An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only. The term is often used in the entertainment business, especially in a business context, for musicians and other performers (less often for actors). "Artiste" (the French for artist) is a variant used in English only in this context; this use is becoming rare. Use of the term to describe writers, for example, is valid, but less common, and mostly restricted to contexts like criticism.
A learned person or Master of Arts
One who pursues a practical science, traditionally medicine, astrology, alchemy, chemistry
A follower of a pursuit in which skill comes by study or practice
A follower of a manual art, such as a mechanic
One who makes their craft a fine art
One who cultivates one of the fine arts – traditionally the arts presided over by the muses
History of the term
The Greek word "techně", often translated as "art," implies mastery of any sort of craft.
The adjectival Latin form of the word, "technicus", became the source of the English words technique, technology, technical.
In Greek culture each of the nine Muses oversaw a different field of human creation:
Calliope (the 'beautiful of speech'): chief of the muses and muse of epic or heroic poetry
Clio (the 'glorious one'): muse of history
Erato (the 'amorous one'): muse of love or erotic poetry, lyrics, and marriage songs
Euterpe (the 'well-pleasing'): muse of music and lyric poetry
Melpomene (the 'chanting one'): muse of tragedy
Terpsichore (the '[one who] delights in dance'): muse of choral song and dance
Thalia (the 'blossoming one'): muse of comedy and bucolic poetry
Urania (the 'celestial one'): muse of astronomy
No muse was identified with the visual arts of painting and sculpture.
In ancient Greece sculptors and painters were held in low regard, somewhere between freemen and slaves, their work regarded as mere manual labour.
The word art derives from the Latin "ars" (stem art-), which, although literally defined means "skill method" or "technique", also conveys a connotation of beauty.
During the Middle Ages the word artist already existed in some countries such as Italy, but the meaning was something resembling craftsman, while the word artesan was still unknown. An artist was someone able to do a work better than others, so the skilled excellency was underlined, rather than the activity field. In this period some "artisanal" products (such as textiles) were much more precious and expensive than paintings or sculptures.
The first division into major and minor arts dates back at least to the works of Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472):, which focused on the importance of the intellectual skills of the artist rather than the manual skills (even if in other forms of art there was a project behind).
With the Academies in Europe (second half of 16th century) the gap between fine and applied arts was definitely set.
Many contemporary definitions of "artist" and "art" are highly contingent on culture, resisting aesthetic prescription, in much the same way that the features constituting beauty and the beautiful cannot be standardized easily without corruption into kitsch.
The present day concept of an 'artist'
Artist is a descriptive term applied to a person who engages in an activity deemed to be an art. An artist also may be defined unofficially as "a person who expresses him- or herself through a medium". The word is also used in a qualitative sense of, a person creative in, innovative in, or adept at, an artistic practice.
Most often, the term describes those who create within a context of the fine arts or 'high culture', activities such as drawing, painting, sculpture, acting, dancing, writing, filmmaking, new media, photography, and music—people who use imagination, talent, or skill to create works that may be judged to have an aesthetic value. Art historians and critics define artists as those who produce art within a recognized or recognizable discipline. Contrasting terms for highly skilled workers in media in the applied arts or decorative arts include artisan, craftsman, and specialized terms such as potter, goldsmith or glassblower. Fine arts artists such as painters succeeded in the Renaissance in raising their status, formerly similar to these workers, to a decisively higher level.
The term may also be used loosely or metaphorically to denote highly skilled people in any non-"art" activities, as well— law, medicine, mechanics, or mathematics, for example.
Often, discussions on the subject focus on the differences among "artist" and "technician", "entertainer" and "artisan", "fine art" and "applied art", or what constitutes art and what does not. The French word artiste (which in French, simply means "artist") has been imported into the English language where it means a performer (frequently in Music Hall or Vaudeville). Use of the word "artiste" can also be a pejorative term.
The English word 'artiste' has thus a narrower range of meaning than the word 'artiste' in French.
In Living with Art, Mark Getlein proposes six activities, services or functions of contemporary artists:
Create places for some human purpose.
Create extraordinary versions of ordinary objects.
Record and commemorate.
Give tangible form to the unknown.
Give tangible form to feelings.
Refresh our vision and help see the world in new ways.
After looking at years of data on arts school graduates as well as policies & program outcomes regarding artists, arts, & culture, Elizabeth Lingo and Steven Tepper propose the divide between "arts for art's sake" artists and commercially successful artists is not as wide as may be perceived, and that "this bifurcation between the commercial and the noncommercial, the excellent and the base, the elite and the popular, is increasingly breaking down" (Eikhof & Haunschild, 2007).
