You might argue that any city in the world has enough culture to stir the creative soul and this is totally true, but there are also certain cities for creatives that offer a little bit more inspiration and cultural food. The list of these cities is actually ever-changing because, quite simply, the culture that stems from creativity (art, music, theater, dance etc) is organic and constant. This means that the current list of cities for creatives will be very different in a different timeframe. Here are some that are at the top of the current creative pop charts.
1. Brussels, Belgium
Europe is known for its elaborate opera houses, grandiose cathedrals, and landmark works of art dating back centuries, but Brussels...Brussels knows how to push the envelope with a bit of humor and a refreshing sense of modernity. Whether in their city sculpture of a small man urinating (Le Mannequin Pis), or in the 1920s comic strip Tintin used as wallpaper on every street corner or billboard, Brussels is one of the top cities for creatives who have a particularly wicked sense of humor. The city allows plenty of opportunities for creatives to step out into the limelight. Communal squares spot Brussels, where street artists run wild, while the monthly Gay Pride festivals and the fantastic Balloon Day Parade add bursts of color and free spirit to the streets. If you’re a bike enthusiast, an artist, a humorist or anything in between, Brussels is the place to be inspired to create.
2. Memphis, USA
With loads of public works of art and a cheap cost of living, Memphis is growing its creative community with such initiatives as the Urban Art Commission and Live from Memphis. This city has long been a city of music, and the best time to catch some of the greatest live performances is during the city-wide month-long festival “Memphis in May.” The festival boasts the World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest, the Beale Street Music Festival, and an International Week which celebrates a select country from some far corner of the world. Not only do musicians and artists love Memphis for its creative juices, but the Southern home cooked meals are simply to die for.
3. Macau, China
Though the People’s Republic of China is not known for encouraging creative freedom, Macau is a whole other world from the mainland. Macau’s San Lazaro is a creative community atop a hill, coming alive with color. Once very military, the community has since turned over a new leaf in architecture and style, seen in the boutique hotels and hip ‘lil cafes. Lines Lab, with their Design and Fashion lab, attracts creatives to the city, while Creative Macau is a project aiming to support fresh talent in everything from visual art to graphic design to film. If you’re looking to spend some creative time in Asia, Macau is one of the top cities for creative types in the East.
4. São Paulo, Brazil
As the southern hemisphere’s NYC, São Paulo is a punch and a kick of loud excitement and creativity. Street art is king here, which you can see with one walk through this tough urban metropolis. From great big billboards to rundown buildings – bright, colorful, and often politically charged graffiti artworks cover this creative city from head to toe. The renowned Brazilian Museum of Sculpture, also known as MuBE, even hosted space in their gallery to support some of São Paulo’s top graffiti artists. Other cities in the world might view graffiti as vandalism, but São Paulo knows the difference between creation and destruction.
5. Jakarta, Indonesia
Digital creatives, have I the city for you! Jakarta in Indonesia is booming with digital opportunities, from broadcasting to mobile to digital start-ups. Western investors are keeping an eye on creative entrepreneurs, throwing money at trends that help young creatives grow their own businesses. And Jakarta’s ingenuity does not stop there. The city has student art unions, like Kampong Segart, an arts education community, Serrum, and even regular creative communal gatherings, such as those hosted by the bookstore, Askara. Create in Jakarta, and you won’t be alone.
6. Dresden, Germany
Dresden is drenched in public art. A percent of Dresden’s city budget is designated for financing urban art projects, in order to make art more easily accessible to all residents. Dresden is also home to plenty of guerrilla artists who finance their own creativity, which sprouts up all over the streets, as well as online via Tumblr and Facebook. The city is becoming an avant garde open air museum, and one of the most inspirational cities for creatives.
7. Montreal, Canada
While Montreal is famed for its French cultural influence, a creative might be more influenced by the city’s Mile-End neighborhood, which is entirely composed of collaborative art spaces, community cafes and art galleries built one on top of another. Mile-End is an indie artist’s dream, with a weekly gathering for “tam-tam,” a collective jam session in Mount Royal. Fashion designers also flourish here in shops like Montrealite and Arterie. So bring your style, bring your drum, and bring your paint, and you’re sure to have one hell of a creative time!
Do you think you’d find your creative mojo in any of these places? What other places have inspired you?