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Top US Cities for Graphic and Web Design

Whether you’re a college student fresh out of design school with an itch for big game markets or a graphic designer working for a local firm in Small Town, America,we bet you’ve looked at a map of the country occasionally and wondered if there are better prospects out there somewhere. In almost all cases, you’d be right—There are better markets out there just waiting for you to stop by!

  1. New York: This is a big one, obviously, and if you were previously unaware that New York is a hotbed for seriously impressive commercial design, we haven’t got a clue what planet you’ve been living on. Manhattan alone has something like 50 different design studios to call its own, though, so you’ll be facing a whole lot of competition by coming here. That being said, if you’re not looking to found your own joint but join the ranks of another, you’ll likely have a lot of success. With this many studios in the neighborhood, your odds of finding a good job are pretty solid. Keep in mind, though: New York is a very busy and business-oriented place. They’re going to expect a suite and tie, as well as punctual hours.
  2. The Bay Area: Again, if you were unaware that there were design jobs to be had here, we don’t know what you’ve been doing with your life. With so many huge companies located right here (Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc.) you’re going to find a whole lot of smaller tech start-ups and beginners. This means a whole lot of potential to dip your nose into the Web-based design world, as well as to expand your design and potential into the technological realm. These sort of gigs can pay ridiculously well sometimes, and if you’re not looking to freelance, scoring a job as the lead designer for Google is hardly a bad job. Be prepared to face a lot of design school competition, though. Designers here are typically young, laid back, and work flexible hours. There are a lot of freelancers running about, too, which may not be to your best advantage if you’re on that side of the coin.
  3. Austin: If you’ve been to Texas recently, then this might come as a surprise to you: Believe it or not, though Austin has a tremendously big graphic design scene that’s only getting bigger as the days go by. Austin has always had a reputation as the weird little artist’s hovel in the panhandle, and as such, it’s got a similar yuppy crowd to what you’ll find in the Bay Area. That being said, there’s a whole lot of charm thrown in, too! It’s a stiff market to try to throw a ten gallon hat into, as you’ll be going up against a whole lot of isolated talent: The other nearest firms are in Houston or Dallas, so you’ll be pitting your skills against local favorites. Still, it’s a fun town, and one with a whole lot of quirky appeal for a young designer to dive into.
  4. Atlanta: If you’re still looking to live in the South, but want something a little less weird than Austin, our only suggestion is Atlanta. It’s a massive city with a never-ending pool of local businesses to draw from. Best of all, though it has plenty of design firms to compete with, you’ll have a much better shot at carving out your own niche here. The South is very traditional when it comes to business, and if you can get your name into the hat with a decent proposal and a killer portfolio, you can expect to start seeing real results. Keep in mind, though, that you will be immersing yourself in a different culture. If you didn’t grow up in the South like we did, you may find all of the little quirks that make it our home unpleasant. You’ll also need to be very respectful, as it’s not quite common yet in the South to speak on a first name basis.
  5. Boulder: If you’re looking for a smaller scene to break into, consider trying Boulder, Colorado. It’s got a very locally-oriented scene full of small start-ups and green initiative companies. In other words, it’s a yuppy hippie’s paradise, and it’s got more than enough business to go around. So if that sounds like a fun ride—and mountains are your thing—consider coming out here to work and live.

Posted on June 14, 2012

Category: General

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