T-shirt design contest for Fender


Connie Choe is a health and culture writer by day and a professional kimchimonger by night.

The Fender Music Foundation is seeking a rockstar-worthy t-shirt design. The winning artist gets $300 cash money and a Squier by Fender Deluxe Hot Rails Strat Electric Guitar (whew!) with a decal of their winning design on it. Submissions are due by October 30th. Last I checked they had fewer than 15 entries, so even if your art skills are a little rusty, you're still roughly eleventybillion times more likely to win this than the lottery.

Goodjoe Design for a Greater Good Presents The Fender Music Foundation

Image courtesy of tskdesign via Flickr / CC 2.0



  1. In my 20 years in music retail, this is absolutely the cheapest offer I’ve ever seen. This firm is worth over 60 million dollars, and they’re offering a guitar you could have delivered to your door for $279.99 from any website that offers them. Something is really wrong here.

    1. Plus $300 in cash. $579.99 in value for a T-shirt design is $579.99 more than most people are paid for a T-shirt design…

      1. More like $300 in cash and a cheap Asian knock-off of a Fender guitar that cost them less than $100 to make. This is actually insulting.

  2. Yeah design contests like these are basically scab labor to get around having to pay their contract design firm to create it for them. Sure, it helps some guy get $300 and a guitar!

  3. This sort of crowd-sourcing is always offensive and disrespectful to artists, but from a well known and beloved company like this, it’s just pathetic. $300? Really? Did they forget a zero?

  4. The foundation’s organizations is pretty puzzling. The stated goals are admirable, but going through their site you learn:

    – It was “Formerly Named The Guitar Center Music Foundation”;
    – The Fender brand was apparently licensed for use by the Foundation, as opposed to being established and run by Fender;
    – There doesn’t seem to be anybody officially associated with Fender on the board of directors or as an advisor;
    – The Fender logo doesn’t even rate top billing among the corporate sponsors

    But $300 and a Squire Strat would be a windfall for a high-school kid, and maybe that’s really who should be entering the contest.

  5. Yup, I’ll be that guy. http://www.no-spec.com/

    Speculative work is just bad for everyone. Plus, these guys are being super cheap!

    Here’s a tip: Have 100 shirts with your design printed, charge $15 each, profit about $10 per shirt. Make $1000.

  6. Woah guys, just noticed there’s a new version of the previous logo going on here. Who do I give the high five to for making that happen?

    1. Talking about the the new-old BB logo might be a little off topic here, but I agree with you. I did not care for the logo that was rolled out with the new BB look last week either. I much prefer the current logo that is a refreshing variation on the one used for the last few years.

      As for the Fender contest: I am not a professional designer, so I might just send in an entry if I think of a good idea. I don’t do spec-work in my own profession. Yes the Squier is a cheap student quality guitar but the idea is you hang it on a wall like a trophy NOT play it!

      Even though The Fender Music Foundation is a non-profit, they could have sweetened the pot a little. How about getting some Fender rock-stars to autograph the guitar? Some Fender swag perhaps?

  7. Meh, I don’t think it’s scab work at all. Submitting ideas seems like a normal routine to trying to get work. If you can’t make short work of a T-Shirt design then you’re over thinking it. Should you choose to participate, call it the “portfolio submission.” If approved, great, you get paid just for the portfolio submission. If not, then oh well.

    Seriously, people that get in a huff about this stuff offend* me. Don’t like it? Don’t participate. I don’t see anyone forcing you to.

    *Not really, just turning the hyperbole around. The proper word would probably be “amuse.”

  8. No, I don’t like it and No, I won’t participate.

    And in addition, I shall now proclaim to you my feelings regarding such absurd “contests” – they are cheap labor scraping schemes – and this one is from a company that is far from broke – Fender.

  9. Squiers aren’t “student” guitars, any more than generic toothpaste is “student” toothpaste. Sure, you can use it on your teeth, assuming you don’t mind scrubbing your molars with liquefied baby seals.

  10. I hate to join the tangent of talking about the logo but I’ve got to disagree with you. Bring back the retro logo. The ‘8-bit’ (4-bit?) logo got boring a long while ago.

