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Interesting Topic "Signage Crowdsourcing at Sign Design Community "

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Here's a topic that has sparked some interesting responses from our LinkedIn.com Group

Signage Crowdsourcing at Sign Design Community

Next month, we're launching Sign Design Community, an online crowdsourcing hub for sign buyers, sign designers and sign fabricators. We're the first to apply crowdsourcing to custom signage and we're looking to get buyers, designers and fabricators involved. Follow us here in LinkedIn or connect with us via Facebook or Twitter and be sure to sign-up on our website to receive updates the closer we get to launch.

Sign Design Community is an online hub where business owners can utilize collaborating and competing sign designers and manufacturers to create customized, high quality signage. Our marketplace works with the combined participation of these diverse groups:

Businesses and organizations in need of signage can utilize Sign Design Community to get the sign they love, custom-created by accomplished designers. Our process thrives on transparency, efficiency and competitive prices to ensure premium quality signage tailored to all your specifications.

Designers can compete in Sign Design Community's design contests for a chance not only to win cash prizes but to have their design chosen and manufactured.

Sign Design Community connects sign manufacturers with prospective clients across the country and the opportunity to bid on active projects.

Any way to get the design community working closer with the fabricator for the benefit of the client, is a welcome community.

Anyway for a client and fabricator to get free design work, lower the standard of design even more has to be good for the sign business. Where do I sign up so I can work for free or compete against designers in third world countries where 100 bucks to them is like making 1000... whoooopieeee

I'm with you Rick!

Really? You want designers to "compete" in "design contests" to win "cash prizes"? Talk about taking ten giant leaps backwards. Maybe we can get Guy Fieri to be a celebrity judge and send the designers home feeling good about being so close to fame.

Some community, where creative talent and experience is expected to be the eager dog hoping to be thrown a bone. Bad idea guys. The EGD community is generally a highly educated and experienced group of designers that develop highly complex wayfinding and identity systems on the most complex environments in today's society. Or maybe it's "just a sign" and I should get off my high horse!

"Just a sign" is the exact direction this trade has gone on the last couple of years.

The industry has been packaged and wrapped by many large component manufacturers into/as a commodity instead of what it is, a specialized "Trade". This is why we see so much junk being installed all around town, National Sign Companies fabricating based on the bottom line and executing contracts in upside down bids.

As Rick said, compete online by some third worlders and?

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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  • !llumenati

And who was the brainchild that come up with that wonderful thought?


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This appears to be a simple case of a sign company, in this case Poblacki, trying to get free ideas from fools. Although I'e never worked with them, I always thought they were a decent firm. Strange that a company that tries to differential itself by touting quality and craftsmanship and being "far apart from the impersonal, volume-driven firms that are common in the market" (from Poblacki's website) would not know the difference between professional signage designers and the amateurs who will be the only ones to respond to the this type of gimmick.

Good luck with that Marcus. As for us, we'll continue to partner design/build projects with fabrication companies that understand and deliver quality design, fabrication and value to their clients.

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Rick, Eric, Shawn, and Gordy,

Thank you for your feedback, we value your opinion as tenured environmental graphic designers. After spending over six years in the architectural sign industry, I too can relate to the frustration of outsiders attempts to simplify the artisan craft of custom sign creation. I think that we would all agree that it takes years of experience and skill to design a sign, not all designs can be fabricated, and that end users tend to be unaware of the amount of detail that goes into signage.

Sign Design Community ensures that skilled sign designers, not amateur artist, are submitting entries for the signage needs of business owners looking for custom main identification signs. Outside of offering freelance opportunities for sign designers, we educate and protect sign buyers by including sign code research, third party verified material specifications, and engineering drawings throughout the buying process.

I hope that you sign up to follow Sign Design Community, so you can learn more in the coming days about how can connect sign buyers, sign designers, and sign fabricators.

I think all experienced designers agree that with the years of experience, why would any self respecting designer want to design for free in a contest that does not level the playing field, but caters to the whim of a uneducated client with the cold interaction of the internet in a trumped up beauty contest.

If you didn't know "crowdsourcing" is a derogatory term to those you are trying to exploit. You might want to check out "NO SPEC" (www.no-spec.com/) and on Facebook "Crowdsourcing Sucks" Having looked into it myself, I find the only people making money is the person hosting the site or the company backing them up. Those people take a percentage and possibly the implementation of the design while the designers who lose the contest get nothing and the client gets low cost design work.

