Adobe Digital Index: NY vs. LA Creativity Throwdown

Long coastal creative rivals, the NY vs LA debate is heating up this summer as noted in the recent NYT piece spotlighting Brooklyn’s creative class exodus out West. Finding this shift fascinating, we used this edition of the Adobe Digital Index to take a look at how these two hotbeds are stacking up on the creative forefronts of design, photography, fashion and more by investigating themes like: What unites and separates these two epicenters of innovation? What creative fields typify the regions? What counties are tops in creativity within LA/NY – and what are they doing that stands out? Who is on the verge of disrupting the creative landscape next? We uncovered a few surprises, which are outlined below.

To celebrate and help illustrate the unique design tastes and trends for each coast, we’ve also incorporated slideshows of images enhanced using Adobe Hue CC, which allowed us to capture the color and saturation moods typical to one coast, and apply them to iconic images from the opposite coast. Enjoy!

Living the New York Minute
Who’s pushing more boundaries in creating and connecting on mobile – LA or NY? NYC creatives are first-movers when it comes to creating on-the-go, according to the research, with NYC having nearly double the amount of mobile activity on the Behance network than LA.

NY Creatives Create on Mobile

On the creative career front, “Web design” and “creative direction,” were top trending focus areas for the past five years in LA, according to the research, while NY saw progression in “print design” and “typography.” According to the Index, this is impacting the creative work outlook in both places and based on industry trends we have noticed at Behance, LA creatives are looking for more opportunities that revolve around UI/UX design, while you’re more likely to find NY designers experimenting with fonts.

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New Combat Fields: The Creative Counties
We dug deeper into NY and LA proper, with the lens on which regions are emerging as creative industry leaders. According to the research, Brooklyn and Long Beach not only outrank their neighboring towns for each coast’s modern creatives, but they are each often outperforming their metro parent.

Specifically, on the East Coast, Brooklyn is surging ahead of the greater NY area in ‘branding’ and ‘typography’ within the drawing field, where project growth rates in these fields were up to 15% higher than what New York experienced. An uptick in “calligraphy” and sharp growth in “hand lettering” have characterized the Brooklyn region over the past several years, and looking at this current trend, we expect that influence to continue permeating New York proper.

On the West Coast, Long Beach has surged ahead of LA in typography with a 6% per capita advantage over Los Angeles. Meanwhile, we have noticed a theme of watercolor and print based projects gaining further traction in Long Beach, especially when compared to the greater LA region.

What LA and NY are Creating

Miami is Bringing the Creative Heat
While New York and Los Angeles have been at the forefront in creative ideation, what city is next? Where are creative tendencies percolating that might rival these two innovative locations? After considered research, all signs point toward Magic City.

In the last five months, Miami has been the most popular Behance city for fashion projects, accruing far more appreciations than any other U.S. city. This is made more significant when taking into account that creative heavyweight New York is six times the size of Miami – yet still trails South Beach in fashion project popularity! Furthermore, Miami’s sign-ups are blowing up, with an astounding 23% of the total membership having joined in the past year. Miami has obviously been a creative leader for some time now, but due to things like the Wynwood Arts District and Art Basel we are seeing this influence extend online for the first time – with a significant surge in the fashion field. Given this expanded influence, Miami is hot on the tail of LA and NY as the country’s most up-and-coming creativity hotbed.

But that’s not to say Miami is the only city on the creative leaderboard: Atlanta and Philadelphia alike have popped up in the top 15 creative cities. Detroit is hot on their tails at number 25, thanks to a burgeoning creative community. All three cities experienced marked growth in the past year – but what work typifies each region?

Emerging Design Hot Spots

According to the recent Index research, digital art is trending in Detroit with ‘apparel’ and ‘clothing’ focused projects popping the most. In Philadelphia, creatives trend high on photography, according to the research, with the majority of their projects focused on ‘fashion design, ’with a total 21% greater than the second most common project tag in the city. Furthermore, 18-24 year olds in Philadelphia are joining Behance at a 26% growth rate, which surpasses the 22% average for the greater network. Atlanta, meanwhile, is trending on the “branding” project front, with a focus on design and illustration, according to the Index data.

Your Turn: Which Creative City Should Reign?
While NY and LA continue to be the two largest hubs for design innovation, the slower paced lifestyle that LA is known for has led to a unique set of project expertise. Based on our research, these two cities are clearly the epicenters of graphic design and illustration based creativity, but Brooklyn and Long Beach’s strong personalities are increasingly informing trends in their parent regions – primarily with their keen interests in typography. As for the next up-and-coming cities, all of Miami, Atlanta, Detroit and Philadelphia have increasingly made strong fashion-based contributions to the Behance network over the past year. We expect these regions to continue building their online influences and go the way of Brooklyn and Long Beach by further informing trends in the two largest user bases on Behance – New York and Los Angeles. Time will tell how these emerging cities continue to develop, but, based on growth rates, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Detroit further permeate the Behance community next year.

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We need your take on this 2,500 mile rivalry: Join the debate on which city should reign at our annual MAX the Creativity Conference in LA next month, October 3 – 7, in Los Angeles. To get your creative juices going, we created a custom Creative Library for you to get started on your next project. And be sure to check out how you can capture color and light from the world around you with Adobe Hue CC. We can’t wait to see what you make next!

About the Adobe Digital Index – NY vs LA: This creative focused report from Adobe Digital Index was mined from a data associated with nearly 5 million creatives who are currently members of Behance (census is based on 74,992 NY users and 42,188 LA users). The data includes information on tags, project fields, project topic, engagement activity, location and more. This creative insights data illustrates and predicts creativity trends and the pulse of the creative economy across industries.

Sarah Rapp, Head of Community Data & Insights

As Head of Community Management and Product Marketing, Sarah Rapp's mission at Behance is to empower creative professionals to create their best work. She keeps her finger on the pulse of Behance's immense network of million of creatives that stretches around the world, and constantly experiments with new ways to engage with them.

Sarah Rapp, Head of Community Data & Insights