21st Avenue Bicycles in Northwest Portland needs some help designing a new logo so they’ve launched a contest to see which local designer can create the best one.
The designer of the winning logo will see their work all over town on the shop’s ads, on their website, and on a sticker placed on every bike sold in the shop. In addition, the winning designer will get $100.00 cash, a Chrome bags laptop sleeve, and 10% off everything in the store for as long as the logo is in use.
Here’s what the they’re looking for:
“We want something that looks both retro and modern, with a focus on clean lines and color selection. Icons we have thought about include Mt Hood, Roses, the Columbia Gorge, one of Portland’s Bridges, Fausto Coppi, Vintage Car Racing, Jean Vuarnet to name a few. The logo needs to be visible as a small graphic, something like the size of a 50 cent piece as this will be the size of our bicycle frame stickers. The shape of the graphic is not limited to a circle but all elements need to be visible with inside a 2” by 2” square.”
Elements that must be included in the logo are the shop name, their address (916 NW 21st Ave., Portland OR 97209), phone number (503) 222-2851, and the their logo, “Make it Awesome.”
The top 10 logos will be chosen by shop staff and then the public will be able to vote on them at a forthcoming event (details TBD). All submissions must be received by May 22nd and the final winner will be unveiled on June 1st “to much fan fare.”
For more details email info[at]21stbikes[dot]com or stay tuned to the shop’s blog.
– More info: 21st Avenue Bicycles opened in 2007 in the spot where Northwest Bicycles had operated for 35 years. The shop is owned by Park Chambers, who also owns Fat Tire Farm on NW Thurman near Forest Park.
No offense to those guys, but I steer clear of these kinds of “contests” because they’re generally ways for businesses to get a ton of free labor with minimal cost and minimal reward to whoever enters. My two cents…..
I was thinking along the same lines as Nick V when I read this. Kind of like the way businesses are abusing unpaid internships right now.
I always have mixed feelings about contests like this – sure it is great to give newbie designers exposure, but 100 bucks is insulting to all the designers who do this for a living.
Here’s my idea for a contest:
Design and build me a bicycle!
What you get:
The chance to see your creation ridden all over town!
I’m gonna agree with Nick. $100 for a pro identity is not anything like a “fair wage”, even from a small business. And a discount that isn’t bigger than commonly offered during sales . . . likewise not impressive. Too bad, because it’s a famous “brand” . . . or was before it changed hands.
“Elements that must be included in the logo are the shop name, their address, phone number, and the their logo…”
So the logo must include all this and the logo itself? Wow – infinite logo recursion!
+ all in 2″ square
This is seriously boneheaded and insulting.
As a designer who went to school and PAID for my education, I have to agree with most everyone here.
Jonathan, I know we’ve had conversations about people who’ve tried to snag your photos in exchange for the honor of you getting “publicity.” This is no better. People make a living doing design. It shouldn’t be reduced to a parlor trick done for $100 bucks and a bag.
I actually LOL’d at some of the ideas they tossed out there… Mt. Hood, some roses, the Gorge, a bridge! No wonder they need help. Other “Portland” suggestions: A pint of beer, skinny jeans, a beard, an umbrella, and Bigfoot. And you’re supposed to fit the name, address, logo (a.k.a. slogan) and logo into a 2″ x 2″ square. For $100. Sorry, I’m picking on them. I think I will actually enter this, now that I think about it. But I promise myself I won’t spend more than 30 minutes on it.
The guys at 21st Ave Bikes, are very helpful and generally pleasant people. This contest is however a bit misguided.
This is probably due to the lack of understanding as to what people do in the graphic design community. Maybe it’s better to educate people about what it takes to create successful design before we slander their names.
There are many issues with this that, as a designer, send up a lot of red flags for me. Frankly, they would get a lot better end product by simply working with a talented designer, going through a real design process, and paying them for their work.
The fact that it’s a contest, which is a type of spec’ work, is going to weed out a lot of talent right off the bat. In turn they’ll tend to see mostly non-professionals submitting work. Design professionals and organizations tend have a pretty strong opinion of spec’ work, and it tends to be a negative one. However given the stated creative direction and ‘design brief’ information provided, my guess is they do indeed want high quality, thoughtful, professional work. Good luck.
