How much is your time worth?

Graphic designers say they won’t play ball with “exploitative” contest

A group of graphic designers has boycotted a logo contest held by the Government of Canada and now they’re looking others to join the cause.

Entrants of the contest were asked to design a new logo celebrating the 150th anniversary of Confederation. The winner would receive $5,000, as well as the chance to have their work displayed in a federal building.

For the Association of Registered Graphic Designers however, the contest was exploitation, not opportunity. The association (which has over 3,000 members from 379 communities) claims their members’ time and effort is being undervalued, since many professionals put work into the contest, but only the winner is recognized and compensated.

Sam Campbell and Daniela Luchetta, co-chairs of the student representative committee, launched a social media campaign on Jan. 14, posting photos of themselves holding signs reading #MyTimeHasValue in an effort to gain support for their cause. They then challenged fellow graphic designers to do the same.

Since the boycott was launched, over 150 protest photos have been uploaded onto the #MyTimeHasValue Flickr page.

The now-closed contest was held by the federal government. (Government of Canada)

The now-closed contest was held by the federal government. (Government of Canada)

“Students are busy preparing for a future career in a world where they can be paid for the work that they do. Think about how important it is that potential clients, like the government, recognize that your worth as a graphic designer needs to be compensated, so that you can make a living once you graduate,” Campbell and Luchetta posted on the association’s website.

Campbell and Luchetta also said that they have contacted the contest judges about their concerns, but the government has not yet responded.

Local designer weighs in

When Mickey Van Wermeskerken graduated from TRU in 2014, she was a struggling graphic designer. She went looking for work in her chosen profession, but encountered difficulties and rejection.

“Most places were not hiring graphic designers,” Van Wermeskerken said.

She relied on part-time waitressing job to pay the bills.

Van Wermeskerken agreed with the association’s ideals for protesting, but she believes that the chances of being recognized and compensated for time and effort only increase with continued effort. The contest closed Jan. 23, but the #MyTimeHasValue campaign remains active on Twitter and other social media sites.