Singapore Artists Share How Design Competitions Can Devalue Creative Professions

Chances are you probably have come across design competitions every now and then. In fact, some government organisations have held such competitions of late too.

An art director in Singapore named Audrey recently shared her thoughts on how these competitions, while innocuous on the surface, can devalue the work of those in the creative industry.

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She emphasised the importance of how design competitions are run by comparing 2 recent ones organised by Pasir Ris Central and Sengkang Town Council (SKTC).

Design competitions can devalue creative industry

Audrey shared her thoughts about design competitions in an Instagram post on Wednesday (26 Aug).

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After showing examples of open calls for designs, Audrey went on to explain the underlying issues with them.

Rather than the competitions themselves, she stated that it’s how they are carried out that’s the problem.

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Because the basis of design competitions involves an exchange of artistic skills for a prize organisers deem reasonable, it apparently devalues art professions.

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Pasir Ris Central competition offered vague prizes

To illustrate what she meant, Audrey used 2 recent examples — logo design competitions organised by Pasir Ris Central and SKTC.

Bringing netizens’ attention to certain elements of Pasir Ris Central’s poster, she pointed out the possible implications of the expressions used.

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Most notably, the “unknown voucher” of varying amounts for winners raised the question of why a design competition is “being run like a lucky draw”.

Audrey did a further analysis of the terms and conditions and found that they apparently only protect the organisers’ rights, and not the participants.

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Sengkang Town Council competition was better executed

In contrast, her examination of the SKTC competition yielded more favourable findings.

For one, she noted that it had a clear design guideline and prize for the winner.

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Limiting entries to locals of a certain demographic also implies that they don’t expect a professional level design.

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Lastly, the prize which is inclusive of a mentorship with a local designer is a positive effort towards nurturing young local talents.

Netizens concurred with commentary on design competitions

Netizens outside of the industry found Audrey’s commentary enlightening and thanked her for voicing her concerns.

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Many from the creative industry also thanked the artist for calling out the issue.

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This netizen also shared the designer’s thoughts and observations.

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More tact, thought, and respect by organisers

Summing up, the artist emphasises that she does not have a problem with design competitions.

She simply wants organisers to approach it with more “tact, thought and respect”.

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By approaching calls for designs in such a manner, public perception of design as a respectable skill may improve.

She concludes by saying that everyone – including designers – have a part to play if they hope to see changes in the industry.

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The creative industry is a tough one to be in, but accepting low offers would also impact the value of the whole industry. Hence, she calls for fellow designers to recognise and value their skills.

An enlightening view of how artists are impacted

While the perception of artists as “non-essential” in Singapore is often joked about, it is a real problem that people in the creative industry live with.

Audrey’s post also offers those who are not in the industry an enlightening view of how artists could be impacted by the way open calls for designs are held.

What do you think of Audrey’s post? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured image adapted from Instagram.

Note: The views expressed within this article are the author’s own, and separate from the opinions of those by the original poster on Instagram.