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.
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.
Proximity to New York: 81 miles
Average price for 1 bedroom studio apartment: $1404
Mexico City, Mexico
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.
Proximity to New York: 2090 miles
Average price for 1 bedroom studio apartment: $495
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.
Proximity to London: 717 miles
Average price for 1 bedroom studio apartment: 11,311 KR (£1041)
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.
Proximity to London: 902 miles
Average price for 1 bedroom studio apartment: 112,600 Ft (£324)
Once a hidden gem, the word is starting to spread across Europe that Leipzig is the new Berlin. The East German city has a similar downbeat modernist architectural aesthetic that is reminiscent of Kreuzberg and Neukolln, but has a less competitive rental and studio space market. Costs tend to be cheaper too.
The Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts has produced some of the best contemporary artists. Producing artists such as Tilo Baumgartel and Julius Popp amongst others, there are plentiful prestigious alumni. Not only is it one of the best schools in Europe, both German and international students can study here for free. Post-study, Germany is also one of the most supportive countries in the World for developing artists. All in all, it makes Leipzig one of the coolest, and best cities to live in as an emerging artist.
Proximity to London: 539 miles
Average price for 1 bedroom studio apartment: €361