I understand there isn’t a ton of money to be made in cycling, and kudos to them for offering an open-ended shop discount, but this too will limit their pool of talent to mostly cyclists that can benefit from the discount, beyond the hundred bucks.
The public is voting on the logos? As part of the selection process…or just for fun? Are they really letting anyone and everyone have a say in what gets selected to be their core identity mark? These are the kinds of things that can sound great on paper to a small business short on cash, but in the end they just risk hanging themselves out to dry by allowing public voting selecting the the bad or the worst via popularity contests (etc.) Letting random people determine your business’ core identity mark is frankly a little strange and doesn’t say much for their understanding of, or trust in, their designers (or their own) decision-making.
Realistically, I chalk all this up to what’s probably just a misunderstanding of what comprises a good identity design process — and why it is important, rather than any kind of disrespect for designers or the design process.
But consider this…If I were to walk into their store and rattle off my expectations in detail for how I expect them to overhaul my bike, require them do the work first, but then say that I need to defer to the public to see if this is indeed what I needed and will pay them for 10% of their total shop time and offer a discount on produce from my garden for the next few summers — but only if the public decides the work was appropriate, I would literally get laughed out of the building.
My two cents.
No one’s slandering anyone here (technically it’s libel anyway). We are educating them as to why this is not cool, exploitive, and insulting.
What they’re doing is even worse than the idea that “anon” #3 threw out there. To take anon’s idea and make it fit with what they’re asking, anon should ask a BUNCH of builders to each build him a bike, then he gets to choose which one he wants . . . for $100 and a bag, and of course the “honor” of being used in the marketplace.
What Park needs to do is look at the work that designers have done, pick one, and then HIRE that person and communicate their needs. If they want to offer them $100 and a bag, that’s their business, but the issue here is that risk free, they are essentially getting a bunch of designers to do free work for them, and then they “pay” one of them. Bad form.
Jonathan, I’m really surprised you’d offer this up as news.
Thanks for all the comments.
I didn’t expect this sort of reaction. Yes, I’m familiar with people asking for free design, and that is not cool… but I just saw this as a nice local shop looking for a new logo and felt it was cool that they created a contest around it.
i’m sharing this as something I thought would be of interest to the community. that’s all.
“boneheaded and insulting”
Sounds like slander to me.
If you don’t like the contest don’t enter it.
Bitching about it on a blog ain’t gonna help.
Jonathan, you and I have had a couple of conversations over the years that touched on the value of a compelling BP identity . . . work that remains undone. I am a little chagrined that you are surprised by this reaction . . . a good identity is a valuable commodity, for 21st and for you too.
Carlos, entering the contest and remaining silent are not the only useful options in this situation. I’m sure someone from the shop will read these comments and hopefully learn from them. If my former comment was too harsh then it can be deleted, no problem.
I am shaking my keyboard in anger.
How dare they insult design professionals by reducing the work to a low paying contest.
It’s things like this that make me feel like selling my bike.
From my original post.
“Maybe it’s better to educate people about what it takes to create successful design”
So, that’s an option too.
I’m out, too many high horses here.
Jonathan — design contests, especially when for a for-profit business, are always the dregs of the spec’ work realm. FYI.
It’s one thing if their expectation is to get un-trained, non-professionals submitting shoddy work, but when is that ever the case?
Yikes! I actually clicked through my reader feed on this article, thinking to myself “What the hell, I’ll check the comments for a change & see what people are talking about, no way this thread will be the usual reactionary griping.” Nope!
Pretty much agree with 90% of these comments. f5 sums it up especially well.
Want to add that I appreciate everyone’s comments and that if/when a story like this comes across my desk again I’ll be able to apply what I’ve learned here to my decision on how/if to cover it.
that was a confusing sentence, but just know that I read these comments and I learn from them going forward.
There’s no shame in having slim budget for a design. On the other hand design contests literally advertise the value you place on your identity.
I feel for the 21st Ave Bike guys, they maybe had no idea what they were stepping in and now they can’t un-step in it.
f5, post 10 was BRILLIANT.