To me, it's about relationships and having an equal respect for each others craft. The colleagues I have talked would be very disappointed in any fabrication company that would be involved in this type of venture. EGD designers want their fabricators to have design skills and even if they compete for work as a design/build, that they have confidence that they know that company is design savvy when they go to them for a project to bid on. But to warehouse wholesale design is saying that design has no worth and with enough desperate designers, is now a commodity. I choose fabricators to bid on projects that can get the job done the way it was designed, how we get along, and when required add input in adjusting the design...

Most of us designers already know that many sign shops work on spec. It makes "some" sense... they are selling signs, not actual design (this is incorrect of course). Your site seems to have the added benefit of advancing the already prevalent spec design work in the sign industry, and...

---now you are asking the designers to take the hit.

Well put Rick. Just follow the money - you'll always find the source of inspiration!

I've got a better idea...SignArc.com. It is straight up my design firm's attempt at getting quality design to the signage fabrication world at a reasonable price. The response to our new offering has been tepid at best. I guess many fabricators still think good enough is good enough when it comes to design.

I always appreciate the feedback and dialogue.

Crowdsourcing is a controversial topic across all industries; it has penetrated graphic design, consumer packaged goods, education, and governments around the world. Crowdsourcing is and will remain a means of meeting the needs of clients, and it isn’t going away. For us, crowdsourcing provides a platform of competition; sign designers and fabricators alike are provided opportunities to meet the needs of clients. No, not every single one of them will win. Not everyone will get paid. But that’s competition. The work will speak for itself, and I understand that’s a scary prospect for some. Crowdsourcing isn’t, by any means, for everyone.

For those willing, Sign Design Community is intended to provide opportunities. Our goal is to revolutionize custom signage with a crowdsourcing approach that reduces lead-times, lowers costs, emphasizes transparency, boosts quality, and promotes creativity.

Without question, there’s still plenty of room for designers and fabricators outside of crowdsourcing to gain business, particularly in complex wayfinding environments; however, the competitive element of Sign Design Community encourages eschewing the “good design is good enough” approach Gordy opined.

I again encourage our critics to join us when we launch next month to see how our alternative process to obtaining architectural signs is beneficial for buyers, sign designers, and fabricators. http://www.signdesigncommunity.com

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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Why only apply the "croudsourcing" to design? Why not have sign companies do the same? Competing sign companies would build signs on spec and let the client buy the one they like best. I'm sure lots of sign companies would love to participate. As you put it, "Sign Companies can compete in Sign Design Community's fabrication contests for a chance not only to win cash prizes but to have their sign chosen and installed.

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All I can say is, best of luck with that new venture. Not sure how much participation that site will get, it sounds like headache city to me.

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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if you go to the opening page of this site...


You will see last months payout was over 1,000,000 bucks, now if they get 10% for hosting that circus, it's not a bad haul for the headache.

Take a look at the contests... free for all of pinching and posting... not collaboration more like a melee.

This site is going to take time to build up, and they have larger issues (such as codes, zoning and planning) when posting up contests.

But my guess is, there are plenty or underpaid designers working for sign shops who need to make a extra buck, and lots of fabricators who now have access to free design options at low prices. It sounds good, unless your a designer. I can't fault these people for jumping on the bandwagon, but the cost in the end may not justify the damage done to my industry. And that is worth debating...

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Great. Let's take this crowdsourcing one step further. Three sign companies build a monument sign. The client chooses the one he wants and that manufacturer gets paid. The other two guys, whose work did not speak very well for itself, get to take their signs home with them (or do they?) and get ready to build another one for the next contest.

Why is it that you fabricators (Poblocki, et al) devalue the worth of a service provider's creative product, his/her intellectual property? Time to take this discussion over to the Architectural Signage group.

Ah, the explanation of crowdsourcing by the person who will most likely benefit the most, commenting to the type of person with the most to lose...

For you, you have initial start up expense, where you have a chance to lose only once.

Your explanation of "No, not every single one of them will win. Not everyone will get paid" is not totally true... only one designer will win... and the constant is, that you and the company that is backing this project will always be paid.

My belief is, this is nothing more than way for salesmen to get bids out on highly competitive smaller jobs with more options that normally take more time than they are worth by paying an in-house designer. By taking out that 8-10% design cost and having more options worth 10-25% of the project, you can in effect, take the cost of a designer out of the loop and pass on the savings to the client. That may be the transparency of this crowdsourcing model. If I was a salesmen or a fabricator I would jumping all over that.

There is not one legitimate design business book I have read, that states incorporating crowdsourcing as a business model for making a successful design business. Most designers compete using their portfolio of work. Going against designers on portfolio, experience, and price, is how designers currently get work. THAT is generally the business of competition. Giving away the product seems to be a backward way of doing business unless the designer alone were going to benefit from the rewards or take the loss. In the area or crowdsourcing, you as the host benefit no matter what the outcome is.

