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.
a person who is expert at trickery or deceit: He's an artist with cards.
Obsolete. an artisan.

1575–85; < Middle French artiste < Medieval Latin artista master of arts. See art1, -ist

artisan, artist, artiste (see synonym study at the current entry).

1. Artist, artisan, artiste are persons having superior skill or ability, or who are capable of producing superior work. An artist is a person engaged in some type of fine art. An artisan is engaged in a craft or applied art. An artiste is usually a skilled public performer. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
artist (ˈɑːtɪst)
1.  a person who practises or is skilled in an art, esp painting, drawing, or sculpture
2.  a person who displays in his work qualities required in art, such as sensibility and imagination
3.  a person whose profession requires artistic expertise, esp a designer: a commercial artist
4.  a person skilled in some task or occupation: an artist at bricklaying
5.  obsolete an artisan
6.  slang a person devoted to or proficient in something: a booze artist; a con artist

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1580s, "one who cultivates one of the fine arts," from M.Fr. artiste (14c.), from It. artista, from M.L. artista, from L. ars (see art (n.)). Originally used especially of the arts presided over by the Muses (history, poetry, comedy, tragedy, music, dancing, astronomy), but
also used 17c. for "one skilled in any art or craft" (including professors, surgeons, craftsmen, cooks). Now especially of "one who practices the arts of design or visual arts" (a sense first attested 1747).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences for artists
The company was now known as allied artists pictures corporation.
Many of these artists changed styles or retired after the introduction of swing
They have also provided the first records of how artists worked.
United artists eventually agreed to release it domestically in the united
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