For most, the thought of a thriving art scene usually conjures images of New York, where everything is larger than life, or international cities with huge creative and commercial clout like Berlin, London or Paris. While these heavy-hitters of the art world will consistently occupy top spots amongst a list of the world’s greatest cities for art, they certainly aren’t the most accessible or realistic destinations for a majority of students originating from the U.S. Our list, which highlights the best and coolest U.S. cities for artists, attempts to keep things a little closer to home for American-born artists and profile some of the best American cities for international students who choose to pursue an education in the U.S.

Topping our list is the great state of Texas, which is home to four of the top-10 best cities for artists and five of the top-20 coolest cities in the U.S. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The Lone Star state, which is the second-most populous state and second-largest state by landmass, has a long history of supporting the arts through its melting pot of cultures and deeply rooted traditions.

Houston, TX- #7 Best City for Artists

  • Arts & Culture Index- 91
  • Recreation Index- 94
  • Diversity Index- 77.1
  • Number of Local Eateries- 11,196
  • Median Age- 33
  • Unemployment Rate- 6.9%
  • Cost of Living Index- 92.2
  • Average Salary for Arts, Design & Media Occupations- $46,750
  • Location Quotient- 0.69

Houston Art Scene

Students getting their degree in Houston will enjoy all the staples of the performing arts world, along with a large and growing number of offbeat art sites. To start, Houston is one of only five cities across the country that boasts permanent resident companies in each of the major performing arts disciplines. The presence of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, and Alley Theatre, gives students access to a unique blend of known classics and cutting edge artistry. Adding to the vibrancy of Houston’s performing and visual arts culture is the Houston Theatre District, which spans 17 downtown blocks and has nearly 13,000 seats for live performances.

When it comes to unique and diverse art spaces, Houston definitely has its share. An excursion around the city’s out of the way art sites will reveal some of the most quirky and award-winning displays you can find anywhere in the country. First amongst these experiences is the Museum of Cultural Arts Houston (MOCAH). The MOCAH provides special events and workshops that bring established and emerging artists together to create public art works and programs. Next is the Project Row Houses, an award-winning public art project, which consists of eight houses used as gallery spaces. Every six months, a new art installation is introduced to each house by a new group of seven artists. Finally, there is the regionally famous Beer Can House, which features an estimated 50,000 flattened beers cans as siding and decoration.

Houston Artist Employment and Careers

The Houston area has performed better than most job markets during the past year, and is strong by most indications. While it may not seem like a positive indicator, job postings in the Houston area have declined by only 19 percent, which is relatively low in comparison to a national decline of approximately 32 percent. Unemployment has risen moderately in the past year, from 6.9 percent to 7.1 percent, but so has the population (2.5 percent year-over-year growth). The short-term outlook for the Houston economy appears promising as well. According to recent data, Houston had the most non-agricultural job growth of any major metro in the United States in the past year. Artist salaries have seemed to fair well also, with commercial and industrial designers topping the list of average annual earnings, reaching $71,250 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other notable careers with excellent salary potential are fashion designers, and multimedia artists, which make $66,560 and $57,570 per year on average.

Featured Texas Art Programs and Classes

Speak with Texas art school representatives and learn how to enroll in art programs today.