Cities for artists: a list of places for people who make a living with art

leggi in italiano 

What are the cities where life is easier for artists? What places allow artists to unleash their creativity and turn it into a profession? Here’s a list every artist should know and take into account.

Saying things like “if you want to find a job, you should go to (fill in the blanks)” is easy.

Easy and inaccurate, I dare say. Not all works are the same and the labour market is definitely different than thirty years ago. It’s not the same as 20 years ago. It wasn’t the same as today not even 10 years ago.

People used to say: if you want to find a job, you should emigrate to Switzerland/Germany/the USA. It was actually true: these countries had a growing industrial economy and the working class was really big, it was easy to end up in a company and make a career if you wanted, or have a family while keeping a high work ethics as a factory worker.


Today everything has changed, though: the workers are still there but there are also (and especially) call center operators. There are employees, creative designers as well as different types of communication officers (press officers, bloggers, social media operators etc.). There are digital nomads (here’s a list of cities where digital nomads should consider living for a while) and then artists.

It should be noted that the logic of the art market is way different than the more common trade market.

Here you go then with the cities to take into account for a medium-long period of time or even for the projection of that “forever” that we can allow ourselves these days.


Let’s move quickly to what hasn’t become commonplace yet. Berlin has been the most loved city by artists over the past 15 years, since the old barracks of the former Soviet neighbourhoods were rent at low cost, hired especially by artists that turned them into their studios.

Nowadays, the place no longer offers low cost rents like a few years ago, because prices have gone up after the suburban and disreputable neighbourhood has turned “hipster-indie-artistic” (yet, they are still half of what you pay in the vibrant London). Nevertheless, the spirit of this place is still lively and cheerful and it hasn’t become gentrified yet; there are more events and festivals, call for tenders as well as opportunities for people living out of art compared to other big European cities.

Note: Berlin and London are always places for great opportunities and good contacts, cities where even companies (that buy art) are interested in art; therefore, even if life is expensive, take it as an investment.


Tirana, work by Bifido. ph 167b street

Let’s start with the surprises, the way I like it!

Tirana is a young, growing city, with one of the largest youth population in Europe. Its dance academy is among the most renowned in the world and many young people (that is, ideas) are coming back after emigrating to Italy many years ago when they were still babies.

These young people have actually studied in a nation where art is well taught and beauty is part of collective imagination; so now they bring back home the lessons learnt.

Old anti-atomic bunkers turned into art galleries and scattered all over town, neighbourhoods like Blloku where art is also part of the pubs interiors and a street art like there’s no tomorrow are only the tip of the iceberg. What you don’t see, yet it’s there and it’s quite important for every artist, are the very low rents and cost of life compared to the other western cities.

Read this post for more info about where to find the most independent art in Tirana 


street art in budapest

Did you know that the idea of the Sziget festival, the largest music concert in Europe, which is held in Budapest every year in mid August, was conceived by a 22-year-old boy?

There are many young people in this city and they do have a lot of authority, considering that the ruling class is among the youngest in Europe.

The town has a lively and curious nature and living in the Pest neighbourhood is the best choice for whoever wants to be among people interested in art in general.

Many ruin pubs are by now art pubs-boutiques, where the works of independent artists, even very young ones, are displayed (on sale) on a rolling basis.

Minneapolis (MN)

città per artisti: minneapolis

Admit it, the only thing you know about Minneapolis is that it is the place where Brandon and Brenda Walsh used to live. I’ll now tell you a couple of things an artist has definitely got to know.

Minneapolis is one of the cities in the US where many young artists choose to live and study because, though costs are medium-high (nothing compared to NYC or the other main US cities), it offers those who deal with art many services, often for free, along with an increasingly higher number of galleries.

The services made available in support of the artists are, just to name a few, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, with free membership, the Anna M. Heilmaier Piano Room in the Minneapolis Central Library, where people are allowed to play the valuable piano; then, there are co-working spaces for creative designers with an enclosed children area, such as the Sovereign Grounds Coffeehouse.cities for artists

Columbus (OH)

Columbus, US

Columbus, US

Let’s move to Ohio, still in the USA, whose capital hosts the main state university. Definitely cheaper than say Princeton, it has a high artistic flair and offers many opportunities to practice art.

Many artistic initiatives promoted by the university are free and available to everyone, such as the meetings with famous directors and festivals.

The university atmosphere is relaxed and it’s definitely easier to get in contact with gallery owners and scholars. I mean… try writing an e-mail to a university professor and, guess what, you will get a reply!!


indie places to go in melbourne

Fitzroy, Melbourne

Australia is a constant energy unit in terms of artistic creativity and innovation. Selected by designers, hipsters and fashion enthusiasts, Melbourne has a magnetic appeal thanks to its street art and the beautiful neighbourhoods like Fitzroy make it a creative factory.

You clearly need to consider your financial resources and what you can afford, because Melbourne is among the most expensive cities in the world; yet, if you’re ready to share your flat with other artists and you manage to find a job to make a living, you should definitely consider spending some time in Melbourne.


princess street gardens Edimburgo

This city is perfect for actors. The theatrical scenario of the Scottish capital offers different chances to those who want to turn acting into a profession or an important part of one’s life.

Once a year, for instance, Edinburgh is home to the Fringe Festival, which gives many actors and companies the possibility to get to know important managers and investors as well as outstanding producers in the theatre and movie industry.

I know a lot of you will think that many places mentioned in my list are too expensive. The point is that artists do not necessarily lack the money to invest as well as living in Tirana does not necessarily mean living comfortably due to the low cost of life.

The life of an artist also depends on contacts (and what you have in Berlin may be somewhat rarer in Albania), inspiration and the chance not to feel an “outsider”.

The mentioned cities have one great feature in common: they accept artists like workers, they consider art as a form of entrepreneurship and respect those who invest in it, be it their money or an entire life.


  • Agnes

    I would recommend treviso, next to venice, great art, cool small galleries and nice food for artists

  • London Mumma

    I am all about creative and Edinburgh certainly does have that, Australia too in certain districts.

  • kallia

    As an artist myself, you have now given me my bucket list! I love art, surrounding myself with it and Budapest seems to be the most intriguing to me!

  • Jennifer Prince

    This is so great! I love street art and murals. They really make an area so much more interesting to visit and look at. Fun suggestions!

  • Dalene Ekirapa

    These cities are amazing!I’m loving the wall paintings even more; this reminds me of a place in Kenya called the Railways Museum where artists draw just everywhere and it’s all there for exhibition. Even so, I’ve heard of Columbus paintings.

  • Sigrid Says

    Ohhhh thank you for this. My daughter seems to have an inclination for both visual and performing arts.. But in our locality, the market is limited. Art is just a hobby. But of course, we know that artists need to make a living.

  • Elizabeth O

    This is a great article you picked some great places to highlight for artists to visit. I am sure this will help a lot of people out.

  • jplagens

    Edinburgh looks beautiful. I would love to visit there. sounds like a cool place for actors.

  • Brandy

    I love that so many can make a living from art. my first born is a natural artist in so many ways, and I keep her encouraged to go that route for a living!

  • Carol Cassara

    This post is so helpful and I hope that it reaches aspiring artists who would like to expand their experiences and creativity and practice what they really want to do in life. Art is beautiful and it’s good to know which places help our artists grow!

  • Samantha Donnelly

    I really enjoyed this post I am just starting to really enjoy and understand art x

  • Kiley

    Great post! My husband and I are traveling to Budapest this summer and can’t wait. Thank you for sharing this list!

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