Best Cities for Emerging Artists


We have come up with a list of the best cities for emerging artists that are interesting alternatives to the great cultural hotspots like London and New York where artists are forced to live out the cliche of the starving artist. Our listed cities not only offer vibrant art scenes but the possibility for artists to really focus on creating without being distracted by financial issues.

By Arron Westbrook
Best Cities for Emerging Artists Best Cities for Emerging Artists

Our favourite artists' cities

North & South America

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

best cities for artists philadelphia


  • Proximity to New York: 81 miles
  • Average price for 1 bedroom studio apartment: $1404
  • Bus fare: $2.25
  • Litre of milk: $1.06
  • Cigarettes: $9

With New York being so expensive, many artists in the US are flocking to Philadelphia. Situated 97 miles from New York, the Philly area of Kensington -- located between the lower North East and North Philadelphia -- is set up as a thriving artists quarter. With venues like Crane Arts, Little Berlin, and the Walking Fish Theatre being major cultural hotspots, the surrounding area is bursting with creativity.

Rent costs are around $1,400 for a one bedroom apartment, whilst average wages are between $43-67,000. There is also plenty of reasonably priced studio space on offer too. This provides amazing affordability for young and developing artists in comparison with New York. With more money to spend on paint, canvas, and brushes, Philadelphia is a city in which young artists can really develop, focus, and flourish.

Key benefits: A flourishing network of art venues to exhibit work / Proximity to NY / Reasonably priced studio spaces


Mexico City, Mexico

best cities for artists mexico


  • Proximity to New York: 2090 miles
  • Average price for 1 bedroom studio apartment: $495
  • Bus fare: $0.32
  • Litre of milk: $1
  • Cigarettes: $2.84

Being part of an artistic hub, whilst also organically developing as an artist are something that cities like New York, Paris, and London can no longer offer. Especially if you are on a budget. Mexico City is proving itself as a city that can tick all the boxes. Forming a triumvirate of artistic hubs in Central and South America -- alongside Sao Paulo and Bogota -- Mexico City is arguably the forerunner in the region.

With events such as the Material Art Fair, which focuses on new and developing artists, it is a city that is embracing its cultural development. It is worth bearing in mind that whilst it is incredibly cheap for foreign artists to live in Mexico City -- especially those used to New York and London prices -- it is often difficult to establish yourself in the local art scene. But if you want to settle down in a thriving artist community, and you’re willing to wait for the big time, Mexico City is well worth consideration when searching for a city to live in as an emerging artist.

Key benefits: Art fairs for emerging artists / Living on a budget / Thriving artist community



Oslo, Norway

best cities for artists oslo


  • Proximity to London: 717 miles
  • Average price for 1 bedroom studio apartment: $1185.56
  • Bus fare: $3.77
  • Litre of milk: $1.99
  • Cigarettes: $12.79

Oslo is not only one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, it also happens to be one of the best places to live in as an emerging artist. The waterside district of Tjuvholmen has been recently rejuvenated at great cost, and it is now home to some of the best small contemporary art galleries -- ideal for developing artists to exhibit their work to a fast growing audience.

In addition to the new contemporary art galleries, The Young Artists Society operates in the city. Offering members support, exhibitions, promotions, marketing, materials, and exhibition space, the group provides the much needed support you need when moving to a new city. Rent prices in Oslo are high, but there is currently an Artist’s Assistant Program in operation. Through this, recently graduated artists get paid by the government to work as part-time assistants for more experienced colleagues. Norway really is one of the most supportive nations on earth for developing artists. And Oslo is the jewel in the scandinavian crown.

Key benefits: Young galleries for emerging artists / The Young Artists Society offering support / Artist’s Assistant program


Budapest, Hungary

best cities for artists budapest


  • Proximity to London: 902 miles
  • Average price for 1 bedroom studio apartment: $387.78
  • Bus fare: $1.21
  • Litre of milk: $0.85
  • Cigarettes: $4.40

With the political upheaval that is happening in Hungary at the minute, Budapest might not at first glance seem like the best city to be living in as an emerging artist. But with its combination of street art, contemporary galleries, and its famous ruin bars, it offers plenty of scope for a vibrant life.

