Is Arizona a blackhole of industrial design?

I recently graduated from Arizona State and have been looking for work in the Phoenix area and nothing seems to be here. Phoenix is supposedly the 5th largest city in the US, but there is little to no design going on here. Is this phenomenon unique to AZ or does this happen in other places. We have a friggin industrial design program with 22+ people graduating every year for heavens sake!

Okay, I’m done. Please resume your normal activities.

If you think that is hard, try moving to Quebec with your shiny new ASU degree! Phoenix’s design scene isn’t as big as the city. You have to remember that Phoenix is not a manufacturing town and has never been one. It’s a similar story to Florida (another black hole for design). Keep networking, participate in IDSA and you’ll find something.

PING has a design team. That sounds like fun to me. Clubs, bags, and accessories…

It’s funny, I am involved in the IDSA here and two of the 8 or so regulars at the IDSA meetings (and that’s including the officers!) work for PING. HA!

Seriously though, thanks for the support. I refuse to give up, I will work in design!

Do your PING buddies have any insight on other design companies, in-house or consultancy? I’m sure you already asked them. Don’t get discouraged, keep at it!

Similar situation here in San Diego. We don’t even have an IDSA chapter. You’ve got to go where the manufacturing is.

You should start one with the other I.D.ers around the area, Saint Louis just did. Displaced members of the K.C. and Chicago chapters petitioned and collected signatures, and now it’s official.

By the way, where is the manufacturing in the US?

I believe that most of the manufacturing for the US is now overseas :smiley: . I don’t really think manufacturing has much to do with it anymore. I wonder if its just because of the age of the city. The older the city, the longer industry has been there, so business kind of gets grandfathered in. Microsoft isn’t in Washington because of all the computer manufacturing that goes on there :unamused: . I could be wrong, it is, after all, just a theory.

There is still a lot of manufacturing in the states. Mostly in the mid-west and north-east. Although, there exists some everywhere due to the economies of shipping large heavy products that sell in small volumes or regional differences. For example, I toured a slot machine factory in Phoenix. Very large factory, all kinds of fairly new and advanced sheet metal equipment. It is only in Phoenix because Las Vegas is a stones throw away. Another example might be Wisconsin. I think WI has more corporate ID than it proportionally should because there is still manufacturing there (or at least the legacy of manufacturing). I’m thinking Kohler, Fiskar, Harley-Davidson, etc.

The other reason for design to pop up tends to be importation. Here in Quebec, I know a couple of companies that started as importers and found that adding their own design increased sales. In fact, this seems to be the driving force for growth in design as the American manufacturing base declines.

Fatkid: When I said get involved in IDSA I didn’t mean go to meetings. I meant, get involved in projects. The IDSA meetings are probably pretty dead. Get yourself a project, maybe trying to get more publicity for design in Phoenix. Then you will need some examples of good design. Call local firms and ask if you can come over to talk about their successes and tell them about your project. Will this get you work? no. Will you get closer to the people who have the power to hire you? Hell yeah.

The best part is, no one ever wants to actually participate in IDSA projects. Therefore, everyone will be terribly impressed that you are actually doing something.

I guess I am not understanding what “projects” I am supposed to get involved in. I am all about involvement, I just haven’t found anything to be involved in yet. I have my own work, but I have to work on it after my “real” job, so progress is slow.

“Call local firms and ask if you can come over to talk about their successes…” There are really no local firms to speak of, and if you do find one they don’t respond to contact of any type except clients, which is understandable, that’s how they pay the bills. Its not that I, or other designers, can’t get hired, its that there are no jobs to be hired for! I have considered starting a design firm here in Phoenix but I don’t have the know-how to make it work, yet. The few designers that actually work here are top notch and I would put them up against any others.

I am not trying to appear negative, but I guess its coming across that way, so sorry about that. I just love design and would like to do it here in Phoenix, that’s all.

Thanks for the advice, I will try to think of some way to get other designers to participate.

Sorry about my bad joke about manufacturing! :smiley:

Fatkid. If your looking to break into the field of design, you may have to change zip codes.

The west coast is a hotbed for design, as well as a few places in the north east. I believe Cali, by far, eclipses any other state as far as design opportunities and art, culture, and technology. I used to believe that for every 10 position openings on avg 5 would come from Cali. There seems to be growth, and companies putting more resources into design. So I see more opportunities in new places.

I moved to the west coast for these same opportunities. Pitching Ur services to 2 or 3 local companies in many cities, compared to potentially putting Ur work in front of 100’s of companies throughout California. There just isnt much comparison. I’ll say it is very competitive, so you have to bring it!

