I'm on a horse.

My design-nerd high horse to be exact.

99 Designs is a site where thousands of designers work for free to compete for the "prize money" (read: cheap fee) offered by companies who want professional design work but don't want to pay for it. This is the problem: multiple designers doing the same project to completion for free. That's not getting free quotes, or even a few free sketches, which is still reasonable; That's asking 5 plumbers to come in and complete the same job, then deciding whose work you like the best and only paying him.

I can see this being a great opportunity for young designers right out of school who neeed to build their portfolio with professional work instead of class projects. But for newbie designers, this doesn't help them to learn good professional habits, like demanding a reasonable fee for their talent and time or how to properly communicate with clients. I can also see it being great for non-profit clients who might not have the resources to find and pay a good designer. But there are lots of professional designers with flexible fees for non-profits, or even willing to do pro-bono work.

What it boils down to is this: sites like these undercut the market for designers who rely on freelance for their income. And it's not like freelance designers are rolling in dough. Not only do they have the same overhead as any other self-employed individual, but it's often hard to convince people to pay a reasonable fee for design in the first place.

99 Designs is not the only site of its kind, and I'm only picking on them because they recently keep coming up in my Google-alert for "logo design". And don't even get me started on the logo-factory sites, where I believe they have Thai children chained to Photoshop to make you a logo for $50.

Anyway it all reminds me of this video:

Screed over. As you were.