A professional gaming team owned by the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks is getting blasted by artists for holding a design contest without a cash prize and telling graphic designers to “get a job” when they asked for compensation for their work.
On November 11, Bucks Gaming took to Twitter to ask artists to design a new header image for the team, offering up free merchandise and credit in the team's profile description to the winner. Some people expressed interest in the contest, but several designers replied with joke designs and called for the team to pay artists for professional work.
—Qᴜᴀꜱɪᴍᴏᴅᴏx (@Quasimodox) November 12, 2019
—Brandon Baker (@thedubbleb) November 12, 2019
—lee 🔜 animenyc (@cyanidence) November 12, 2019
Critics accused Bucks Gaming of trying to disguise commissioned work as a fan contest. One person who told Bucks Gaming to hire a designer got a response, “get a job then.”
—Darkmilitia419 (@darkmilitia419) November 13, 2019
That response and the initial tweet announcing the contest have since been deleted, but another tweet encouraged designers to “keep up the submissions” by tagging the team directly or sending images through direct messages. Users who were critical of the critical reported that they were being blocked by the team's Twitter account.
A spokesperson for Bucks Gaming was not immediately available to comment.
—Bucks Gaming (@BucksGG) November 12, 2019
Professional designers have waged a public battle to protect the value of their work, at a time where images are shared, edited, reproduced, and repurposed for social media on a daily basis. Artists are frequently asked to create graphics in exchange for exposure, rather than money.
In a statement directed toward the team, designer Shmurf Graphics accused the team of disrespecting artists and undermining the industry with the terms of the contest and by telling a designers to “go get a job.”
“I have not seen on single instance in life where a 'Champion Reverse Weave Bucks Gaming Crewneck Sweatshirt' had the ability to pay off the water bill, get you clothes, pay rent, or get you groceries,” they wrote.
—Shmurf ⁷ (@ShmurfGFX) November 12, 2019
Bucks Gaming belongs to the 2K league, an esports venture between the NBA and video game publisher Take-Two Interactive that launched in 2017. 2K League players earn a $32,000 salary and housing for a five-month season playing “NBA 2K.” League sponsors include Intel, AT&T, and Bud Light; Bucks Gaming's sponsors include Alienware and the five-star Kohler Resort.
The Milwaukee Bucks franchise is valued at $1.35 billion, according to Forbes.
“The Bucks are a large brand, they can afford to pay people, and they already probably have a design team,” a designer who preferred to stay anonymous told Business Insider. “Of course, people can choose to enter the contest out of passion, but in general, it's good practice to pay people expect monetary compensation for your hard work.”