New York has always been associated with the advertising industry. Freelancers who want to work with top names in the field are thick on the ground here, and the New York designers who create the nation’s ads are a striving and competitive bunch. To join them, you’ll need a great portfolio and great networking skills. New York freelance positions are always accessible to the right talent.
New York Freelance positions in the Financial Sector
New York is one of the world’s financial hubs, with stock exchanges, banks, and major financial services companies doing business here. That creates opportunities for New York designers who understand how banking and finance work. A financial product, such as a stock or an insurance policy, does not initially appeal visually to a prospective customer. Good design, however, can convey the benefits of the product. Here are some of the projects a New York graphic design pro might work on:
• Annual reports
• Print, Web and TV advertising for financial products and services
• Logos and branding for financial companies
• Internal communications, such as employee newsletters, for financial companies
• Client newsletters for stockbrokers and investment companies
• Direct mail campaigns
• Window signs and in-bank advertising
The great thing about designing for the Internet is that you can do it from anywhere, right? Technically, yes. Yet New York designers are routinely on the forefront of interactive media, winning major awards and creating high-profile projects.
This is partly because they have access to decision-makers at hiring companies, and partly because of the city’s prominence in related fields like art and television.
The wide variety of jobs available also means a freelancer needs to be more careful about checking out a client before accepting a job. Qualifying prospects can be time-consuming. One solution is to work through an agency that matches freelancers with clients. Over time, as you build your network and a list of regular clients, you’ll find you’re less likely to take freelance jobs from strangers.
Does that mean you have to move to New York to succeed? Of course not. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to book a trip for a conference once or twice a year, and make time to have lunch or coffee with people you know (or meet) in the web field.
New York Networking
One great thing about New York — someone’s always holding a meeting, coffee, dinner, get-together, or pub crawl. All of these (well, maybe not the pub crawl) can be successful networking opportunities for a freelancer seeking to make connections.
Dress up sharp, pack your business cards, and make the rounds through the following groups for New York designers:
• American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA)
• Graphic Artists Guild (GAG)
• Art Directors Club (ADC)
• Color Association
• Grolier Club of New York
• Society of Publication Designers
New York Publishing
New York is home to more than 1,000 publishers, including many major global conglomerates. This concentration means New York design jobs are more plentiful than in other markets. This, of course, does not mean they are easy to get.
New York graphic designers are many and their qualifications are great. As Frank Sinatra sang, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” As a designer, you have to be not only great at your work, but also skilled at networking, willing to work long hours, and capable of selling yourself effectively.
Publishing industry opportunities for freelancers include book design, book covers, advertising, promotional materials including in-store displays, web design, and imprint design. You’ll need a knowledge of how the industry works and how it is changing. Read the publishing-industry pieces in the New York Times and consider taking a couple of publishing classes, or even getting a master’s in publishing. Freelancers who can demonstrate experience in a particular sector such as health care, or who are fluent in a foreign language may find themselves in greater demand.
New York Skill-Building
There are eight million people in New York City, and some days it seems like at least a million of them are freelancers competing for the same jobs you want. If you need to add some software to your resume or want to refresh your creative eye, try these institutions:
• 3D Training Institute
• Fashion Institute of Technology
• Katharine Gibbs School
• New York School of Design
• New York University
• School of Visual Art
• Art Institute of New York City
• City College of New York
• Columbia University
• Cooper Union
• City University of New York
• Parsons The New School for Design
• Fordham University at Lincoln Center
• New York Institute of Technology
• New York School of Interior Design
Why Live in New York?
A study of happiness by the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania reported that New Yorkers were among the most miserable people in the United States. So why would someone talented and creative want to live here?
New York is heaven for someone who wants to be surrounded by the best and brightest creative professionals. New York graphic designers can draw inspiration from the ancient Egyptian temple at the Met and the latest abstract painting at the Museum of Modern Art. New York writers can find agents, editors, and publicists, all on the same street. You may have to share an apartment to get by. But there’s a good chance you’ll be sharing it with other creative, interesting people, spotting celebrities on the street (but being cool enough not to do more than nod), with a huge variety of cultural, dining, and entertainment opportunities at your doorstep. The choice is yours.