Design Fstoppers' New Logo And Win $2000

4 years ago Patrick and I came up with the idea for We needed a logo and so I went into Photoshop and created the "FS" inside a circle that you can see above. It took me about 5 minutes and neither Patrick or I have ever really liked it. It's time for a change and we will pay you to help us get there. is about to be totally revamped. The blog itself will work exactly as it always has but we are adding 2 completely new facets to the website that will a big jump forward. To match our new site redesign we would like a new logo. You can submit your logo ideas to us at If we end up using your logo design we will give you $2000. If we like multiple logos we will put it to public vote on If we don't like any of them, we may decide to stick with what we have but we hope that won't be the case.

Now before you go out and start designing let me explain to you what we want. The first thing we need is a "Mark" similar to the FS we currently have. We like the idea of the "FS" being a unique shape but it's also very important that the "F" and "S" are easily legible. This "mark" needs to be accompanied by the full name "Fstoppers". Both the "FS" Mark and the "Fstoppers" text need to work together and separately.

Below are a few "marks" that I like for one reason or another. You'll notice that each of these examples are extremely simple so please do not over complicate your designs. Feel free to use them as inspiration or create something totally unique.

We had a design firm come up with some concepts and our favorite was the one directly below. We agree that it's an interesting concept and it has potential but it looks too much like a bank or IT company's logo. The other issue is that the "FS" is pretty difficult to read. The circular one below that is something that I created. Again we like the basic direction but it feels a bit too "star trekish." Feel free to take either of these ideas and tweak them.


1: All submissions must be emailed to with the word "logo contest" in the subject line by Wednesday June 12th.
2: All submissions must contain a "mark" with the letters "F" and "S" and the word "Fstoppers" written out in full.
3: You may submit as many logos as you like.
4: If you use aperture blades in your design I can almost guarantee we won't choose it.

May the best designer win.

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Mark Lauman's picture

First, do you retain any rights to designs that are submitted and you don't use them? I'm going to assume no because y'all know how badly the design community hates spec work.

Lee Morris's picture

No, if we don't like it then we won't have any use for it. If we do like it we will pay for it. I understand that many designers are not willing to work on spec and that is why this is a simple contest. If you want to enter you can, if not, you don't have to.

Mark Lauman's picture

Woah ok, just wondering about the rights. Also, this is a contest and spec work. It's not really an either or type of situation. Both sides of the argument have valid points and I think it's great y'all are reaching out to your support community for a new logo.

William J. Denson III's picture

Would you shoot an advertising campaign with 4 other photographers and then get paid based on who's photos the client decided they wanted? What if they gave your photos to less expensive photographer and said "this isn't quite right, but tweak it a little and we'll pay you"?

Let's say you got good designers who do spec work. Now, you're insulting those people by saying to your readers "Here are their ideas. We didn't like them right off the bat, but one of you tweak it and we'll give you $2,000 instead of asking the company who originally sketched it to work with us to make this something we love."

I don't know what your history is with these design firms, but that doesn't seem right. It doesn't seem to be how creative artists should treat one another, and it completely devalues the creative process.

Here's an article, by a designer, on this subject with one of the dangers being very close to what you did in this post:

Nick Fancher's picture

"4: If you use aperture blades in your design I can almost guarantee we won’t choose it." LOL

Nick Fancher's picture
Lee Morris's picture

Contest over, Nick wins

EVODD's picture

Sending over some work samples by the morning - EVODD.COM

Andrew Griswold's picture

Not bad Nick, may need to work on your kerning but a vallient effort buddy. Haha

Pratik Naik's picture

Haha! The best.

Har Rai Khalsa's picture


Mar Rivera's picture

Just when I thought I had a chance...Damn Nick. Way to bring an atom bomb to a knife fight. ;)

Nick Fancher's picture


Brendan James's picture

Lovin' the Comic Sans.

Ryan Rupprecht's picture

why end with the stop sign? why not use the whole special bus? :)

Irena K.'s picture

This is totally the first thing I thought of! I HATE stop signs so great idea but don't do it LOL

Jaron Schneider's picture

For the love of God, no one submit anything like an aperture symbol.

Tam Nguyen's picture

Is it just me or the even characters, S-O-P-R in the featured image seem to be more "in focus" than the odd ones, F-T-P-E-S?

disqus_bvRDZ9FEow's picture

What file format do you want the submissions in?

Lee Morris's picture


Ryan Cooper's picture

Not to be a downer or anything but this in the design industry is called "spec" work which is short for speculative work and is just as bad as when businesses expect photographers to work for free because it is a great "experience" opportunity.