Any real designer would NOT do this:
For god sakes “Bike Portland”, stop this horrible idea before you get flamed even more. If hate for you guys to make the paper with how you are trying to get cheap labor and spec work and I hope AIGA doesn’t contact you…
Hey, this is more than Liberty is offering for a new I-5 bridge design!
First, I have deleted a sentence at the end of the story where I wrote, “this could be a nice project…”.
Second, judging by some of the comments, it seems people think BikePortland has a connection to this contest. We do not. I got an email announcing it and felt it was something worth sharing with the community. Therefore I can’t, “stop this horrible idea” (as “Jim Smith” states above) because it’s not my idea.
Also, “Jim Smith”, I don’t tolerate sock-puppeting so I’ve deleted the other comment you made with a different user name. Thanks.
Paul #22: Excellent point, a slim budget doesn’t mean spec’ work is the only option. There are likely plenty of good designers (probably even more now compared to a few years ago) that understandable avoid spec’ work like the plague, but would be more than happy to work towards a different, but mutually beneficial arrangement.
There are plenty of excellent, professional designers who will do this kind of work for free or trade if the client is worth it. For a cool company like this, I would do it myself.
The issue is not the pay, the issue is the contest. They are not picking the best and working out a deal; they are asking designers to work on little information, no interaction with the client, and without the benefit of building the relationship in place of receiving pay. And to compete against other designers like dogs racing after a rabbit. Not the way to get quality work.
I am doing a for-trade logo design for a small local business right now and I have so far put 30+ hours into it, and we’re not done yet. If people submit work to this contest that is of lesser quality than that, then they are lowering the bar for design work all over the community which hurts designers’ chances of getting fair pay in the future.
A suggestion for a tweak to the contest: Ask designers to submit EXISTING, relevant work for the contest, in full knowledge that compensation will be reputational rather than monetary. Select the best. Collaborate with that designer to create an awesome, tailored, researched, conceptual logo.
You’re promoting the idea and you are a very popular site, not just in PDX. I’m just warning you, you’re going to keep getting flamed and you might even be contacted by AIGA or other news sources as spec work promoters have before in the past. Just a warning, and not to mention its just unethical to promote such work.
I disagree with you on this.
Publishing something on this site is not tantamount to “promoting the idea.” Therefore, I what I’ve done is not unethical. Thanks for the warning though.
Jim, #24, thanks for posting those links, I found them very informative.
It sounds to me like the bike shop really didn’t know what a can of worms they were opening when they announced this contest. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here about that.
sorry you opened the can of worms again!
Hmm, maybe the definition in New Oxford Dictionary is wrong then:
“give publicity to (a product, organization, or venture) so as to increase sales or public”
Yeah, they must have the wrong definition in there.
Oh, weird, princeton.edu must also have it wrong?
“contribute to the progress or growth of”
and don’t tell me that a site that gets approx 1k unique people looking at it is not sending any traffic their way.
I agree with everyone who says this is a insulting waste of time for any talented (or non-talented) designer. Obviously if making a logo is so easy, why don’t they just do it themselves?
Any designer worth a hoot is easily paid 5 – 10 times more than this for a custom logo. And don’t forget, once the Staff choose their top 10 pics it turns into a popularity contest – the ‘designer’ who can get their friends to vote for their logos the most will win, so the logos being chosen based on the actual merit and value of the design is completely moot.
Tony T #11 is right on the money with his assessment – yeah, what an ‘honor’ to be devalued and taken advantage of.
I have an idea for a logo, it’s a one finger salute that fits in a 2″ square – I know one bike store that just lost my business.
I’m glad to see this discussion here, I think it will help inform a lot of people or organizations who probably just don’t know any better. (Like 21st Ave Bicycles)
I’d have to say Rebecca #28 really sums it up nicely. I also do a lot of design work for free or trade, but I don’t do contests.
With most stories I’d agree with you. But here? Come on. Seriously. This is blatant promotion. You practically admitted it in #12.
“but I just saw this as a nice local shop looking for a new logo and felt it was cool that they created a contest around it.”
The “I’m just reporting it, not promoting it” doesn’t work for everything.
in the quote you refer to above, I don’t think is evidence of “blatant promotion”… what you read there is a factor in my decision as to whether or not to publish a story about it. There’s a difference.
