More big brands are tapping creative crowdsourcing sites
By Paresh Dave
To fashion an alluring look for its latest pair of DC Shoes, Quiksilver extended far beyond its team of in-house artists. It challenged a worldwide crowd.
Entrepreneurs have grown accustomed to spinning their projects into motion by using crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo to raise small amounts of money from a mass of intrigued consumers.
Now a swelling group of established businesses are summoning the "crowd" for help. This time they're seeking concepts and content, not funding.
Surfwear maker Quiksilver, smoothie shop Jamba Juice and the pop band One Direction are just a few of the brands looking for help on creative crowdsourcing websites such as Talenthouse and Tongal. Companies pay a fee to post a need. Musicians, designers, videographers and other artists weigh in with pitches. The best submissions earn payouts of a few hundred dollars to many thousands.
"If you're in a big company like us, prints and graphics tend to get a little stale or you see too much sameness," said Quiksilver co-founder Bob McKnight. "You want to seek out new ideas, and we think it's really important to reach outside."
Last fall, Quiksilver's DC Shoes campaign on Talenthouse — a start-up based in West Hollywood — drew more than 2,000 submissions, including pretty florals and tough camouflage patterns. Anyone who registers with Talenthouse can vote for favorites, with the results posted publicly. The company, however, makes the final choice.
Inspired by memories of his afternoon hangouts with friends, Felipe Serrano suggested stitching tiny images of pizza slices on a pair of black shoes. Rahul Kumar chose a samurai theme, drawing a "calm yet swift" warrior onto his red-and-black design.
Ese Izhi of Mexico City won Quiksilver's vote for a psychedelic sketch of bright green marijuana leaves on hazy-purple shoes. The 26-year-old said he leaped around his room screaming when he learned a $10,000 prize was on its way.
"I think Talenthouse gives me a big chance, a chance to grow as an artist by putting me in the eyes of the world," said Izhi, who left an advertising agency to go full-time freelance two years ago.
In a separate Talenthouse offering, Quiksilver partnered with the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles to solicit pattern ideas. McKnight and Otis fashion department chair Rose Brantley selected three winners from 250 submissions, and Otis students are placing them on products to be unveiled in May. Winners will collect royalties if the products sell. Read more here.