Adobe iPad Pro and Pencil video

Dylan and I were invited to a top secret, invite only Apple + Adobe Geekfest at the Adobe Conference and were interviewed about our thoughts after trying out the unreleased iPad Pro. Then this happened:

Watch and hear what some of the world's most creative people think about using Illustrator Draw, Photoshop Mix, Photoshop Sketch, Photoshop Fix and other Creative Cloud apps on the new iPad Pro. The iPad Pro brings a whole new reality to doing real work on a tablet.

Why spec work is never a good idea

As a designer I’ve had the good fortune to design, rebrand and launch entirely new companies with an identity that literally reaches millions of people. It’s an incredibly gratifying and humbling experience. They are the kind of experiences you dream about when you run a small design consultancy. 

However, for as many opportunities we’ve been given to provide jaw-dropping creative services, we’ve also been slack-jawed at the number of opportunities that have eluded us. And it’s a problem that all of us in the creative community face. And often we lose not to the wrong agency or competitor, but to the wrong tactic: spec work. 

Considering that creative firms bank their reputation on producing compelling design assets for clients that enhance brand value, it shouldn’t be surprising that many come to the pitch table or respond to the bid or RFP with fresh ideas and designs. After all, this is what most prospective clients really want. They are eager to get to the destination, even if it means a shortcut in the journey and discovery process.  

And that is the real issue at hand: spec work devalues the strategies that we, as creatives, proclaim. Or put another way, getting something new or getting there fast should not trump getting something right.  

Worse yet, spec work suggests that having an in-depth conversation to understand the need for change, what’s working and not working, and doing a deeper strategic dive on what will resonate with key audiences is somehow not necessary. Good design is always about solving problems. Coming to the table with solutions in-hand says to the client that their unique problem is unimportant, that their experience with the brand doesn’t matter, and that a solution can be found without collaboration between client and creative. 

But here’s what we do know:

Ineffective creative will only lead to the desire for different creative. And anyone who has been in this situation will likely agree – that’s not a good use of time, talent or resources. 

Changing this is the responsibility of parties on both sides of the table. Here are three practical considerations that can help both the agency and the organization seeking creative services. 

  • Organizations shouldn’t ask for or require spec work. Organizations that are issuing a request for creative services should avoid asking for creative expressions to their challenges before they’ve shared the depths and data of the problem. Instead, ask creatives how they solved similar problems using real client examples. By understanding the context of a problem and the solution applied, organizations will have a better understanding of how any firm goes about solving problems. 
  • Creatives gain more by avoiding spec work. Proposals are a time-intensive endeavor for everyone. Cutting spec work does two things: eliminates time involved in creating mock solutions without a full understanding of the problem; and prevents prospective clients from being seduced solely by style rather than substance. In order for good design to work, it must be more than simply good looking.
  • Know thy bidder – and vice versa. Organizations should do their homework and have an idea of the talent they want to attract to their assignment and who they think might be a good match. Also, while creatives enjoy stretching their wings, doing so in an RFP is far from ideal. Rather, focusing on a relevant pitch highlighting a track history of success is one that begs to be noticed and makes it easier to land on the short list of finalists. 

If organizations and creatives are willing to commit to a strategic process that supersedes the shiny new thing, then solutions – as well as relationships – are more likely to stick and provide a real return on investment. 

Local Small Business Saturday shoppers guide

Hey Gang, the holiday season is upon us and Black Friday is only a few days away. Instead of shopping at the big box stores and standing in line for a $50, 80" TV that will break before New Years, hold onto your hard-earned cash and spend it locally this weekend. Slagle Design is fortunate to work with many local businesses and organizations that would love to fill your holiday gift and food needs.

EduGo: Buy a bicycle for an orphaned child to ride to school safely in Southeast Asia

Redpoint Provisions: Small batch Over-the-Top Toffees for your friend with a sweet tooth. Available at Hills Market and Celebrate Local at Easton.

Bake Me Happy: Gluten-free cookies and deserts (the oatmeal creme clouds are AMAZING). Visit their location in Merion Village or several Central Ohio market locations.

Brezel: Authentic hand made Bavarian soft pretzels! Pick up fresh or frozen at the North Market or their new Over the Rhine location.

Luna Burger: Pick up some Kick-Start breakfast patties for your guests at Lucky's Market, Hills Market, Whole Foods, or other Central Ohio Locations.

Park Street Pizza: GIFT CARDS!

Teodora's Kitchen: Authentic Panamanian food. Contact Jennica for gift-cards.

Capital City Scooters: Scooters, motorcycles, riding gear and unique accessories.

Seagull Messenger Bags: Water-proof, hand-made and oh so comfortable.

The Commissary: Gift cards for cooking events and workshops for your foodie friends.

Midwest Photo Exchange: THE place for all of your photo and imaging needs.

Columbus Brewing Company: For the festive get-together.

Igloo Letterpress: Gifts for everyone. Visit their retail location in uptown Worthington.

Quaint Co: Art for everyone.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams: No explanation needed.

Asia's Hope: Loads of stuff to buy here for kids who need it most.

Stwrap: Stocking stuffers for the sports fan.