We Need Some Mad Help With a Logo!

Helloooooo artistic geniuses! We are looking for more entries for our new logo design for Mad Art Lab and we have prizes!

To celebrate the debut of the new site, we’re holding a contest: Here are the details:

Create a new logo using the name of the site: Mad Art Lab

The final logo should be at a high enough resolution for printing

Ideally the size/ratio should be approximately 2800×1000

Use any color, but be prepared to provide a black and white…
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  1. Woo! Let’s go art!

    Hey Amy, do you know what the usage permissions will be? As in Creative Commons and such? I know of at least one person who is curious.

  2. Brian: the logo will need to be trademarked to the Skepchick Network. I’m a big fan of Creative Commons but I haven’t been able to come up with a way to have a logo that would fall under CC.

  3. Amy et al.,

    May I strongly suggest obtaining a new logo another way? Here’s a little web comic perfectly illustrating why this is unethical:

    There are basically two problems with the method you are using. 1) It’s exploitation, and 2) It’s unlikely you will get quality work.

    May I suggest, as an alternative, setting up a Paypal account and soliciting small donations from your regular readers? $100 should be sufficient to purchase a thoughtful, original logo from a young designer. A quick trip to eLance would turn up legions of talented artists who could use the money. Personally, I would pledge $10 to fund such an effort.

    Anyway, again, please reconsider. If you’re still not convinced, please read the following:

  4. Yes, point taken. I think the initial intention was to be inclusive but we may have failed at that. I will discuss with the others…

  5. Hi mossface, thanks for the feedback but I humbly disagree. It is not exploitative: we are clear about what the artist will get in compensation. We don’t need donations, and in fact we have a few graphic designers who are willing to create a logo (this contest was the suggestion of one of them). We thought we’d do a fun contest as a way to get other artists interested, since we receive so many requests from people asking how they can get involved in the skeptical community.

    If you don’t have the time or interest in participating, that’s fine! And of course, if we don’t find the perfect logo, we may go ahead and commission something. But there’s no harm in trying.

  6. @mossface: Thanks for your thoughtful comment. As an avid reader of Clients From Hell, I’m pretty familiar with the situations that you are posting about (I almost wish I could say I know from experience, but I haven’t gotten the chance to be a proper working freelancer).
    I understand your comment and the intent behind it and it’s nice to see someone stick up for artists and designers. However, I wonder if our situation here is slightly different from that of the regular Client/Freelancer scenario.
    Mad Art Lab is a collaborative project. We all donate our time and talents here as volunteers. As Amy mentions, we are attempting to be inclusive of the contributions of our readers.
    I know that when I was invited to make a drawing for Darwin Day last year on Skepchick, I jumped at the opportunity as it was for fun. I didn’t expect any compensation and that was fine. I was excited by the prospect of contributing in a small way to my favorite blog. Also, Amy is giving away her own artwork as a type of compensation and even though it only goes ‘to the winner’, I think that it highlights the spirit in which this contest is intended.
    Again, I hope I understand your point and we are discussing the matter as I type this.

  7. Getting copyright approval might be difficult, but “Mad Art Lab” conjures up an image of Beaker painting a portrait of Alfred E Newman.

  8. I love that our first real controversy is over our logo contest.

    Mossface raises some interesting points. The most salient, I thought, from the article was the potential for plagiarism. That’s a real concern that we can only really address by doing it in-house. Which we could do, but we wanted our readers to play. Troublesome

    The majority of the other arguments are very meaningful if this were a corporate endeavour rather than an internet community. However, we don’t expect any professionals submitting their best work for profit or to further their career. We’re expecting amateur enthusiasts. It’s supposed to be fun.

    The copyright thing is always awkward. I don’t like the idea of taking the rights to someone else’s creative property without appropriate compensation, however I also see potential problems with not having the rights to our own logo.

    So those are my thoughts on this little quandary.

    Finally I want to address that comic. Funny? Yes. Makes it’s point? Yes… but. It makes it’s point through a false analogy. Building a house is not analogous to designing a logo. The investments into their creation are not comparable.

    However, many major construction projects do have a process similar to a logo contest. Customers requests bids from construction firms that include their proposed solutions. Those bids can be huge time (read financial) investments and may yield nothing but they are a necessary part of the process.

  9. mossface:
    As a graphic designer, I think using elance or paying a mere $100 for a logo is far more exploitative than this contest. I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with non-profit organizations asking a designer for free work. It is the same as getting a volunteer to do any sort work. In fact, I know some professional designers and studios set aside a certain amount of hours to do pro-bono work for causes that they believe in.

