOW. I I discussed the point for about 4 hours, but ultimately I got an “I guess you are right” out of him. A couple of months later I ran into the client at a chamber of commerce mixer. Overall the he had had a good reception on the logo.. but then again those just compliments from non-designers. The kicker came when some loud-ass sales guy made a crack about the new identity… “you could have made the drop yellow.. and gotten the R Kelley market.”
Everyone chuckled at the inappropriate (golden shower) reference. The client turned to me and asked what I was having.. cuz he was buying me the next round… “after all I owe you one.”

This can never happen in 99design. since the client has 100% choosing power.

2] I suppose and this is the best you could hope for, that this is a boon for students and fresh grads. Some of which might even have talent but no venue.. or business acumen. This was something I didn’t have when I graduated 12 years ago. I would have loved to do my class project for possible pay, and hey if didn’t win OR I did win but the logo was mediocre and that’s what the client wanted to settle for. Great. Class projects were always re-reviewed at the end of the semester anyway, so I could refine it so that it looks good in for my portfolio and I still got $400 and could claim “work experience”.

(Both sides can play dirty.. if they are wise)

3)One can hedges bet in this system too. Have a few hours to kill or are trying to practice a new “effect”. Instead of doodling pick a “high paying” project and an off the top of your head concept( based on the brief). Say you got lucky and found a good $1200 prize. I will put no more than 8-10hrs for this which, if I win, is way more than my freelance rate. Sure the contest may get 200 submissions, out of which 40 or so will either be off the mark (it seems some designers at 99 doen’t even read the brief) 120 or so will be crappy EVEN bu the client standards, 20-30 will be crappy but there is no accounting for client taste ( see #2) besides it mostly to practice the technique than to win; in reality you half-ass job is just playingagainst 30-50 other half ass jobs. At the time limit stop and turn in what I have.

4) In a sense #3 balances 99d. GOOD designers who are doing halfassed ideas/execution for the halflassed explanation/pay of of the clients. The real problem about #3 is that it creates a standard of mediocrity. Coca Cola was once an entrepreneurial venture, tho I doubt they would have had the same impact (or as quickly) if they had settled for mediocrity.

The design community is not off the hook either. I am too young to remember this but I recall my second GD job, working at a corporation, my AD telling me how horrible those “photo people” CDs were (and back then at least the photography quality was good). When he said that , I thought hey we get 300 images… how bad can it be? Better than PAYING a PHOTOG and TALENT, right?” Ironic twist… our fortune 500 company add included the same character, as thee $1.50 greeting cards begin sold at Big Lots, albeit mine were color corrected better.

5) OK, w/o vilifying 99d, it is really an extension of what client belief “getting burned.” is. Client comes to a designer and request some work done, w/o much of an idea of what needs or even wants. “a logo… it has to represent me and look cool” That is not instruction.. even if the client adds “ my favourite color is yellow”. W/o direction even the best designer will just “doodle” and see it sticks. Which is falling into the client trap. 400 concepts later and (200 billable hours later) the client wants to pay ONLY for that ONE concept he’s going to use, and not the 400 you had to submit. The rub I have had a few of clients admit they “had no idea what [they thought] would work… they just thought I could make some designs until something JUMPED[ at them].” So technically even before 99d, clients already desired this business model. There si another version of this behaviour: the client who knows EXACTLY what he wants done… but wants to see 4-5 other options(concepts) …“just in case”. Again he/she only wishes to pay for the production of what he was done and 9/10 even winning alternatives get pitched anyway.. the client just felt that it would “not be a creative process if you and I didnt reject some ideas ( for which he didnt pay”

If someone went to a car dealership, bought a Ford pick-up, and later decided you wanted a Nissan coupe he or she bay have buyers remorse, but despite all the reasons people vilify car salesmen , that person wouldnt say “I got burned at the dealership”.

6) Strip mining. It could be worse. In my previous point, I have had client want to pay only for the logo they use… (semi-fair) but also keep(OWN the RIGHT to) the concepts they didn’t chose, lest I could retool them to suit other clients or even their competition. (I actually have a stipulation against this in my contract)

7) Finally, does anyone else find it strange that the prize of a logo at 99d is often a third or a fourth that of a website (design w/o coding), or sometimes equal or lower to that of a banner ad? Going in to client naivete. A logo will be more permanent and more important than any other piece of your marketing yet it seems that the common belief among entrepreneurs is that it the thing you should spend the least money(ergo, effort) in. I am very confused by this.

Thanks for your patience in reading my rant . hope I have given people something to ponder.

Rigging Courses

wrote the following on Sunday September 4, 2011

I Agree with bamboo flooring, i had a site done buy these so called 99 designs, it was so badly done that it costed me more to get a designer to design a better site that i can easily update. my advice is get someone to do it for you. possibly a local who has been in business for a lengthy time.


wrote the following on Monday October 3, 2011

I agree. 99designs has become the Walmart of so many industries. Mom and pop stores are getting destroyed by Walmart around the country just like many quality designers are missing out on business. It is definitely hurting the little guys and very sad to see.

Italien Reiseführer

wrote the following on Wednesday October 5, 2011

And the sad thing is that many blog publishers are doing similar things, including expecting bloggers to work for just CPM revenue. Not exactly the same thing, but almost in the same spirit.

Swarovski jewelry

wrote the following on Sunday October 9, 2011

And the sad thing is that many blog publishers are doing similar things, including expecting bloggers to work for just CPM revenue. Not exactly the same thing, but almost in the same spirit.


wrote the following on Tuesday October 18, 2011

And what makes you Americans better than designers from other places in the world?
If you don’t want to make logo for $500 some other designer from other country can make the same logo for that price.
What makes you think his work wont be that good as yours? After-all he has also finished a design school and has several years of experience in the design area so again asking why do you think YOU are going to have better logo than his?
Thats an open market, if you can fool someone into paying you 2k for a logo than good luck with that but out there there is surely someone at least as good as you from some other country who would do that for $300-$400.

I work with wordpress sites and i charge $250 for whole site done (using a premium theme/or design already provided). While in US you cant get that below $750.
It usually takes me 8-10 hours to do it so thats something like $25-$30 per hour. People in my country would die to get that price while in US it may not be enough.

So stop whining and get used to it.


wrote the following on Tuesday November 15, 2011

And this is what you get if you pay $2000+ to a “professional” designer.



wrote the following on Saturday November 26, 2011

99designs allows designer to copy each other too. It just announce that this is not allowed but in fact it’s OK if 99designs got money from contest holder.


wrote the following on Saturday November 26, 2011

I’m a small business owner and I’ve worked with “real” designers before. I had all that back and forth communication, so I know what I need to say.

I’m hosting my first contest on 99designs right now and I’ve been giving the designers constant feedback all week. I’m paying $500 for a logo, which is about as much as I can possibly afford right now.

I hired someone to do a character drawing for me before, and I did the rest of the header/logo design myself. It didn’t look great. I’m looking for something a step up from what I created that looks more professional. It is obvious to me, right now, that some of my contestants are in other countries and I know my money might be worth a lot more to them, there, which is great for them.

I feel a little guilty asking for revisions if I think the designer probably isn’t going to come up with something I’ll like, but most of the designs I’ve gotten are really very nice. I gave feedback and the designers came back and nailed my brand really well. I try to ask for revisions that I personally know are a quick change (like a different font, or color.)

As soon as I got the first really nice design that I would have been happy with (which was the 3rd design!) I guaranteed my contest.

Hopefully I won’t get any ripped off designs, but the designers seem to police that pretty well and report it.

I really think you guys need to figure out what YOUR niche is and then target those businesses. Someone like me clearly isn’t your target customer. So don’t worry about losing my business or 99designs ruining the industry. There will always be clients who are willing to hire incredible designers and engage in a long design process and pay the high fees.

Happy Camper

wrote the following on Wednesday November 30, 2011

There is a market for everyone. These crowd-sourcing sites are mostly used by star-ups and small business with no capital. As a designer from the USA we can’t work for $25-$30 per hour and own a house in the big cities. The rest of the world is playing catch now that was suppressed for 50 years. Right now the workplace is the world.So as Americans you have to try to get local design business from the states or succumb to internet global economy pricing that is below our market value.

The best thing to do is join the party and make money but no spec work design for us.Just a 25% of the price upfront.


wrote the following on Monday December 5, 2011

Perfect example of the problems being created by 99designs.

Take a look at the “winning” logo for this chocolate spread.
Notice the heart? with the little tail at the bottom?

Now take a look at the logo graphics for an already established product that’s been around for years:

Ummh, lawsuit?

There is one huge fallacy of 99designs.
The false pretense that a logo is a “consumer product” to be purchased, much like picking out a pair of shoes that you like.

Everyone knows that in the capitalist world, the “customer is always right”, or the “client is always right”.
People know what they like. You know you don’t like pickles, so you bark at the waiter to hold the pickles. You’re the customer, you’re always right.

