Why You Need to Visit Your Local First Friday for Artistic Inspiration

colorful abstract mural

It’s summertime, and you may be looking for ways to get inspired and discover new trends in the art world. There are new artistic adventures right around the corner. You can attend a conference, visit museums and galleries, and scour the Internet for new ideas. However, consider putting a First Friday event on your calendar. First Friday takes place in many cities across the United States on the first Friday of the month. Galleries, studios, and art spaces open their doors to the public for an evening of art, music, and community. It’s a great opportunity to discover emerging artists, meet fellow art lovers, and get inspired by the local creative scene.

booths in street

Below are some of the activities you can participate in during First Friday:

  • Explore different galleries and art spaces.
  • Meet and network with local artists and art enthusiasts.
  • Attend artist talks and exhibitions to learn more about specific works and processes.
  • Take photos and gather inspiration for future lesson plans and projects.
  • Browse art supplies and resources displayed by vendors.
  • Support local artists and small businesses by purchasing artwork or merchandise.
  • Invite your students and their families to build relationships.
  • Attend workshops or demonstrations to learn new techniques and skills.
  • Participate in art-related activities such as live painting or interactive installations.
  • Enjoy the live music, food, and entertainment.

With the much-needed free time this summer, let’s explore the many reasons to get out of the house and visit First Friday in the upcoming months!

Keep reading for nine ways First Fridays are exciting and give artistic inspiration.

gallery space with mannequins

1. Discover emerging artists and trends.

First Friday events are a great opportunity to see new and emerging artists and the latest trends in the art world. As an art teacher, staying up-to-date with what’s happening can help you inspire your students and keep your teaching fresh and engaging. You can find new artists to introduce to your students. Who knows? Maybe they would love to come in to make art with your students and talk to them about their work!

2. Meet fellow art lovers and community members.

First Friday events are a fun and social way to connect with other art lovers and creative community members. Networking and building relationships help you stay connected to the local art scene. First Fridays aid in finding new opportunities for collaboration or inspiration. You may stumble upon a local coffee shop willing to display your students’ artwork. Or you may meet someone who works at the city hall and is looking for creative critical thinkers to intern with them. Students will benefit from other adults investing in them and the art program.

people walking outside cafe

3. Learn about different techniques and mediums.

These events often showcase a variety of mediums and techniques. There is sculpture, photography, mixed media, and much more. Attending a First Friday can help you expand your knowledge and understanding of different artistic techniques and mediums to incorporate into the curriculum. If you discover a new piece of art during a First Friday, the artist is usually there to answer any questions. Take the time to chat with vendors and artists—you may discover something to enhance your teaching practice.

4. Connect with your students and their families.

Invite your students and their families to First Friday events for a fun and educational way to connect with them outside the classroom. This can help you build stronger relationships with your school community and lead to increased engagement and participation in the classroom. Consider offering students extra credit for attending a First Friday to encourage them to go. Find out what activities and galleries will participate in the First Friday, and create a scavenger hunt for your students to complete. Introducing the local art community to your students helps them connect the classroom to the real world.

light installation

5. Get inspired by the local creative scene.

First Friday often takes place in neighborhoods or districts known for being artistic and creative communities. We see how artists use their talents to make a tangible impact on the community around them. Find artists with local causes or non-profits benefiting your community and see how you, your school, or your students can get involved!

6. Support local artists and businesses.

By attending First Friday events, you are supporting not only local artists but also the small businesses and galleries that host these events. This helps foster a sense of community and garners support for the local arts. This creates a positive impact on the economy and the area’s culture.

7. Gain feedback on your work.

If you’re an artist-teacher, First Friday events can be a great opportunity to showcase your work and get feedback from fellow artists and art lovers. This can help you improve your skills, refine your techniques, and even find new opportunities for exhibitions or collaborations.

colorful abstract mural

8. Engage with diverse perspectives. 

First Friday events often showcase a variety of styles and genres of art, as well as artists from diverse backgrounds and experiences. This can be a great opportunity to engage with different perspectives and broaden an understanding of the art world. When you expose yourself to a variety of cultural perspectives, you can incorporate this knowledge into your teaching practice. You can promote critical thinking and empathy by creating a more inclusive and culturally responsive art curriculum that reflects the community the students live in. When students see people from their community in the curriculum, they are more engaged in learning and empowered in their artmaking.

9. Participate with minimal financial investment.

First Friday events are often free or low-cost, making them very accessible. This means you don’t have to break the bank to attend these events, and you can invite your students and their families to join you for a fun and educational evening without worrying about the cost.

dinosaur sculpture

So, pop on some comfortable shoes, bring your sense of adventure, and keep an open mind. First Friday offers unique and exciting ways for art teachers to get inspired and stay connected to the local art scene. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newbie, there’s always something interesting to discover at these monthly events. You never know what treasures you may unearth or who you may meet. Happy First Friday-ing!

How else can attending a First Friday make you a better artist and art teacher?

If you’ve been to a First Friday event before, what is your favorite part?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Rebekah Hower

Rebekah Hower, a middle school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She is passionate about creating an engaging and relevant environment for students to discover and experiment.

More from Rebekah