Thanks for the valuable feedback! I am getting a lot of interesting things to think about. My boyfriend has read the replies and has crafted the following argument. Please consider this is not my opinion, but his. (And I did mention to him that many of us from what I have read are against unpaid internships):
Well lucky for you Print Driver, would you like to explain your point to all the Former Caterpillar employees that were laid off because of market conditions and a lost contract? If what you say is true then there would not be such a high flop rate for start-up design firms or are you just stating that there we have a monopoly and Trust issues again where very few powers control the top which allow for no new entries.... Oh wait, Boston Dynamic proved that wrong and so did the inventors of the SAW. Design firms especially ones who are owned by business partners bet the farm and they risk losing but sometimes they win and upset the balance. I am happy for you that your position is not threatened by one bad bid but that is not the case for the majority of pitch based fields, especially the small firms that less than 20 employees. I work for an Openbravo partner (ERP/SAP) it's only a company of about 16 or so. Every bid we place needs to be spot on or we will need to cut developers and interns.
Pre-qualified system is one that refers to Sergeant & Lundy or Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumman, not the small engineering firms that struggle to get a footing. A lot of engineers are part of consultant groups that get paid based on bids won, if the company does not bring in any money then there is no way to pay.
If you want barriers to entry in a field you need objective and quantifiable units of measure.... That is not something that is included in an art degree. If you are saying that anyone can just get a cracked copy of photo shop and be able to win these contests, then I think you are the ones that are undercutting your own field.... What you have just said is "I cannot compete with new entries who have no experience even though I have a 4 year degree and worked in the field for X years" That means you're out-of-date and out of touch, clamoring to grasp onto a fading reality as a new one consumes then discards you.
"a cracked version of Photoshop that's lifting an existing logo or illustration from the internet, changing it a little bit and making a whiz-bang low resolution piece of crap out if it, while calling it a logo." This statement does not fit with the entries that I have seen on [croudsourcing site], they are amazing. I feel like I can go there and get a quality design that I would not be able to create myself. There are rules and a code of conduct that filters out the unoriginal and bad entries.
Here is a counter idea: if the competition is so bad then why can't you beat them with higher quality designs?
You complain about the compensation... Graphic design runs in a market like every other industry- if the supply is high then the price is low, so the only way to make the price go high is to increase the demand.... (not likely since there are 22.5 million companies in the US already, http://www.census.gov/econ/susb/
) or the supply needs to go down. So take your ball and leave the game that way the remaining can charge more. But once prices go up, then more suppliers enter the market. So get used to the low prices.
Let's look that the economics
*contest site link removed*
I have randomly picked designs that I like. Each contest has entries ranging from 14 to 288, yet only one won.
Member for a week, entered 7 times and won once.
Member for 2 years, entered 184 times and won 11 times.
Member for 2 months, entered 94 times and won 8 times.
Member for 1 month, entered 544 times and won 111 times.
Member for 1 year and 1 month, entered 222 times and 8 wins.
Member for 3 weeks, entered 90 times, and 6 wins.
member for 3 years, entered 101 times and 7 wins.
The average number of designers is 109 per contest.
$484,554 for this month and 1,551 contest so about $312 a contest.
The average number of entries per competition per user is 3.
The BIGGEST THING that strikes me as odd, and personally I find to be the most laughable is graphic designers will take an unpaid internship(s) working 20 or more hours a week and hand over copyrights for free. Or maybe they will get a cup of coffee and a bagel. But when there is an opportunity to show off you skills and possible get paid, (yes REAL money for your work) you get insulted, and you feel entitled to more.
You look at unpaid internship and you see it as an opportunity to build your portfolio and networking. You have to commute and meet people, what a hassle for being paid nothing... This is a simple and easy way for you to practice your craft, build your portfolio with a chance of making money. Not to mention you can score a consulting gig out of it, because some companies hire from the site.