Difference between Artist and Artiste

Key Difference: Artist is a term to denote any person who either creates or practices the art. It may also refer to a person who demonstrates the art, whereas artiste is particularly used for the artists who demonstrate their skilled art in public like dancers, actors and singers.

"Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known"

-  Oscar Wilde

These words by Oscar Wilde are the best to describe art, as it is the most creative and skilled form that can be associated with a human being. Art is always admired for its aesthetic value. Art takes various forms; it becomes a painting when a painter dips his brushes in colors and fills a blank sheet of paper or a canvas. It becomes a beautiful song when a singer imbibes the feel of the song and sings it beautifully with full dedication. It becomes an act when an actor performs on stage to entertain public. The list seems to be never ending.

The most important term that is associated with art, is the artist. An artist is a person who is the creator of art. For example, a painter, a singer and an actor, are all examples of artists.  Every person is not lucky enough to be bestowed by the art. It is often regarded as a gift of God and in few cases can be developed over the years by practice and dedication.

Dictionary.com defines an artist as:

  • A person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.
  • A person who practices one of the fine arts, especially a painter or sculptor.
  • A person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, painting, etc.: a commercial artist.
  • A person who works in one of the performing arts, as an actor, musician, or singer; a public performer: a mime artist; an artist of the dance.
  • A person whose work exhibits exceptional skill.

Artist and artiste are often confused, as many people think that artiste is just another way of referring to an artist or is referring to a female artist. However, only the former assumption is true. There is a small difference between the artist and artiste, and that too is just in the usage.

An artist is the one who is indulged in the work of art or creates a piece of art. On the other hand, artiste refers to an artist who is specifically a skilled public performer such as a dancer, singer or an actor. It may also refer to the person who is highly skilled in a special craft. Artiste is actually the French word for artist. However in English, it is used in context to a skilled public performer or a highly skilled person in a particular craft.

  1. The breads baked by Sam, are the best in the market. Therefore, he is a true artiste.
  2. The artiste was ready to perform a dance.
  3. All the hair dressers of this salon are artistes.
  4. I loved all the paintings painted by this artist.

Thus, we can say that an artist is the term that is used to denote a person who is engaged in or related to any form of art, whereas an artiste is used to denote an artist who is particularly related to a professional entertainer or a highly skilled person in a particular craft. A professional entertainer could be a dancer, singer, actor, etc. All these professional entertainers are also related to the art of dancing, singing and acting, therefore, an artiste can also be referred to as an artist.

Image Courtesy: artistdaily.com, gomadfestival.com

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There is still confusion! I think it would be best to classify an artist as one who produces his work of art in quiet seclusion and not in the gaze of the public as a live performer; and an artiste should be considered as a person who performs and demonstrates his artistic skills live in presence of the public / spectators.

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