Call for entries for spec work

I received a call for entries for spec work today.

The subject line of the email was “Spread the word! Call for Art at Collective Arts Brewing

So, since they asked me to spread the word, I am. And I’m telling all of you NOT to enter this “contest.” It’s a bad deal for the artists that they are taking unfair advantage of.

Here is the body of the call for entries for spec work email:

Hi Wendy,

My name is Bob Russell, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Collective Arts Brewing. We are a craft brewery that fuses the creativity of craft beer with the inspired talents of emerging artists, musicians and filmmakers. Our brewery is located in Hamilton, Canada and our products are currently available across Canada. We are excited to announce that this fall we will expand to select cities in the US, Europe and Australia.

I wanted to reach out personally, as we are looking to feature the best emerging artists and musicians from around the world on our limited edition Series 7 labels.

Selected art and music will be featured on our packaging and will be scannable using augmented reality so our drinkers can interact with artist’s work and hear musician’s music.

We have featured some amazing artists and musicians since we began making beer in September of 2013. Along with the artists illustrated below, we’ve worked with the likes of Ryan Peltier, Michael Wrycraft, Isabelle Cardinal, Emmanuel LaFlamme, Monika Grubizna, Tim Barnard, Jackie Besteman, Edel Rodrîguez, Katie Ponder, Chris Dyer, David Barnes, Bryan Byeung, Jamie Lawson, Labrona, Nimit Malavia, Jon Todd, Edgar Allan Slothman and many more.

Collective Arts has been featured in Adobe Create, Huffington Post, CBC, Culture Collide (LA), Globe and Mail, BlogTO, and many more publications. We always make sure to emphasize artists and their work when these opportunities arise. 

We have recently launched a Call for Art and Music based on the theme of Urban Pop: The Sights and Sounds of Street Culture. 

The deadline for your submission to the latest Call for Art and Music is September 2, 2016.


• Min 1800 x 1800 pixel file ( minimum size)

• Original art, any medium

• Supporting video (if available) This can be a film or animation of you and your work

• Up to three separate submissions can be made per artist

• We do not own the rights to the art, it will only be used for a limited amount of time

• Each label includes artist’s name and a link to a self-written biography that lives on the Collective Arts website

• Artists are individually featured on the Collective Arts website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

• 20,000 can and bottle labels of each artist’s work are printed and distributed. We are expanding into the U.S this fall and our beer is shipped to Australia

• Links to your website, social media or store

• A stipend of $200 Canadian paid to those who are selected

call for entries for spec workPlease note this in not the first time I have received this call for entries for spec work either. In that past, I replied I was a professional illustrator and that I could be hired directly for package design.

Obviously, they did not see fit to honor my request to not send me further call for entries for spec work like this one.

The first thing that (aside from the subject line of the email telling me to spread the word) raised a red flag for me was the email arrived at an address which is not associated with my web site, never has been. It’s my personal email which I use for non-art related communications and other things I don’t want to collect in my business in-box.

The next red flag was the second paragraph where it states they are looking to feature the best emerging artists. I wouldn’t consider myself emerging, as I’ve been working professionally as an artist in various capacities since the 1980s. Give or take a few years, that’s nearly four decades. And, if they were actually interested in what kind of art it is I do best, they would have noticed I illustrate children’s books. I don’t know about you, but it seems highly inappropriate for children’s illustrations to be displayed as beer packaging labels.

Next they go on to assure me they don’t own the rights to the art. Well that’s good. Because they can’t own the rights to any art you make unless you agree to transfer said rights. Businesses pay for the use of that art and buy rights for the kind of use and for the amount of time of the use. Many contests like this acquire all rights in the fine print in their terms of entry, which you agree to when you send in your entry. Kudos on them for not being that sneaky and underhanded.

After they list the names of famous artist that should impress the impressionable, and mention some media outlets that featured their collective at some point, there is the list of requirements for entry and what the artist gets in return. They give you a credit line! And exposure! And links to your website! And they print your art on 20,000 cans/bottles of beer. And you get $200 CAN. Thanks, but no thanks.

According to the Graphic Artist Guild Pricing and Ethical Guidelines Handbook, retail product package illustration for food and beverages pays between $1,000 – $4,500 USD. These payments are for exclusive packaging rights in the USA for a specific product. I would assume international distribution rights would require an additional fee. That’s a far cry from the $153.41 USD that is being so generously offered. And you only get that if you win this call for entries for spec work. If you don’t win, you get nothing.

I suggest instead of entering this call for entries for spec work, work on your own personal project.

So, thank you Mr. Russel, for your kind invitation, but I will have to decline. Should you wish to hire me to illustrate future beer packaging, please go through the regular channels to hire me directly or contact me with a request for proposal.