Pixish, a design marketplace where people can post open calls for submissions for design elements or photography. Designers can then submit work to the assignment, as they're called on the site, and other designers vote for the best. The assignment's originator picks the winner (or winners) and doles out the promised compensation.Well-known designer Derek Powazek over the weekend launched his latest project,
Prizes on the site aren't necessarily cash -- Powazek, for example, is running an assignment right now looking for submissions for his Fray magazine where the winners receive copies of the publication, promotion on the web site, and "eternal thanks." That's a departure from most of Pixish's competitors, which require users to pay winners monetary prizes.
"Right now, if you want images, you have two options. You could hire an artist (expensive, difficult, and time-consuming) or you could surf microstock sites (cheap, but frustrating and time-consuming). Pixish seeks to be a middle path," writes Pixish founder and CEO Powazek.
Powazek compares Pixish to Threadless, which uses the wisdom of crowds to design t-shirts, with the key difference being that Pixish members can create open submission calls for any visual product or need. But a better parallel would be design contest sites. There are a number of them, but one of the biggest and most well-known is SitePoint's Contest area (which is in the process of being spun off and rebranded as 99Designs.com).
Similar to Pixish, SitePoint facilitates open calls for design jobs where designers submit work. Unlike Pixish, SitePoint requires that winning designers are compensated with cash. Which approach will work? I know from experience as a volunteer moderator at SitePoint that the design contest approach is often the target of criticism from people who believe that spec work is detrimental to designers. I personally disagree, and know plenty of designers who use spec work like design contests to gain real world experience, build their portfolios, and have also found long term clients by participating in sites like SitePoint's Contest area... but I digress.
I think it is likely that sites like SitePoint's will likely attract more professional designers, while Pixish will attract people who do art and design for fun. For someone who is trying to pay the bills with design work, competing for copies of a magazine might not be the best way to spend their time. But for someone who does design as a hobby, it might be a fun way to hone their craft.
Full disclosure: I recently sold a design contest site that I co-founded in 2005 called GFXContests.com and remain a volunteer moderator on SitePoint's forums (moderators of which also moderate the contests area).