I published this story because I thought it was cool (a.k.a. worthwhile, relevant) that the shop was looking for help with a logo and they actually took the time to create a contest around it. That and other factors led me to decide that it was newsworthy and so I published it.
Call it promotion if you want — yes I suppose if we get into semantics than I am promoting information simply by publishing it.
bottom line here is that neither myself or 21st Ave. Bikes had bad intentions in sharing this information with the community. I’ve learned new things (about this issue and about the community) and I’m sure 21st Ave. Bikes has too.
Is it unethical if 21st is a paid sponsor of the site?
Not arguing, just curious and looking for clarification.
I do not know if 21st pays or not, but it seems to me that there is an awful lot of PDX bike industry news that is not very flattering that goes un-“reported”.
Then again, in some instances, Jonathan is considered a reporter, and in others, this is only a blog. If it is only a blog, and he is receiving $ from a shop, then why wouldn’t he post this?
Where do the lines get drawn?
I’m happy to answer any questions you have about me, this site, the advertisers, etc…
21st Avenue Bicycles is not currently an advertisers on this site.
And of course there’s a lot of news that goes unreported here… because I don’t have a staff and a lot of “not very flattering” stuff is gossip/speculation, etc… that I don’t think a lot of people are interested in anyways.
This is a blog. I am a reporter. I am an advocate. I am a publisher who makes my living through the companies who advertise on this site.
Please let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know.
While I appreciate the honesty in your disclosure, I did not ask for it.
I view this site as a blog written by someone with an agenda that is supported by the industry. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so, but I keep that in mind everytime I open the page.
Feeling that way, I am not about to hold you to the same level of standards and accountability I might expect from NPR or BBC.
I also understand that you are a very small operation and do not have the resources to follow up on all the gossip and speculation. Hey – it’s your blog, your paycheck and you can follow up on whatever story you’d like and feel is news-worthy.
I will still come back and read it and appreciate your hard work and effort.
Best of luck for the next 5 and more years.
i hope some kid in middle school blows all these whinny desogners out of the water and uses the 100 bucks a used bmx bike instead of some useless gimmicky long extra cargo crap that the stereotypical yuppy designer would with $3000.
designers get what they deserve, nothing.
what’s so bad about nothing?
do you all yuppy designers need the money? then move to city or world that snobby design is useful.
like a bunch of baseball players asking for a few extra million, cuz your special and worth it.
Hey, I’m holding a contest to see who can tune up my bike the winning shop gets to tune my bike up and I’ll talk good about the shop for as long as the bike is shifting smooth.I’ll also pay the shop cost for parts and bring double espressos for the mechanic.
I do some electrical or plumbing work on my house and on my third trip to the hardware store I often end up wondering why I didn’t pay a professional to do it right. Get my drift?
to #13 carlos “Bitching about it on a blog ain’t gonna help.” oh snap, that calls into question all of Bikeportalnd. I read BP to keep up on bike bitching – wahh the city didn’t clean up the sand quick enough…
FULL DISCLOSURE:I’ve worked for free, I’ve worked for trade, I’ve worked for WAY less than what I should have worked for, been ripped off, etc. To this day, if there is enough upside for ME I’ll get involved (dollar for dollar trade for a nice free ride bike is my current wish) in a project.
Classier in my opinion would be to privately work the your network to find a person. As a working professional it is honestly insulting when somebody wants to undercut your profession in such a manner.
Jonathan, I would say publishing something is indeed promoting it, not a billboard, but it is a form of promotion as this site isn’t just a clearing house for media it is a fairly editorialized version of bike news (Honestly that is why I check the site daily – i 90% of the time like the way your editorial spins). Ain’t no think I say stuff I wish I never said all the time, I sometimes say “crap, I kinda endorsed this idea, but upon learning more I’m not cool with it.” as a guy that has done zines for a long time you own your words and their power. if you were not promoting something you’d stay quite. that is my take.
Design and bikes in one space now I’m cooking! keep it coming.
OK first of all let’s lay off Jonathan shall we? This is such a micro-tangent. He’s acting as a conduit for information, and rightly thinks someone MIGHT be interested in this. Sure, what gets covered or not, is a judgment call; that’s what editors do.