The crowdsourcing model disconnects the design process for the concept of appeasing to a persons taste and/or pocketbook and most of the time is a free for all to one up the next designer. Something usually gets lost in that process.

You are not revolutionizing anything, you are taking the model laid out by other companies... LOGOWORKS comes to mind as one of the first successful companies... and repackaging it with the same fluff explanation about this being about the client...

It's really about making the sale at a lower cost.

I make no apologies for Sign Design Community being outside the realm of the status quo. When I decided to start this business, I knew there would be push back - again, crowdsourcing is controversial - but that doesn't change the fact it provides opportunities and benefits to sign buyers, designers and fabricators. Participation is, of course, voluntary.

Crowdsourcing isn't necessarily a scalable process; there are obviously larger, more complex jobs and clients that require significantly more strategy and a highly sophisticated approach. Our intent is to offer small business owners and organizations the opportunity to benefit from experienced design services in a transparent and linear way; there are obviously designers who feel this devalues or denigrates them, but that's making a lot of inaccurate assumptions that will be resolved when we launch next month.

Despite the controversy and the rancor, designers are still participating in crowdsourcing communities in droves - typically by the thousands. We would never be foolish enough to think designers were a monolithic group; they vary greatly by experience, talent, skill, specialty, taste, organization, et cetera, and for some, Sign Design Community makes sense and offers opportunities unavailable elsewhere.

"but that doesn't change the fact it provides opportunities and benefits to sign buyers, designers and fabricators. "

But at what costs?

The fact is... it provides cheap (or free for the unscrupulous) labor for sign buyers and fabricators and generates sales for the company involved with this site. There is no benefit to designers to work for free with the occasional win of a design contest. It's not controversial, it's an exploitive model for doing business. Those are the facts.

Work that should be billed, but now in your concept is done for free is a devaluation of their time and expertise and yes, for all designers does degrade them in compensation and in the process of making a sign. They are volunteering to be exploited, that term is called economic exploitation.

"Economic exploitation; the act of using another person’s labor without offering them an adequate compensation."

Crowdsourcing is more sinister as you and the company backing you make money on the backs of the desperate, the underpaid and new designers able to get past your experience requirements and make an occasional sign sale for the company you work for.

The designers participating in droves you are talking about are mostly third world designers. It makes sense. if your prize were in the 1000-10,000 range, who knows, maybe I would take a bite, but for the most part, I can not compete because my cost of living is way higher than thiers... what is odd is, I'm a small fry, and even I get lessons in underbidding small sign projects and EGD jobs by larger EGD firms with even larger costs.

If you go to the pages of 99designs.com. They did over 1,000,000 bucks last month. 10% of that was probably theirs, probably less than 1% of the design submitted were chosen or won. You are also in a position to make sales through the company you work for, while saving on the design costs.. it's about the money, making the sale, getting contacts... not the client. I have no problem with making money... but on the backs of a particular business that you need to survive on? Exploitive is the term, not opportunities.

Are other fabricators willing to submit to that process when you are the host and in the background, the fabricator? I really hope fabricators think twice about bidding in a site that belongs or is directed by their competition.

Your site is no different than working for free, or other crowdsourcing sites, or working for a boss that never pays on time, or working as a subcontractor for a national company and get stiffed even though you heard the company paid slow... I'm sure most fabricators can relate to that. [/Quote]

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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Crowdsourcing has been impacting the sign business for years. Most sign buyers these days will contact at least a few sign companies, if not every sign company in the area,

to furnish a sign design and quote. The "winning" sign company is usually the lowest price, and in some cases the buyer will try to mimic the best design submitted with no compensation to the designer of the chosen design. How many of us have actually sued the buyer for copyright infringement? Probably not many have, we're all trying to run our businesses and don't have the time or money to spend on court proceedings. I applaud those sign companies who have tried to protect their intellectual property.

I have a copyright statement on every drawing and still occasionally see my designs used by buyers and other sign companies, sometimes with minor changes which the buyer feels protects him from copyright infringement. When I hired an attorney to collect a $3200.00 past due which the customer refused to pay, the settlement just happened to be the same amount as the attorney's fee. I got nothing, the attorney got $1500. In another case, it was a law firm who stole my design.

Crowdspring.com and 99designs.com have been around for years providing logo, web and packaging design to their buyers. Logos usually award $200.00-$250.00 to one of hundreds of submissions, often to the most decorative, over-photoshopped, non-relevant designs. This seems to be the future of graphic design and now the sign business.

The old (pre-computer) days when the most skilled sign companies attracted the best customers are over. These days it's all about to most sign buyers.

After all, a sign is a sign, right?


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