Twitter Paid $6 or Less for Crowdsourced ‘Birdie’ Graphic

The bird on Twitter’s home page, familiar to millions, is small, cute and fun, and implies communication and anticipation. One might say it’s the perfect graphic for Twitter. Yet the company paid its designer at most $6, without attribution.
Some designers claim crowdsourcing is evil because it devalues their work by driving down prices, allowing amateurs into the game and forcing people to work “on spec,” meaning that they don’t get paid unless their design is chosen. Others see it as a natural evolution driven by supply, demand and technology.
Simon Oxley, the Japan-based Brit who licensed the bird graphic to Twitter for the price of a sandwich, through iStockphoto, sits somewhere in the middle.
“I am not sure [whether crowdsourcing hurts designers],” he said via e-mail. “I believe a designer can only be ‘hurt’ when they stand in line — instead of constantly seeking new inspiration and producing new things with their ever-increasing experiences.”
Fair enough. But since Twitter, which now ranks above Digg as the 84th most popular website in the world according to Hitwise, doesn’t sell any merchandise depicting the bird or use it as their official logo (it’s considered a “decorative element”), the company only had to pay Oxley his share of iStockphoto’s licensing fee.
An iStockphoto spokeswoman told that Twitter paid between $10 and $15 for Oxley’s bird design. Considering that iStockphoto pays 20 or 40 percent to content creators depending on their membership, Oxley made somewhere between $2 and $6 for designing the Twitter homepage graphic. Carolyn Davidson, who famously earned only $35 for designing the Nike swoosh, actually made out pretty well by comparison.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: