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Do I Need to Live in NYC or LA as an Artist: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

Living in the epicenters of the art world, New York City and Los Angeles, may seem like a dream come true for aspiring artists, but is it a necessity? In this article, we explore the realities of pursuing an art career in these urban hubs, the advantages and disadvantages, and alternative paths to success.


Artistic success knows no geographical boundaries. You can thrive as an artist anywhere, but the decision to live in a major art market city like New York or LA can significantly impact your career. We'll explore the pros and cons of residing in Los Angeles and provide insights into the New York art scene. Additionally, we'll discuss alternative cities and offer tips for artists living in non-art market locations.

Pros of Living in Los Angeles

  1. Thriving Art Scene: Los Angeles boasts a vibrant and diverse art scene with numerous galleries that offer opportunities for exposure and collaboration.

  2. Networking Opportunities: The abundance of galleries means frequent networking events and inspiring art openings, which can help you build valuable connections.

  3. Museums and Institutions: LA provides access to world-class museums and institutions, allowing artists to draw inspiration and grow their knowledge.

  4. Funding Opportunities: The city offers funding opportunities specific to Los Angeles artists, helping them finance their projects and exhibitions.

  5. Studio Space: Los Angeles offers ample, affordable studio space, which can be a game-changer for artists compared to the high rents of New York.

  6. Collaboration: The city fosters a culture of collaboration, providing artists with the chance to work with professionals from various fields.

Cons of Living in Los Angeles

  1. High Cost of Living: The cost of living in LA is steep, making it challenging for emerging artists to afford both living and working spaces.

  2. Competition and Comparison: The vast artist population can lead to intense competition and self-comparisons, which might affect your confidence.

  3. Traffic: Los Angeles is notorious for its traffic congestion, which can be a time-consuming challenge for daily commutes.

Alternatives to NYC and LA

If you're not drawn to New York or LA, consider other cities with thriving art scenes:

  1. London: The UK's capital offers a dynamic art market with a rich history and a diverse community of artists.

  2. Chicago: Home to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), this city attracts and retains artistic talent, making it a viable option.

  3. Niche Markets: Explore niche art scenes in cities like Santa Fe, Denver, or Austin. Ensure your art aligns with the local preferences for the best results.

Staying in Your Hometown

If you choose to remain in your hometown, consider these strategies:

  1. Travel: Visit art market cities, attend shows, and meet people to broaden your artistic horizons.

  2. Online Presence: Invest in your online presence. Learn from professional artists and enhance your website and social media profiles.

  3. Community Engagement: Collaborate with local businesses and engage with your community to establish your presence and grow your network.

  4. Financial Planning: Make the most of your lower cost of living. Invest in your art and future by saving, investing, and building your practice.


While you don't need to live in New York or Los Angeles to be an artist, these cities can provide you with valuable opportunities and exposure. Artistic success isn't solely measured by income but by the impact you make on your community. If you choose to stay in your hometown or opt for an alternative art scene, invest in your online presence, engage with your community, and continue to grow as an artist. Ultimately, your success is defined by the positive influence you have on those around you.

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