    That being said, you would probably get a better quality logo if you asked one designer to volunteer to do the logo and followed the logo design process (ie gave a detailed brief, allowed the designer to ask questions, was presented with several preliminary sketches, and gave feedback before the final product was created). The problem with contests is that they don’t give either the client or the designer the opportunity to work through this process.

    Also, I’m curious why Ryan doesn’t think designing a logo and designing a house aren’t comparable. Often a similar amount of work goes into both. Also, major clients usually follow a process similar to the construction industry where they get multiple design studios to bid on the project and give the work to the best bidder. This isn’t anything like a contest because the studio doesn’t actually do the work until they win the bid, as a construction company doesn’t design a house until they know they have the client either.

  10. Rachelle, I will clarify my stance.

    Designing a logo and *building* a house are not analagous. Designing a house has a lot of parallels but building one is entirely different. The comic demands that several houses are built which is clearly absurd.

    Yes there are similar competitive bid processes in a lot of professions. I thought I’d made the point I wanted and was getting wordy. In many archetectural and sructural bids the concept design and proof of solution is part of the bid.

    From what I understand, some graphic design bids have similar requirements but more often the decision is based on a portfolio of past work rather than a proposal for the upcoming project. Please correct me if I am wrong with this.

    Sorry for the lack of clarity.

  11. I’m totally left-brained. I have trouble drawing stick men. However, that being said, I believe that the Mad Art Lab should have a mascot… a Labrador Retriever named Art who’s mad. His intro could be,

    “Hi, I’m Art the Mad Lab and this is the Mad Art Lab.”

    Aww… c’mon. It’s sorta’ catchy, huh? ;)


  12. Oopsy! Dupe posts. Could someone delete one, please. :)

    @Amy… and here I was thinking I had an original thought. ;)

  13. My compatriots have already covered the salient points, but I wanted to toss some change into the ring in a show of solidarity. This issue comes up every time a group appeals to its audience for help/contribution, and we can all attest to the plight of the artist (I’ve been snubbed on quite a few jobs) but as Amy said, this is about inclusion and charitable contribution.

    This blog, like many other skeptical pursuits, is a labor of love. We do it to be part of the community and to contribute to a common cause.

    That said, this is also a contest.

    Nobody goes to a chili cookoff and complains that the last place contestants did all that work and everybody ate their chili for nothing. Because it’s supposed to fun.

    Except in our case all the contestants will be recognized and we’ll still get to eat chili.

  14. Having had to live as a freelancer at various points, I understand the gist of the OP’s point, but it’s meaningless here.

    MAL is a collective. And art collective. As such, hiring an ‘outsider’ to do the logo would be like a co-op hiring people to pick the vegetables.

    Or, to go back to the house-building analogy, this is our house… as designers, of course we’re going to design/build it.

  15. Having had to live as a freelancer at various points, I understand the gist of the OP’s point, but it’s meaningless here.

    MAL is a collective. An ‘art’ collective. As such, hiring an outsider to do the logo would be like a co-op hiring people to pick the vegetables.

    Or, to go back to the house-building analogy, this is our house… as designers, of course we’re going to design/build it.

  16. You’re all making good points. Just to weigh in a bit (as the initial inquirer on whether or not the logo would be Creative Commons), I think it’s great to have as much contribution from the community as possible, without compensation of any kind (ok, well maybe some warm fuzzies) as long as that contribution belongs to the community. I feel that if something is going to be privately used and strictly protected (as a trademark must be, i.e. notice-and-take down systems) it’s in a different category from community and should be treated like what it is, a business tool.
    I myself am more than happy to share my brain droppings freely with the community, even if that means wackos will deface or misrepresent my creations. I’m also more than happy to produce trademarked characters and designs, provided I am compensated properly for them.
    Perhaps this way of thinking accounts for the lack of contributions to this contest, I can’t say. But maybe this one should be a job for the pros, and anything that will be licensed under Creative Commons can be a community free for all (so to speak…heh).
    (Keep in mind this is coming from someone who was a paid employee of Burning Man for years and railed endlessly against their use of volunteer labor for a private event.)

  17. It appears I have been out-voted. Or out-commented. Or out-argued. Or something. Alas my hi-falutin’ ethical stance is at odds with the larger skeptical/artistical/scientifical community here.

    Yet I shall persevere! Though the battle on this front be lost, yet the war marches on! The unknown crusader, defender of the underpaid, champion of the freelancer lives to fight another day! Other windmills shall yet fear my tilted lance. Away, noble Rocinante, away!

    May the best logo win.

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