A few years ago there were only a handful of gallery spaces in the Illawarra and artists were leaving in droves to pursue careers in "arty" hubs like Melbourne and Newtown.
But now it seems art in Wollongong is undergoing a revival thanks to a huge number of smaller gallery spaces and art groups popping up in the city.
Good Jelly in Crown Street's central chambers is one of these independently-run spaces. Its founder, Dioni Pinilla, says art has always been a huge part of the Illawarra, but as more artists and entrepreneurs open a new space, people are becoming more aware of its existence.
"People think Wollongong isn't an art town, but it is an art town," he says.
"It's just the fact people don't know about it. It's always been an art town, there's been people doing exactly what I'm doing now in the past and I'm just trying to get that going and make it a bit of a fixture.
"There's definitely the need and the want and now it's just the matter of keeping it there and nurturing and growing it further so we can be there long term."
From photographers to illustrators, painters to graffiti artists, sculptors to graphic designers, there is a huge spectrum of creative people in the Illawarra.
Many spaces have opened outside of Wollongong as well, with several new galleries in the northern suburbs, council-run initiatives like the Shellharbour Village Exhibition Space and cafes and framing stores that are expanding their businesses to include display space for artists.
There are also many community-based art groups, from the Jamberoo Art Group and Helensburgh Art Club to more subject-focused groups such as Life On Flinders.
Pinilla says there is a huge demand for art in the region at the moment, so the different art spaces work together to promote it.
"It's definitely a hub, we're all there to support each other, we're not about being competitive or being aggressive and trying to make more sales than anyone else, we're all there to have something there for the community."
Rebecca O'Shea from Gallery: 5 Crown Lane agrees.
"They're all separate entities, but there's a sense of community among that as well."
She says places such as Project Contemporary Artspace and Wollongong City Gallery have been open for years, but the number of dedicated art spaces has increased as artists become motivated to create a place to work on their own projects.
As co-director of the gallery, she and the other owners initially opened two years ago to give themselves a place to work and exhibit.
"We saw a need for it, we wanted a space to experiment with our work in. I've got an interest in curating shows and this is a cool place to be able to do it."
Wollongong City Gallery program director John Monteleone says these sorts of spaces feed off one another.
"It creates a bit of a buzz, as soon as one starts up, others soon follow and it brings people into these areas. It really starts to regenerate these city areas, and that's really starting to happen in Wollongong at the moment."