Back to the issue. In my opinion the contest criteria are a bit unrealistic and the prize too small. But the bike shop has a right to offer those terms, and rightly thinks someone might be interested. The appropriate response is probably to a) actually have a creative idea, and b) toss off something really quick ‘n’ dirty (not the usual magical work you do which I’m sure has unicorns and faerie dust emanating from it). If the shop doesn’t get quality work, that’s their problem. Or even if they get tons of quality work for free, that’s nobody’s problem, since presumably everyone who submitted work knew (or should have known) it was probably for free, and knew it wasn’t a proper “design job”. If people are too dignified to “chase” something then don’t chase it. I think what I’m trying to say is that everyone can see what the terms are here; if they’re not to your liking, you don’t have to accept them. Move on to a more profitable project, if you have one. Or yes, you can certainly do some “deep marketing” on behalf of your profession, and try to “educate” the bike shop as to why you don’t accept the terms, and why your work is worth so dang much. But beware, while you’re doing that, I’m busy WINNING this S.O.B. because check out these rad Portland-centric designs!
Yo ThatGuy #43,
I don’t know what you do for a living (other then troll), but for this example, lets pretend that you pump gas:
Station Manager: Oh, sorry – we’re not looking to hire anyone, but would you like to join our contest?
Station Manager: Yeah, it’s awesome! We are going to have a contest to see who pumps gas the best – let’s say for a month. And there will be voting!
ThatGuy: So, 4 weeks… at 40hr week… at minimum wage that’s like $1,300…
Station Manager: Sure, but instead you get a cool $100 and bragging rights! Of course, that’s only if you win…
I vote for Beard, but I wonder about you using my likeness with out my permission.
My submission idea: Outline of Subaru wagon w/bikes on roof.
I wonder how many of the people complaining about this contest have approached a local shop for sponsorship. None, I’m sure.
That was obviously a joke (at least I thought so and laughed out loud).
And personally- I wouldn’t mind pumping all of my own gas if it meant lowering the price. I did it for 20 years prior to moving to OR and managed not to blow up any gas stations.
Aaannnddd …. Begin gas pump attendant rebuttal rant!
I vote for the bigfoot.
The wraparound text is edgy.
The question I have is that if all the good design artists boycott the contest, does that mean the bike shop will have to select from a sub-par submission?
I thought the contest idea was a harmless attempt at getting PR surrounding a new logo.But, than again, I am not a graphic designer.
I would like to start out by being clear that the intention of this contest was not to devalue the worth or work of designers or anyone that has been offended by the outline of this contest. The mistake of not throughly researching the current climate of the design world in regards to design contests shows in your reactions and I appreciate the resources that have been provided that elucidate the problems with these type of contests. Certainly I have learned a lesson and will not make the same mistake twice.
I would like to explain a little more about my thought process when coming up with this contest. I did not think that design professionals would have been interested in this type of contest unless of course as a pet project, at the shop we have local designers as regular customers and through discussions with them I have an understanding of the scope and cost of producing a professionally designed logo. The intent of this contest was to inspire students, hobbyist, and up and coming designers looking to build their portfolios. People who may be interested in a project like this and have the time to work on them.
I have spent time working for a literary magazine, during which it was my job to sort through and read submissions for publication. Not every submission presented to the magazine made it to publication, and those authors that were published were rewarded for their efforts. Investing time into producing a logo for a small contest like this is not for everyone and each individual can make the decision about whether or not the time investment is worth the risk/payoff. I would think anyone looking into participating in something like this would have to answer that for themselves first. I saw this contest as being similar to a writer submitting for publication, the writer is published and they receive something for their work, for the designer the design is produced if their design wins and they receive a reward and they are able to add something to their portfolio. Am I missing a difference between the two? I understand that a literary magazine is a place for art to be showcased but I feel that a logo on a bicycle can also be away to showcase your work. In the store we have bicycles come into the shop that are 30 years old and older still baring the shop logo of the original seller. Some of these shops have gone out of business but the thought put into how they represent themselves continues to live on.
I would like to thank all the commentators specifically Rebecca, f5, Jim, and Tony T. I appreciate your take on the situation and will likely rework the terms of the contest based upon your plans. I am interested in your take on the above.