Arizona could be more of an option after a few yrs experience, and who knows Nike could open a think tank there in 2012.

Thanks for the advice SpaceCadet.

What areas in California are good for a designer looking to gain some experience? I was trying in the pacific northwest, but so far, its a no-go.

Keep the advice coming guys!

Fatkid, I was there myself. If your determined and learn something from every no, eventually the yes will come.

Pacific Northwest is perhaps the best place on the planet for footwear design. NY and LA are somewhere in there too.

I think it depends on what field your looking to go into. I don’t think you can go wrong in LA or the Bay. There are pros and cons to each. the cost of living is at a premium in the Bay. The weather in SoCal is beautiful. There is a well respected grad program in Pasadena, while The Bay has 2 or 3 pretty good design schools.

I moved to Northern Cali, because I have family and Post grad course work was about 25% cheaper.

No offense, but you must not be trying hard enough if you think there are no firms in PHX. I can think of three corporate studios and at least three consultants. That’s just from knowing where a few fellow grads went.

I have a good friend that was president of IDSA in AZ, if I recall correctly. He told me that people always wanted to start projects, but no one wanted to work on them. It won’t be paid and it will probably be thankless, but I can’t imagine a better way to suck up to people than working hard to improve the image of design.

I would advise against freelancing out of school. Although, sometimes, it’s necessary depending on the economy. I did it. I know other people that have done. Well you are looking for a full time job, bang on some doors and look for freelance work. Also, get your name out using sources like Coroflot. I’ve gotten two freelance contracts without even trying via Coroflot.

You should look up other posts on freelancing, but basically, you have one advantage over experienced designers: price. Look at your skills and sell your strong points. Maybe no one will want you for an entire project, but someone might have some CAD work or need sketches. Take what you can get as it can lead to something more.

mr-914, I was employed at one of the corporate firms right out of school, only to be downsized. From my understanding (and experience) the design department is all but gone. I had scored the only available job in Phoenix at the time and was probably working for the person you were referring to. If he was still president, I would be willing to work on projects, but, just like the ID job market in Phoenix, things change.
I grew up here, went to school here, my older brother even got his ID degree here and he had the same problem. If you don’t think I should take offense, you should put yourself in my shoes. It’s easy to look up the number of “firms” listed on core77 and have someone state that there are plenty of places to find work if that person hasn’t tried to contact those firms for over TWO years to no avail. I would say over half of the “firms” listed there are no longer around or its one guy working out of his home. I applaud those able to make a go on their own, but it really doesn’t help the unemployed designers in the area unless they are willing to take on a staff. It’s great that you know people that are employed as designers in the Phoenix area, but unless they want to give me their job or convince someone higher up that they need more designers, it really doesn’t help me or anyone else here in the valley. I have even hit up companies that don’t have “design” positions to see if they could use a designer,but no dice.
If I follow your line of logic correctly, if you once knew someone in Phoenix who won the lottery and are now rich, I should be able to do it too because I live in Phoenix as well, because I live here too.

FYI am I not angry or anything, I just like to argue. Cheers!

Your last post completely changes everything. By recent grad, I thought you meant May '07 with zero experience. I meet kids like that here who always tell me, “there’s no job openings”. Then, they are shocked as I list about 4-5 sources that have a minimum of 5 openings for design related jobs every month.

So, you graduated 2+ years ago and you’ve been banging on doors of companies that don’t have designers. That tells me you aren’t hopeless at job searching. You say you were hired at a corporate studio. That tells me you aren’t incapable. So, forget my above advice, it is less applicable to you than I thought.

So, why don’t you have a job? It may be that your skills aren’t in demand in Arizona. In that case, I would start looking for who does need your skills. Awesome at the hand-skills, contact sporting goods manufacturers and consultants that need quick sellable sketches. Better at 3D, check with corporations that do complicated enough products that they need 3D in house. Travel to their division conference and get some numbers. Maybe even move before you have a job. It’s a lot easier both to meet people and be ready to take a job if you are local.

If you’ve worked before, I would recommend that you freelance if you are not doing any other design work. If your resume since your job is completely void of design work, it probably explains why you have a hard time. You may need to freshen up your presentation. Your work will need to be a little bit better to make up for a gap on the resume.

I told you not to take offense, because I was in the same boat. I moved to a post-industrial city with an over-population of designers during a recession. You betcha I had a hard time. People told me even harsher advice than I’m sharing here, but it always motivated me.

holy carp. change your parameters, be willing to go outside your familiar.

i’ve moved 4X for jobs, and i am originally from an area of LOTS of manufacturing. every move has been better than the last and the experience i’ve gained, both professionally and personally, exceeds my former colleagues at previous positions.