The Best Cities for Young Artists

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Where have all the young artists gone? Well, they’ve been priced out of Melbourne, New York, Barcelona, and all of those other city enclaves that promised low-rent and lots of encouragement. But new art communities are popping up every day on unexpected parts of the globe. Creative hubs, city funded projects, and lots of public works are just some of the perks these locations offer to young artists who seek refuge. Click through for our eight favorite cities for young artists, and leave a comment if we forgot your favorite.

Macau

It might be part of the People’s Republic of China, but you’re basically in a whole other world when you step off the ferry from Hong Kong. Casino is king here, and visitors think nothing of blanketing an entire hotel room in stingray, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s a strong art community brewing under the surface of mother-of-pearl inlaid tiles and solid gold furnishings. Tiny, but growing, San Lazaro is a hilltop community bursting with creativity: from the once-military-now-hip boutique hotel to Creative Macau, a project that aims to foster new talent from film to graphic design to visual art. And Lines Lab, who believes in people as much as the art they make, is attracting new creators to the city every day with their Design and Fashion lab.

São Paulo

Step back from the bikini: Brazil’s most creative neighborhood is far from the beaches of Rio, in loud and brash São Paulo, South America’s answer for New York City. And you can expect one thing from this loud, raw urban metropolis — a lot of really colorful, politically-charged street art. Large neon pieces of work show up everywhere from dilapidated buildings to enormous billboards, and in the ultimate nod to creativity, esteemed museum MuBE, the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture, hosted actual gallery space for some of São Paulo’s most well-known graffiti artists to promote their work. Unlike certain places, this is a city that fosters young talent.

Montreal

Come for the French culture, language and beautiful people. Stay for the funky Mile-End ‘nabe, with wall-to-wall art galleries, collaborative spaces and community cafes. After pickups in Spin and Pitchfork, Mile-End became synonymous with harboring the next batch of popular indie musicians, who all collectively let off steam by gathering on Sundays for an eclectic jam session known as a tam-tam in Mount Royal. The next wave of fashion designers also flock here, so bring some cash to spend in shops like Arterie and Montrealite.

Las Vegas

Crawl away, if you can, from the uber-glitter of the Vegas Strip for a much more down to earth view of Sin City. Good old Freemont Street, the Vegas of yesteryear, is back and better than ever, harboring creatives from all walks of life. Emergency Arts is reviving the creative collective of Vegas, and not just with their popular coffee; tenants include videographers, painters, and vintage pop-up shops. Across the street at Don’t Tell Mama, a NYC import, unassuming musicians with tear inducing voices liven-up the old man bar. And not even a mile away from vintage Las Vegas, The Attic sells its own curated vintage finds for the growing population of the city that would rather look like an urbanite than a showgirl.

Brussels

On a continent where landmark art usually comes in the form of a gilded opera house, Brussels has always dared to push limits; their landmark art piece is a cheeky little man taking a leak. The 1920s comic strip character Tintin is plastered on billboards and street corners everywhere, while performance artists hold their own in the dozens of the communal squares Belgium is known for. In more recent times, Brussels has given art the nod with avant garde celebrations like the Balloon Day Parade and legendary monthly Gay Pride festivals. And for inspiration, this biking community can’t be beat.

Jakarta

If digital is your medium, you won’t find a better place to be right now than Indonesia, who has more Facebook users than Canada has people, and where internet cafes are a daily visit. Investors from the West have their eye on mobile, broadcasting and start-ups, all growing trends across the country that make it easy for youngsters to take to their own businesses. Creative collectives like Askara, a bookstore where the hip commune, Serrum, a community for arts education, and Kampong Segart, a student art union, give the space and inspiration for this new wave of Indonesian trend makers.

Memphis

Move over Austin, ’cause with a cheap cost of living and lots of public art works, Memphis is attracting your hipsters. They may have sauntered in for the delicious home cooked meals, but creative minds have come to love the sleepy Southern town thanks to initiatives like Live from Memphis and the Urban Art Commission. The crowning achievement, Memphis in May, is a month-long shindig celebrating foodies, at the World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest, musicians, at the Beale Street Music Festival, and a kitschy International Week where one far-flung country is celebrated. Guerilla artists, you’ve met your match. No medium is too weird for Memphis.

Dresden

You won’t find a lederhosen’ed beer hall in this urban German metropolis, but you will find lots of public art. In fact, Dresden has made it a priority to make art accessible to all citizens; one percent of the city’s municipal budget is set aside for funding projects in the urban space. Outside of that funding, street artists make their mark with small pieces showing up across the city and on the internet with Tumblrs and MySpace pages dedicated to Dresden’s best. Between the city initiatives and guerrilla artists, Dresden is one big museum in its own right.