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Graphic Design USA Magazine


What are the best cities for graphic designers to work in the United States?

Weighing in on this question with a brand new study is ValuePenguin a consumer research and finance website. Based on several metrics — most notably median salary, cost of living and location quotient/job opportunities — the website has declared its ranking of best cities for designers to live. San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles are joined by a couple of surprises among the top five. The full study ranks up to 30 cities, and also notes that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 197,540 designers employed in the U.S. in 2014 earning an average of $50,670.

The motivation for the study? A founder, Brian Quinn, says: “ValuePenguin is all about data and using it to help others make better decisions. To that end, we wanted to take a quantitative look into different career paths and what cities were best to live in for those respective professions.” As you will see, the research focuses on hard data rather than more subjective measures of what might be the “best” environment for a creative person.

The following are excerpts from the ValuePenguin report:


1. San Francisco, CA

For graphic designers, this is the city of extremes. The highest annual average salary ($77,940) and the highest cost of living – and it’s not even close. In fact, the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City is approached only by its sister cities of the Silicon Valley in these categories; the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara triumvirate, home to some of the country’s most imposing companies and promising start-ups, ranked seventh overall (see below). But the more-north Bay Area is alone at the top, where there are also 3,030 jobs, plus countless freelance opportunities. A handful of the world’s best firms operate at least a satellite office in San Francisco. In the Bay Area, it’s also clear that employers, from small to the likes of Adobe, are in the hunt versatile designers, those that are also trained or experienced in the emerging fields of mobile products and user experience.

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Guest Post by Diane Domeyer
Executive Director, The Creative Group

Job interview coming up? Be prepared so you can avoid common missteps. According to research by The Creative Group, here are the top five ways to blow your chances with a prospective employer:

Pulling out your phone.
Before entering the building, make sure your smartphone is turned off and put away. When the interview begins, give the person you’re meeting with your undivided attention.

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Guest Blogpost by Diane Domeyer
Executive Director, The Creative Group 

Marketing is not just for ad agencies and corporations. How effectively are you promoting yourself and your work? Just like businesses benefit from branding, so too can individuals. A consistent and compelling brand attracts clients; impresses supervisors and hiring managers; and leads to more assignments, responsibilities and job offers. But you have to pull everything together and package it well.


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Our January/February 2015 edition features the annual People To Watch (as in professional designers) and Students to Watch selections. It is an incredibly subjective process in a field loaded with talent and with newsmakers, but we proudly stand by them. The intersection of the two special reports was a question we posed to the professionals: What advice would you give a young designer or recent graduate just starting out?

Interestingly, there was a degree of consensus. The advice in a nutshell: be intentional and purposeful about early career decisions, then be passionate, prepared and work really, really hard.

Photo: White House Photo/Lawrence Jackson

For example, Ashleigh Axios, Creative Director at the Obama White House, advises: “Have a goal; make it something that isn’t easily achievable but will help you push yourself. Hint: your goal should never be to ‘be famous.’”

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