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Real world art

Children drawing_Cuba 079Image by hoyasmeg via FlickrOver coffee today, somebody shared with me a website where peopled posted a creative brief for a logo or design they were looking for and how much they were willing to pay. Then people competed to win the ‘prize’. The site is called CrowdSPRING and what’s amazing about it is that people aren’t competing to win a contract to create the logo/design, they’re actually going ahead and doing the work and hoping to be the one selected as the winner. For example, Scholarship Connect is going to be a search engine for college bound students and they need a logo. They’re offering up $250 to the best design submitted to them by December 4th. So far, they have 37 entries to choose from.

At first I was just way impressed at the idea of the site, and that so many professional and amateur graphic designers were participating. Then i started wondering whether any student graphic designers were jumping into the game. After all, why not? If they enjoyed doing design work and wanted to practice in some real world situations, why not try their hand at some logos for real potential clients? Their creations would be competing directly with people who do it for a living (or on the side) and it’s always possible that they could win one and make a little money to put towards college!

Seriously though, it really does make you think about creating authentic experiences for students. So many people are fond of blogging because students are publishing for a real world audience, not just the teacher. But what about taking it a step further? Back to the art example.

Laurel at the new-to-her easelImage by oddharmonic via FlickrAs I mentioned, on, students could create logos that might wind up being used in actual websites and promotional materials. If they aren’t of the digital persuasion, they could submit their art to, a site where people can vote on the art they like and even buy it if the mood strikes. Not every artist’s work gets accepted, but a student could certainly try. Or by registering at ArtFlock, they can create their own gallery, show off their best work and set prices if they are so motivated. If they have an idea that might fall a little closer into the pop culture world, they could submit it to Threadless. If enough people dig the idea, they’d get to see their design made into a T-Shirt and receive a tidy sum.

Outside of the world of capitalism, there are plenty of opportunities too. One of my favorite sites is, and they regularly have art challenges for people to participate in. This month the challenge is, “Submit a postcard design that illustrates what actions your government should take in hopes of building a sustainable future for us all.”

With all that mind mind, it really does make me wonder just how many projects we have students working on everyday that could be modified slightly to become authentic experiences that have real world implications.

UPDATE: After posting this, I returned to the CrowdSpring site and clicked through to their blog. Low and behold, the first post there was about a 16 year old student who was applying to become their community manager. Instead of submitting a traditional resume, he sent this in instead:

Stop-Motion App-uh-lu-cat-ion from Judson on Vimeo

Think he’ll have trouble finding a job he’s passionate about? I think it’ll be harder keeping him passionate about his school work until he moves into the real world. Pretty incredible.

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  • Whoa- CrowdSpring is better than cool.
    I have wanted a new logo for for some time now…

    this is a GREAT idea!


    Sean Nash´s most recent blog post.. Your ideal writing space?

    Sean Nash


  • Very cool stuff! Love the resume alternative.

    Alec Couros


  • Fantastic ideas for helping students apply their learning to the real world.

    Shaun Wood´s most recent blog post.. What is your reputation?

    Shaun Wood


  • Steve,

    Great Post, and thanks for the link – Certainly in good company with some of the other sites that you mentioned.

    In the art world, or any profession these days, you really need to have an online prescence. Most of the hottest new artists have got where they are by understanding that it’s crucial to have a blog or flickr page, at a minimum.

    The traditional route, of going to school, working at your career, and hoping for a big break just doesn’t work like it used to. People need to harness the infinite creative oppourtunities online to really get anywhere.

  • Hi Steve,

    Thanks so much for mentioning crowdSPRING in your post. We’ve got a great community of creatives – 10,000 from over 130+ countries working on crowdSPRING. Buyers from all over the world are leveraging our community for creative services (logos, websites, marketing materials, illustrations, etc.).

    And you are absolutely right that crowdSPRING provides many opportunities, including to students. In fact, we just published our most recent blog interview with one of our creatives – he is currently a student at Purdue University.

    Thanks again for the mention!


    Ross Kimbarovsky

    Ross Kimbarovsky


  • @sean Let me now if you wind up using it, I’d love to watch the results come in!

    @shaun Crazy isn’t it? In some sense, it’s not even applying their learning in the real world, it’s actually learning in the real world in real time. And I don’t know why that sounds so radical, most of us do that every day 😉



  • That vid made my day. Crowdspring is a very cool example of what’s different.

    Will Richardson´s most recent blog post.. Dispatches from the (Family) Front Lines

    Will Richardson


  • […] and, as Dembo points out, students can respond to the ad with a design that may be chosen. In “Real World Art,” Dembo writes: “The site is called CrowdSPRING and what’s amazing about it is that people aren’t […]

  • This is, in some respects, an awesome idea. crowdSPRING is running a ton of little American Idols each day – but for design/new media. It offers small businesses, startups and non-profits an interesting and inexpensive way to end up with some excellent logo design.

    Having said that – and with apologies to Mr. Kimbarovsky – initiatives like crowdSPRING further erode the communities we’re trying to build. Details here:

    Matthew K. Tabor´s most recent blog post.. Yes, Virginia, There Still is an Education for the Aughts

    Matthew K. Tabor


  • […] Real world art – Teach42 (tags: art Curriculum:Art authenticwork) […]

  • Retweet from @teach42: New Blog Post: Real World Art. (CrowdSpring is VERY cool!)



  • New Blog Post: Real World Art. Includes an incredible video resume…. by a 16 year old student.

    Steve Dembo


  • Thanks for the heads up on this website. As an English teacher I have plenty of uses for this site sparking in my mind. I have included some suggestions on my own blog for teachers of other subject areas. Feel free to take a look.

    Jeanette Lans´s most recent blog post.. Crowdspring – Logo Design

    Jeanette Lans


  • great article. I will bookmark this

  • Such an incredible article you have posted here. Amazing! I had a great fun. Thanks for sharing this precious article stuff. Some useful points you have provided us. Amazing post!