Calling all New Yorkers and Graphic Designers
October 10, 2008 6:22 AM   Subscribe

Multi part question: MOVING TO NY....what should the starting salary of an entry level Graphic Designer be? What are some Design Studios / Agencies I should be looking into? Details Inside. (I could also use some NYC advice...)

So I recently graduated from school and got my Bachelors in Graphic Design. I'm following my dream (cliché I know) and making the big move to NYC. I have a few interviews lined up, but a question I can't seem to figure out the answer to is, what I would want as my starting salary. While here in Miami I had an idea of what to expect, but in NY I’m unsure. Please advise me of what to expect, or what you think I should ask for....

Next question: I have been searching the internet for all different type of companies. I need suggestions for top advertising agencies, design houses, companies etc etc that would be worth looking into. My focus is more on print work. I can handle basic html, but web really isn’t my thing. I love making rock posters (I wish I could find a job just doing that), I enjoy PSA's, corporate branding, package design, editorial design and things of that nature. Ideally I would like to find a job were I can combine my interest in Music and Graphic Design. I'm open for any suggestions.... if you have a recommendation please send It over my way (message me and I can send you a link to my online portfolio).

Lastly, any advice for someone moving to NYC…. My plan is to sublet for a couple months. Once I determine that I’ve made the right move I think I will look to sign a lease, but since I don’t know where I’ll be working, I figure it doesn’t make sense to sign a lease yet. I want to eventually get my Master’s in the Art Market…I plan on starting that by fall of 2009. I’m confused as to when a good time to sign a lease is…will I find a better deal during the worst of the winter???

Should I worry about buying winter clothes before I go there? Is it okay to just figure all that out when I get there? I’m confused and unsure about all of the little stuff. I would appreciate advice about any of this stuff. Thanks in advance!
posted by ss448 to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I know damn-all about arts design, so I'll tackle the NYC general questions.

I’m confused as to when a good time to sign a lease is…will I find a better deal during the worst of the winter???

Actually, according to this week's "housing special" issue of TIME OUT NEW YORK, it looks like you would. The two big housing crunch times are May and September - it's when all the students start and end school, which means a big shakeup of people looking to lease places. Over the summer there's a lot of competition as well, from people looking to work here in the summer; so the winter is actually sort of a down time at that. Granted, the New York housing scene is never ENTIRELY easy, so fair warning, but winter would be easier comparatively, and "difficult" doesn't mean "impossible". Just keep your expectations that you'll find a huge place like Seinfeld had in check and you'll do okay.

Should I worry about buying winter clothes before I go there? Is it okay to just figure all that out when I get there?

It actually stays on the warm-ish side until fairly late in the fall, so you would be fine just waiting (maybe make sure you've got some warm sweaters and a jacket handy just in case). In fact, the heating in a lot of places is actually so high that everyone wears layers anyway: most apartment buildings are required to provide heat for the tenants, so a lot of landlords deal with that by waiting until November and then cranking everything up to "I'm trying to grow orchids" hothouse levels and leaving it there until March. (I know people who have had to leave a window open during the winter because it's just that hot.) So people get used to wearing a lot of layers so you can put more layers on when they go outside and then strip when they get inside. I own a down jacket, but I think I wear it maybe four days out of the year, and get by the rest of the winter with a mid-weight leather jacket, and I either wear more or less layers underneath that as the day's temperature dictates.

But good rain gear is important, becuase it may not get cold or very snowy, but it does get wet and rainy, and getting wet from the rain in winter just makes you miserable.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:53 AM on October 10, 2008

For salary stuff, look at,, or Mediabistro (not sure if they have a specific salary section, but certainly they have job postings.)

Mediabistro is also a good source of job postings.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:32 AM on October 10, 2008

Entry level graphic designers seem to make 30-40k. Knowing very basic html is probably not really going to give you a leg up especially if you want to head towards print.

And yeah, winter is a great time to move! Aside from bringing any cold weather clothes you already have, it's probably easier to just buy here. And like, as soon as you get here too, because there are some 70 degree days, and some windy 40 degree days in the fall.
posted by shownomercy at 10:05 AM on October 10, 2008

I second that a beginning graphic designer would make 30-40k.

Music and Graphic Design

The problem with your "love" is not that you have this love, the problem is that there are a million other people in NYC who already have that love. Your best bet to combine these two is to tag up with actual bands and offer them your services on a freelance basis (unless you already have a massive portfolio that can distinguish you from everyone else). Once you get up here, embed yourself in the music scenes, get out there, introduce yourself, and you'll make some headway. Having great skills isn't going to get you where you want to go but having great drive, a great work ethic, and not being flakey will definetly get you what you want.

I find a better deal during the worst of the winter

Honestly, it doesn't matter. The rental market in NYC is kinda seasonal but with the incredibly high turnover and the number of bodies, signing a lease depends more on location, the type of apartment, etc.

Should I worry about buying winter clothes before I go there? Is it okay to just figure all that out when I get there?

Wait till you get here! Seriously, how is Miami going to have the massive sales, selection, and clothing opportunities that NYC is going to have since Miami doesn't have a winter? We have more stores than Miami, our fall/winter/spring collections are bigger and better suited to a temperate climate and it's so easy to shop here, you can wait. Sales will be here when you arrive and clothes will be cheaper than in Miami.
posted by Stynxno at 11:16 AM on October 10, 2008

Nthing the 40K salary cap. You might be lucky and find 42K but probably not. Most entry-level design jobs are 35K - 38K and some even less if it's with a well-known firm or very small company that can't afford to pay big dollars for top talent. On the plus side, there are many design firms here in NYC and most good designers have no trouble finding work.

If you have a car, and plan on living in NYC 5 boroughs, you'll probably end up selling it very soon. Owning a car in the city (exception Staten Island) is just a huge headache. There's just nowhere to park. The subway system runs well enough to get everyone where they need to be. But, not having a car could make it fairly difficult to find the bargains on buying clothes and/or other necessities. A general rule of thumb is that just about anything you buy in the city will be be priced at about 10% more than if you were to buy it out in NJ or Long Island. It's not that deals can't be found; they're just harder to find.

The rental market in the city is insane. I'm hoping your past your sticker-shock in pricing if you've started looking at prices on Craigslist and elsewhere. When I moved to NYC in 1999, I had no idea what neighborhoods were desirable or undesirable. I didn't know the names (e.g. Murray Hill, LES, DUMBO, Hell's Kitchen, etc.) of the neighborhoods either. My advice for you is to spend quite a bit of time with a good localized NYC map and Craigslist Apts section and study them. Get a good feel for prices and apt. availability. Learn the "good" and "not so good" parts of the city. It can be safely said that there are certain parts of the city you should avoid (uh, East New York, Brownsville) where the crime and noise and filth is just overwhelming. Rents in some of these parts of the city are, understandably, lower. Just about anything in Manhattan is going to be more expensive than the other boroughs. Were I just moving to NYC, I'd want someone to tell me to look in parts of Harlem (rapidly gentrifying but rent prices are still reasonable), Washington Heights, Sunset Park in Brooklyn, or the Lower East Side (LES). If you move to Williamsburg, you'll have to run in the Hipster Olympics each year.
posted by at 12:11 PM on October 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'd just like to add that if you move to Williamsburg you won't have to run in whatever this Hipster Olympics is and you will probably get to socialize with a lot of people your own age with similar interests who can help you with your networking efforts.
posted by apetpsychic at 8:34 PM on October 16, 2008

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