117 Best Words That Describe Artists (Adjectives, Styles, etc)

Artist's brushes and paints

It’s estimated that around 53% of American adults create or perform some type of art, ranging from dance to painting to sculpture.

Art is more than just a form of expression — it’s an important part of human history.

Studying art can teach us how people saw the world during their time, and creating art leaves our mark to show future generations about the world as we’ve lived it.

Words to describe artists fall into a few categories: artistic styles and forms, personal characteristics, and general adjectives.

We’ve broken our list into categories to help you find the best descriptors for your needs.

Adjectives

  1. Visionary
  2. Inventive
  3. Creative
  4. Inspired
  5. Gifted
  6. Authentic
  7. Productive
  8. Clever
  9. Accomplished
  10. Cool
  11. Thoughtful
  12. Prolific
  13. Daring
  14. Controversial
  15. Skilled
  16. Masterly
  17. Adroit
  18. Cultured
  19. Acclaimed
  20. Innovative
  21. Original
  22. Imaginative
  23. Brilliant
  24. Talented
  25. Crafty
  26. Avant-garde
  27. Elegant
  28. Intelligent
  29. Graceful
  30. Refined
  31. Perseverant
  32. Mysterious
  33. Stylish
  34. Amateur
  35. Dramatic
  36. Sophisticated
  37. Unconventional
  38. Sensitive
  39. Tasteful
  40. Reclusive
  41. Poetic
  42. Dedicated

Personal Traits

  1. Passionate:
    strongly invested in their art
  2. Stubborn:
    decisive and determined
  3. Curious:
    open to learning and trying new things
  4. Evolving:
    growing and changing as they progress in their artistic practice
  5. Independent:
    free-thinking and not easily influenced by the opinions of others
  6. Enterprising:
    resourceful and showing initiative
  7. Perfectionist:
    expecting the best from themselves and their art
  8. Open-minded:
    receptive to new and unfamiliar ideas
  9. Self-assured:
    confident in their artistic abilities and vision
  10. Impulsive:
    following their creative instincts
  11. Critical:
    able to analyze and assess their own art and the work of others
  12. Humble:
    modest; always striving to improve
  13. Entrepreneurial:
    willing to take risks and be in control of their own artistic career
  14. Disciplined:
    able to dedicate themselves to their artistic work
  15. Contemplative:
    thoughtful and reflective toward the world and their own art
  16. Serious:
    sincere and earnest in their pursuit of creativity

