Crowdsourcing creative jobs draws praise, fire Before she stumbled onto online middlemen that match businesses with graphic designers a few years ago, Carol Sloan worked as a carpenter, seamstress, hotel manager and auto mechanic, among other professions. Today, Sloan and her husband rely largely on his salary to get by and supplement their income with the $200 to $500 she makes monthly through sites like 99Designs, MycroBurst, and CrowdSPRING, doing graphic design projects on spec in the hopes that the business listing the project will choose her work and pay her for it. Clients, often small businesses shopping for a cheap logo, typically pay participating designers a fraction, sometimes as little as one-tenth, of what they would pay an established design firm. "The hardest thing in the world as a young designer starting out is finding business and getting paid," says Patrick Llewellyn, president and chief executive officer of 99Designs of San Francisco, which has paid $43 million to its winning designers since launching in 2008. In April 2011, 99Designs received $35 million in a venture capital round led by Accel Partners, and Llewellyn says he is using the money to expand internationally with deals like his August acquisition of German crowdsourced design site 12designer. 'Race to the bottom'Ric Grefé, CEO of AIGA, the professional association for design in New York, says that "graphic design over time has become more of a consulting relationship," where the execution of the final design may be as little as 10 percent of the work.