But in the professional world, is the client always right?
When you go to your dentist, do you bark at him to drill your teeth a certain way? While he’s injecting you with anaesthetic, do you bark at him he didn’t put in the right stuff? Do you tell him he’s drilling your teeth wrong? What if you are getting open heart surgery? Do you bark at the surgeon how to cut open your chest? Because after all, you’re paying for it right — you’re the boss?

That is the fine line. Design is really a profession. Yes, you can get your secretary or nephew or now, with the miracle of crowd sourcing websites, 3rd world people like the guy who posted above me to create a logo that looks as awesome as the “Google” logo, but that’s just bad design. Perhaps 99designs should call themselves 99baddesigns? 993rdworlddesigns?

UK in the Fray

wrote the following on Wednesday December 14, 2011

Wow, that last post really killed it off, for two months at least! I’m a potential 99 client and in the evening that I spent reading this blog I’ve endured every kind of small minded, protectionist, anti-client hubris that resonates with my own experience of overcharging and missed deadlines in the UK. We all in the West need a massive reality check, especially those of us from countries with grievous balance of payment deficits.


wrote the following on Thursday December 15, 2011

Graphic design is art. You can’t put a price on it. Someone can produce art that I like for a website for 250 bucks or some fucking wierdo can line up three buckets and piss in them and receive a grant for a hundred grand for “furthering the arts and cultures of a nation”.

Thats the other thing with art – its all subjective. You think you’re owed more for your work and don’t want to compete with Sanjay Dallah Abdullah Dirka Dirka Muhammad Ishwalla Turkmenistan Jihad on the price, but he can do just as good, if not a better job than you for the cost of a Big mac.

You think he’s an exploited, third world slave who practises some crazy religion and wants to blow up airliners or come to America and take someones job. He thinks you’re spoiled, fat, stupid American.

Swings and roundabouts.

Quality artists will always make a living if they’re good at their trade,, regardless of the competition.

Besides, who wants a client that isn’t prepared to pay more than 200 dollars for a website. You know these are the same fucking idiots that call every five minutes expecting something else for free or who can’t write a proper brief to begin with. Why worry about it.

Como Recuperar un Amor

wrote the following on Thursday December 22, 2011

If designers don’t have a problem in designing logo contests I don’t see a problem with it.

99designs is great for startups who do not have a lot of money to spend on professional logo design companies. It’s its the best bet option for new entrepreneurs who are on a budget.


wrote the following on Thursday January 5, 2012

Only a fool would go to start a “contest” there. All the “designers” there are thieves who steal clip art or logos from legit logo websites or designers, change them a bit then post them for the clients.


wrote the following on Friday January 6, 2012

You are an idiot. Your points are worthless. I think something must have chapped your ass in a previous lifetime.

But, you did nail something right on the head for business owners…
““To summarize: you’re doing spec work for third-world prices with no option for copyright retention””

That’s the difference between success and failing for business owners! Good Luck!

andressa silver

wrote the following on Saturday January 7, 2012

Most of the designer just copy the work from other designer, it just happened to me! I created some unique and stylish designs and another designer joined and submitted a copy of my design with some minor changes.

I made a friendly comment in the comment section for that designer to not copy my hard work and bam, all of my designs get eliminated and the copied work of the other designer it still running …

I made a complaint with 99 designs for copyright infriction what “aparently” they don’t tolerate in their designer code of conduct: “Copying designs in total or in part from other sources within or outside of the 99designs community will not be tolerated.”

Let’s see what is going to happen but they propably ban my account and i will miss the other contest that i’m still in the running for. I also send a friendly reminder to the contest holder that my designs are copyrighted and i will report him for copyright infriction if he uses any of my designs or similar copied work.

For me i’m done with 99, it was a frustrated experience, i rather work for people who understand the hard work that goes into designs and pay the right price.

Encuestas remuneradas

wrote the following on Saturday January 7, 2012

The client, believes that the best price for their brand is the cheapest crowdsourced solution. On the other hand the designer, has to be concerned with the intellectual property they are creating, the usage rights entailed within the project and the timeframe, the overall identity of the brand.


wrote the following on Sunday January 8, 2012

As a small business considering 99designs, I understand why Graphic Designers are getting the hump, but I think there are many plusses for cash-strapped businesses:
1 – There are some ‘portfolio-builders’ out there who will do quality work for cheap to fill their book. I’ve had to do pro bono work when starting up so why should Graphic Designers not do the same?
2 – It’s a free advertising platform. No, really. There is a risk of copyright violation but when clients browse the competitions they can make a note of names that crop up again and again. I expect there’s some bs about not contacting clients directly but there’s always ways around that if you’re a savvy designer.
3 – It weeds out the wannabes. You submit a few shoddy pieces on spec and you’ll soon get pissed at making no money. Win a competition and you’ll soon be ditching 99designs and charging pro rates
4 – Running competitions. I believe you can throw the logos out to prospective clients and they can choose their favourites. You can then decide to go with that or not. If you’re not happy no-one gets paid. Harsh but it’s the definition of low risk
5 – Put yourself in my position. Last year I paid £200 ish for a logo from a designer whose book I liked. I’ve since grown to realise it’s not that good. I want to get that fixed before I put out some more adverts, and I have £500 budget. Do I:
a – do the same as last time and risk being disappointed
b – enter a 99designs comp, shortlist some designs, send them out to the marketplace for judgement, shortlist further and either pay ‘pennies’ or nothing if I’m not happy?
c – find a pro designer who offers a money-back guarantee and will guarantee a logo that will help my business grow

Which choice would you make? Anybody offering a risk-free guarantee?

Final point. 99designs mounts a serious challenge to the Graphic Design business and your industry is rightly mounting a challenge. But, guess what. Insulting your potential customers because they aren’t knowledgeable about Graphic Design is not the way to do it. No, I have little knowledge of what makes a good logo so good otherwise I would be in YOUR industry.

Here’s the gauntlet. Without insulting me for wanting to save cash give me a real reason – and incentive to ditch 99designs.

PS. No, I do not work for them :-)


wrote the following on Monday January 23, 2012

I wish I had found this article two months ago. I wanted to make some fast money to help pay for Christmas presents. I won one in the first week! Then another… then contests starting getting locked… then refunds… then copying designers win instead of me… yikes! What have I gotten myself into?
I posted this on 99designs Facebook page.. I’m sure they’ll delete it…

“Entered a contest, designer copied, reported designer… twice… sent two messages as well… nothing happened… copying designer gets selected as finalist with copied designs… I get eliminated… not the way it’s suppose to work, guys!”
Live and learn!


wrote the following on Tuesday January 24, 2012

I’v been struggling with this business model while looking to hire designers etc. Originally I spoke to a few local companies to fulfill my needs for my start-up business. Prices ranged $900 -$1,500 for the logo design and identity package (business cards and stationary) and I wasn’t overly excited about any of the branding examples they provided.

I found and liked the “crowdsourcing” approach. I would have several designers working on my design. Admittedly, my project has been out there for just over 26 hours and I’ve seen nothing appealing yet but I did have the ability to invite a designers to my “contest” and hope that will bring submissions more to my liking.

Many of the people whining in this forum have probably downloaded or copied (stole) music, movies, books, etc. Is it only unfair when it hits YOUR pocketbook? Be honest…

I do understand your side of the argument and see that it could be more difficult to earn a comfortable living while there are services like GURU, Elance and 99designs. I would guess their clientele to be start-up businesses that would want too much sugar for a nickel anyway and would be a complete pain in the ass to work with.

Bottom line: I cannot afford to hire a designer for a full fee with no guarantee. If I knew the designer was going to knock it out of the park I would definitely pay more money but I can’t afford to spend the money not knowing if I’ll be happy with the result.

You can use my logo “contest” as a case study if you’d like:

Another struggling creative mind.

wrote the following on Tuesday January 24, 2012

I must agree with everyone on here..That website is the very definition of predatory. I am always amazed that each day I spend hours pouring out my creative juices..dreaming, designing, imagining and yet for my troubles I seldom find a client who appreciates or understands what it takes to design a creative element, a website, identity, brochure anything from nothing. Why is it we live in a world where you can design movies, create music, and make huge money..but on average a guy who pressure washes for a living with a 8th grade education can go out and make 400.00 to 1,000.00 per day for spraying water and chlorine on a house or building. This world is a screwed up mess..I wish someone with a lot of money would prosecute sites like 99 designs.


wrote the following on Tuesday January 31, 2012

I’m assuming that 90% of the people complaining on this post are Graphic designers who feel threatened. There are lots of people around the world who now have a chance to show off their talents and they will work for less. Welcome to the global economy. You now have competition.

Gee Cee

wrote the following on Monday February 6, 2012

@ UK in the Fray – 99 Designs tips the balance overwhelmingly in favour of itself and sucks in the client into thinking that they get it cheap. It misleads and sets the precedent for further abuse of the industry.

