RE­LO­CAT­ING TO NEW YORK CITY

WHY BRI­TISH DE­SIGNER AND IL­LUS­TRA­TOR TOM MAC, NOW SE­NIOR DE­SIGNER AT VAULT49 IN NEW YORK, SWAPPED ONE DE­SIGN SU­PERCITY FOR AN­OTHER

Computer Arts - - Special Report -

Why did you move to New York?

I re­lo­cated to work with award-win­ning stu­dio Vault49 in the heart of Man­hat­tan. Be­fore that, I’d been liv­ing in South Lon­don, work­ing on web and app de­sign projects, and in­ter­est­ing free­lance projects for clients like PlaySta­tion, but it didn’t fully sat­isfy my urge to be more of a graphic de­signer, work­ing on longer-term brand­ing and pack­ag­ing projects with a solid team of class cre­atives.

How has your ca­reer im­proved in NYC?

I’ve learnt more in my two-plus years here than in any other time since hit­ting the world of work. I’ve al­ways con­sid­ered my­self as an all-rounder – va­ri­ety is the spice of life – and that’s the cul­ture at Vault49. It’s also worth not­ing that NYC is a very in­ter­na­tional place, as Lon­don is, but more so. I’ve met new friends with dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to de­sign, which is hugely in­spir­ing and mo­ti­vat­ing.

How does New York com­pare to Lon­don?

New York is a very cre­ative place. Much like Lon­don, each area has its own char­ac­ter­is­tics and per­son­al­i­ties. When I lived in Lon­don, I’d al­ways head into Shored­itch af­ter work to check out which­ever ex­hi­bi­tion was open­ing and grab some cheeky free beers. I’m a lot busier these days, but ar­eas like Chelsea and the East Vil­lage in Man­hat­tan, and Wil­liams­burg in Brook­lyn are per­fect for that kind of thing.

Wages are no­tice­ably higher here – even af­ter the dol­lar is ad­justed to the pound – but as is the cost of liv­ing across the board. The cost of rent for a good apart­ment that isn’t in a base­ment and 1m2 was a bit of a shock, but the na­ture of New York means that you don’t have to live on the out­skirts of the in­ner city to have a nice place. And I’ve never felt un­safe over here, un­like Lon­don where I have more than once.

What’s been the biggest chal­lenge of re­lo­cat­ing?

The visa it­self was a pretty sim­ple pro­ce­dure. The lawyers did the ma­jor­ity of the work and I just had to turn up at the US em­bassy once to get the thing ap­proved. Once we got here, ad­just­ing to Amer­i­can cul­ture whilst start­ing a brand new job was in­ter­est­ing. I hadn’t been to the US be­fore, so a lot of it was very alien to me. Al­though Brits and Amer­i­cans share a lot of com­mon­al­i­ties, there are some things to get used to – tip­ping be­ing a stand out, as well as the US credit sys­tem, which is vi­tal to mak­ing sure you don’t have to put huge de­posits down on an apart­ment.

Luck­ily the guys at work were there to give me all the rel­e­vant point­ers and I ad­justed quickly. The only tough part about be­ing over here is be­ing away from fam­ily and friends, but that is part and par­cel of the whole de­ci­sion.

What are your best tips for peo­ple think­ing about re­lo­cat­ing to New York City?

Travel light ini­tially, hop around a cou­ple of Airbnbs or mates’ so­fas, and get ad­vice from folks who al­ready live there be­fore settling some­where. This will give you a feel for which part of the city you want to live, and let you phys­i­cally view a space be­fore hand­ing over a cheque. There are a lot of scam­mers out there – if some­where looks too good to be true on­line, it prob­a­bly is. If you have any large pos­ses­sions or fur­ni­ture that you want to bring over, ar­range for those to be shipped once you’re set­tled in. Apart from that, keep an open mind and get ready to en­joy liv­ing in the best city on earth. www.work­by­tom­mac.com

Clock­wise from left: Free­dom, a per­sonal piece by Tom Mac; Vault49’s re­brand for Guayasa tea brand Runa fo­cuses on a clean word­mark and ab­stract land­scape; Mac screen­printed NYC Ale at the Vault49 stu­dio.

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