On September 24, SCAD’s Career and Alumni Success office sent out a mass email to students about Eyes on Talents, “an invite-only online platform connecting … innovative brands with the best talent in visual, creative disciplines.” Essentially, Eyes on Talent reviews design contest finalists, students from top universities and designers who’ve received media attention to be considered for the site. Brands then subscribe to the site and search a supposedly exclusive, well-curated list of the world’s top talent.

However, it’s difficult to verify the validity of this because unless you are a current member or a subscribing brand, nothing but a login box is visible. The beautiful and innovative designs that are the driving force behind the site might as well stay in our imaginations.

It is often taken for granted how much access people have to design. Whether good, bad or just “meh,” a simple web search will take anyone to lists of “30 Cool Food Logo Design Ideas,” “21 Great Editorial Design Examples” and “20 fonts every graphic designer should own.”

Arguably, unlimited access is the reason there are exponentially fewer innovations made in the design community. Though perhaps, because anyone with an Internet connection can now upload work, the bad is simply burying the good. And as any designer knows, it takes about a hundred drafts of something before you find the best solution.

Parallel to the lack of information on the website’s homepage, there is only one online source that gives an accurate description of its function. An article on Women’s Wear Daily, published in May 2013, contains quotes from the founder herself, Floriane de Saint Pierre. According to the article, she was inspired by the fact that “talent is a mandatory driver of how to create value.”

This isn’t exactly a revelation as no matter what field a person is in, talented people tend to get hired. Yes, hard work is also a huge factor, but nothing but pure face-value talent is considered on the site anyway.

BanjesVignelli

Bantjes’ “Varoom 23: Obsession,” created with countless, brightly colored stickers from a Japanese dollar store, stands in stark contrast to Vignelli’s 1972 redesign of New York’s subway system, known for its incredible organization and systematic approach. (“Obsession” image from Bantjes’ website, Vignelli’s map from Media Commons.)

By creating such an exclusive environment, the website raises many questions. Work is curated purely by the tastes of the committee and the conditions a designer is exposed to. For instance, if the board has a love for sans serif, Swiss-style design, would any hand-lettering be considered at all? It’s just like comparing the decorative, illustrative style of Marian Bantjes to the systematic Helvetica-loving Massimo Vignelli. They’re both highly revered in the design community for different reasons, and it would be impossible to do a side-by-side review of both styles.

Brands that subscribe wouldn’t get any variety and new innovations would be nearly impossible to come by. If designers are meant to be pushing boundaries and finding better solutions, it’s hard to imagine how anyone who tried anything different would even make the list.

But maybe the site does have a slew of different styles that users can sort through. Again, it’s hard to know when nothing but a white square greets you on the homepage.

There’s also the issue of fairness. There’s no obvious way to apply to the site, though the WWD article mentions self-nominations are possible. The premise of how the system finds value is founded on assumptions that all talented designers must go to top art schools, enter competitions and are popular on the Internet. Most talented designers probably fulfill some of these assumptions, but there are surely those who aren’t.

In theory, creating an exclusive space for recruiters to find the best of the best saves a lot of time. They will no longer have to search through an endless feed of mediocre work on Behance or hope that someone’s LinkedIn profile is accurate and up to date.

At the same time, it’s disappointing that for an industry that prides itself on thinking out of the box, Eyes on Talent is so intent on building stone cold walls.

The company will be conducting portfolio reviews on October 30 for graduating students or recent graduates in Jewelry, Accessory Design, Industrial Design, Fibers, Fashion, Furniture Design, Photography and Graphic Design.