Artist is a descriptive term applied to a person who engages in an activity deemed to be an art. An artist can also be unofficially defined as "a person who expresses themselves through a medium". The word is also used in a qualitative sense of a person creative in, innovative in, or adept at, an artistic practice.
Most often, the term describes those who create within a context of 'high culture', activities such as drawing, painting, sculpture, acting, dancing, writing, filmmaking, photography and music — people who use imagination, and talent or skill, to create works that can be judged to have an aesthetic value. Art historians and critics will define as artists those who produce art within a recognised or recognisable discipline.
The term is also used to denote highly skilled people in non-"arts" activities, as well — crafts, law, medicine, alchemy, mechanics, mathematics, defense (martial arts) and architecture, for example. The designation is applied to illegal activities, like a "scam artist". The term 'artist' could also refer to a con artist.
There is no consensus about what constitutes "art" or who is, or is not, an "artist". Often, discussions on the subject focus on the differences between "artist" and "technician" or "entertainer," or "artisan," "fine art" and "applied art," or what constitutes art and what does not. The French word artiste (which in French, simply means "artist") has been imported into the English language where it means a performer (frequently in Music Hall or Vaudeville). The English word 'artist' has thus a narrower range of meanings than the word 'artiste' in French.
Many contemporary definitions of "artist" and "art" are highly contingent on culture, resisting aesthetic prescription, in much the same way that the features constituting beauty and the beautiful cannot be easily standardized without corruption into kitsch.