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This poster is a concept I came up with for Greenpeace’s Arctic campaign.

I didn’t do the design work I just came up with the idea.

My inspiration came from a campaign that TUI ran.

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The shapes came from a coke ad I liked.

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Greenpeace’s arctic campaign determined the colour scheme.

All I had to do was explain what I wanted to a designer.

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I put a sketch of what I wanted on Elance. I got a few quotes, but the project never went anywhere, so I took it down. The day I took it down someone submitted the following poster as part of their bid for the work.

I didn’t realise this till after I took the project down.

Understandably, the designer accused me of foul play. I pictured something a bit more finished and would have been happy to pay her to work on it some more had she not been so rude.

I guess the lesson learned is that doing free work for people is a bad idea. More importantly, if I do decide to do work for people, up front, without them agreeing to it, then I can’t expect them to like it and immediately want to pay for it.

I sound like an asshole when I put it that way, but my point is that doing things for people and giving stuff away for free creates a sense of indebtedness that can be manipulated. People are intuitively reciprocal creatures, and they want to settle debts whether they know it or not. Even if it's only to alleviate the slight mental discomfort, that comes with knowing that the scales are not tipped in your favour.

I am not suggesting that being helpful or generous is evil. My point is that when generosity is a means to an end then it's foul play.

It’s a thin line, and I am in no way condemning the practice of subtle manipulation to get interesting work. All I learned is that doing work before you get paid to do it is a calculated risk, and sometimes it doesn’t pay off.