How would you like it if you did 100 different jobs of what ever you are selling but only got paid for 8 of those? Remember that we are not talking about a quote we are talking about each job potentially taking 2 to 4 hours if not more (wake up idiot!)

To all other designers – What we should do is all apply for a pseudo account at 99 designs and offer just a simple Black circle for each job. Why do this? because this is our voice of protest to let the site operators understand that what they are doing is predatory and against the industry as a whole. This is our silent protest, can you imagine several thousand designers all submitting the same plain black circle?

It will not stop the site but it will drive our point across (has anyone already suggested this?) What do you think?


wrote the following on Monday February 6, 2012

For those of you opposed to 99 designs, and the like – please take action –
write a complaint to the better business bureau.

Platforms that are blatantly exploiting people like that should be regulated – & required to state figures like how much the average designer makes on the site. Maybe only a few cents an hour considering all of the unpaid work – I know it’s a play at your own risk game but this is outrageous – back in the day it was called slavery to work for free… I know it’s not toiling in a field but design is work – it takes time and even if some believe a trained monkey could do it – you’d still have to give him a banana – Come on people Better Business Bureau (BBB) their a’s until their site goes down or until they start paying their contributors and protecting the artists rights ! and btw megaupload and many have gone down in the war of the copyright – which even I am pissed about – who doesn’t want something for free – but I can also respect that some work deserves remuneration. BBB today!


wrote the following on Monday February 13, 2012

“To summarize: you’re doing spec work for third-world prices with no option for copyright retention. “

Right. Welcome to the new global wage arbitrage plantation. Hope you enjoy your stay, which will be as long as you live. But, you cannot really complain, since you were the beneficiary of imperialsm and dollar hegemony for all your life before this, and so got paid many times more than did third-world schlubs. And you never uttered a single word in support of those schlubs, did you? Much less did you do anything substantive, like offering to take a 50% pay cut so that they can enjoy some tiny piece of the pie that you’ve been gorging on. You just grabbed the swag and ran. So now, it is coming home to roost.

Viktor, above:
“You think you’re owed more for your work and don’t want to compete with Sanjay Dallah Abdullah Dirka Dirka Muhammad Ishwalla Turkmenistan Jihad on the price, but he can do just as good, if not a better job than you for the cost of a Big mac.
You think he’s an exploited, third world slave who practises some crazy religion and wants to blow up airliners or come to America and take someones job. He thinks you’re spoiled, fat, stupid American.
Swings and roundabouts.” end quote

Ha! Good one.

There are zillions of talented people out there, willing to work for a fraction of your bloated salaries/fees. What do you propose to do about it? Getting rid of (or denouncing, or whining about, etc.) 99designs is obviously not going to do anything.


wrote the following on Tuesday February 14, 2012

To me it seems 99designs is exploiting a differential of information. That differential is the lack of information and confusion about where the gift economy works on a human level and where it’s exploitative.

Linchpin, Are You Indispensable?
by Seth Godin  ©2010 

(Dunbar’s Number and the Small World)
British anthropologist Robin Dunbar theorized that a typical person can’t easily have more than 150 people in his tribe. After 150 friends and fellow citizens, we can’t keep track. It’s too complicated.

A lot of stress we feel in the modern world comes from this conflict between small world in which we’re wired to exist and the large world we use to make a living.

Gifts Make the Tribe
The Biblical proscription against usury goes all the way back to Moses. The rule was simple: you couldn’t charge interest on a loan to anyone in your tribe. Strangers, on the other hand, paid interest. This isn’t a matter of ancient Biblical archeology; the edict against interest stuck for thousands of years, until around the time of Columbus.

If money circulates freely within the tribe, the  tribe will grow prosperous more quickly.

The faster the money circulates the better the tribe does.

Strangers on the other hand, are not to be trusted. Going further, strangers don’t deserve the bond that the gift brings. It would turn the stranger into a tribe member, and the tribe is already too big.

(Martin Luther and the Beginning of the Money Culture)
The Protestant Reformation permitted the explosion of commerce that led to the world we live in now.  Once the Reformation began to spread, Martin Luther was heavily lobbied by powerful local interests. In response, he gave princes and landlords the moral authority to take over the commons and rent the land back to the people who lived on it.

The new church was looking for political support, and its embrace or mercantilism guaranteed that it would get that support from power brokers that had chafed under the Catholic Church’s opposition to the practice of charging interest and the commercialization of formerly common lands. (The Catholic Church wanted to keep local lords, princes, and kings weak, of course, because it was built around a strong universal leader, the pope.)

One of the factors in the growth of the Protestant Reformation was that commercial interests supported its spread because they needed the moral authority to lend and borrow money. It’s hard to overestimate how large of a shift this led to in the world’s culture and economics.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote, it created a world where “the  merchant has no homeland.” If everyone is a stranger, it’s a lot easier to do business. If everyone is a stranger, then we can charge for things that used to be gifts.

Martin Luther saw that embracing the needs of local power brokers could enhance the spread of Protestantism. With little alternative, the pope follow suit. The ban on usury was refined, double-talked, and eventually eliminated.

Suddenly, your tribe was profit center. If you knew a lot of people, you could make money from them. Social leadership magically translated into financial leadership.

Now we live in a world where corporate tribe members are likely to be as important to us as family.

Human beings have a need for tribe, but the makeup of that tribe has changed forever. Now, the tribe is composed of our coworkers or our best customers, not only your family or our village or religious group.

This double shift means that the best professional entanglements aren’t with strangers; they are with the tribe.

But tribe members are family, and we shouldn’t be charging them interest! Tighter bonds produce better results, and so the gift culture returns. Full circle, from gift to usury and back to gift.
A loan without interest is a gift. A gift brings tribe members closer together. A gift can make you indispensable.

The Forgotten Act of the Gift
For five hundred (500) years, since the legislation of usury and the institutionalization of money, almost every element of our lives has been about commerce.

Example: I’m going downtown by cab from the airport. There are forty fellow travelers in the cab line. If I call out, “Anyone want to share a cab to the Marriot?” people look at me funny. They don’t want to owe me for the ride, don’t want to interact, don’t want to open themselves up to the connection that will occur from taking my gift of a ride. They’d rather pay for it, clean and square, and stay isolated. It’s hard to imagine two Bedouin tribespeople isolating from each other with such enthusiasm.

The Difference Between Debt and Equity
When someone invests in your business and takes some founder’s stock, he gets closer to you. He is on your side, because when you win, he wins.

When  a bank loans you money for college, it becomes the Other. The bank is opposed to you, sapping your resources and taking money first, not last. College loans are the ones you can’t discharge, even in bankruptcy. The bank that made the loan usually sells it, so there’s no connection to you any longer. The bank doesn’t offer counseling or peer support or even check in with you about your career choices. They just demand to be paid. No equity investor would act this way.

There are many forms of equity, and few of them involve cash. When you invest time or resources into someone’s success or happiness, and your payment is a share of that outcome, you become partners.

If this section on gifts and debt and reciprocity feels strange, it’s a symptom of how much humanity has been drummed out of you by a commercial imperative run amok…

U R a Commodity

wrote the following on Sunday February 19, 2012

You are now a commodity, your overinflated US wages will continue to deteriorate as more clients realize the availability of lower cost alternatives. Deal with it.


wrote the following on Tuesday February 21, 2012

For thoughtless, forgettable logos, choose! :D

Because you shouldn’t have to pay for good design!

Because good design should be turned out at a rapid pace!


wrote the following on Tuesday February 28, 2012

Hi everyone.
This is my experience in 99desings. I entered in a contest. After hours of working, the client was delighted with my job and gave to me 5 stars in one of my designs. They told me it was his favorite. As I,m not from United States, I couldn,t asked his requirements inmediately, and of course I considered not to have the duty to work for him 24 hours. He invited other designers to copy my design, and when he got others designs similar to mine he sent to me a private message :

1. Thank you very much… your original design was great in choosing a creative direction… All other designers took the direction and ran with it.. providing MANY designs.. I want to see more renditions. “
two minutes later sent me another one,

2. Bear in mind, in spite of your design (my fav), i will be reluctant to bring u into final round unless u provide more choices, and faster.”
Five minutes later, the contest was closed, and as he had obtain some others designs similar to mine he didn,t even gave to me the opportunity to pass to the final round.
I presented a claim to 99 designs, no response.
I sent my report to the contest, no response.
I wrote in the contest page what was happened and say that another designer was going to gain the contest thanks to my original idea, no response, and they withdraw my comments and gave to me 3 negatives points to me and to another designer that wrote a comment against tis fact. His comment was also withdraw .
Clients always have the reason and …….they money!!!!!


