May 28, 2009

One of the biggest obstacles I’ve had to face in entering the field of graphic design, is the lack of understanding most people in industry for graphic design in general. When they see a logo designed, or anything print or web, they fail to see the hours spent on developing ideas, the time it takes to make something with real meaning and character behind it. A trend that has really divided graphic design lately is crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing simply means that instead of one person developing an idea and creating a solution, companies are now giving away their design problems to masses of people, who then respond with ideas and concepts, and the best ideas are cherry-picked by the company to create a final result.

Crowdsourcing isn’t something that’s exclusive to graphic design. You can find it in music as well, when many aspiring musicians will submit songs for commercials or films, instead of one musician being chosen to work directly with the companies to develop music. With the emergence of social networks like Twitter and Facebook, companies can now reach out to a wide base of people through these services, and they can make these people feel more involved in their product through crowdsourcing.

There are pros and cons to this method of design. The pro is that the design will be based on the responses of many different people, including consumers, so it will be satisfactory to a large section of the public. The con, in my opinion, is that this process cuts out one of the most important parts of good graphic design, the designer working closely with the client, understanding the character and philosophy of the client, and creating design that reflects that philosophy in the public. As well with crowdsourcing, you end up with hastily made work, that doesn’t have the same care and devotion that one graphic designer would have working on a project for someone exclusively.

I found an interview with a leading designer in the advertising industry that does a really good job of explaining the pitfalls of crowdsourcing in design, it echos my thoughts on the subject pretty well.


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