Budapest’s art scene is a diverse mix and native and foreign artists -- giving the city a real multicultural vibe. Across the city, small art galleries displaying work by emerging artists are cropping up in every nook, whilst art collectives such as Muszi, Puccs, and Budapest Art Factory can allow you to hook up with artists on the scene already. Rent and Studio prices in Budapest are extremely reasonable too, making Budapest a great city to live in as a developing artist.

Key benefits: Diverse & multicultural art scene / Young galleries / Extremely reasonable rent prices


Lisbon, Portugal

best cities for artists lisbon


  • Proximity to London: 985 miles
  • Average price for 1 bedroom studio apartment: $672.39
  • Bus fare: $ 2.02
  • Litre of milk: $0.75
  • Cigarettes: $5.55

Lisbon is often stated to be one of the best places to live in the world - and it’s cheap! It not only has among the lowest living costs in Western Europe but also a dynamic arts scene. The arts sector is growing with loads of interesting opportunities for young artists.

One cool example is PADA Studios, an artist-led, non-profit arts organisation based in Barreiro in Lisbon’s South Bay, founded in 2018 by Tim Ralston and Diana Cerezino. Set in a derelict industrial park with history dating back to 1885, PADA offers artists time and space to develop their practice through the exploration of technique and process.

The city is not only booming with new possibilities but it’s also one of the most beautiful places packed with historic landmarks and buildings, murals and graffiti to get inspired by.

Key benefits: Dynamic arts scene / Low cost of living / Growing opportunities for artists


Copenhagen, Denmark

best cities for artists copenhagen


  • Proximity to London: 594 miles
  • Average price for 1 bedroom studio apartment: $1200.24
  • Bus fare: $ 3.60
  • Litre of milk: $0.94
  • Cigarettes: $4.51

Copenhagen cosistentently ranks as the world’s most livable city and the Danes are said to be among the happiest people in the world. Reasons are a great infrastructure, excellent healthcare and also an amazing art community with many off-spaces and growing artist collectives. These have become more with the help of The Danish Arts Foundation that financially supports artists to run their exhibition or studio space.

As renowned institutions and established galleries tend to be very careful with exhibiting new artists, young creatives in Copenhagen help themselves and each other by creating their own exhibition venues.

Key benefits: One of the most livable places in the world / Many artist-run exhibition spaces / Extensive support from the Danish Arts Foundation


Düsseldorf, Germany

best cities for artist duesseldorf


  • Proximity to London: 298 miles
  • Average price for 1 bedroom studio apartment: $775.12
  • Bus fare: $ 3.14
  • Litre of milk: $0.71
  • Cigarettes: $7.84

A growing number of emerging artists are moving to cheaper areas of Germany such as Leipzig or the more traditional but flourishing Rhineland. Düsseldorf is thereby one of their first choices with its eminent Art Academy (Kunstakademie) and its many renowned art institutions.

With the launch of Art Düsseldorf in 2017, one important art fair has been added to Germany’s art scene and is giving Düsseldorf an even greater cosmopolitan flair. What really makes Düsseldorf and the Rhineland in general special is the great number of long-established collectors and investors. While Leipzig or Berlin may be cheaper to live in, there is a much higher chance that you will sell your art in Düsseldorf.

In regards to surviving as a young artist, the slightly higher living costs in Düsseldorf are likely to be balanced out by the healthy buying market that you find in the Rhineland.

Key benefits: One of the world’s leading art academies / Important art fair and renowned art institutions / A great number of collectors & investors


best cities for artist london

Why artists can’t survive in New York and London

With the proliferation of modern art in the 20th century, New York and London have become not just synonymous with contemporary art, they are now the two western hubs of art commerce.

Living in one of these two cities as an artist might make sense theoretically -- close proximity to galleries means greater exposure -- but the cost of living makes this near impossible for most artists pursuing art full time. In 2015 Creative New York reported that just 1,654 artists in New York were able to support themselves from their art alone.

After graduating from a top art school with a great faculty and exposure, an artist should think strategically about where to live and work. In order to sustain themselves and their art, artists must take into account not only the cost of living and supplies, but also grant opportunities and proximity to tastemakers and investors who will help grow the demand for art.

This is why we at Artpiq have come up with a list of cities where opportunities for exposure to gallerists and curators is balanced with more affordable living and studio costs, along with other living expenses. How was your experience as an artist or a artsits city visitor?

DM or e-Mail us & let us know!

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