wrote the following on Thursday March 1, 2012

One thing I hate about the 99 Designs, The Money Back Guarantee. It only protects the customers, not the designers. I spend lots of time to create the best design for the client. I also noticed that some other designers was working hard for the contest. The client left some feedback about how they want the design to be. So we worked to refine and redesign. But then, guess what??. They client din’t like it and then They requested a refund and gone just like that. I felt like.. “What the.. Are you kidding me?”.. :0

Vesna M.

wrote the following on Saturday March 3, 2012

I heard about 99designs on local forum. I joined to 99designs cause I like drawing and painting. I submitted some of my works. Well, I was eliminated from most od contest. Yeah, I’m amateur and I don’t know a thing about proffesional design. But, I noticed that winner designs are usually very simple. So, I give another chance to myself. And what happened? There are about 3000 versions of designs that are similar to mine, and opposite. Chances for me to win are 1:3000. I spend my time last whole week on drawing in Adobe Illustrator. Only thing I’m satisfied is that I learned to draw vector images. Instead of participating in such funny contest which are similar to gambling I’ll draw mine two budgies and I’ll put it on my bedroom wall cause I don’t have any pictures in my apartment. Most of designers who work for 99designs are frustrated and this is a really good example why they should be:


wrote the following on Sunday March 4, 2012

This is the free world market place, I am an Australian living in Bangkok, I know plenty of talented people here, who work full time jobs and get paid US$350 per month, 1 design win per month nets them more than a whole months wages, What would you do work 160 hours + travel 40 per month, or sit home and win 1 or 2 design contacts per month?

john may

wrote the following on Sunday March 4, 2012

10 years ago, my brother contracted with the Austin office of a very well-regarded design firm- the sort that designs Fortune 500 logos and ends up winning industry awards all the time for their advertising and design work.

The job was to design a logo for his newly formed technology company.

The price tag was $10,000. And when they presented him with 10 treatments, it included treatments that even had deliberate misspellings of the company name, “so that you can REALLY get people’s attention”. When my brother said, “But people will always think we simply spelled it wrong by accident.” To which the principal replied, “Not the people who give awards.”

Had the company name been, “Mistakes R’ Us”, perhaps this lunatic strategy would’ve been appropriate. But in THIS particular case, it was sheer self-indulgence from a company simply too enamored with their own storied legacy to realize how awful their ‘creative solutions’ had become. My brother picked the least bad of the 10- and got one revision cycle. For $10,000. But he resented that company, and complained about that smug Principal, for years after. And rightly so.

I don’t know whether or not crowd-sourcing design really works. I’ve seen some inspired stuff on 99Designs just in a recent check. But I’ve seen some garbage. But at least in their case, if you end up getting crowd-sourced garbage, you don’t end up having to spend $10K for it.


wrote the following on Wednesday March 7, 2012

I agree. There are so many “designers” now, the market is completely saturated. Anyone with a hacked version of photoshop is a graphic designer now….

Change gon' come

wrote the following on Friday March 9, 2012

99designs worked out great for my company. We got a solid logo and stationery design for under USD 300, with over 40 choices to pick from. The guys who did not make my cut knew it was all or nothing, and I wish them well. No false promises, no scam. Besides, in many places, USD 300 is a big deal and worth a shot.

I can see how designers can get upset and feel commoditized, especially coming form countries where income is generally higher.

From the investment these guys have been receiving lately, even if they were to close down tonight, their business model will be here for a while to come.

This will never put dedicated designers out of work because a whole lot of companies with design needs would rather speak to someone face to face.

The question becomes, how do you position to be that face-to-face designer of choice in a world with ever more increasing options, thanks to technology and globalization.

Hint: The answer does not involve dissing 99designs.


wrote the following on Saturday March 10, 2012

I am a former member of 99designs and it took me very short time to realize that it is a waste of my time. But, in spite of that, I also realized that 99designs may provide a designer with a practical experience of dealing with an average customer who, so typically, provides vague brief, modifies brief after work started or favors designs that are simply bad. So, if you are not convinced that good design have little to do with client expectation and if you have some time to waste, try it.


wrote the following on Monday March 12, 2012

I agree with this article for the most part. I live in Australia where if I get paid below $15 an hour, I may as well be working at McDonalds – and I’d have to be eating there too because I couldn’t afford anything else.

HOWEVER, as some people here have already mentioned, it does depend where you’re coming from, geographically and economically.

It’s an opportunity for people who actually ARE in third world countries to make a living. Countries where there is little demand for graphic design, because the number of startups with adequate funding (and I don’t mean funding for design, I mean adequate funding for the startup as a whole) are very low. I have friends and family in a country where $100 a week is more than decent pay. I know it’s not really an ideal way to keep some people out of poverty, but it does work, and for them, sites like 99 designs would almost seem like an opportunity to be overpaid for their time.


wrote the following on Wednesday March 14, 2012

99Designs is a racket. Just used them for a logo design, and was disgusted to see the designer only getting $300 out of my $495 fee. They take a 40% commission, but try finding that information anywhere on their site.


wrote the following on Monday March 26, 2012

Glad I read this article before I continued on with my 99designs adventure. I’m a freelance senior graphic designer, have been in the trade for 25 years; the growing cheap design trend will eventually ruin this once professional trade where knowledge of color, form, market and design once ruled the vocabulary. Now it’s how fast, how cheap can I get it for, unfortunately the coming of age of the computer assisted design his partly to blame.

I’ve seen some of the crap dished out on 99design, it’s enough to bring shame to the industry, but even still that is something professional designers will have to get used to if we are to survive this latest in client base design revolution. It’s not about what the targeted market wants anymore, it’s about what the client want’s and he wants cheap quick turn around thoughtless design .


wrote the following on Thursday March 29, 2012

Yeah, 99 designs did something a lot of people only dream of. They figured out how to sell hard work for pennies out the free will of people. Amazing… Now my question is how do we do that for healthcare in this country? If we could get a website where doctors and pharmacies could compete for your business instead of what we have now… would all of you sit here and complain about what a sham it is? I would love to see that. Or maybe attorneys….hmmmm, the possibilities are endless.The fact is that designers are doing this out of their own free will… if it’s so horrible, then why is it just getting more popular? I’ll tell you why… because money is the ultimate decision maker. The statement that the site was created by designers for designers… you’re right… that is bull. That site in no way is on the designer’s side. But instead of condemning 99 designs, I’m keeping my eyes on them to see where the world is going. They are changing the way people see graphic design whether they intended it or not. I am not going to fight it, but learn and see how I can use it to my advantage as a designer. I really don’t think they are evil. They just figured out how to change graphic design until people’s wallets dictate something else, fascinating.


wrote the following on Thursday April 5, 2012

There have always been small companies with low budgets who would do essentially the same practice, by holding contests or sourcing to college students and relatives. I see this site as a middleman for small time companies who would have taken this approach anyway. Not a bad avenue to take for college students building a portfolio and clientele.


wrote the following on Friday April 6, 2012

I had fun on that site at first, but then people become annoying on that comment section of theirs and poke fun at each other and it becomes offensive. I started quietly and then I refused not to speak my mind in an unfashionable way, I normally am not that way. So all of the sudden they took me out as a designer saying that you can not use the spray tool in illustrator. What a joke. DO you realize how many things use the spray tool? To me, that site is damaging to your reputation because I feel mine was damaged by their stupid comment section to the CH. I feel that site needs to change their layout to keep this destructive comment section out of the eyes and ears of the public.


wrote the following on Monday April 16, 2012

I do not care what Mark has to say. Their site is a blog, horrible menacing on the comment section, starts a war….someone start a class action suit for all designers. A smart internet lawyer may take the case for free.


wrote the following on Monday April 16, 2012

I’ve recently started a second career as a graphic designer (I was previously a marketing strategist but quit to study graphic design) and have been on the receiving end of art directors’ snobbery when applying for junior designer work. New designers are hard pressed to fill their books with work because of the inherent elitism in the industry, and that is why sites like 99designs thrive.

I wouldn’t submit my work to 99designs because of the high likelihood of another designer copying my work or a client not paying, but I think it’s a good place to get some practice. I look at the contests and do the work on my own, testing myself without setting myself up to get ripped off.


wrote the following on Wednesday May 9, 2012

this is the kind of clients you get at 99designs.

ATTENTION ALL DESIGNERS———————————With about 24 hours left, I wanted to give some FINAL direction for each of you.

I have uploaded a NEW image called “Final Sample – NapHill”. Please review it.

I have included various aspects of each of your submissions that I like.


Please look at Design Submission #47 . I like the Globe with the words “Think & Grow Rich International Summit” in FRONT of the Globe. BUT….I want to have the words “75th Anniversary” at the TOP of the globe. Thanks.

#2 :
I like the picture of Mr. Napoleon Hill on the RIGHT HAND SIDE OF THE PICTURE….just like Designer Submission #56 . Thanks.

#3 :
I like the paper/wording of “Over 75 Million Copies Worldwide” being SIDEWAYS just like in Designer Submission #37

#4 :
I like Mr. Napoleon Hill’s signature to be to the LEFT of him like in my “Final Sample – NapHill”.