Video worth watching.

Lee Morris's picture

I knew this would come up. Just know that we did do the thing "right way" and we got burned. Lost thousands of dollars. I can't pay for designs we will never use.

Jon McGuffin's picture

The way you're doing it I think is spot on and I agree, if you don't want to do it, don't do it. For what it's worth, offering to pay $2,000 for a logo is about 5X the going rate for a quality logo IMO. You'll get tons of entries and I'm sure you'll end up with something vastly superior than what that firm created for you (which is bad). You should have started here. :)

Edmond Leung's picture

Someone who is classically and professionally trained in graphic design will not even pick up the sketch pen for $2000, let alone it's a contest.

Jon McGuffin's picture

Good for them.. This isn't meant for them anymore than I wouldn't expect Joe McNally or David Hobby to spend their time submitting for a contest here either. This comment has no relevance to the audience this contest is geared towards.

Ryan Cooper's picture

I think the greatest challenge of a creative process is that you aren't always able to communicate your desires to the designer. In this case especially from reading the above it seems that you don't really know what you want, (which is ok). You just know what you don't want. Which makes it very hard for the designer to come up with a logo that you will want.

But think of it from the point of view of the designer. Client comes to you with some vague creative direction. You do your best to ask questions and narrow the direction into something that they will like. You spend day researching and carefully crafting a logo that meets their defined parameters. You then present it to that client and they take a look at it and turn it down based on a reason that had never even come up before. (for example the logo being too star trekky). Its like guess and check where your livelihood depends on guessing right.

Looking at the logo above that you said you paid for I can't agree that you were burned (though I don't know exactly what went on so could be wrong). The logo looks well thought out and executed to me with expert precision. It's failing is merely that it isn't something that you want. Which I can understand your plight for but I think ultimately it was a difference of creative direction. If they had burned you they would have taken your money and given you a piece of junk or simply not delivered anything.

The answer shouldn't be to switch over to a method that ensures 99% of the designers do not get paid for their time and effort. If every client moved to this sort of business model the design industry would be gone. Even really good designers would struggle to make a living.

It is functionally the same as going to a movie once and deciding you didn't like it so from now on your will steal the movie tickets then go pay only if you loved the film.

And yes, it does seem simple to simply not enter the "contest" but the problem is that this sort of thing is becoming more and more popular in the design world. As more companies see it done the more companies do it.

Chris's picture

Yes. All of this.

Josh R.'s picture

Yup. Very well said. Really sad to see people in the creative industry asking for spec work. I would say I only hope it comes back to however that really isn't better for anyone. So instead let me just say that I ask that you consider what you are doing and think about what it means for the photographic industry when it happens to you.

Chris's picture

Are you moderating away my comments because of what I'm saying, or how I'm saying it?

Chris's picture

When you envisioned this contest, did you consider that the winning logo you choose, since you're not vetting the designer before selecting their work, could possibly be infringing on another company's identity? Is the potential litigation worth $2000 to FStoppers? That's just ONE risk. Here's a great article I found on Crowd Sourcing and Intellectual Property Issues that you should read:

James Jenkins's picture

In all seriousness, I wish I was a designer, but alas I'm not. Most of the guys I know would be tickled just to be able to say they designed the new F-Stoppers logo. The money is just icing.

Josh R.'s picture

Cool, they must be hobbyists.

Mark Alameel's picture

Yeah, they are acting like its a contest but its still spec work.

Of course, you do not need to enter...

Jon McGuffin's picture

They're not acting like a contest, it is a contest. How is this any different than a photo of the day contest? Or any contest to submit an image? They don't pay you to create those photos either do they?

Nick Fancher's picture

The difference is that I don't take photos of someone's product under the premise of it being a contest. But again, they aren't being sneaky about it. So participate or don't.

Pato Villanueva's picture

I'll just take the opportunity of telling you how much I admire your work Nick. I basically want your life. Good vibes.

Chris's picture

I may be wrong, but I don't think FStoppers is using material generated by POTD contests to solicit advertising. I feel like a website that garners 4.5 million page views annually should be able to budget for refreshed identity through a professional designer.

Jon McGuffin's picture

Yeah, I think you're wrong. Actually, they tried that and weren't happy so why not take the dollars instead of giving it to a "professional" agency and give it to their followers. Not to mention that the entire site was built upon the kind of social interaction that would make this type of "contest" completely appropriate.

Frank King's picture

Jon i think you're wrong. I dont think you understand what we are talking about?

What if I ask you Jon to shoot my wedding with 20 other people and I will pay the person with the best photos $10,000. Sound like a good deal?

