Many studies have analysed the role of the creative class and cultural industries in fostering regional development. The focus on regional development neglects the individual differences in success among members in the creative class and among firms within cultural industries. We study firm founders in three design sectors (industrial design, graphic design and web design) and analyse the determinants of their personal income. Next to individual factors affecting income differences among designers, we look at the relational and spatial contexts in which designers operate. Hence, we can also assess whether spatial clustering and organisational networking are beneficial for designers. The main result, based on 200 telephonic questionnaires, holds that income is determined mainly by business experience and the use of advanced ICTs, while education and spatial clustering have no impact. We argue that policies in the design sector should be oriented towards helping young designers to gain experience as well as towards life-long learning in the use of ICTs.
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