Thank you very much for your work. :)


wrote the following on Monday May 14, 2012 is an even worses racket, i’m beginning to believe the words of a paranoid guy who told me last year “all crowdsourcing outlets are a jew free-work free-ideas racket”

Abi Rasheed

wrote the following on Thursday May 17, 2012

While crowdsourcing works for the “savvy client, as a designer it’s an utterly hopeless venue. Having been on 99 designs and having left it for my own good, I can say 99designs is where if you’re new to designing and need to throw in your trial n error concepts, go for it. Why? Clients on 99 designs are most of the time ignorant of original concepts, etc etc, basically clients on 99 designs are ones that are there just to get what they want, It doesn’t matter if the concept is print-ready, or if it’s got tons of gradients in it or if the concept is similar to something else. That’s what I’ve seen. While some may think the ones whining about crwdsourcing are the very people envious about it, well you’re wrong. Some of us just like designing and like designing it well and would like our design to be a part of something, in this case a large corporation or a small corporation or for an individual.. or hell for yourself. During the process of designing it, certain things have to be met, some follow rules and some don’t but end of the day you need a concept that works in the real world. Not that I have anything against developing countries or people who have acess to a pirated version of illustrator making a decent logo, BUT when you have such access and create absolutely ridiculous work such as a lot you’ll see on 99 designs, then you have a problem and the client has a bigger problem. There’s numerous technical flaws when you end up asking a crowdsourcing site such as 99 to design you logo or webdesign or whatever else. Originality is a problem, if overlooked, many of the concepts are usually stock images. Secondly, flaws technically, such as a simple gradient not applied right or a mask. Basic things. Worst case scenarios : tons of color and the designer is lost as to why it looks different in CMYK, clearly because they haven’t worked in the mprint industry or done anything nor do they have to because all you have to give the client on 99 is your design. Any other problems will be met by the client of course, the designer is in thailand, what are you going to do?

Goodluck, designers don’t come cheap and neither are they expensive. You just have to look in the right place. I’m not saying as a client you should be talking to pentagram for your concepts but there’s loads of people out there with skills and originality that most of these crowdsourcing sites lack. You don’t need to pay $5000 for a logo., you need to pay for the concept. and if it’s original and smart enough, sometimes even paying $5000 doesn’t do justice. A simple example of a smart clever design in a logo would be something along the lines of negative design concepts. Look at around crowdsourcing sites and spot me a good negative design concept. you’ll find a handful which usually suck. Why does it suck? negative design concepts require a lot of brainstorming, thinking, cretaivity, you cant just throw in a gradient and be done with it. it’s a perfect example to show you what crowdsourcing sites lack in creativity.

Badrun Badranaya

wrote the following on Sunday May 27, 2012

An endless discussion I think…

@Yarin.. What a horrible? 40% for 99designs? oh no..they strangled us..
I am a new to online freelancing and try to find better place to earn. So why I found this page. Anyone can tell me which one is the best to work freelance online? Thanks.


wrote the following on Wednesday June 6, 2012

I’m not a awesome designer but i’m good and tryed to make 3 projects on 99designs. I lost all of them in the final round.

The tricky part there is that you can be the best one in a contest, other 10 designers will copy your concept. You need to work with minimum information’s and the relationship with the client is limited to a few lines in a message.

Basically, to win a project you need to be lucky, not necessary good at it :)

On the other hand, elance, vworker … gives you a chance to build a close relation with the client. I currently work with 2 guys that gives me constant work from ~3 years now and … this counts more than a one time logo for 500$ :)

The O

wrote the following on Monday June 11, 2012

Most of these “designers” submitting work most definitely won’t be from America, because what you get at the end is not even worth your time. I’m sure all these designers come from 3rd World countries and a couple of dollars feeds them for a month.
But either way, the site is definitely damaging for professional designers. Either way, they’re making upward of $25 million in profit now off poor bastards who subscribe to create these desings with the hope that they’ll be chosen for their work.


wrote the following on Thursday June 14, 2012

I think I have to agree with this post, I have recently joined a few websites like these and I find it very degrading. Having to work to low budgets most the time and spending way too much time designing for what might never become a complete project. It’s also degrading because the clients never seem to reply to you, they never provide that much feedback, if any at all (at least this has been the case for me).

I didn’t mind this too much as my company policy is do the work first, get paid later but the difference is when I get the client from my own website I know there is a high chance I will do what they want because they communicate with me and I usually always create what they were looking for.

It’s being a good test though and I have learnt a lot from trying these websites but to me it’s too much work, too little reward, and the biggest problem too much of a guess work that may never lead to anything.

I want to form relationships, not be alone in the dark producing hundreds of logos that never see the light of day.

I guess you could say it’s the aldi of designs. Let’s stay away from it and build relationships with our clients and both get rewarded for our time, after all time is everything.

Website Design Cardiff

wrote the following on Monday June 18, 2012

Totally agree with the comments above that this will bring down our industry. The amount of times we have had to clean up these so called cowboys of web design. Sorry to say but the quote below pretty much sums up the quality output

“Most of these “designers” submitting work most definitely won’t be from America, because what you get at the end is not even worth your time. “

Very true


wrote the following on Thursday June 21, 2012

Perhaps we need to take a look at the “make lemonade” approach. Yes, the 99designs model is flawed. It’s a bit of a slap in the face to our industry. But then, we’ve been getting slapped around for the last decade or so, thanks to computers (I love my Mac). I’ve been a designer for over 30 years and I remember the days when clients wanted our expertise and were willing to pay appropriately for it. But now, anyone who’s ever done a PowerPoint presentation or crafted a bowling league newsletter in Word thinks they’re a designer. So the 99designs model isn’t really that surprising. That’s the lemon.

Here’s the lemonade. Use 99designs as an opportunity to hone your skills and play. I love to design and I see this as a great exercise. I don’t need the money. My client base is strong enough. But I do like the idea of reading a short brief, coming up with an idea and knocking it together in an hour or two with a glass of wine and some tunes. Plus, I get to pick the jobs I want. If I happen to win the competition, great. More wine money.

Too often, I see young designers come out of school and never invest another minute in honing their craft, unless they’re doing it on company time. For many of them, it’s just a job. It should be a passion. Most adults put away their crayons years ago. We keep ours and we get paid to use them. We are a very lucky group of people.

So make lemonade. Find a contest that looks like fun and take a shot at it. If you’re too offended by the concept of spec, then don’t submit it. Just do the work and post it on your wall.


wrote the following on Sunday June 24, 2012

I just entered my first 99designs contest, but then I realised that 99designs works on the concept that the contest holder can tell good design from bad design. He just asked me to add “cartoony images” and move the service boxes below the fold. Duhhhhhh!

Nethertheless, it’s still a shiny addition to my Portfolio.

does it matter?

wrote the following on Thursday June 28, 2012

You play dirty, you win dirty. People do steal your ideas and as for me it has came down to actually playing dirty just to win anything. what does that mean you ask? color schemes, design layouts, ideas, everything including their soul is stolen and reused AND combined with other good looking submissions to create something that the contest holder will like. you steal from me little fuckers, i take 10X more.

99designs user

wrote the following on Saturday July 28, 2012

I just put a contest up on 99designs after it was recommended to me by someone who is a great designer. He knows I am on a budget, as I am bootstrapping a startup that will be all me (for a while, anyway) on the side as I work my regular job (which at least allows me to pay the going rate at 99designs). Anyway, I googled the company out of curiosity as there was something about it that wasn’t sitting 100% well with me.

I’m not a designer or an artist, but I have professional artists in my family (who are well paid in the entertainment industry doing very creative stuff) so I appreciate all the work that goes into. I’m a scientist. I also have experience in professional editing. The sad thing is that the producers of this stuff (the logos, the people writing and editing) are all generally underpaid and the people who make money off them are the “agents” as in the people who created 99designs.

I do feel somewhat bad for the designers how put time into making those designs and they get zero dollars for their effort.

Another somewhat related issue, since I am new to this whole design and make a website thing is that I have been getting quotes for about $2000 to make a wordpress website for my business. I had a hard time getting straight answers out of some of these people. I’m not creative, so I need help in that area. I also don’t write code, but I am overall a technically competent person, and I can manage some html (geez I did make a website with that and Netscape compose 13 years ago for a course I taught), so when I found out just how easy it is to make the WP site I was kind of peeved thinking that people were trying to take advantage of me. I mean, they know that I have a phd in a science from one of the best universities in the world, so I am not an idiot and I can learn wordpress. However, I do kind of suck at design and I feel more helpless in terms of trying to improve there.

Anyway, I guess I have some guilt about using 99designs. Many more companies are operating in this sweatshop fashion,. I worked for one. And now that company makes millions but they still use 99designs for their logo needs because they are cheap. . . .

