Artists often relocate to advance their careers. Some well-known artists made their mark after moving to the big city; Andy Warhol learned his way around the commercial design and advertising after moving to New York. Others find a retreat to the countryside more conducive to their best work; Georgia O’Keeffe created her most famous landscapes after moving to New Mexico.
Whether you’re a fledgling artist or a professional seeking new direction, the pursuit of creativity is bound to lead you towards many different places. More than others, creatives are inclined to work as contractors on projects and be stimulated by their environment. While many artists can do work remotely and collaborate with people without meeting them in person, sometimes the appeal of a new place to live goes beyond convenience.
If you happen to find yourself in this position, there are many things to consider – but make sure you are considering them for both your planned destination and your current location. Here are some of them.
Even before the days of social media, artists have been highly dependent on networking. Great artists can work in a bubble but are often the very ones who struggle to make ends meet. To gain exposure and have their work displayed in galleries, for instance, fine artists need to know the right agents and directors.
In modern entertainment, such as film or television, artists are role players in a massive team effort. You could be working in set design, lighting, or editing – but your chances of landing a gig are intimately tied to being remembered and referred by the right people within the industry. Creative industries are often founded upon collaborative projects, and having connections with these intermediaries will be vital to your success in a given location.
In a new location, you may not know anybody yet. You can begin the process by seeking out community art centres and volunteering for their activities, attending or teaching at workshops. It can be difficult, but this different challenge can also be rewarding. Becoming exposed to your peers stimulates you with new ideas, techniques, and perspectives – and can have the same effect upon them. It not only keeps you up to date with trends in your industry but puts you in a position where you can contribute to generating new trends.
The art scene
Each city has its unique art scene – a continually changing aggregate of audience taste, local artist capabilities, and the prevailing trends of the time. The diversity in large cities may allow you to find the right niche in which to thrive, but you may also find that your art and skillset needs to adapt to suit the audience.
Cost of living
Apart from the exciting possibilities, you also need to consider the practicalities of moving to a new city. Many artists don’t just need to pay for housing or rent; they also need a proper studio space. If you already have a good working setup, it can be challenging to roll the dice on a new place to work and live.
If you are fortunate to have a transportable kit home studio, moving is simple and allows you to take the comfort and familiarity of your existing setup with you. Otherwise, it’s important to spend time and look around for a studio that suits your needs.
It’s said that fortune favours the bold, and being adaptable is a great advantage in any career. Still, as an artist you should think of all the opportunities you stand to gain and lose by moving to a new location – in the end, you’ll be better able to make things work out.