Wildrose licence plate competition not ethical, say Alberta artists

Some Alberta artists don't support a plan by the Wildrose Party for a contest for a new licence plate design.

Graphic designers say asking for submissions without ensured compensation not a good practice

Some Alberta artists don't support a plan by the Wildrose Party for a contest for a new licence plate design.

Alberta graphic artists and designers are being asked to submit their designs by Aug. 3. The Wildrose Party says it will donate $2,500 to the charity of the winner's choice and the artist will receive $500.

Amanda Shutz, a graphic designer in Edmonton, likes the idea of helping charities but says a contest means many artists would not be properly compensated since only the winner would receive something.

"Designers aren't being necessarily paid for their work and, while the end result someone is donating funds to charity, it's really unethical to be expecting people in the creative field to be doing design work for no payment."

She says coming up with a good design could take a lot of time and it's unlikely the chosen design would be accepted by the government because it's a proposal from an opposition party.

Albertans get to vote on one of three new designs for the provincial licence plate. (Alberta Government)

The Edmonton firm which designed its own plate and then shared it on social media last week will not be taking part in the contest. 

Graphos president Laurier Mandin says he is also opposed to designers doing work for free. Although the Graphos plate is already complete, Mandin is refusing to submit the design on principle.

"We've been in business for 22 years and a lot of young, up and coming designers really look up to us," he said.

"And that was where we felt we couldn’t go and enter a contest that was kind of against what we would otherwise stand for, just because it would be easy for us."

But Mandin says they have been told that with enough public feedback Service Alberta will reconsider its design selection strategy. Albertans can send their support of the design to

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said the competition was intended to showcase the talent in Alberta’s graphic design community after the government chose the Minnesota-based company 3M — which has access to special reflective technology — to provide design options.

The Wildrose says it also wants to give residents a say in an important symbol of Alberta’s identity.

“We hope that at the end, we’ll have a licence plate that the government of Alberta could use as a possibility, something that was made for Albertans, by Albertans and is far more creative and aesthetically pleasing than we currently have now,” said Wildrose MLA Ron Anderson.

An online poll is open until Aug. 18 so Albertans can pick among the three choices. The plate will be available in the spring of 2015. It will cost an extra $5 to "help cover the costs of production and implementation."

Graphos, an Edmonton design firm, came up with this license plate after becoming frustrated over the three options presented by the Alberta government. ( )


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