Website logo design

wrote the following on Friday August 10, 2012

Totally concur with the comments above that this present fetch fallen our business. The turn of present we have had to cosher up these so called cowboys of web program. Sorry to say but the selection below pretty overmuch sums up the lineament output


wrote the following on Wednesday August 15, 2012

All this bitching, but no one acknowledging the painful truth. An open market like 99designs simply reveals the true value of what’s on offer. If you’re angry that it means you’ll get less for your work, than find something to do that is more valuable. You may not like it, but the market doesn’t lie.


wrote the following on Saturday August 25, 2012

What are your thoughts on crowdspring? Is it better or worse than 99designs?

Found Knowledge

wrote the following on Monday August 27, 2012

I found this article and took about 6 hours reading all the comments from top to bottom. There are things that i totally agree with but some i disagree with.

Being a total amateur to design, having 99Designs available to me to learn while im also learning in college helps in many ways. I get to build a portfolio along with grabbing experience if any. There are professionals on there who sweep the contests constantly, scrapping the bottom of the bucket for that extra bit of money in their pocket.

The chances of me winning any of this contest is almost nil but i keep trying regardless of any of the submissions. I have gotten one stars all the way up to four but i still appreciate the contest holder and winner of the contest. This gives me a chance to see what companies look for along with increasing my knowledge in the design community.

My brother is 17, he uses 99Designs and has won almost 15 contests with a total winning of 1500+ dollars. He does this for play around money. No hes not going to be a graphic designer of any sort, hes going into the military, he does this for fun.

He learned by watching, reading, and understanding. Just because a website offers you the chance to earn some decent cash for a logo that could take you an hour to make, yeah there will be ones that take longer but its still free to submit work, free to resubmit, to keep trying till you got it even if its a small chance, you still have one.

My friend is a designer of logo’s, hes been out of a job for 8 months from the corporate world, when me and my brother showed him this site, he now makes a decent living for his wife and two kids. Allowing them things they didn’t have before, a leisure of sorts.

So my opinions of the site, of course you hardcore designers are going to complain, if you don’t like the methods, remove yourself from there, go out and grab a corporate job. From what i can tell, the job in that world is horrid, always on the edge of your seat, waiting for the word from your supervisor when he is fed up with what you think is excellent work, shit work and fires you.

If your newer to design, have crap work, have the shittiest outlook on designs, yes this site will change your outlook, will help and make a foundation for you. Will the foundation be sturdy? Its about a 50/50 chance, but even with that, that’s better than zero. The site now is horded with high level designers who troll the contests, submitting on the last hour, swooping the competition out, making their incredible designs, knocking us lower noobies out of the contests, but hey look at it this way, you now know what that company was looking for exactly, maybe next time you’ll build something similar, shinier, flatter, more 3d, whatever it may be.

It changed my outlook on how designs should be in general, my first designs were flawed, cartoonish, out of date, very plain, but now they are getting more sophisticated as i practice more and more. I’ve won 2 contests out of entering 20, earning 600 dollars total, i appreciated the time it took to make the logo, the understanding and work that the contest holders put in for the feedback, i appreciated everything.

For those who cry and continuously threaten, shame on you, being an artist of sorts, you should be able to take any criticism that is handed to you if you truly understand any type of art form. You shouldn’t be mad, learn from it.

As for contests being backed out of, probably changed since this article post, but you can have the option to pick guaranteed to have this chance go to zero.

As for you designers who are ranting or venting about things about us lowbies or noobies to the trade, you should shame yourself into retirement, we to should have a chance regardless of our experience. Yeah you may lose to a shitty design but what takes you an hour to make takes us 4-12 hours, we are still learning… If you think losing to a shitty design vs your epic design is bad, imagine working at a company for 26 years, waiting for that promotion which would put you over 6 figures, only to see a younger, faster, more adept individual take that spot. Are you going to complain, bitch and moan to your boss? If you do, i would love to have a video of this.

You all had great comments, i appreciated what everyone submitted to this site, i think a lot of the responses were very spot on, others, consider what the new comers have to endure to enter the design world to even be successful, even then you have a high chance to fail. To lose everything. So sites like 99Designs, gives us a chance.

This article was very insightful and i appreciate the post.


Joseph Maurone

wrote the following on Thursday September 13, 2012

I sympathize with most of the comments here, except for the part about “licensing.” Really? Do you really want the government getting involved with qualifying something like art and design? Think, people, think.


wrote the following on Friday October 19, 2012

This article is from 2008 and although 99designs is still going much of this article is not relevant anymore. For example: the link to the about page is dead, and therefore quote pulled from it is around 4 years old.

The article also show its age by referring to the term ‘crowdsourcing’ as ‘inane web 2.0 vernacular’.

The fundamental model behind 99designs remain the same, but this is no longer a relevant article to continue to bash crowd sourcing. Maybe if the author was to update it, these recent comments would be more relevant.

Personally I’m not a fan of crowdsourcing sites such as 99designs, and I loathe the concept of spec work. But, again, sharing this article without referring to its vintage can lead to some rather unfair criticism of an evolving part of the industry.

The Avangelist

wrote the following on Friday October 19, 2012

It’s business!!!!
We’re not yet in a world where craft is valued again, it’ll take another 100 years of devolution from the industrial revolution. Until then everything we do is about mass production at low cost and high speed. There are people who make a good living from sites like this, I’m not saying they’re great, but anyone can put together their own business model of churning out the same logo with a different word underneath, or colour variants until somebody buys it up. How is that really all that different to any other business selling a product?

There will always be cheap labour, there will always be young people trying to get started. Why concern yourselves with them unless you believe your work is of the same calibre?

Also, how on earth is this post still being debated 4 years later!!!


wrote the following on Friday October 19, 2012

As someone who tried out basically every logo contest site out there such as 99designs – I  can honestly say that 99designs is not nearly as bad as some of its competitors. 

One ( if not the worst) such site is designcrowd. The exlotaion that propels this  greed machine is astounding. Unlike 99designs, they charge 15% fee out of all winnings. So instead of taking their earnings from the clients, they take it from the poor slaves they call designers. In most cases contest reward money amounts to very little (if you’re lucky enough to even win one of the damn things. )

Secondly, like many other sites, they offer “Guerenteed contests” to try to protect their “designers” and attract more of them. This means the client can’t get a refund. Many, many contests are abandoned after cheapskate clients don’t find what they are looking for. (haha) 

99designs keep to their word when it comes to those kind of contests and distribute the award money equally among the designers who participated in them. DesignCrowd does not. DesignCrowd being the doucebags that they are-keep that money. Which makes their“Guerenteed contests” complete and utter bullshit. Especially since half of these contests end up being abandoned…

However I’m sure that is DC’s favorite outcome considering they don’t need to do that irritating Iittle thing called paying designers what they deserve. 

And speaking of abandoned contests… if a client on DC says “they’re going out of town” and will decide on a winning design once they get back…they’re fucking with you, they will not choose a winning design, because guess what? They’re not out of town and they’re not coming back. They realized too late that they made a mistake by paying these hacks and by some twisted way of trying to protect the designers’s feelings, they spin some pathetic lie. 

And I have no proof of this but after just a couple of weeks on DC you  will realize that the percentage of abandoned contests is startling. This leads me to believe the quality of designers there must be very low compares to other sites. But this doesn’t surprise me as DC is not a very hospitable place. Contests there almost never close for entries, way after their deadline expired. Clients are allowed to extend their contests so many times it will make your head spin. Goodluck trying to get around their awful layout. And if someone steals your designs or uploads stock logos? Tough luck…They couldn’t care less.

Truly fucked up stuff goes on that site, but as with most of these sites most of their “designers“are from 3rd world countries, so exploiting them is much easier. 

There’s also this pathetic little site called 48hourslogos I came across recently. The most common offered prize money there? 89 dollars. Minus the 29 they keep of course. That’s 60 dollars for a logo… 60 bucks. For a logo. Unbelievable. 

But anyways, after a year of signing up for these disgusting sites, I realized what an absolute disservice I was doing to myself… Even though I was doing it for the challenge and experience, it really isn’t worth all the hassle. If you have any self respect, you’ll do as I did and find a different hobby.


wrote the following on Thursday October 25, 2012

A few years back (in the time around when this blog was originally posted) I would have agreed nearly 100%. But the marketplace is changing. I am a professional engineer and I to have competition form overseas. Today I am changing my business model to take advantage of all inputs where reasonable. Yes I just did a project on 99Designs and am very happy with it.

On one hand one feels there is a lot of work being put in for little reward. On the other hand depending on where the designer lives that little reward to us might be a huge reward to them. Also all the feedback I gave the designers has led to a better design. have tried local before but I was never satisfied. With my current project on 99Designs I have 3 finalists with three distinctive sets of results. Sadly I have to choose one over the others. But all the designers got a chance to put their work out there and learn from it.

