This case - as ridiculously ironic as it is - would drive anyone to a strong opinion, but at the end of the day it still stands that everyone involved is a grown-up designer. In other words, this site can't be seen as more than a tool and any tool looks bad when used improperly. The most obvious use case for these sites - in my opinion - is passive income. I, however, choose to see them as an opportunity, if you will. I believe the number of contests requiring logos far outweigh the others, but branding is something I'd like to get (more) into anyways. A number of things will have to be kept in mind if this is to make any kind of sense, however -
- These are little, self-contained, modular experiments in design. I can walk into them open minded and unburdened, and - after the alloted amount of time - leave just the same. I have to remember that ultimately, I'm just here to pimp the system.
- I must manage time. I could be the best logo designer in the world but the cost/risk/payment ratio is so skewed that it wouldn't make sense to spend too much time or rely too heavily on these things. Also consider the fact that my 30 minute idea has gotten a more positive response from the contest holder than two I did for another that took significantly longer.
- What makes these "exercises" particularly potent is the fact that it's an amalgamation of design and branding, so it's not just the photoshop experience I'm after - it's also ability to do this type of high-level conceptual thinking involved with quickness and agility. A terribly beneficial aspect, despite the fact that I would probably outsource this kind of task to someone else myself if a client were to ask for it.
- Though this site won't teach me the value of design, I'll certainly learn a lot by seeing the designs of others and - more importantly - see how ideas can be realized, hybridized, and cannibalized, and where the fine lines in the sand between the three lie. Already I can see familiar concepts applied in new, interesting ways I wouldn't have thought of, examples of people taking my concepts and running with them, and comments from designers to designers about what they consider to be imitations of theirs.
- That ultimately this is supposed to be fun, and that I'm not concerned with the $200 that could - in some cases - not be paid at all if the contest holder doesn't find a design they like. By keeping this in mind I'll be more likely to stop and change direction if it's just not working out or even just keep the designs to myself.
- If I manage to get good at this, I can sell designs on the back hand - through a logo shop or an asset store - a site where people purchase pre-made components for use in their projects.
- It gives me (a) perspective on what people consider a logo. It's important to understand parameters and trends so you can make the decision when to fit your work within their constraints and when (and how) to break/stand out. Speaking of trends, I think this list will cover most of them you'll come across - easily (or unfortunately) enough.
As I said before - logo creation might not be something I'd hesitate to bring in a specialist regarding, but the state of the art has definitely elevated to the point where the website - traditionally a source of relatively static information, now has just as much to do with a brand as a logo - and is indeed the first point of contact people have with both. I suppose this is more of a strategic exercise then, if that's the case.