Lay down Your Roots: Why Your Artistic Career Begins with Your Choice of Where to Live

People talking about a sculpture and taking notes in a museum

Our modern world offers more opportunities than ever to artists. Aspiring talents who can produce a captivating painting, photograph or performance, need only upload the image or video to various social media outlets – and they will instantly gain more views, and be seen by a wider audience than a medieval apprentice could dream of. And yet many artists continue to struggle. Here’s how a change of scenery in the real world can make a difference in your artistic career.

Cost of living

Everyone has to make ends meet, and artists are no exception. Artists across the world still largely struggle to earn a fraction of the national average income.

There are many difficulties faced by artists anywhere – but some places are, for starters, more affordable to live in than others. And if your particular creative skill requires a large studio space, you may find that moving to a more affordable city is the best way to gain relief from upkeep costs.

The economic scene

Many artists can find it challenging to find regular work, even with a brilliant portfolio or extensive connections. The types of projects you get as a fledgling artist are also less likely to pay enough to cover your expenses and the cost of living for long.

The solution for many is to have a side hustle. This can mean diversifying your skill set to open up a more reliable revenue stream. The work itself may not be what you’re passionate about, but it can pay the bills as you continue to work on establishing yourself as an artist. Moving somewhere with a vibrant economy can improve the pay and flexibility afforded by taking on a secondary job.


When it comes to opportunities for exposure, not all cities are equal. Online resources can list the art galleries and museums in a city which are likely to showcase displays in your field. The same goes for theaters and other performance venues.

For street art, graffiti, and other public installations, again some locations are more tolerant or open-minded than others. You would do well to gather reviews and feedback from people who have lived in a city, before deciding to make the move.

Local support

A study based on decades of economic research shows that the presence of artist centers in a city is strongly correlated with attracting, developing, and producing more – and better – artists of all kinds, from visual and graphic designers to the performing arts.

The findings in Minnesota were highlighted, showcasing the region’s wide ensemble of artist centers as playing a key role in making the location attractive for artists to live, work, and innovate. These centers also synergize with funding and distribution of talent, so that even as local artists migrate to bigger opportunities elsewhere, new talent continues to be grown.


Sculptor creating a sculpture

In part, a great artistic community already evolves from the interaction of the above factors. Having a supportive yet affordable location draws in more talent. And artists of all kinds are capable of cross-pollination, collaborating and working together to develop each other.

Being new on the local scene can be difficult, but many other creatives have been in the same position. Make connections, whether in person or over social media. Get to know your community and its needs to find your niche and connect with people who can help you start.

Your connections with fellow artists may very well end up being the most important part of your developing career. Consider moving to a location where you’ll be inspired and exposed to creatives and find the necessary support to establish yourself as an artist.

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