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Just like the artists themselves, the most well-known art cities tend to be visually appealing, innovative, and open-minded- abundant with inspiration. But as the world changes, the best cities in the world to find that inspiration changes as well. At Paperwallet, our incredible artist partners hail from around the world: Europe, Asia, South America and more! You can see their newest designs for Paperwallet here. But which are the best cities in the world for artists and art-lovers alike? Read on to find out!
Berlin checks all the boxes for a top-notch art city, so it was no surprise that it was the top suggested city of the group. Art is alive in Berlin, often infused with the immense history that accompanies the city. It was a hub of culture and art in the 1920s before destruction hit during the rise of the Nazis leading up to WWII. The city was rather dormant culturally until the fall of the Berlin Wall when some of that former artistic spark finally had space to ignite again. Thus, the 90’s began the trickling migration of artists from New York City looking for cheaper workspaces.
Since then, the German government has proven to welcome artists from around the world with open arms, making it very easy to obtain visas, travel in-and-out, and obtain affordable workspaces. The city hosts hundreds of art museums and galleries as well as events such as the renowned Berlin Biennale and annual Berlin Art Week.
Blogger Kristin Addis says, “Berlin, Germany is a fantastic city for artists because it’s affordable, it’s full of inspiring art, and as an expat, it’s possible to get a freelance/artist visa to stay there beyond the three month Schengen visa.”
Kristen said she found the city to be incredibly affordable during her time living there, paying only €300 per month for a shared apartment. She also found she could purchase full meals for eight euro or less, and had easy access to transportation by means of trains, buses, or bicycles.
Suggested by Kristin Addis, world traveler and blogger at Be My Travel Muse.
Quickly on the rise as one of the best cities for art is Lisbon, Portugal. While not one of the historically popular art cities like Paris or Rome, Lisbon is developing a culture alive with young artists of all mediums, encouraging the nickname of the “New Berlin”. There are new art galleries opening frequently, affordable housing and studio spaces, and a positive community outlook towards artists.
Art enthusiast Alvin Garcia says that Lisbon is one of the best cities for art primarily because of the new generation’s energy blending with the old styles of the city architecture and flavors.
“The city also has a young creative energy that is unmatched,” Garcia says, “Many creatives are moving to the city from various parts of the world making not only a Portuguese art hub but potentially a global art hub.”
Suggested by Alvin Garcia, art enthusiast and marketing apprentice at Fueled
Margate, Kent, United Kingdom:
Though many are unfamiliar with the small seaside town of Margate, it has a deep art history beginning famously with Romanticism-era artist William Turner in the 1800s and Tracey Emin in the present day. In homage to the late Turner, the Turner Contemporary Museum is free to visitors. Perhaps due to the successful artists Margate has already bred, English artists have flocked to Margate in recent years citing it as one of the best cities in the U.K. for artists. Local artist Claire de Lune notes the consistently beautiful sunsets and ever-changing ocean are a constant source of inspiration in the town.
“Many artists have moved down here to expand their creative practice, and the creative community is thriving- there are art events on here nearly every day of the week,” de Lune explains, “I love it because there are so many kind and interesting characters here, lively shops and venues, and the space to experiment with our art.”
Suggested by Claire de Lune, Artist.
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States:
When most people think of this American city art is usually not first on the brain! Beyond Bourbon Street, beignets, and Mardi Gras, the city offers a bustling art scene. The city offers world-class art galleries, museums, and a hoard of various street and graffiti artists. Notable locations include the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans which offers exhibitions, displays, and performances to showcase multiple disciplines of art. A few of the popular and provocative galleries in town include activist Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, and educator Stella Jones Gallery. Travel expert David Ambrogio says his favorite spot in New Orleans for art is historic St. Claude Avenue for the ever-evolving graffiti murals and street artists.
“New Orleans’ embrace of artists and their craft is what really makes it my favorite city for art,” Ambrogio says, “Here in the Crescent City, artists are not looked on as deadbeats, but are revered and cherished for all that they contribute to our great city.”
Suggested by David Ambrogio, travel expert with La Galerie Hotel
Paris has long been known as one of the best cities in the world for art- and artists of all mediums. Famous artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Edith Piaf, and Ernest Hemingway all lived and worked in the romantic city. It is also known for the hundreds of galleries and museums showcasing some of the most esteemed pieces from around the world in venues such as the Louvre or the Musée d’Art Moderne. The city is not as affordable as it once was for up-and-coming artists, but the inspiration and history of art hangs in the air and inspires artists and art-lovers young and old.
If you want to feel the influence of today’s art in person, rather than gazing upon old works in the museums, 59 Rivoli is the place to be. This building was illegally squatted upon by artists beginning in the mid-1800s. Over time their artistic presence became known by the eclectic and colorful decorations they added to the building. The space “changed hands” (still illegally) several times before it was acquired by the city of Paris, renovated, and reopened as a series of 30 low-cost studio spaces.
Here’s what Camacho had to say about the whimsical artist’s haven:
“But, what’s really unmissable and gives you a real boost of inspiration, in my opinion, is going to 59 Rivoli. You can’t possibly be the same after walking among the artists’ studios and watching them create amazing works of art from scratch. The building itself can also ignite the artist you’ve got inside you (and if not, at least you will change your point of view about art).”
Suggested by Justine Camacho, travel expert with Talk Travel
The Sister Cities:
San Francisco and New York City are often referred to as sister cities. Always on the cutting edge of fashion, art, music, and design, both cities have long been a home to artists and lovers of fast-paced culture. However, in recent years artists have been moving away from the cities (often to the other cities on this list) due to the ever increasing cost of living and studio space! We’ve included them on this list for the impact they have on the art community, but wouldn’t recommend them to an artist on a tight budget.
San Francisco, California, United States:
It’s hard not to recognize San Francisco as an art city simply by walking down the street. The relaxed and open culture, art-positive opinions from community and local governments, and abundance of gallery spaces make San Francisco a staple as one of the best cities in the world for art. Notable locations such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Palace of Fine Art find their home here as well as smatterings of galleries featuring American, Asian, and African art.
If you wander a ways off the beaten path to Dogpatch, you’ll find a thriving creative community including the Minnesota Street Project which houses 35,000 sq feet of gallery space and 22,000 sq feet of studio space offered to artists who can’t afford some of the more popular (and pricey) spaces in town. This area is up-and-coming with artists and young entrepreneurs in branding, design, and new products.
New York, New York, United States:
New York is known as the United States city of dreams. People from all over flock to this city to make their dreams come true, be it in business, fashion, entertainment, or art. The art community, much like in Paris, is and will almost certainly always be strong. From graffiti murals and underground studios to world-recognized museums and galleries. New York has a solid grasp on its positions as one of the best cities in the world for artists. For those new to the NYC art scene The Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art are must-sees.
With the rising costs of living and increased interest by the wealthy in formerly affordable neighborhoods (Brooklyn, we’re looking at you), more and more New York artists are packing up and heading to cheaper cities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Many, such as artist and educator Joseph Cavalieri who is relocating to Reading, PA, 3 hours from the city.
“I’ll be surrounded by many talented artists and in a city with potential,” he says,” The price of living is half of the cost of living in NYC, you can buy a 2 bedroom for 72K.”
Do you agree with our picks for the best cities in the world for artists? What city would you add to the list? Looking for your own perfectly inspired piece? Check out the newest designs from our artists.