Graphic Designers of Canada decries government logo design contest

Prominent members of Canada’s graphic design industry are angry about a government plan to source the logo for the country’s upcoming 150th anniversary through a contest for students. Graphic Designers of Canada, the country’s federally chartered accreditation body for graphic and communication design professionals, says the contest demonstrates a lack of understanding about the graphic design industry and a lack of respect for design students.

Mark Busse, Vice President, Public Relations of the BC Chapter of the GDC says the logo, which was previously at the centre of some controversy in 2013, is too important to get wrong.

“This is the country’s 150th anniversary. It’s our birthday. It’s our identity,” he told Story Board via phone earlier this week.

Although Busse applauds the government’s efforts to engage youth in the upcoming anniversary, he says this is the wrong way to go about it.

“Wanting to get the public aware and participating in something as important and historic as this, that’s awesome. But this is not some fun community project logo. This is the identity of the country. This is a crucial milestone in the history of our country,” he said.

The logo, says Busse, will play a major role in the 150th anniversary celebrations in 2017.

“This is graphic design, visual communication design in terms of brand, strategy, messaging, identity. This is huge. It’ll be on stamps, on posters, on television commercials, on banners on billboards, on letterhead throughout the year that we’re celebrating the anniversary,” he said.

Busse also says the contest is disrespectful of the graphic design students it seeks to engage.

“Students who participate in the creative process should be remunerated or rewarded in some fashion. The government is not a charity, why do a competition where they give up all their ownership rights to their own work? That is totally unethical,” he said.

Busse cautions that any student who enters a logo in the competition will give up ownership of their work, whether they win the competition or not.

“If you submit an idea to the contest, you have just given away your intellectual property rights. The copyright is now the [property] of the contest holder. They will choose the one they like and apologies to the rest,” he said.

The winning entry will receive a $5000 prize — a fee that Busse says is far too low for this type of logo design. Furthermore, he says, participating in the contest would be a violation of the GDC’s charter.

“The code of ethics of the national design association prohibits us, any of us, from students to working professionals, from participating in an open competition. We are not allowed to participate in spec work.”

Busse has a strong warning for students who might believe that winning the contest would give their career a boost.

“It’s going to ruin that kid’s career. It’s going to hurt them. They’re going to be embroiled in controversy. They’re not going to get hired. They’re going to be in breach of the code of ethics before they’ve ever even applied, probably, to be a professional member,” he said.

Busse says the GDC has made its position clear to colleges and universities across Canada this week, advising schools to discourage their students from participating in the contest. For design students looking to advance their careers, he has another suggestion.

“The students that I’ve known in my 20-year career that have advanced most quickly… they’re the ones that find the experienced community, the apprentice/mentor relationships, the opportunities to learn from and gain access to the resources in that very old-fashioned sense of a guild or an association,” he said.

Since many design schools across Canada include GDC membership as part of their tuition, Busse says the only thing students need to do is decide to participate.

“Young people who want to find the way forward need to do that because it’s way too competitive, there’s far too many pitfalls and dangers trying to strike out as a young designer on your own. Getting back to that kind of apprentice model and joining the association and belonging to a group of professionals is the way forward,” he said.

Ultimately, Busse is disappointed in the government’s lack of consultation on the matter of the 150th anniversary logo design.

“They’re devaluing the profession. And they’re not consulting, which is the role that GDC has. It’s supposed to be the consultative body,” he said.

The GDC has contacted Heritage Minister Shelly Glover with its concerns but so far has only received an acknowledgment of their correspondence.

The GDC also issued a press release to state their objections to the contest and launched a petition, which had received 4500 signatures by Wednesday night.


Posted on December 11, 2014 at 8:50 am by editor · · Tagged with: , ,

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