Humans by default tend to group together no matter what the situation. At a certain point, race, class, gender, religion, or any superficial social divide seems to crumble when there are thousands, if not millions of people in the same place at the same time. What tends to happen is that people tend to group together in schools of thought (much like schools of fish) with little reasoning in mind. If there is anything that history has taught us, it's that everyone doing the same thing is a bad thing; it runs the risk of stagnation. Design and The Arts are very much at risk of the same stagnation; graphic design in particular. With Photoshop and other CAD (computer aided drafting) resources becoming widely available, the field of graphic design, web design, and print design are all in danger of becoming a hobby of the average and mediocre. Digital photography coupled with social media websites seemed to 'kill' creative photography as a real art form. Graphic Design is no different, and it's much easier to see the real effects of this thesis in a place like New York.
New York City, specifically Manhattan and Brooklyn, are home to millions of people that are constantly bumping into each other either on purpose or due to mass transportation. These people whether they like it or not are forced to interact with one another and have some form of social exchange. These interactions and exchanges, though small, create a web of networks which easily turns the populous of New York City into a homogenous mob of thought and action. Among these millions of people are thousands of artists and designers all communicating with one another and creating new ideas. This is a good thing; what turns this into a nightmare is that these artists, designers, and creative institutions are all looking to each other for ideas and not attempting to find outside sources of inspiration.
Everyone is reinventing the same wheel which leaves little room for creative evolution. Graphic design is one of the many things that suffer from this; with hundreds of graphic design students graduating from various art colleges in New York City, it's easy to see that they are looking to these home based design studios for inspirations and jobs. A rough estimate polled in the field says that 75% of all graphic design in New York City looks the same not because we're seeing the same advertisements again and again, but because designers and artists are following the same styles, principles, and guidelines set up within the community instead of exploring new venues of creativity. Looking away from the majority, we can focus on the 25% of graphic design in New York that breaks the conventional rules and seeks out new ways of creativity and advertising. The easiest way to find the small percentage is by searching through creative design blogs which tend to offer honest reviews about design and art.
Fred McCoy is a New York Graphic Design critic who works for Blue Fountain Media; he also runs a creative design blog which covers new, creative venues in things like game design, print design, and industrial design.