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The best art classes in NYC

Here are the top NYC art classes for every student looking to sharpen their artistic skills, from beginner to advanced

Photograph: Sun Kim
By Howard Halle |

Very few cities have the amount of great art that we’ve got right here in NYC. New York has the single largest concentration of galleries anywhere for one thing, and for another, has some of the finest museums in the world. And, as regular art fans know, this surfeit of artistic treasures can be inspiring. Indeed, you may have even considered taking up art yourself as you’ve wandered through the various collections at The Met, MoMA and the Guggenheim. Well, we say go for it! After all, why spend all of you time just looking at works of art, or taking selfies with them, when you can discover you inner Picasso or Van Gogh? The trick is figuring out which mediums appeal to you (maybe it’s more than one) and where you can learn to master them. Well, we have just the list you need to find the best art classes in NYC for every taste and technique, from painting and sculpture to ceramics and silk-screen printing.

RECOMMENDED: Find more classes in NYC

Best art classes in NYC

School of Visual Arts
Art, Arts centers

School of Visual Arts

icon-location-pin East Village

One of the top professional art schools in the country, SVA, as it’s also known, offers dozens of continuing education courses in every imaginable subject related to contemporary art. And not just how-to classes in painting, etc: There’s also classes in art history, critical studies, video and even making art using genetic engineering!

art classes
Photograph: Courtesy of the Art Students League of New York

The Art Students League of New York

icon-location-pin Midtown West

One of the most venerable institutions of its type, The Art Students League of New York has been around since 1875. Some of the notable artists who have passed through there include Jackson Pollock, Norman Rockwell and Georgia O'Keeffe, and you can, too! Classes in painting, sculpture and drawing teach fundamentals from sketching live models to the finer points of color theory.

art classes
Photograph: Courtesy Kate Stamas
Art, Contemporary art

National Academy School

Perhaps the oldest art school in the United States, the National Academy School opened in 1825, and while its storied history might suggest and emphasis on tradition, the courses offered—in every conceivable medium—are totally up to the minute.

art classes
Art, Contemporary art

Painting Lounge

icon-location-pin Flatiron

If a name like Painting Lounge sounds to you like a place that is totally chill, well you’re absolutely right! Painting Lounge encourages BYOB, as long as it’s not hard liquor (they even provide cups, corkscrews and a fridge to keep your brewskis cold). The classes consists of professional artists taking you through a step-by-step process of replicating a featured painting every night. It could a Picasso or a Van Gogh, but there’s no right or wrong way to paint, just a relaxed, hassle-free environment to get in touch with your artistic side. Think of it as the visual-art equivalent of karaoke.

art classes
Photograph: Courtesy 92Y
Things to do, Cultural centers

92nd Street Y

icon-location-pin Upper East Side

New York’s best-known community center is famous for its lectures, concerts and talks, but art classes are also part of the program, and include everything from art appreciation to watercolor.

art classes

The Art Studio NY

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

If you’re intimidated by the thought of taking art classes—even beginners art classes—in a professional art-school setting, The Art Studio NY is for you. With names like “Fear-Free Drawing 101” and “Dare To Oil Paint” the courses at The Art Studio NY live up to the credo of treating all students with “warmth and care” by offering classes open to everyone from “2 to 102.”

Art, Contemporary art

EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop

Robert Blackburn (1920–2003) was a legend in the world of fine-art lithography and intaglio, and the co-operative printmaking workspace he founded in 1948 continues his legacy of providing the knowledge and equipment for tackling the intricacies of traditional printmaking techniques (stone lithography, etching and engraving), even if you’re a beginner.

art classes
Photograph: Courtesy Samantha Nichols
Art, Arts centers

BrickHouse Ceramic Art Center

icon-location-pin Long Island City

It’s hard to think of making pottery without recalling that orgasmic scene between Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost. But let’s face it there is something sensual about molding wet clay as it spins around on a wheel, so if pottery is an itch you’ve got to scratch, you can’t do better than this Long Island City ceramic studio. Learn the basics of throwing, glazing and firing a pot in BrickHouse’s stress-free atmosphere, which welcomes everyone regardless of skill level.

Gowanus Print Lab (image provided by venue)
Photograph: Courtesy Gowanus Print Lab
Things to do

The Gowanus Print Lab

icon-location-pin Gowanus

This community studio and workshop is all about teaching silk-screen printing for both fine art and design. Intro courses take you through the basics of creating stencils (both hand-cut and photo-sensitized), mixing inks and the proper methods for printing with a squeegee. The courses include specialized instruction for printing T-shirts, wallpaper and stationary, plus hi-speed printing using commercial four-color processes.

Photograph: Sun Kim
Things to do, Classes and workshops

Ashcan Studio Of Art

icon-location-pin Murray Hill

Thinking of going to art school or applying for an MFA program? Or maybe you’re looking to polish your art portfolio? Ashcan Studio of Art may be for you. Admittedly not a place for Sunday painters, the school offers intensive courses in all mediums that are designed to improve your skills and otherwise up your art game. The program is especially suited for aspiring art students. Classes are offered year-round, not only in Manhattan but also at locations in Flushing, Little Neck and Syosset.

art classes
Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Septimus
Things to do, Schools and universities

International Center of Photography School

icon-location-pin Midtown

Shutterbugs of all types can fine something to learn here at New York’s City preeminent photography school, where instruction is offered on all formats and sizes of cameras, including iPhones.

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