Are we upset others are doing our work for less? Are we being protectionist? Sorry the world is a changing place and we must adapt to it or die. I am learning I have to extract enhanced value where I can and not live in the past.


wrote the following on Wednesday October 31, 2012

FREE MARKET! You got a problem? do something about it and stop whining you bitch

Kory Allen

wrote the following on Monday November 5, 2012

Time earns money not the vice versa, so its important for any business to spend money not time….


wrote the following on Wednesday November 7, 2012

Maybe they should consider some other names like:

“98 Designers Not Getting Paid”
“99 Designers Wishing They Had a Job”
“99 Cents an Hour for Hire”


wrote the following on Monday November 12, 2012

I am a young person, with serious aspiration of becoming a graphics designer and/or motion graphics/video editor. I always took 99 designs as a place to learn and get experience of what clients are looking for, but due to the lack of proper public feedback, you can’t really learn too much about it, which is a shame.
Maybe I am getting off of 99design so people can’t steal my designs, and try to get to the lower level professional work in a couple of months.

Adam Bate

wrote the following on Wednesday November 28, 2012

I’ll admit I certainly like the idea from a purchaser standpoint. as @westup puts it with the free market reference, if you don’t want to compete for business on 99 designs then don’t?

I think it’s certainly a step back in terms of business model for most designers, but people looking to build a little bit of a portfolio it’s a great alternative to doing completely free work.


wrote the following on Friday December 7, 2012

In last 3 years I earned around 95000$ working in contest on 99designs, and later on with clients who choosed my design for winning. I worked 5-8 hours a day but not at once. I work when I want, I enter contest I want to enter, if something seems strange to me I just skip contest to next one where I could show my potential. have bought 45m2 appartment, kia proceed, went two times for a 15 day vacation in Greece, and 10+ time in Croatia. In my country average monthly payment is 300 / 350$. My friend who is having full time job as graphic designer 9+ hours of work, he must do anything they give to him, have monthly payment around 450$ maximum. In my country Serbia for logo and website clients are willing to pay less than 150$. So you can continue talking all kind of crap against 99designs, you can continue complaining about how this will ruin the industry, insult all the fellows who are working on 99designs as a side work or full time, talk about our designs and generalize them as a shit, give 10 more reasons why I should leave 99designs, and I will still give you couple facts mentioned above why I will never quit 99designs. Cheers. :)


wrote the following on Sunday December 23, 2012

I have worked on a few designs for No good reason – I just had nothing better to do! It is such a shot in the dark without being able to communicate more in depth with your client, as it seems that most clients don’t put much effort into their design brief or don’t know how to communicate their ideas much less the vision of their company/brand. It seems like it attracts a certain kind of client too – the startup that doesn’t have a lot of money to spend or the person who believes that design is easy, that virtually anyone can do it, and that it should be cheap. I am surprised by this really “common” logo design that I keep seeing – and it wins too – the 3D type/graphics and color overload. Just not a fan, and with minimal client interaction you are unable to explain your design to the client.


wrote the following on Sunday December 23, 2012

all i know is that there are people who will pay for a $300 logo, and if they are dumb enough to do that, i’m smart enough to take it.


wrote the following on Tuesday January 8, 2013

so all you guys make good points however crowdsourcing is not always as bad as it looks i think the point is to works with designers to implement crowdsourcing platforms as 99designs.

i mean i know ontwerp voor geld in netherlands has a different approach. very in communication with their designers.

multiple prizes could be a solution for example and i completely agree that designers should be in direct communication with the clients and companies.

i mean the attitude and the approach is always important for me. crowdsourcing can be a soultion not an enemy this will depend how will be worked out. profits arent everything


wrote the following on Wednesday January 16, 2013

We need psychiatrist in our society to provide comprehensive care. It’s our goal to make a depression and anxiety free society so that everyone can get the full moments of life happy life.Becoming a psychiatrist leads you towards a psychiatrist career.


wrote the following on Sunday January 20, 2013

Good work keep it up

Da Man

wrote the following on Saturday February 2, 2013

If i felt threaten that someone will take my job, I probably done the same thing, like most of you guys posting here..
However, you fail to understand that the internet that is the source of you income, is becoming a threat to you lazy over paid US or any other Western Europeans.. Its time to do a reality check, as your work can be done by someone else in other parts of the globe, the same quality work as you or even better.. You’ve taken thing for granted, its time to wake up and be competitive, work with your clients offer your honest opinion, help them, do not be greedy and take advantage of the situation, do not over charge..
yes people will look for cheaper alternatives, whether you like it or not.. I’m sure most of you do search in more than one store before deciding to purchase something..
I’m sure most of you assholes here bitching and complain, shopped at Walmart, Ebay and many other chain stores..
You all are being childish with your nonsense!! Its time for you to get your fat lazy asses and do some work and earn your money!!

Leanne Davis

wrote the following on Monday February 4, 2013

I am a little behind on this one, I just discovered “Elance” last week. As a designer working in agencies for the last ten years I have been a bit out of the freelance circle until now that I have decided to go that route. I saw the site and thought “oh hey a cool way to network and meet clients” thinking they would choose you based on your portfolio. I was shocked when I received a message saying that my prices were ridiculous and he was very rude about it! I replied that he would get what he paid for and that I don’t want a client that pays me $2 an hour. I removed my membership after looking around the site a little more to get a better idea of this whole thing. I was shocked!


wrote the following on Saturday February 9, 2013

if a person/company gets a logo they like and a designer gets some work that they were WILLING to do on spec, what’s the problem? it’s not as if the people working on the site are being compelled to do so or that 99designs has a corner on the market and if a designer doesn’t work with them they’d be iced out of the market. i can understand a fundamental issue that designers are willing to work for peanuts, but if they want to work for peanuts, let ‘em work for peanuts! and why should this site be wrong for providing a platform for people who WANT to work for peanuts? no disrespect intended here, i just don’t get why there is such aggressive hatred toward this business where everyone involved is a willing participant.


wrote the following on Monday February 11, 2013

For all employers 99designs is paradise on earth ! For all designers 99designs is a modern way of PLAGIARISM and a dramatical waste of time !!! It mainly works this way: Competitions are created and prepaid, designers’ ideas were caught, the competitions were closed and repaid without choosing any winner and the best handed-in concept can be redrawn. Else: I often experienced contest holders choosing kids’ stuff as the winning design (maybe their own one handed-in by signing up a different account, which can easily be done within less than 30 seconds), but only to dissemble a winner and to avoid paying designers’ work. In fact they or rather the platform pays themself ! And they got what they needed: Ideas ! Handing in them can be withdrawn, BUT once sent, the employer can save those to his/her desktop and so there’s no point in withdrawing !
Result: Beware of nonprofessionals and scammers ! This is no time well spent !!!

Andy Potts

wrote the following on Tuesday February 12, 2013

99 Designs goes against the nature of design. Generally clients using sites like these to get work done need educating on design, which is where employing a freelance designer would become more beneficial to the client.


wrote the following on Monday March 4, 2013

While there may be some valid points here and there in the article, I find it smacks of entitlement. I learned early on as a true and natural artist that you don’t put yourself above others. Art is not learned, you have to have the natural skill first. A degree doesn’t make you the authority over what is good or bad design, the great designers and artists always broke the “rules”. I’m not defending 99designs business practice or model, but standing on a pedestal saying “I know what good design is and you don’t” because you went toschool doesn not make it so.

And what did you do in school to learn what you learned anyway – some other person helped you read through a text book and criticized you assignments. That is hardly something that cannot be accomplished outside of the educational system.


wrote the following on Wednesday March 13, 2013

As a student I am currently building up a portfolio. I have been using the likes of Designcrowd & 99Designs every now and then, I agree the prices are horrendous and very exploitative.

However, I still need to build up a portfolio to attract clients, so it seems like a better alternative to do spec work that has a chance of earnings as opposed to making up an artificial brief with no returns or client.

As for the clients who have left negative comments about designers being “unprofessional”, just because someone says they are a graphic design that does not mean they are certified, passionate or even have any experience. I am a high performer at my uni and although I often see shockingly bad design and capability, all of the students claim they are a graphic designer on their CV. Some seem to think that knowing how to open up Photoshop equates to “experience with Photoshop” and that is how clients are fooled. You need to find designers who are passionate, not just those who know how to use the pen tool.


wrote the following on Saturday March 16, 2013

I found this article amusing. I’m currently hosting a logo contest, and the winner will get $499 (or whatever percentage of that the designer gets). I’ve currently had 70 entries submitted by 15 designers. No one held a gun to these designer’s head. They do it because they want to. And, some of the submitted logo’s are very good. Far better than anything I could do.

I knew what I wanted and I conveyed that to the designers. I’ve communicated with some of them many times to fine tune a design. In the end, I’m going to get a logo that I like for $499. Sure, I could have paid a ‘professional’ designer $5,000 to get a logo, but, why, if I can get one I like for $499?

