Design in Montreal

I am a Senior Designer moving to Montreal in the next few months and am curious about the state of the industry. All government controversies aside - how would you describe it? Thriving? Floundering? Improving?

My French language skills are moderate at best - how much of a handicap do you think that will be to get my foot in the door of a potential new employer?

Is there an overabundance of freelance designers or are most of the talent permanently employed?

Is there an area of Montreal (other than downtown) in which a large portion of the design firms are located? What areas of Montreal would you recommend to avoid living in?

Any information/opinions/advise on the industry and moving to Montreal would be greatly appreciated.

I would like to know a little more info about your situation before getting too detailed, but I’ll let you know what I know.

Depending on how “senior” you are really effects your situation. If you have really good experience on your resume I’m sure you will get a job pretty easily, even without french. As manufacturing is rare here you are generally dealing with manufacturers that speak english. That leaves sales and dealing with clients as your other area of communication and typically business people here speak english fluently even if it is their second language.

From what I have experienced and heard freelancing is basically the largest design employer here and in most of Canada. Companies are just so shoestringed and scared of risk full time employees in design are a bit rarer than in the states. My only jobs here have been freelance.

Design firms and companies that hire designers are everywhere in Montreal. I can’t really tell you where the best place is. In fact I don’t think there are that many in downtown due to high rents.

One thing I would recommend is look more at manufacturers or importers that hire designers over consultants. I’ve never had any luck with consultants (some say this is snobbery, but I feel it is just business).

As for a place to live…depends on what you want. I live in a neighborhood called Petite Patrie. It is very french although with alot of immigrants too. I like it because it is really like no where I lived in Suburbia and I can’t fall back into speaking english when I go shopping so it keeps me real. If you like english you can live in the western part of Montreal island. It is more surburban though. There are also suburbs to the north and south that vary in terms of language and cost of housing…generally further away means cheaper land/housing. If you’ve seen The Whole Nine Yards that was filmed in Blainville about 30 minutes north of here by car (I was visiting my in-laws there just today). It’s quite nice and american-suburban feeling.

E-mail me if you are coming in for a visit or if you have any further questions or info that could help me give you more insight.