Pixish: Illustration & Photography Social Networking, Or Stealth Spec Work?

Pixish logoI recently signed up for the new illustration & photography networking site Pixish. What is Pixish? I’ll let the site’s creator’s tell you in their own words: “Pixish is a place where people who want images and people who make images can easily find each other and collaborate on creative projects together.”. Sounds kinda cool. But also sounds like a way for people to get free work out of artists.

I signed up mainly to check the place out and see what it’s all about. And to give it a fair chance. There’s already been some negative Pixish backlash over at the illustration blog Drawn! in regards to the general concept of the site.

The big beef seems to be that Pixish sets up a system where artists are put in the mindset that they need to do work in a competition-style setting, as opposed to getting paid for it. But then again, participation is voluntary. The big rub is that when you have artists out there willing to work cheap or free, it devalues the overall industry because people think they can get free work, and would be hesitant to pay a decent rate for custom illustration work. Some have compared it to those annopying Craigslist ads where people want to pay 50 bucks for a project, or worse hold “contests” where you submit your designs and the winner gets $50.

For the guy out there that downloaded a copy of Creative Suite and does these things on the side, $50 might be handy for some beer money, but for professional illustrators trying to make an actual living from their work, doing projects at these kind of rates will be a sure way to run yourself out of business within a year. It’s just not feasible to support yourself and your business with these kind of bottom-of-the-barrel fees.

The No Spec website champions the cause of getting artists to refuse doing spec work (or specualtive work) in order to enhance the industry as a whole. In their own words: “No Spec serves as a vehicle to unite those who support the notion that spec work devalues the potential of design and ultimately does a disservice to the client.” Pixish seems to fly in the face of these ideals. In fact, No Spec has a blog post on Pixish where the general sentiment is that yes, this is a spec work website. They also point to the Metafilter discussion on Pixish as well.

As I mentioned above, I signed up primarily to keep an eye on things for my own curiosity, but the more I think about it the less I feel I should have my profile up on the site, basically supporting a service that at this point I don’t think I agree with. Take a look for yourself and sound off in the comments below.