The people I hear the loudest against this concept are the ‘professional’ designers who charge 10x or more than the 99Designs designers, and they don’t like their business getting taken away from them.

For me, this process has been great. For the designers who put time into this and didn’t win, well, they knew the way the game is played before they submitted the first design.

The bottom line is this, your argument is just flat out wrong. Look how much money these design companies are making. And look how many designers are participating. A lot of customers like me think this is a great concept, and, it seems a lot designers do too.

The way I see it, the ‘professional’ designer thinks way too highly of their abilities and, in many cases, are grossly overpaid. You’re only worth what someone wants to pay you.


wrote the following on Wednesday April 10, 2013

I just quit from 99 designs. If you ask me why, I have several reasons for this decision. Just for the record I entered in 87 contest and won just 9 in two mounts.

1. There are totally waste of time.
2. The prices are very low.
3. Majority of contest holders don’t accept any advice from designers. For them you are just computer operators. A puppet who know some graphic software.
4. If you ask a contest holder why he take a decision in the public comments 99 designs stuff consider that you harass the CH and your account suspended.
5. The communication designer – client are nonexistent
6. There is one rule there “client is god and you are nothing”

P.S. In your account you don’t have the delete account option. To do that I violate their most precious rule. “Do not criticize designers, clients or 99designs staff” and my account was deleted in seconds.

So, for my sanity I sad BYE BYE 99 Designs and I encourage you to do the same

Drop Shadow

wrote the following on Sunday May 5, 2013


14 guys (currently, as you said) worked for free on your contest, would you work for free? I’ve competed on a number of contests on 99 and trust me there is a bitter feeling left after you realize you’re giving the best of your work for practically nothing (and here and there earn a couple of hundred bucks).

After a while I started looking elsewhere for work and found a real job earning something I can relate to with the hours I put in the project where my employer is very satisfied with the results and I’m satisfied both as a designer and as a person (read “don’t feel like shit”).


99designs should be boycotted by all designers who value their work and them selves as human beings and not slaves.

You know deep down it’s wrong to have people work for you for free.

99designs takes 60% of the the income and tosses 40% to designers to fight over it like dogs.


wrote the following on Friday May 24, 2013 is a cheap place – especially for pro designers. There are lots of amateurs on the site (‘passionate designers’) who create loads of b-grade web templates (poorly inspired from themeforest) and far worse, these designs are chosen by the cheaper clients who do not have a clue about design or its implications.

For example: – just look at the winning design! Good lord, that is the cheapest imitation of the poorest themeforest like design ever! And finally – look at the prize money – astounding $955 for such a shitty and nauseatic design!

99designs is just full of crap and is totally a wrong move in the world of design in general. The so called staff of 99designs is totally ignorant and very very greedy. In the beginning the contests’ duration was a week. Now, they added some ‘stages’ unnecessarily prolonging the contest duration.

Also one of the most ridiculous things ever – they introduced so called ‘bronze’, ‘silver’ and ‘gold’ contests which cost even more. And they make every crap designer on this planet a gold designer and claim that gold contests have hand picked gold designers.

Seriously, how much more greedy can these pathetic 99designs guys become? These guys should be banned for polluting the respectful design community with their false, filthy and fake promises, and cheap practices.

And their so called ‘guaranteed’ contests are not guaranteed at all! If the buyer leaves the project even though its guaranteed, the money is simply distributed amongst ALL designers – which means stupid fools who submitted an idiotic design also get a share – an equal share.

99designs, freelancer and other cheap sites should be banned. They are destroying the graphic community and treating designers as people of skin trade.

You Got Served

wrote the following on Tuesday June 25, 2013


You fool! Don’t you understand why professional designers charge $$$ for their work? It’s because they have OVERHEAD. They pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for their design equipment and software. Plus, they actually PUT the man hours into the work needed to complete your design.

Meanwhile, the “designers” you love so much who charge peanuts for a website or logo design CHEAT by pirating Photoshop and other state of the art software (so they pay nothing for Photoshop or Illustrator, which costs hundreds of dollars) and also use “generator” software to make your design. Did you know that there are scores of free and cheap $30-50 generators that can generate professional looking logos and website templates in a matter of minutes? That what the cheap “designers” on 99 Designs use.

So you’re not getting a “bargain,” you’re getting ripped off. If I told you that the winner of your logo contest merely took five minutes to crank out a cookie cutter design in a free online logo generator, how much would you then feel about the $499 you paid him? Quite a bargain, huh? You paying someone $499 for “generating” a logo design you could’ve done yourself for free or at the most, paid $40 for using a commercial logo generation software. Clever you!

Owen Prescott

wrote the following on Wednesday July 3, 2013

I have found Designcrowd to work better than 99Designs. I am ranked relatively well in Designcrowd, the funny thing is I have only won a couple of competitions. That means a large proportion have not and likely will not ever make any decent money as I am already above something like 85%. I knew this was not a serious option for freelance, I was just increasing the logo side of my portfolio but now and I have moved on.

The last project I won took months to go from agreed to payment, I had to contact there customer service to get some action in regards to payment. Forgetting the whole competition aspect, clients are extremely unreliable and the process is very one sidef. Rather that the designer missing the deadline as some might expect, the client just extends it constantly. Clients expect high quality for dirt cheap prices, both parties lose out, except Designcrowd. To be fair this critisms appies to all comp design sites.

99designs failure

wrote the following on Friday November 29, 2013

Theres no respect in that kind of business.

Just watch this info. One of the new rules in 99designs is nobody can copy an original concept. If you are doing a logo for a dentist everybody could use only the same elements that are in the brief. Rules says that creative ideas must be protected and nobody cant copy. If you use a butterfly in dental logo nobody could use that animal because you were the first exploring that unsual idea in that kind of business.
Here it is the rules:

And now see what happens in this contest:

The winner of the contest copy the Rhino idea from another designer and win. A lot of reports were made about this copy but rules simply does not work here.
The winning logo was accused about copy the concept of version 267, and at the first moment, 99designs remove that logo. 6 months later the contest holder came saying that want that removed logo and here it is. Rules for what?

Everybody could use gears because the theme was big machines. But a Rhino, is out of the box, is not included in the theme brief…
Other thing, the guy who wins this contest have most of all versions removed… Why? Because copy a lot! But this time the copy concept works!


wrote the following on Tuesday June 24, 2014

I know this is an old post, but I’m really hoping to get input on this – you all seem extremely intelligent and knowledgeable about the subject and I need your help. What would you recommend to a small family owned start-up business looking for a logo or other design work for their business? I think the logo is vitally important, however having experienced it myself, starting a business can be extremely overwhelming. It’s so hard to figure out where to start – especially if you have a tight budget to stick to. How do you find the right designer that can produce quality work that you can afford? I’m sure you should hire the best designer you can afford, but that can still be a daunting task to a new business owner that knows nothing about design. I think that’s why people get stuck and resort to websites like 99designs – art is so subjective. . . it’s often hard for the untrained eye to identify professional work from an amateur. Is there anything you can recommend to people in those situations to help make the process of finding a good designer more easy?


wrote the following on Monday August 25, 2014

I’m with “Wondering” here. I’m looking for design services (logo first, treatment, complete website soon, then print collateral, etc.) + I had a network of designers at one time, but they’re currently all engaged in F/T gigs. Searching Craigslist for designers yields almost nothing. So — is there a portal where we as potential clients can look at multiple designer portfolios + understand designer capabilities + price ranges — that is, an alternative to the 99designs model, else, as a way of at least starting — it’s quite compelling (and I’m saying that as a friend of many designers + someone who wholeheartedly believes in the design process). So — put the rants on hold. Where do we go online to find designers?

Randy Klinger

wrote the following on Saturday March 21, 2015

Great article!!!
But, like all those hand-typsetters of the 1950’s losing their jobs to electronic typesetting – we are now being pushed aside. How can we get designers to boycott – especially if they are 3rd world designers? Let’s form a sympathetic union and start supporting each other!
I am in Scotland, I am 59 years old. I am not concerned for myself – but I am for my daughter. Design is an art – this is bringing sweat-shop mentality back to the UK!
How can we HELP & SUPPORT each other to be respected Designers and for the ART of DESIGN to be understood and given dignity?

fuck 99

wrote the following on Friday August 28, 2015

Wish I did some research before joining 99designs. After 2 years and a couple of free designs posted I only managed to get 600$ and my account suspended becouse I dared to ask a contest holder why he eliminated my design :)) (and he did becouse I didn’t submit an entry when he wanted though’ there was more then enough time) Best advice I can give for all freelancers is to stay away from 99 unles you like working for free.
I see a few people looking for designers and don’t know where to find them, you need to use google better if you have nobody to share a few tips. Hoping I don’t make any free advertising but the best place to find freelancers (warning you will find all 3 levels of skills) and full solutions to your needs is I am using it and I’m constantly looking for work.