Pay people for their work

First of all, we love dumb online contests just as much as the next purveyor of internet filth. (Just wait til our Best of Northern Nevada gets rolling next month. It’s the biggest, best dumb online contest in Reno.) And we love baseball, and we love celebrating dates of historical significance, like Reno’s upcoming 150th birthday.

But we also love paying people for their work.

The City of Reno recently released a call for artists to design a special Reno Aces baseball jersey to commemorate the city’s 150th anniversary celebration. But rather than commissioning a professional artist or graphic designer or fashion designer or baseball historian or any other professional to design the jersey, the city is just lazily crowdsourcing the job—like it’s a “What should I name my new pet duck?” Facebook post.

We actually caught wind of the contest from a post on the city’s Facebook page: “Calling all artists and graphic designers! We’re searching for the best #Reno150-themed jersey for the Reno Aces!”

And here’s the thing—they’re not asking for submissions from kids under 12 or whatever. They want submissions from professional artists and designers—the post lists resumes, references and digital images as “requirements” for submissions. So, they want professional artists to apply for this jersey gig like it’s a real job, and to do the work in advance “on spec,” like some kind of starving and/or independently wealthy TV writer. Do all the work in advance for a shot at what? A major career opportunity to become the city’s in-house designer and make 100k a year, and sit behind home plate for every Aces game for all of perpetuity?

Nope, for $200.

By the time we saw the Facebook post, some local designers and artists were already taking the city to task for these cheapskate shenanigans.

Joss Simmons: “As a professional graphic designer I cannot endorse this kind of spec work. I furthermore would like to see AIGA Reno-Tahoe and AAF Reno denouncing this type of design contest.”

Tee Iseminger: “On the bright side, this gives me a great, money-saving idea for how we can recruit and pay Aces players and city officials from now on, too.”

Hear, hear. The city doesn’t have low-paying speculation contests to decide who gets to put out fires or arrest domestic abusers. The city hires professionals and pays them.

Artists and designers, like academics and scientists, already have the validity of their occupations undercut by the anti-intellectual fervor coming out of the White House these days. The city shouldn’t make matters worse by replacing artists’ wages with dumb, low-paying contests. Hire professionals, and pay them for their work.