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By: Noel Dahl on December 13th, 2017

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Top 3 Reasons Why San Francisco Is the Best City for Art Students

Choosing A College | San Francisco | College Locations | For Undergraduates

When you choose an art school, you’re not just choosing a school — faculty, curriculum, campus housing, and all the rest — you’re choosing a scene. More than almost any other discipline, the study of art requires immersing yourself in art, surrounding yourself with people who are making art, at every level and in every form, to cultivate inspiration and opportunity.

For that, nothing beats a big city. And in the U.S., nothing beats San Francisco.

San Francisco has been called, among other things, one of the most inspiring cities for young artists, one of the world’s top cities for designers, and the top North American city for an animation career.

Now add this superlative to the list: America’s best city for art students. Here are three reasons why:

1. There Are Artists Everywhere You Go

There’s no way to quantify the exact number of artists in any given city, but by any measure you can conceive of, San Francisco and the Bay Area top the list.. The region has a long and storied history as a national art capital; artists young and old have flocked to San Francisco for decades to share their ideas and work with each other.

Artists have begun populating the other side of the bay, as well. One arts website recently named Oakland the best city for creative 20-somethings other than New York.

And it’s not just full-time artists that make the Bay Area scene so vibrant. Noting that artists are just as likely to be employed as teachers or librarians, Forbes looked at online fundraising sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to name America’s most creative cities.

“Not surprisingly,” the report found, San Francisco, a tech-forward city where art and digital innovation intersect, came out ahead.

2. There is Art Everywhere You Look

The San Francisco arts scene — always strong and forward-thinking — is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance as of late. A refreshed San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is leading the way.

“Hundreds of Bay Area collectors have rallied around the museum and, in the process, they have given even greater meaning to collecting,” one local art insider said. “I expect that many more collectors and curators will come to San Francisco on a regular basis.”

But the SFMOMA is far from the only art institution in town. Museums abound throughout the city for interests ranging from cartoon art to Asian art. And here’s a bonus for cash-strapped art students: Many of them offer free admission once a month.

If you want to go beyond the museums, get a little edgier, and check in on the latest work from up-and-coming artists, studios like the Minnesota Street Project, who works together closely with CCA, have transformed abandoned warehouses and aging neighborhoods into exciting art spaces.

3. Creativity Drives the Local Industry

Even more so than its art scene, perhaps, San Francisco is known worldwide as a center for innovation in business, technology, and digital culture. Companies like Pixar, Adobe, Sega of America, and Lucasfilm Animation are always on the lookout for creative talent to bring their vision to life.

For art students looking at their post-graduation career prospects, the Bay Area offers a wealth of opportunities for internships and networking. When you’re on the job hunt in today’s competitive economy, this could be just the edge you need to set yourself apart from the pack.

Where might you find yourself interning in and around San Francisco? For an insider’s view, read these testimonials from design students at California College of the Arts. These students interned at leading tech companies like Google, Motorola, and Flipboard.

“One of the most rewarding things about my position is getting to have touch points with people on every team in the company,” reports one student who interned at Townsquared. “Not only am I practicing and growing as a visual designer, but also I'm learning all of the ins and outs of how to grow a startup."

What Makes the Best City for Art Students?

We think San Francisco is the best city in the world for art students, but what do you think? What are you looking for in the city where you’ll attend art school? What cities would you recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

To help you narrow down your choices for art school, we’ve put together a helpful step-by-step guide. Click on the link below to get your free copy of “10 Steps to Choosing the Right Art School for Your Career.”




Photo cred: Photographer Travis Wise, from Flickr

About Noel Dahl

Noel Dahl is director of graduate admissions at California College of the Arts, where he oversees the recruitment, admissions, and enrollment functions of the school's graduate programs. He received his MFA in Fine Arts and has worked in higher education for the past 15 years.


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