Scott McCloud’s Four Types of Artists

artquadHere’s a fun scheme of classifying different types of artists. The scheme is Scott McCloud’s, mapped onto Ken Wilber’s quadrants. Can you think of any more examples?

From FC Student Blog:

In his book, Making Comics, Scott McCloud created a chart categorizing artists according to four intentions — what artists are most interested in, in creating art. His categories are:

  • Formalist — The Formalist is interested in examining the boundaries of an art form, stretching them, exploring what the form is capable of. The Formalist is interested in experimenting, turning the form upside-down and inside-out, moving in new, bold, untried directions, inventing and innovating. Formalists are the cutting edge, the avant-garde, the ones willing to break tradition and established ways. Strict narrative or craft is not as important as trying something new and unexpected, playing with and breaking traditional concepts, getting to the heart of understanding what art itself is.
  • Classicist — The Classicist is the artist who focuses on beauty, craftsmanship, and a tradition of excellence and mastery. The esthetic experience of the art is what is important. Art is meant to move and affect an audience, deliver an emotional experience. Classicists strive to perfect their craft in order to produce the most effective work possible.
  • Animist — The Animist is devoted to the content of art, above all else. The Animist’s goal is telling the story, conveying the message, as directly as possible. All the craft in art is in service to the delivery of the content. The goal of art is to effectively deliver its content, with as little that distracts from that job as possible.
  • Iconoclast — The Iconoclast is interested in portraying raw, human experience in as honest and authentic a way as possible. Art is to hold a mirror to reality, and show the audience the hard, painful truths of existence. The Iconoclast resists pandering, comforting indulgences, or diluting the art, considering that to be selling out. Artistic integrity is critically important to Iconoclasts. Beauty, craft, and standard narrative may be cast aside in pursuit of the expression of the truth of human emotion.

Read more at FC Student Blog.

6 Comments on "Scott McCloud’s Four Types of Artists"

  1. Ted Heistman | Dec 12, 2013 at 5:56 pm |

    5. idiot savant. That’s me!

  2. Jonas Planck | Dec 12, 2013 at 6:03 pm |

    Oh damn… I can’t figure out which one I am. I guess that means I suck at it.

  3. I definitely tended towards Formalist in my art school days, but as with all classification systems like this that set hard boundaries it only works superficially.

  4. Spasmodius | Dec 13, 2013 at 5:24 am |

    6. BS artist.

  5. reduce, reduce, I say
    atomize, quantify, separate, label
    and all will be known
    although lifeless
    save me
    from being
    more than one thing
    not exactly what ken had in mind
    unless I am generalistly confused

  6. Why can’t an artist be all 4? There’s nothing mutually-exclusive about these categories, depending on the art form (cinema for example). Some may veer more toward aesthetics and others toward narrative, but certainly there is no clear dividing line to neatly apply.

Comments are closed.