Jon McGuffin's picture

Yes, I'm familiar with spec work and also watched the video that was previously posted. The video doesn't do a good job at all by the way of explaining "what's wrong with this". It says the the best design work should come out of a healthy relationship between the client and the designer. What? What authority does TopicSimple have to decide what the best system is that works for the client? If I have $2,000 to burn on a logo design, why not use whatever resources available I might have to get the best design I possibly can for that $2,000. THAT is the best system that works for me, the client.

Jon McGuffin's picture

Also note there are specific circumstances which are important factors in each case. For many, just an opportunity to be the creator/designer of the fstoppers logo has benefit enough. To a logo designer, being able to say you designed THIS logo has value monetarily beyond the $2,000 alone.

Somehow I would imagine if Spielberg, George Lucas, or anybody of that nature came out and publicly said we want a new logo and the person who can send us a great one we'll give $10,000 to would be receiving such a backlash. People would be happy to participate and those who do not want to, don't have to. I think that it all boils down to choice, and nobody is being forced to work for free, it's optional and a risk but certainly has potential of a payoff. Not unlike your wedding scenario, don't want to do it, don't!

Josh R.'s picture

huh? Do you actually work as a photographer? How can you not see how ridiculous that is? Hey wouldn't it be great to have Nike use an image? No need for them to pay they can just ask photographers to compete for the opportunity to have their images used in advertising.

Having designed the logo for Fstoppers is of little professional value to any real designer anyway.

ohmandd's picture

Competition drives performance! Submit to win or go watch TV.

Mark Alameel's picture

It’s a huge difference.

In a contest, the photo submission stays with the contest and is generally not used again beyond contest business (like showing past contest submissions or marketing for future contest). A contest would always credit the work when showing the work.

Once the work becomes a logo for a business to perpetually use as a company's identity, it becomes spec work. Further, using the work outside the contest, without the constant artist credit, would be the major factor of calling it a spec work.

The prize money doesn't change the nature of the situation (whether or not it is a contest or spec work). There are a few ways to make this a contest like a constant disclaimer that this is a contest winner with the artist’s name displayed, and then go back to the original logo. Or maybe the logo was constantly changed in a timely manner [say yearly contest] to update the logo that is always from the community. Etc.

Ironically, I do not see spec work as evil as many say it is (not that it is great) but it is spec work.

Jon McGuffin's picture

Your point is a good one BigDaddyM. I still see nothing but good to come of it. It's obviously 100% optional for anybody to participate in so why the hate for it? Just like it's optional to do the work to enter any contest.

If Fstoppers would create a page on the site that credited the creation of the logo design to the individual who did so would it make it any better? Since they're compensating for the artwork (well I might add) why should they? There seems nothing wrong with this to me whatsoever.

Mark Alameel's picture

If they displayed the winner's name and the contest every time they showed the logo, then it is a contest (not hide it on some webpage hidden from view).

Overall it is bad for the design community because it perpetuates the idea that that our work is free unless we win some "contest" which is really just free labor to test ideas. F-Stoppers is using the guise of a contest to get many artist to "compete" to get paid for work they already did. If they lose they get nothing. That is spec work.

Normally a business would hire a firm to design a logo and after a few iterations (a normal design process) a logo is chosen. Fstoppers hired a firm and didn't like the result so instead of getting another firm, decided to outsource the work for free.

Short term there isn't a problem, but long term, it is a big problem.

Soon we will all be doing free work in hopes of getting paid. Imagine being an accountant and told you only get paid if the "judges" like your work best and by the way, millions of others are doing the same project but only one will be paid. That is spec work.

Christian Blencke's picture

Are any of you entering this competition? NO? then who cares. We know who FSTOPPERS are, we come here every day. Its not in their interest to sully their brand. Go on give a little back

Tam Nguyen's picture

DAFUQ? You call $2000 "free"? Dude, you come here everyday for free content; best you could do to help out is to give back a little. Obviously no one's forcing you to do this at gunpoint. Jeez.

Brian Bray's picture

$2000 isn't free for the one person who wins. The other spend a time on a project and see nothing for their efforts.
But then again people see nothing wrong with buying lottery tickets.

Tam Nguyen's picture

It's the same idea as if Fstoppers were to run a contest here on their site, which they have, giving away stuff like cameras, lenses, bags, and even a trip to Dubai. I mean, I don't see anyone complaining about those.

But now, all of sudden everyone's bitching and moaning. Again, no one's forcing anyone to do anything here. Jeez. Relax guys.

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