    I am glad however some of the other design changes were altered a bit. Especially that font.

  11. As a graphic artist, I too wanted to say that $300 plus a intro-level guitar seems like a paltry prize for unlimited use of the shit graphic by Fender. I thought prizes for contests were supposed to be special? This just sounds like Fender is cheaping out on getting a new shirt made. Boooo!

  12. A fender squire? That is so buttskate.

    For the hours of work it would take to make a decent design I would expect payment in the form of a Tele made in Mexico at the least, or a stock custom shop American tele at best.

    Those Squire’s are horrible, horrible guitars that don’t last more than a couple of years. And forget trying to tune the damn things, they don’t.

  13. I did a web site for a cheap jerk who wanted to sponsor a one-time photo contest, in order to get (and use) a photo for his home page. He was going to “reward” the winner with a bottle of unlabeled wine from his home vineyard. Would *you* consume an unlabeled food product received from someone you had never heard-of before?

    I told him that it was a waste of our time, and that he should just buy a stock photograph.

    P.S. Mr. Cheap drove a turbo-Porsche with a “whale’s tail.” And when he invited me to lunch, he suggested that we *split* a hamburger and fries. Needless to say, I told him to “get lost” soon after that.

    But cheap is cheap, and that’s what Fender is, for this meager “prize.” I should waste my time for a big $300 and a cheap guitar? Uh-uh.

  14. Oh, wow, a Squier. Next time I’m an 8th grader who doesn’t play guitar, I will get excited about that prize.

  15. I think a lot of people are missing the big picture. You’re not just designing for yourself. You’re helping to creating something big that will benefit the nonprofit organization and in turn provide for more music education in our schools. Also, don’t forget about the $1 royalty. If Fender sells 1000 shirts, that’s an additional $1000 to the artist.

  16. I think the main point to consider is that a used American Strat can be had, on occasion, for around $400. So in the end, the winner will really be better off hocking his custom-printed Squire and buying a fantastic instrument and a decent amp with the total funds.

  17. I think the focus of this contest *might* just be on young teenagers/pre-teens – the ones who would like a free guitar regardless of the quality. Fender may also want the t-shirt as a ‘teenaged Fender fan designs t-shirt for charity’ sort of thing.

    Great way of sussing-out your market-impact on the teens – and no offending, soul-sucking questionnaires.

  18. I don’t think anyone is missing the big picture – this is an organization backed by Fender, If anything Fender is missing the big picture. For a company that literally shits guitars, it’s kind of lame that they just chose their budget model as a prize that would be raising money for a charity bearing their name.

    Such a paltry prize ensures that the winning shirt is not likely to be very good, and sure, you’re selling the shirts for charity – but people are much more likely to buy something that’s actually good.

  19. Executive Director of the Fender Music Foundation here to clarify some things:
    1. I would like to thank my personal friend Connie for trying to help us get some excitement going for this contest, and I think a lot of misconceptions will be clarified with the press release we put together about the contest, which is here: http://thefendermusicfoundation.wordpress.com/
    2. We are a small independent nonprofit that awards instruments to music education programs. We are not a private foundation, funded by a single corporation, and we never were.
    3. We agreed to do this contest because GoodJoe’s founder wanted to support us and because we have not yet created a t-shirt under our new name. We look at this contest as a way for individuals to use their talents to make a real difference in the world.
    4. If you have any other questions about the contest, you are welcome to contact me at info@fendermusicfoundation.org.

  20. Well, I’d just say if you don’t want a $300 guitar, don’t enter the contest. For some people, it’s good prize, for other’s it’s not. Nobody is being forced to enter.

  21. I think this is a great idea!

    Thanks for the clarification, this makes sense now. I am looking forward to putting together some ideas and submitting my t-shirt.

    I hope I win!

  22. So they get artwork they can freely reproduce for $300 and a SQUIER? No wonder there aren’t many takers. Weak.

  23. @FMF: Design firms can benefit from Pro-Bono work getting more artistic control over the process. You don’t have to create an award program and you can get some really top-quality work if you take the time to engage several design firms and work with them to find an arrangement that works for both sides.

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