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Guild Member Joseph Caserto Responds to Pratt Crowdsourcing Contest

Proud Pratt Institute alum Joseph Caserto was shocked to learn that his alma mater issued a call for students to participate in a crowd-sourced mascot design contest. As a long-time Guild member and working professional, Caserto was well versed in the deleterious impact of crowdsourcing on the design and illustration professions. He reached out to Guild Advocacy Liaison, Lisa Shaftel, who provided him with sample letters protesting crowd sourcing.

Joseph Caserto

Caserto constructed his own response and sent it to Pratt with a firm but respectful letter expressing his disappointment with the institution:

“It is imperative for you to understand that by asking designers to work for free, you are exploiting them. This is at best a poor lesson for Pratt to be teaching students, and at worst contributing to a practice that is damaging to the industry that these young professionals are entering, and in which they are expected to compete.”

Rather than resorting to crowdsourcing, Caserto recommended that Pratt solicit work via a program similar to Design Corps, a project led by the late Charles Goslin when Caserto studied at Pratt. Through Design Corps, select students are invited to work on a client project under the mentorship of a professor, in exchange for course credit and an agreed-upon stipend. Caserto shared his concerns in an article on his blog, “Pratt Sets a Terrible Example by Crowdwourcing a Logo.”

Helen Matusow-Ayres, Pratt’s Vice President for Student Affairs, responded to Caserto with a polite explanation that the mascot design is part of a larger identity project being handled by a professional design firm headed by a Pratt alumnus. She explained that crowdsourcing the project was an attempt to “engage the Pratt community.” While Caserto appreciated the courtesy of the response, he didn’t buy their justification: “…the Institute is sending a powerful, dangerous message to students that it is an acceptable business practice, and to professionals that our alma mater condones one of the biggest challenges to our livelihoods.”

Caserto’s orignal letter and Pratt’s response can be read on Caserto’s blog.

Photo by Glenn Glasser.



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