Lingo and Tepper point out:
arts consumers don't restrict themselves to either "high" or "common" arts; instead, they demonstrate "omnivorous tastes, liking both reggae and Rachmaninoff" (Peterson & Kern, 1996; Walker & Scott-Melnyk, 2002)
data indicates "artists are willing to move across sectors and no longer see working outside the commercial sector as a badge of distinction or authenticity" (Bridgstock, 2013; Ellmeier, 2003)
academic, policy, and government leaders are adapting—widening—programs & opportunities in recognition of "the role of artists as drivers of economic growth and innovation" (Bohm & Land, 2009; DCMS, 2006, 2008; Florida, 2012; Hesmondhalgh & Baker, 2010; Lloyd, 2010; Iyengar, 2013).
arts graduates name "business and management skills" as the "number one area [they] wish they had been more exposed to in college" (Strategic National Arts Alumni Project [SNAAP], 2011; Tepper & Kuh, 2010).
Training and employment
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies many visual artists as either craft artists or fine artists. A craft artist makes handmade functional works of art, such as pottery or clothing. A fine artist makes paintings, illustrations (such as book illustrations or medical illustrations), sculptures, or similar artistic works primarily for their aesthetic value.
The main source of skill for both craft artists and fine artists is long-term repetition and practice. Many fine artists have studied their art form at university and some have a master's degree in fine arts.
Artists may also study on their own or receive on-the-job training from an experienced artist.
The number of available jobs as an artist is increasing more slowly than other fields. About half of US artists are self-employed.
Others work in a variety of industries.
For example, a pottery manufacturer will employ craft artists, and book publishers will hire illustrators.
In the US, fine artists have a median income of approximately US$50,000 per year, and craft artists have a median income of approximately US$33,000 per year. This compares to US$61,000 for all art-related fields, including related jobs such as graphic designers, multimedia artists, animators, and fashion designers. Many artists work part-time as artists and hold a second job.
Examples of art and artists
Abstract Art: Wassily Kandinsky
Abstract expressionism: Jackson Pollock
Action painting: Willem de Kooning
Actor: Marlon Brando
Actress: Greta Garbo
Animation: Chuck Jones
Appropriation art: Marcel Duchamp
Architect: I.M. Pei
Art Deco: Erté
Art Nouveau: Louis Comfort Tiffany
Assemblage: Joseph Cornell
Ballet: Margot Fonteyn
Baroque Art: Caravaggio
BioArt: Hunter Cole
Book artist: Carol Barton
Calligraphy: Rudolf Koch
Cartoons: Carl Barks
Caricature: Honoré Daumier
Ceramic art: Peter Voulkos
Choreography: Martha Graham
Collage: Romare Bearden
Color Field: Mark Rothko
Colorist: Josef Albers
Comics: Will Eisner
Composing: Giuseppe Verdi
Conceptual art: Sol LeWitt
Dada: Man Ray
Dance: Isadora Duncan
Decollage: Mimmo Rotella
Design: Arne Jacobsen
Digital art: David Em
Doll Maker: Greer Lankton
Etching: Csaba Markus
Expressionism: Edvard Munch
Fashion design: Yves Saint Laurent
Fashion illustration: Joel Resnicoff
Fauvist: Henri Matisse
Fiction writing: Virginia Woolf
Film director: Jean-Luc Godard
Fluxus: George Maciunas
Fumage: Burhan Dogancay
Video game design: Peter Molyneux
Geometric abstraction: Piet Mondrian
Genius: Leonardo da Vinci
Graphic design: Milton Glaser
Happening: Allan Kaprow
Hard-edge painting: Theo van Doesburg
Horticulture: André le Nôtre
Illustrations: Quentin Blake
Impressionist: Claude Monet
Industrial design: Frank Lloyd Wright
Installation art: Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Instrumental performance: André Rieu
Internet art: Aaron Koblin
Kinetic art: Wajid Khan (artist)
Landscape architecture: Frederick Law Olmsted
Landscape art: John Constable
Light art: Dan Flavin
Mail art: Ray Johnson
Minimalist art: Donald Judd
Mosaics: Elaine M Goodwin
Murals: Diego Rivera
Musical instrument assemblage: Antonio Stradivari
Musical Theatre: Stephen Sondheim
Musician: Miles Davis
Neo-impressionism: Paul Signac
Neo-figurative: Verónica Ruiz de Velasco
New Media art: Ken Feingold
Non Fiction writing: Maya Angelou
Op Art: Bridget Riley
Ornithology: John James Audubon
Outsider art: Howard Finster
Painting: Rembrandt van Rijn
Performance Art: Carolee Schneemann
Performer: Al Jolson
Photography: Ansel Adams
Playwriting: Edward Albee
Poetry: Emily Dickinson
Pointillism: Georges Seurat
Pop Art: Andy Warhol
Posters: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Post-Impressionism: Vincent van Gogh
Pottery: Bernard Leach
Printmaking: Albrecht Dürer
Puppetry: Jim Henson
Realism: Ilya Repin
Renaissance art: Michelangelo Buonarroti
Rococo: Antoine Watteau
Songwriting: Joni Mitchell
Stand Up Comedian: Richard Pryor
Street Art: Banksy
Suprematism: Kazimir Malevich
Surrealism: Salvador Dalí
Textile art: Sheila Hicks
Theatre: William Shakespeare
Theatre Arts: Robert Edmond Jones
Theatre Director: Peter Brook
Typography: Eric Gill
Vedette: Susana Gimenez
Video Art: Bill Viola
Visual effects artist