CAGDI ANNOUNCEMENT: Logotype competition – Deputy Ministry of Culture, Department of Contemporary Culture

The recent announcement of the logo design competition by the Department of Contemporary Culture of the Ministry of Culture has caused significant reactions from the graphic design community, raising concerns and issues regarding its terms, while several professionals in the field have also protested in writing. The Cyprus Association of Graphic Designers and Illustrators directly contacted the Ministry and the organizers, but to our disappointment, we found that there was a lack of any response from their side. We express our regret for this absence of dialogue and call on the design community to consider these issues, making decisions accordingly to protect the image and status of our profession.

We believe that it is necessary to make public CAGDI letter to the Deputy Minister, Mrs Christodoulidou and Mr Psaras:

Honorable Dr. Kassianidou, Mrs Christodoulidou and Mr. Psaras,

We are contacting again to convey some comments/insights as they arose after reading the Department of Contemporary Culture’s logo competition tender. We would like to mention that another letter has been sent to the Deputy Minister of Culture on 14/03/24 where we refer to this competition and other issues. However, we thought it more appropriate that you also receive this letter as the persons in charge as mentioned in the tender.”

Below is the letter sent on 14/03:

Cooperation between the Deputy Ministry of Culture and CAGDI and tender conditions

As we discussed during our meeting, we are always available to the Deputy Ministry of Culture for direct cooperation on issues concerning Visual Communication, whether this concerns issues within the Deputy Ministry of Culture – for example a new logo or website, or more general issues concerning the industry.

At this point, we would like to refer to the creation of competitions for the creation of visual communication materials. A competition which has as a condition of participation the creation of design materials, requires that all participants will spend time working on something that only the successful participant will be paid for. As a result, many professionals in the field often end up working without remuneration, with the aim of winning the competition in question. We understand that competitions may be unavoidable, but we believe there is a way to structure them in such a way that they are fair to the participants. One such example is the one we mention below for the tourist products of the Archaeological Resources and Exploitation Fund in Greece.

We are at your disposal to support any such effort in any way we can and therefore we would like at this point to express our disappointment when we saw that the competition for the logo of the Department of Contemporary Culture was announced. Although reference was made to this competition at our meeting and there was a discussion about the fact that many institutions use the same standard terms, which you also agreed was not a correct or fair practice, you nevertheless followed the same example. Our aim is to offer help to ensure that these tenders are fair to everyone, both to the operators and to the professionals who participate. Once again, the competition does not reflect the realities of the industry, which is not even represented in the jury.”

Below are the reasons why this tender is not fair to professionals:

Remuneration: The amount of 2000 offered as an honorarium does not cover and does not reflect the effort, experience and skill required to carry out a professional graphic design project specifically for a government department. Ideally the government itself should recognize and understand the importance of Visual Communication.

Copyright: In the Cyprus Copyright Law a reasonable fee for the transfer of copyright is mentioned. In this case, the amount given to the winner may only cover the portion of the time and work that each participant will put in. But it is certainly not enough to transfer the intellectual property in its entirety.

Eligibility of participation to non-professionals: Within the framework of any graphic design competition, purely professionals in the industry should be eligible to participate. The creation of a visual identity requires a specific professional training to be carried out, as any technical and/or aesthetic parameters required in both the use and applicability of any visual identity must be taken into account so that the result reflects the importance and timelessness of such an organisation.

Briefing: the lack of a complete brief, i.e. a clear definition and articulation of expectations and requirements regarding the design, makes it difficult for participants to create a logo that is in line with the identity and needs of the Department of Contemporary Culture. Ideally in the case of the Department of Contemporary Culture, there should be a call for a Visual Identity and not just a logo, since it is precisely culture where the field of Visual Communication falls.

Jury: As we mentioned in our meeting, a big issue that exists and is relevant to our industry is that Graphic Design is taught by Art teachers in secondary education and not by Graphic Designers. Unfortunately, we see that the jury includes people from the Visual Arts and people who have a position as a Civil Service Officer. Ideally it would be good to have at least 2 people who are trained in Visual Communication and who are actively working in the field and have a lot of experience. With other organisations, such as the Postal Services, for stamp competitions we have appointed 2 members of CAGDI to the jury so that there is structured criticism of the work for a better outcome.

Timeframe: The time given is not commensurate with the size and/or required quality of the work requested through the tender.

We hope that such practices will change in future efforts and we are always available to work with you to achieve the best possible outcome for all.

We have highlighted on many occasions the difficulties and challenges faced by graphic designers when competitions are launched with inadequate organisation or recognition of their professional merit. Given the above evidence and reports, we therefore urge you to consider the alternative of holding a closed tender or better still, appoiting the work directly to a qualified graphic designer. We stress once again the need to respect the time and experience of professionals, as the creation of a visual identity requires a combination of expertise, research and dedication. Please recognize the value of this work and proceed in a way that values designers and their role in communication.

If this is not possible, we would suggest that this notice be withdrawn so that we can help by revising a few points to improve it to better meet the needs of both parties.

If this is agreeable to you please let us know by Monday 15/03/24 so that a meeting can be arranged where we can formulate the terms. We would however like to inform you that if you choose to keep the existing terms and conditions as they are, we must inform our members of the concerns and objections we have identified as well as prevent members and the community from participating in this competition as we do with other similar competitions.

You can also consult the Proposal for the Creation of Contest Terms Structure which is posted on our website, as well as the example of a closed competition for the Visual Identity of the National Library of Greece which is a model for the conduct of the competition and was held in cooperation with the Association of Graphic Designers of Greece.”

Correction to date above for the response: Thursday 21/03/24

Thank you for your time and your joint effort to optimize the working conditions of our industry.

We remain at your disposal for dialogue and cooperation.”