Responding to spec work requests

I rarely reply to the weekly email requests that ask for spec work. For whatever reason, today I did. Here’s the pitch, and how I responded.

golden ticket

Spec work request received this morning


I’m reaching out to you to let you know about this unique project to work with DJ Rusko.

Talenthouse has partnered with KarmaloopTV and top English DJ and producer, DJ Rusko, to offer graphic designers the opportunity to participate in a worldwide project for which they can receive global recognition for their creativity.

The project asks that graphic designers design the official “R” logo for DJ Rusko which he will use on all of his merchandise and marketing material worldwide during 2011. The selected designer will also receive $1,000 (USD) for their design.

To participate or get more information, go to:

If you have any questions feel free to send me an e-mail.

And my reply


Thanks for the kind offer.

In return, I’m reaching back to let you know about a unique project opportunity for DJ Rusko.

The project asks that DJ Rusko record and produce a new music track — one that mentions my name and my title as a graphic designer. I’ll play the track on my website to a worldwide audience, giving full credit. I’ll also pay $1,000.

If I don’t like the track, or if I prefer one created by another DJ (I’m contacting thousands of others with the same unique opportunity), I won’t play it on my site. Nor will I pay the monetary prize.

To participate, have DJ Rusko send the completed MP3 file to my email address.

Kind regards,


AIGA President Debbie Millman on spec work
The disconcertion of spec
If design was an iceberg

Golden ticket scratch card available from Crankbunny.

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  1. giuliano riccio

    Wonderful reply :D

  2. nice one dude — perfectly put and exactly as I would have replied!

    Be interested to see if you get a reply.

  3. Never understood how to work in the phrase “kick in the chicklets” into a sentence. I do now.

  4. That’s one classy reply David. Nice.

  5. David,

    Your a living legend. Enough said.


  6. Very nice mate. Do post an update if you get a reply.

  7. I have two words for you, and they are, in order…

    “Bloody” and “Brilliant!”

  8. Awesome response. People put so little value in design work it pisses me off.

  9. A job well done, what an ass.

  10. Brilliant reply David.
    They would certainly think twice before sending out another spec work request!

  11. Brilliant reply, well done

  12. Beautiful!

  13. Hey David,

    It’s an absolutely awesome reply. Well, I’m quite interested to see if you get any reply on this. :)

    I think all designers need to know about spec work in detail from the very beginning of their careers. Something like this should be taught in design school.

  14. Perfect. I would have gone the “contest” route with my reply but that works really well. I learned a long time ago that spec work really doesn’t create much exposure or lead to other opportunities. It just pads your book and you don’t need another party for that. And if you have years of experience like I do your book is already solid.

  15. Really, there’s only way I can respond to this post…


  16. Outstanding reply! I love it. I would be curious to see if there were any other communication from them. Likely, not.

  17. Hahahahahahahah. Great reply!!!!

  18. Hi David,
    Now this is the way we should all respond to spec work invitations!
    Well done and amazing how you can remain politely sarcastic!

  19. killer. well played sir.

  20. Solid reply.
    Like most professional designers/developers I am against any form of spec work. My first attempt at a paying job a number of years ago was a contest and haven’t done anything of the sort since.
    Unfortunately, tons of people are going to enter that contest. The lack of moral or ethical code among young designers in the industry – along with a the promise of getting their name out there – make these contests nearly impossible to defeat.
    I know you’re thoughts and involvement in the NO!SPEC campaign and agree with them completely. Unfortunately, unless designers are educated on this long before they enter the workforce (as @hariabinash mentions above), full annihilation of spec work is not going to happen.

  21. Perfect. I love it! I would love to hear what their response is, though my guess is that there won’t be one. Too bad! Well played.

  22. Eloquent and smart.
    I don’t think they’ll be getting back to you any time soon David.

  23. And thats how we do it.

    Now lets turn it into a poster, hang it in front of our face and promote it for all the blogs to see. Maybe then the rest of the design community will abolish this abuse in unison.

  24. Claire Edwards

    Haha Very good Dave! I couldn’t think of a better response to that.

  25. Bravo! Applauding loudly from NYC.

  26. Great!!!


  27. That’s a whole lot of awesome. Nicely done, David.

  28. Very good answer. I doubt these guys will bother you again. :] What the hell is wrong with people and their cheap attitude towards design… only proves their complete ignorance in the field. Despite this, ever so often they want the final say… Sigh.

  29. Love the response!

  30. Spot on, I hope they do respond!

  31. Touché David, touché ;-) i.e. AWESOME! Gave me shivers…

  32. Catherine Airey

    Wow David, what a star you are! I hope you don’t let all this fame go to your head and run off with some 20 year old girl or I’ll have to beat you! xxx

  33. I’m sure he’ll go for it, it’s a good deal, can’t wait to hear the tune!

  34. You lost a DJ Rusko fan :P

    Hahah, very fun reply David.

  35. What the hell David? How could you pass up on such a fantastic opportunity!

    Haha nice work man.

  36. Brilliant, David!
    At first, before I read his letter, I thought it was going to be at least a personal request to you, not a spammed out mass ‘unique’ email. Your answer is so perfect, and like others I’m curious if you get a reply, though doubt it. Sadly, many young designers will jump at this ‘opportunity.’
    The whole thing reminds me of the guy that got the nigerian email scam and then scammed him back. Just google John Boko, hilarious stuff.

  37. Haha, awesome response.

  38. Excellent – just tweeted it….

    It’s a two way street and that response illustrates it perfectly….

  39. My hat goes off to you David, what a perfect response – simply asking them of what they asked of you. I hope everyone who reads this tweets this.

  40. heheh….perfect.. :P

  41. Sebastien Essiambre

    Wow… just wow! This is definitely the perfect way to answer those “amazing” offers!

  42. It made my day :D

  43. Epic!! I love it!

  44. Christopher Gunn

    Nicely put, David. I’m shaking my head and smiling.

  45. Hehe, ah David, your comical genius never fails to make me laugh.

    I imagine you are the best person to get telemarketing calls, they are always fun for a laugh. I normally try to sell them something or pretend I’m another business.

    Make me chuckle,
    Cheers :)

  46. Outstanding! This one is going in the playbook!

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