Artistic Styles

  1. Abstract:
    doesn’t represent reality but focuses on shapes, forms, colors, and textures
  2. Figurativism:
    references real-world objects and the human figure
  3. Surrealist:
    takes inspiration from the real world but incorporates strange, unconventional, or magical elements
  4. Futurist:
    focused on technical progress, machines, energy, and change
  5. Pop:
    inspired by popular culture and mass media
  6. Expressionist:
    focused on an emotional response rather than objective reality
  7. Portrait:
    art that depicts a particular person
  8. Cubist:
    reduces natural forms to geometric equivalents
  9. Impressionist:
    art created with small, visible brushstrokes that capture light, color, and atmosphere rather than realistic forms
  10. Precisionist:
    focuses on sharp, defined geometric shapes, usually depicting urban landscapes
  11. Dada:
    an artistic movement focused on absurdity and satire; emerged in response to World War I
  12. Still life:
    depictions of non-moving objects
  13. Typographic:
    visual art involving letters and words
  14. Post-impressionist:
    derived from impressionism, but using vivid colors, thick paint, and geometric compositions
  15. Naturalist:
    depicting real-world objects in their natural setting
  16. Deco:
    focuses on simple, symmetrical, and geometric designs
  17. Fauvist:
    early 20th-century art defined by pure colors and aggressive brush strokes
  18. Rococo:
    light-hearted subjects depicted in a soft, curvy style
  19. Neoclassical:
    modern-but-traditional art taking inspiration from ancient Greece and Rome
  20. Nouveau:
    a highly ornamental style that incorporates elements from the natural world, such as curving lines and plants
  21. Baroque:
    a dramatic and exaggerated style that appeals to the viewer’s emotions
  22. Neo-impressionist:
    takes inspiration from impressionism but uses the more precise painting technique of pointillism
  23. Modern:
    innovative and experimental art that rejects tradition
  24. Classical:
    created during the classical period (generally by ancient Greeks and Romans)
  25. Suprematist:
    early 20th-century movement focusing on fundamental geographic shapes like circles, squares, and rectangles
  26. Conceptual:
    prioritizes the artist’s concept over the artworks appearance and technical execution
  27. Urban:
    created by artists living in cities and depicting city life
  28. Romanticism:
    inspired by human psychology, personal emotions, imagination, spirituality, and the natural world
  29. Contemporary:
    the “art of today” — art produced in the late 20th and early 21st centuries
  30. Bauhaus:
    German artistic movement focusing on simple, rational, and functional designs
  31. Folk:
    utilitarian or decorative works that express a community’s traditions and cultural life; can include everyday items like quilts and baskets as well as visual art like paintings
  32. Constructivist:
    industrial art using simple, geometric forms and modest materials
  33. Postmodern:
    created to contradict traditional artistic values; experiments with form and medium to show that any object can become art
  34. Stuckist:
    a reaction to postmodern art, attempting to “remodernise” art through a focus on figurative painting
  35. Photorealist:
    art that attempts to reproduce images of people and objects as realistically as possible
  36. Geometric:
    art that focuses on straight lines and shapes rather than realistically portraying objects and people
  37. Naive:
    simple and unsophisticated art that ignores formal techniques and principles
  38. Experimental:
    art that explores new and unconventional ideas, techniques, materials, and technologies
  39. Minimalist:
    art that does not attempt to represent reality, instead focusing on essential elements like colors and shapes
  40. Hyperrealist:
    paintings and sculptures created to resemble high-resolution photographs; an extension of photorealism
  41. Maximalist:
    a reaction to minimalist art that follows the philosophy “more is more”; uses bold colors, patterns, textures, and materials to create representations of excess
  42. Renaissance:
    art produced in 14th-, 15th-, and 16th-century Europe; defined by the revival of classical techniques and a focus on the subjects of humanity and nature
  43. Whimsical:
    a playful, vibrant, childlike style depicting fairytale-like scenes; sometimes considered the bright and fun counterpart to surrealism
  44. Digital:
    defined by the use of software, computers, and electronic devices in its creation
  45. Mixed-media:
    artwork made from a combination of materials; for example, a sculpture made from clay and glass or a collage made from paper, fabric, and paint

Artistic Forms and Mediums

  1. Painter
  2. Sculptor
  3. Filmmaker
  4. Performer:
    includes theatrical performers and those who practice public performance art
  5. Musician
  6. Photographer
  7. Designer:
    includes fields like fashion design, interior design, and graphic design
  8. Printmaker:
    includes techniques like woodcutting, lithography, engraving, etc.
  9. Illustrator
  10. Ceramist:
    makes works of art from clay or porcelain
  11. Architect
  12. Calligrapher:
    makes visual art through decorative handwriting and lettering
  13. Installation artist:
    creates large-scale, mixed-media art for display in a specific indoor or outdoor space
  14. Writer

Activity: Understanding Artistic Styles

While we’ve provided definitions for each of the artistic styles in our list above, you might want to find out more about each of these styles and see them in action.

We’ve created this activity to help you find more information and gain a deeper understanding of each artistic style!

Begin by using your favorite search engine to look up the following artists:

  1. Antoine Watteau
  2. Claudio Bravo
  3. Georges Braque
  4. Henri Matisse
  5. Raphael
  6. Rene Magritte
  7. Piet Mondrian
  8. Hannah Hoch
  9. Caravaggio
  10. Louis Wain

You should easily find examples of their work by running an image search, viewing the artist’s official website, or viewing a museum’s website.

While we’ve only listed 10 artists, some worked in multiple styles throughout their careers. As you search (or once you’ve searched them all), try matching a few of each artist’s works to their style!

If you can’t figure out which style a particular artist’s work belongs to, find an online biography of that artist to find out more about when they worked and what defines their art.