Top 10 Best Cities for Graphic Designers

Best Cities for Graphic Designers

Top 10 Best Cities for Graphic Designers

Want to become an explorer? You can take your graphic design career anywhere you want. All you have to do is follow this guide to find one of the top best cities for graphic designers.  Around the world in 180 days.

I know it is a cheesy book but when I was about 8 I loved it. It reminded me that there were so many places to visit and so many things to see. Sometimes I think adults need to be given a good nudge. We can travel anywhere and there world has so much beauty to show us. That’s why being a graphic designer is so fantastic. You can live and work from almost any city you want. But where do you start? Here, by taking a look at the 10 best cities we have listed for graphic designers.

The nice thing about our profession is that graphic designers are needed everywhere. Every company needs one. Every business needs to create flyers, brochures, marketable content, advertising and more. Branding is critical in this competitive market of services and products.

 

Can’t Graphic Designers Work Anywhere?

Well, kind of. We understand that there are merits to freelancing but trust us, both the freelancer and the agency-bound professional benefit from being in one of these design hubs. City-based designers have access to both short-term and long-term positions. More importantly, these design hubs offer networking opportunities and a large support system that is so important when you work from home. Yes, you can find work on the internet, but living in a design hub also offers great artistic inspiration, shops, parks, and other cool creatives.

Where to Go? The Best Cities for Graphic Designers

While it’s fantastic that you have real marketable skills. Even so, the median salary, cost of living and location quotient of the place you decide to live is going to affect the amount of money, your lifestyle and the amount of creative freedom you have. Which is precisely why you need to know the cities where you can best market your skills. But Before You Set Your Sites on The BIG city think about this.

Why chase after a great salary if it is going to be eaten up by rent and expenses? In any city you choose you to want to take three factors into account:

  • Rent
  • Unemployment rate
  • Commute time

So Which do we think are the best cities for graphic designers?

Only 10 have made our list – and some of these cities may surprise you. We weight the rankings took note of personal opinions and of lifestyle in each. In the 10 cities we chose, we selected them because they had something additional to offer such as a thriving art community, an interesting and eclectic community, etc.

 

The Criteria

We took into account the cities growth rate, average salary, cost of living and interesting environment. And so these are our top cities for graphic designers.

1. New York, N.Y.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Of course, we had to list New York City as one of the best cities for graphic designers. After all, it is a city created by artists for artists. Well, not really! But almost. Here you’ll find a huge art scene and creative inspiration around every corner. If you decide to move to new york you’ll get to explore the many galleries in Chelsea or head over to Long Island to visit some of the city’s cultural hubs like the Met or the Whitney. Everywhere you look you’ll find creativity in New York.  Every museum need a graphic designer in New York for their museum signs!

Besides, New York is home to several prestigious design schools and programs including the Shillington Graphic Design School, Parsons Design School, The School of Visual Arts and more.

We also find many of the interesting design studios that are developing around the city. These businesses teach real skills at affordable prices.

New York City is also home to some of the biggest digital agencies in the country. If you managed to get a job as an intern here, you’ve got it made.

2. Los Angeles, California

Sunny California is a great place to practice a graphic design career and Los Angeles is now a bustling center for design creatives (not just movies and TV anymore).  Here you can network with other creatives such as actors, writers, artists, and aspiring comedians. This is a fantastic city for anyone who has some cool creative ideas.

L.A. is also home to Otis College of Art and Design, The Design Center of UCLA, and the Institute of Merchandising. It is a city full of artistic inspiration and a diversity rarely seen in other parts of the nation. The one drawback is the rent. They are rising but designers are often rewarded with higher salaries here – and let’s face it, you get the experience you could never find anywhere else.  Have you seen the number of bus wraps and building wraps made by graphics designers in LA?

3. Miami, Florida

Make sure to print custom water bottle labels when you head to MIA!  I know you would not think of Miami as being the place for designers, but we’ve chosen it as number three.  Miami is known for its great food and legendary nightlife but the aesthetics of the city are making it stand out from others. It has a certain edge and a flavor mix of Latin and American that is unequaled anywhere else.

Perez Art Museum
Perez Art Museum

Art Basel now holds its annual big art fair in Miami and is probably a contributing factor to the thriving cultural landscape. City dwellers enjoy getting creative inspiration from the Perez Art Museum and from other artists living here. Miami based graphic designers make a nice living from working with companies like CBS, Magic Leap, Allen Hamilton and more. There is no shortage of work options here.

