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. Use of the term to
describe writers, for example, is valid, but less common, and mostly
restricted to contexts like criticism.
1 Dictionary definitions
2 History of the term
3 The present day concept of an 'artist'
4 Training and employment
5 Examples of art and artists
6 See also
9 External links
Wiktionary defines the noun 'artist' (Singular: artist; Plural:
artists) as follows:
A person who creates art.
A person who makes and creates art as an occupation.
A person who is skilled at some activity.
A person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design,
drawing, painting, etc.
Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary defines the older broad meanings of the
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,
In Greek culture each of the nine
Muses oversaw a different field of
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
Euterpe (the 'well-pleasing'): muse of music and lyric poetry
Melpomene (the 'chanting one'): muse of tragedy
Polyhymnia or Polymnia (the '[singer] of many hymns'): muse of sacred
song, oratory, lyric, singing, and rhetoric
Terpsichore (the '[one who] delights in dance'): muse of choral song
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
The word art derives from the Latin "ars" (stem art-), which, although
literally defined, means "skill method" or "technique", and 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
Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472): De re aedificatoria,
De statua, De pictura, 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
Renaissance in raising their status, formerly similar to these
workers, to a decisively higher level, but in the 20th century the
distinction became rather less relevant.
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
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 &
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"
Project [SNAAP], 2011; Tepper &
Training and employment
US Bureau of Labor Statistics
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
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
Comedy: Charlie Chaplin
Comics: Will Eisner
Composing: Giuseppe Verdi
Conceptual art: Sol LeWitt
Cubism: Pablo Picasso
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
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 Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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
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
Sculpture: Auguste Rodin
Songwriting: Joni Mitchell
Stand Up Comedian: Richard Pryor
Street Art: Banksy
Suprematism: Kazimir Malevich
Surrealism: Salvador Dalí
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
Arts by region
Artist in Residence
List of painters by name
List of painters
List of composers
List of sculptors
Mathematics and art
Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary s.v. technic
^ In Our Time: The
BBC Radio 4, TX 28 March 2002
^ P.Galloni, Il sacro artefice. Mitologie degli artigiani medievali,
Laterza, Bari, 1998
^ Kenneth G. Wilson. The Columbia guide to standard American English.
^ Getlein, Mark (2012). Living with Art. McGraw-Hill Education.
^ Clowney, David (21 December 2008). "A Third System of the Arts? An
Exploration of Some Ideas from Larry Shiner's The Invention of Art: A
Cultural History". www.contempaesthetics.org. Retrieved
^ "concept of artist".
^ a b c d e f "
Craft and Fine Artists". Occupational Outlook Handbook
(2016–17 ed.). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 17 December 2015.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Artist
P.Galloni, Il sacro artefice. Mitologie degli artigiani medievali,
Laterza, Bari, 1998
C. T. Onions (1991). The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Clarendon
Press Oxford. ISBN 0-19-861126-9
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