18 Types of Artist
John Spacey, December 28, 2020 updated on April 28, 2023
An artist is a professional or talented individual who produces creative expressions known as art. Artists play a critical role in culture by creating works of great value. Art captures the spirit of a time and place and becomes cultural heritage that can be passed to the future. Types of artist can be delineated according to art form or style. The following are common types of artist.
PaintingPainting is a primary branch of art with much history and culture behind it. It is considered high culture such that at times it has become overly institutionalized and standardized. Nevertheless, painters have produced revolutions in art known as art movements such that they have historically led the art world to define new styles, concepts and subject matter.
SculptureSculpture is an ancient visual art that originally involved carving and modelling in stone, metal, ceramics and wood. Modern sculpture also makes use of practical industrial materials such as concrete, steel and plastic. Sculptors have often struggled to obtain the same status in the art world as painters. For example, sculptors may have to fight the perception that they are craftspeople or tradespeople. There is something of a market for large sculpture for public spaces and architectural ornamentation.
DrawingDrawing is a foundational artistic skill. For example, painters and sculptors typically stretch future works. Perhaps for this reason, drawing doesn't traditionally get much respect and may be perceived as less finished and refined than paintings. There is a large commercial market for illustration, animation, architecture, engineering and technical drawings. As an art form, drawings lend themselves well to printmaking, posters and other marketable items such that many popular contemporary artists do nothing but draw.
ArchitectureArchitecture is viewed as a priceless type of cultural heritage. Society and culture change quickly but architecture is durable and remains frozen in time. Buildings are expensive and architects typically have a large number of commercial constraints and very little creative freedom. As such, the vast majority of architecture produced is uninspiring. Architects who succeed in producing creative expression may help to define their time and place.
Literary ArtsLiterary arts including fiction, drama, poetry and comic books.
FilmProfessionals involved in the creative side of film production can all be viewed as artists. Naturally, this is most valid where a film is produced as a means of creative expression as opposed to purely commercial aims. Roles such as producer, director, screenwriter, production designer, art director, costume designer, animator, cinematographer and actor are viewed as creative.
Performing ArtsPerforming art is any creative expression that is performed live such as dance, theatre and music. This includes high culture, pop culture, youth culture and avant garde performances. In many cases, youth culture or avant garde becomes high culture with time. For example, jazz was once popular youth culture only to become institutionalized and mature with time.
Traditional ArtsArts that are specific to the traditions of a culture. For example, the totem poles of the First Nations and indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast. Artists in these domains require immersion in the culture to be authentic.
CraftsThe primary difference between crafts and art is that crafts produce items that have a use. Where crafts have unusual creative value they may be viewed as art. In some cases, artistic movements have been influenced by crafts. For example, the 19th century Arts and Crafts movement that began in Britain and became an international style that went on to influence other movements such as Art Nouveau.
DesignThe primary difference between design and art is that design produces functionality. This line is often blurry and historically art movements have embraced areas such as typography that are now viewed as design. Fashion is also considered design.
PhotographyThe art and adventure of capturing a moment in time with a camera.
Commercial ArtistAn artist who produces works according to commercial requirements. There is a large market for commercial art for areas such as promotion, advertising, branding, merchandising, product design, publishing and interior design.
Installation ArtArt that occupies a space. An extremely broad and diverse type of art that first emerged within early 20th century avante guard movements such as Dada. This is a popular format for contemporary art shows and can draw commissions for works of commercial art.
Immersive ArtArt that surrounds the viewer such that they feel they are part of it. Usually installation art, digital art or both. A type of immersive experience.
Digital ArtArt that is virtual or partially virtual. This includes digital illustrations, mixed reality and virtual environments such as video games.
Street ArtStreet art is unofficial and independent visual art created in public locations. This can involve risk taking and is surrounded in much culture and lore. It is occasionally impressively original such that street art can be influential within subcultures, culture and the art world.
Read-write CultureWorks that build on found artifacts. For example, collage that composes art from various visual elements that may be borrowed. Decollage creates art with a subtractive process of removing from an image. Detournement is the culture of repurposing commercial images such as advertising as art. All of these methods are part of read-write culture whereby creators build upon each other.
Outsider ArtOutsider art is produced by an artist with no formal training who also isn't immersed in an art scene. For example, street artists who are influenced by other street artists such that they demonstrate cultured technique and style aren't considered outsiders. Outsider art is fully naive and is increasingly common as read-write culture makes art more accessible.
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