10 Things for Artists To Do in Portland

I know when I travel to new places as an artist, I love to find out where the local artists shop. Knowing when the local art walks and other art-related activities happen is also great information to have when planning a trip. Did you know that planning a vacation gives you most of the mental boost of taking the vacation? So consider this travel guide for artists to my city of Portland a gift to your mental health.

portland travel guide for artists by jessica nichols

I’ve broken this travel guide into three sections: places to get supplies, regularly occurring art walks and art-related activities you’ll enjoy. Of course, Portland has a reputation as a hotbed of creativity so this is a starting point for your research. Feel free to pin it for later!


Let’s talk art supplies. Happiness! Of course, Portland has a giant Blick so I didn’t include it in my travel guide. I’m a frequent shopper there but there are plenty of other art supply stores in town.

1. Artist & Craftsman Supply has two locations in Portland: one in North Portland and one in SE Portland. I visit their SE location since it’s between my home and painting studio. They are employee-owned, and the SE location is small but densely stocked with a knowledgeable friendly staff, and they have a dedicated parking lot. Win!

2. Columbia Art & Drafting Supply is on East Burnside which is what divides north and south Portland on both sides of the Willamette River. This is a medium-sized art supply store with yes, another knowledgeable & friendly staff. There isn’t a dedicated parking lot but I’ve found street parking with ease. Note: they are closed on Sunday, so plan accordingly. Plant lover alert: it’s also located directly across the street from an amazing terra cotta pottery store called Little Baja

3. Collage is an art & craft supply store with two locations in SE Portland (Sellwood and Division neighborhoods) and one in NE on Alberta Street. They have a little bit of everything.


Depending on when you visit, there could be an art walk to check out. If you’re really planning ahead (Hi to my Virgo readers), you might plan your trip to coincide with one.

4. First Thursday is in the NW area of Portland. This is an art walk through art galleries that covers downtown to the Pearl District to the NW District. Note: pair this with a trip to Powells. 

5. First Friday PDX is in the  Central Eastside district of SE Portland (fun fact: this is where my studio is located). You’ll look at the map and find your way to variety of open art studios.

6. Last Thursday is in the NE part of Portland. This art walk covers 15 blocks in the Alberta Arts District in June, July and August each year. Note: pair this art walk with a trip to Collage.

travel guide for artists visiting portland

Item 10 is a street mural called The Collector by Josh Keyes (whose work we studied in my winter painting class at PCC).


This section includes activities from the obvious to the definitely-unique-to-Portland!

7. Portland Art Museum is being filed under O for Obvious but hey now you know they’re closed on Mondays, kids under 17 are always free, every Friday, it’s $5 admission after 5 p.m. AND there’s free admission for grownups too on the first Thursday of each month from 5-8 p.m. Note: hmmm did they do that on purpose? See item 4 in this guide. Sketching in pencil, colored pencil, and charcoal pencil is encouraged, but the use of ballpoint pens, crayons, pastel, charcoal, and wet media is not permitted. 

8. Land Gallery is an art gallery + rad gift shop in the Mississippi neighborhood in North Portland. The gift shop features books, cards, prints, tees, and more from about 100 artists — souvenir heaven. It’s also very close to Pistils Nursery, a must visit if you love plants as much as art. 

9. Explore Portland Street Art is a unique-to-Portland airbnb experience. This 3.5 hour tour is a social impact experience with airbnb with means the fee you pay for the tour goes directly to the Portland Street Art Alliance. airbnb notes that availability for this tour is “extremely rare” so plan ahead or plan way ahead and book your tour, then airfare and lodging. At the time of this blog post (April 2019), the fee for this activity is $65/per person.

10. SE Portland Murals — so this is a self-guided activity, unlike the guided tour with airbnb listed above, but there are some incredible murals in SE Portland. Bonus: wide availability as it’s up to your schedule. I’m really grateful many of these are on my daily commute from home to studio and highly recommend seeing some of them while you’re in town.

I hope my travel guide for artists has inspired you to plan a trip to Portland! Please leave a comment if you’re a local artist and you can’t believe I left __________ off my list or if you’re in town and want to come see my studio.