4. Austin, Texas

Austin Texas
Austin Texas, USA -Colorful Graffiti

Yes, a certain place in Texas can be artsy – and it is on the rise culturally in the last 10 years. This is one of our best cities for graphic designers. Austin is home to a large music and art scene, where residents find lots of inspiration from music, food, and art. Austin is also a tech hub which has a booming economy and the need for people to take care of branding needs.

5. San Francisco, California

San Francisco has always been one of the best cities for graphic designers because it is home to a unique population. I would say it is a quintessential mix of tech nerds and hippies. It is close to Silicon Valley, Oakland, and even wine country so it offers a great diversity of graphic designers. It is considered one of the happiest places to live and important design firms like Character, Noise 13 and Project6 call this city their home.

A city teeming with inspiration with interesting architecture, steep hills, stunning view, and a ton of galleries to visit. The San Francisco Museum of Modern art also makes for an intensely creative vibe for graphic designers who need to get out into the fresh air.

San Francisco Museum of Modern art
San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art

The city also has many small business enterprises and all types of new startups to offer wonderful opportunities for graphic artists.  Many tech companies need designers for Trade Show Displays like teardrop flags and tension fabric displays, and

6. Boston, Massachusetts

A historic city in the United States, Boston makes a wonderful place to live. Today, it is a modern tech hub with a startup culture sort of like San Francisco and Austin. Creatives will love the museum of modern art, pubs and coffee shops that let the creativity flow. Boston is also home to internationally known colleges like Harvard and MIT. This offers plenty of opportunities.  A designer in Boston may design something like tamper evident labels for tech products.

7. Portland, Oregon

Yes. Portland counts as one of the best cities for graphic designers in our books. Portland is weird and everyone wants to keep it like this. Here there is an aura of the creative and crafty which makes it perfect for graphic artists. Portland offers a community that places a high value on art, and the benefit is that there is a lower cost of living here as well.  When you head to Portland, you may need to order wine labels and beer labels!

It is a walkable city with lots of galleries, art museums, and two gorgeous art and creative districts. If you are seeking a job with an agency, you also have plenty of opportunities here, especially because well-known agencies like Wieden+Kennedy, Brown Box Branding and Copius make their home here.

8. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Walker Art Center
Walker Art Center

Minneapolis is a smaller city but has just as many benefits for graphic designers. It is home to the Walker Art Center and the Weisman Art Museum. Your graphic designer salary might suffer a bit here, however, the cost of living more than compensates for the lack of salary. When job hunting a graphic designer can do well here considering that it is a smaller city and overlooked by many.

9. Bridgeport, Connecticut

Bridgeport is a fantastic option for graphic designers looking for stable income. It is a small city but great for designers who want a smaller community near a large city. You won’t have to deal with traffic jams, crowded subways or obnoxious big city life here. It is right on the water and close to other important graphic artist hubs like Long Island and Boston.  Make sure to order a few cute wood signs for your office when you start your new job!

10. Cincinnati, Ohio

Who doesn’t want to live in a city with flying pigs? It’s creativity at its best. This is home to a number of renown design firms and the number just seems to continually grow. Startups and young professionals are flocking to this great city. This is the place of agencies like Rockfish Digital and Jack Rouse Associates.  Make sure to order Vinyl Lettering for your new office!

 

Step up your Skills Game

Notwithstanding the city you choose, having the appropriate skill set can also make or break your job prospects. Sure you have a knack for Photoshop and Illustration. You also have this fantastic creative streak going on, but no matter how great you are at this, learning a few more high-tech skills can add some serious power to your job seeking efforts. Think about getting some coding or user experience design and so as more. However, even a workshop here and there can give you better marketability among your peers.

 

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Brandon Stapper
Brandon Stapper is an entrepreneur and investor. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Nonstop Signs, an industry leading graphic design, print, and sign business with multiple locations throughout the United States. At 20 years old, with no formal education and only a few hundred dollars, Stapper turned a $400 custom decal machine in a garage into an international printing powerhouse focused on helping businesses improve their marketing and branding with everything from retail signage to packaging, to trade show displays.
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