Why do you think the general public doesn't perceive design services or designers as valuable, like any other profession? Why do you think clients and companies low ball? Why do you think low salaries exists?
Students and novice designers fall victim to spec work, becasue their lack of experiece, desperaton or just don't know any better. In the end, they have cheated themselves and added to the spec problem. You wouldn't ask a chef to work on spec., would you? OK, I don't like what you cooked up. I am not going to pay you. How about your doctor on spec? I think not. So why would you ask a designer to do the same?
Another form of spec work, design and logo contests. The promise of great exposure, fame and fortune to the winner(s). What they really are doing is getting hundreds, thousands of free concepts and designs. Again you would lose the rights and ownership to your designs.
We need to educate and bring awareness to companies, businesses and designers, that spec work is not good business and wrong. One such organization getting the word out to the masses is the NO!SPEC Blog. NO!SPEC's conception was sparked from discussions on the About.com graphic design forums. Members of the forum grew tired of all the spec work over taking the design industry. They decided to ban together and do something about it. I am proud to be part of the NO!SPEC Committee.
For more information, please visit www.no-spec.com