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Steve Douglas, Creative Director and owner of The Logo Factory Inc., has worked in the graphic design field for 25 years as an illustrator, a magazine art director, photographer and graphic designer. Since the mid-nineties, Steve has specialized in corporate identity and brand development, working with clients throughout the world through his Mississauga based studio - The Logo Factory. A veteran of online driven marketing, his web site is among the top 5% in terms of traffic and is frequented by designers, students and educators the world over.


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Dear Ms. Bounds
by Steve Douglas

Dear Ms. Bounds,

You may, or may not, be aware about the Internet backlash regarding the subject of your article on LogoWorks. While I'll leave that debate for others, I read your article and found some quotes and statements that as a designer of over 25 years experience, must take issue with.

Firstly, a little about myself. I run a small 'logo design' shop (on the surface very similar to LogoWorks) and have done so since 1996. Unlike LogoWorks, all my designers are on-staff, and hired only after a very vigorous interview process which determines their skill, experience and more importantly, potential. Several designers have been with me for 8 years. The youngest hire is 5 years. All these designers have spent years developing their skills, though formal education (up to 4 years) and self-improvement classes, seminars and exposure to new techniques and issues (ongoing). The designers form the skeleton on my business, and are treated as such - decent pay, benefits and flexible working hours, etc.

As a trained designer myself, I have always believed that treating a designer well (both in pay and respect) is the best method to obtain the effort and focus that is required for top-quality design, for my studio, and in turn my clients (we have since 1996, created over 5,000 logo design/identity projects for our clients). In terms of sales we are no slouch (seven figures) and in terms of Internet marketing we rank #7/8 on Google for 'logo design' - just below LogoWorks who are #1). Lest I be accused of 'sour grapes', let me say that I admire LogoWorks for their media-savvy and ability to gain press (and as a smaller, more hands-on based studio this type of marketing would completely overwhelm my staff and resources).

On the other hand, I find it appalling that you would embrace the kind of philosophy that LW, and more specifically, it's CEO - a one Morgan Lynch - boast about in your paper/web site. In fact, I find it downright shocking.

And I quote -
"However, they also get critiqued by their peers after every job in a fashion mimicking the old bell curve -- that is, someone's designs are always deemed best, while someone else's are deemed worst for a particular project. Points are added or taken away based on these rankings. Fall below 80 points, and you get bumped to the mid level pay scale. Fall below 30 and you're back at entry level."

"If their point rankings fall below a certain level, the software system limits how many jobs they can take. LogoWorks' Mr. Lynch, 33 years old, acknowledges the tough-love approach may not be for everyone. "Yes, a thick skin is needed. But that's why they get better."

So, the way to get a designer to improve is not by providing a decent work place, decent pay, education, seminars, benefits or other namby-pamby incentives. No, the way to get a designer to improve his/her skills is to have the threat of their pay (peanuts to begin with) cut by $15-$25 per design if they don't?!!!

"Yes, a thick skin is needed. But that's why they get better."

Must have missed that lecture in art school.

Another gem, from Mr. Lynch in the same article -

"If you can get two people to work on a project and then throw one away, why not do it?"

I can think of dozens of reasons why not. A few have to do with my basic outlook at treating my fellow human beings and more specifically, designers who work for me.

I've had my own issues with LW (I can share later), but I've by and large stayed out of these recent discussions regarding allegedly copied material. However, this obvious contempt for designers and what they bring to *HIS* business has troubled me greatly.

To have it endorsed publicly is astounding.

A great designer is both born, and taught. A design education can take years, cost $1000s. The hardware/software required in today's digital age (none of which LogoWorks supplies to their freelancers) can be in the $1000s as well. Yet, your paper not only chronicles this exploitation of designers (as well as the demeaning of our craft) but appears to applaud it. And it is *not* the only way for businesses to obtain logo design at this price point. In fact, many freelance designers and smaller shops offer comparable pricing, vastly superior work and a hands-on experience (as opposed to working with LogoWorks designers whose qualifications, as stated on their own recruiting web site, are two samples of logo design work.

I would assume that most of the designers who 'work' for LogoWorks are struggling designers, hobbyists and/or students who are expected to turn in all the rights to their design work for $25 (discarded artwork is sold as glorified clip art for use as 'logo designs' on another site). To read about their exploitation is troubling. To read your endorsement of same is remarkable. And while some are accusing LogoWorks of selling 'borrowed artwork', I will only point you to LogoWorks terms and conditions (on their web site) in which they distance themselves from all liability and responsibility to their clients, apparently as a legal prophylactic for that very event.

I hope in the future that you will perform some research on the subject of an article, especially one that seems to obtain the sanction of the Wall Street Journal - one of the most respected names in business today. And if you believe that this is not important, please feel free to peruse the LogoWorks web site where they use constant mention of WSJ press, as well as make it available as a .PDF download.

It would appear that Mr. Lynch certainly believes that your endorsement is important to his business.

Sincerely yours,

Steve Douglas
The Logo Factory Inc.
6741 Columbus Road, Unit 10
Mississauga, On L6T 5K9

©2005 Steve Douglas

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