Sustainability is a universal goal that requires balancing social, economic and environmental dimensions, and that applies to both terrestrial and marine environments. Several authors argue that arts are valuable tools to frame and engage with current environmental issues related to sustainability, including pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss. Accordingly, our research question is: What is the role of art in the sustainability of coasts and seas? We searched our research question on the two most important scientific databases of articles (Scopus and Web of Science) and retrieved 1,352 articles. We narrowed the articles to 79 studies that actually address our question through screening. The dataset describes a variety of artworks from the four art categories (literary, media, performing and visual) around the world, although the more frequent countries are the US, the UK and Australia. We found that visual arts are more common (~40%), and engagement is a highlighted pursued impact (~40%) by these artistic practices. Other authors also intend to promote marine conservation and restoration, management, education and activism. Only 19 articles of the dataset measured the impact of artistic activities on their audience. This subset shows evidence of art contributions to sustainability mainly through raising awareness, learning, and promoting engagement and enjoyment of project participants. Through this work, we set the current state of knowledge on this emerging topic, and argue that further research and new strategies of impact measurement are needed to thoroughly understand the effect of art on coastal/marine sustainability.