The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Artist is a broad term. This is because the activities of artistic production are many and various. Often we speak of writers, actors, dancers, musicians, filmmakers and singers as artists. A more restricted meaning is one who makes (usually visual) art, i.e. a Fine Artist. This also distinguishes Artist from one who makes objects that can be categorised as being works of Applied Art.

The broader meanings of the term artist are cited in the Oxford English dictionary as follows:

  • A learned person or Master of Arts.
  • One who persues a practical science, traditionally medicine, astrology, alchemy, chemistry.
  • A follower of a pursuit in which skill comes by study or practice - the opposite of a theorist.
  • 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.

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It is interesting to contrast the ideas of artist and technologist, since the roots of these words are, in essence similar, and describe skill. (cf Technique, Technology, Technical. These words derive from the Latin word tecnicus, in turn derived from the Greek word techně meaning art.)

Within fine arts, there are many media . In art we speak of plastic arts, meaning the production of art using plastic media , i.e. media that are capable of modulation, such as paint, clay, or wood. Fine Art (cf. French Beaux Arts) is a term meant to distinguish production of art for its own sake from production of applied art objects (textile designs, functional ceramic objects for example), however the category of Applied Arts which can be compared in meaning to Crafts, or Handicrafts is also difficult to define precisely.

Visual Arts can be sub-divided into two-dimensional media (Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Photography, Graphic Design, Typography, Textile Design or Surface Pattern Design ), three-dimensional art can be sub-divided into (Sculpture, Ceramics, Architecture) etc., four-dimensional media into (Performance Art, Film, Video, Movement). There is another category that does not fit comfortably into any of these three areas, namely Conceptual Art.

The status of artist is difficult to define. Art Historians have criteria to define Artists i.e. those producers of Art with recognised provenance.

It is widely accepted that anyone can call themselves an 'Artist', however it is ultimately for posterity to decide, and it does.

See Lists of artists

Last updated: 06-01-2005 23:38:48
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