05 Mar

I will not work on spec. I will not work on spec. I will not work on spec.

I am a content Active SAQA member. I see many benefits of membership in this professional organization. A Call for Entries today got me excited. An opportunity for me to try again at fabric design (the Hawaiian designs I shopped around a few years ago were flops)! I read the details with anticipation.

Andover Fabrics (formerly Concord) will print and market a collection of cotton fabrics branded with the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) name and logo – the SAQA Urban Textures fabric collection. A percentage of sales of the collection fabrics will go to support SAQA in our 25th Anniversary Year – 2014!

Until I got to this part…where my heart sank.

You will be asked to agree with these Terms and Conditions:
This set of designs is my original design. I understand that my designs may be altered in order to be successfully used for the SAQA Urban Textures fabric collection. I agree to give Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. copyright to these designs, including all rights, titles, and interest in and to the designs. If my design collection is selected, I will sign a transfer document transferring copyright to Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. I UNDERSTAND THAT I AM ENTERING THIS COMPETITION TO SUPPORT SAQA AND WILL NOT RECEIVE ANY MONETARY REMUNERATION.

Did you catch the part in all caps? Flashback to my graphic design days. AIGA’s position discourages the inherent discount of the most important element of most design project — the research, thoughtful consideration of alternatives, and creative contribution designers make toward client’s objectives that occurs when working without commitment or compensation from the client. I think the same concepts can be applied here. So I sent off an email to SAQA’s president, and the competition’s juror:

Dear Martha and Luana,

Wow, everywhere I turn, there’s a new line of fabric being promoted or created. The variety available to the consumer is amazing. So it pleases me to see SAQA approached as a possible source of unique designs. I am also in support of seeking out new and different ways to promote SAQA and art quilts in general. I appreciate SAQA and the opportunities I have found through the organization.

As a former graphic designer, a current art quilter, and an artist whose subject matter often includes villages and homes, I got excited reading the call for entries. Finally, here was a project that might actually be appropriate for me to pursue. However, when I worked as a graphic designer, we as a profession were always cautioned not to do work on spec. To develop sketches and ideas, the difficult intellectual and creative part of design, for free, with only a hope that it may be selected, devalues the work of the designer. So you can imagine my disappointment when I read the terms of Call for Entry. Not only would NONE of the competing artists get paid for their work, they would also have to pay their way into the competition. An artist paying to do work on spec?! What that shows me is that Andover and SAQA place absolutely no value on my, or any of the artists’ creativity — our strongest asset.

I can’t imagine that Kaffe Fasset, Jinny Beyer, Amy Butler, Thomas Knauer, Heather Bailey, Anna Maria Horner, or any of the myriad fabric designers whose collections are the billboards of the major fabric companies today are creating their designs without monetary compensation. Exposure is a canard as well. New lines of fabric are introduced and replaced at the speed of light and buzz for a few weeks at Quilt Market is hardly worth the devaluation of one’s artistic capability.

While I appreciate the effort to expand SAQA’s footprint into other aspects of the quilt world, I’m afraid that I cannot support this project. I will not enter any designs. In addition, I will encourage my colleagues not to submit as well.

Regretfully,

Kristin La Flamme

While I don’t expect the parameters of this particular project to be changed, I hope that SAQA will take into consideration the value of our intellect and creativity when the next opportunity arises. Perhaps a few potential applicants will re-think submitting and send emails themselves. Ideally, Andover will see a little more value in those with the potential to create the products upon which their business thrives, though I’m not holding my breath. Finally, I’m feeling deflated. Disappointed. Once again, a conviction of mine has closed a door on opportunity. I’m sorry it has to be this way.