Archetypes in Movies – The Artist

Full of talent and creativity, the artist bears a unique set of skills that no one else can match. That may be in the form of dance, music, photography, painting, etc. Basically, the archetypal artist is a force of creativity and brilliance. He lives for his art and his life revolves around this passion. 

The artist is connected to the world around him in many ways. His senses of taste, touch, sound, and sight are exemplified. More often than not, there’s a spiritual side to him as well.

How the artist character operates

The artist appears unmethodical or disorganized to those around him. His intuitive side and passion often blind him. He is child-like, spending hours in his imagination, drifting among ideas. His journey is far from easy. 

Starting as an unknown name, he works hard to get to the stage he deserves. Along the way, challenges arise. Most commonly, he faces self-doubt from within or criticism from his friends and family. Perhaps, he’s critiquing societal establishments with his art.

At the end of the day, however, he scales all hurdles and achieves his dream, rising to fame and stardom, as part of his character development.

The artist ultimately excels in his trade, but often struggles in other spheres of life. For example, he may have family issues at home, problems with drug abuse, bad relationships, etc. They can be compulsive too but are usually good people.

At times, the artist battles his inner demons and must overcome internal conflict to complete his character arc.

Some talented names have hit the big screen to show us what the archetypal artist is all about. 

3 examples of artist archetypes in modern cinema

Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody

Freddie Mercury and his rock band Queen, were one of the most powerful music forces of the 20th century. Golden Globe and Oscar-winning Bohemian Rhapsody is a dedication to their journey, from singing at little-known bars to lighting up the stage at Wembley. 

The protagonist Freddie is a proper artist, his talent being his unique and wide vocal range. His voice is angelic, and he credits his talent to the extra incisors in his mouth.

Rami Malek brings the flamboyance and charisma of a legend to the stage, impressing with his immersive, trademark stage presence and crowd interaction.

His artistry in dance, singing, and songwriting set him apart as the undoubted creative engine in the film.

The tortured rock star

Like the archetypal artist, his journey to fame is not an easy one. He struggles with all sorts of issues that get in the way of his career. At the beginning of Bohemian Rhapsody, he is even laughed off when he requests to join the band after their lead singer quits. 

His persistence and talent pay off and he works his way into the team. Freddie spends a lot of time in the studio, working on ideas and new songs, spending days on end recording to find the perfect tune.

He also struggles with his sexuality and some bad company that leads to his split from the band. He is eventually able to work through his problems and brings the team together in time for the biggest performance of the lives: the 1985 Live Aid Wembley Concert. Freddie performs in front of millions, his talent clear for all to see. 

At Eternity’s Gate pays tribute to an incredible painter

Vincent van Goh is revered for his work with the brush. He made over 2000 paintings, most of which have lit the way for modern art as we know it. His place as an influential Western art figure is not in doubt, as is his talent. 

His expressive brushwork and dramatic coloring have seen his paintings become expensive treasures in the years since his demise. Van Goh has inspired generations of painters, earning a place in history as one of the world’s greatest ever painters.

The 2018 biopic At Eternity’s Gate honors his work and humble beginnings, delving into the final years of an emotional story.

The painter with inner demons

Before his name was told in awe, Vincent van Goh was often brushed aside as a madman. He was battling anguishing mental illness and was ridiculed for it. Also plagued by crippling anxiety and depression, we see Van Goh’s tough life threaten to collapse around him in At Eternity’s Gate. The artist faces a raft of internal conflict that almost snuffs out his talent. 

In the film, he even endures mockery at one point from a teacher and his students. Other external conflicts he faces include poverty. Van Goh struggles to keep up with the basics of life. 

Like the artist he is, Vincent Van Goh (played wonderfully by Willem Dafoe) is always engrossed in his imagination and creativity. He spends most of his time in the countryside of a beautiful French town, admiring the picturesque nature and recreating it in sketches. 

Though he doesn’t get a happy ending in the movie, his work posthumously gains recognition. 

The talented photographer in Blow Up

An artist archetype doesn’t necessarily have to be a real-life replica of a famous name. Some amazing fictional artists have brought out the role to perfection as well.

The mystery thriller Blow Up features a great example of such a character in Thomas, played to excellence by David Hemmings. 

Thomas is a talented photographer whose life revolves around his passion. His skill with a camera is his source of livelihood, and he is certainly good at it from what we see.

A photographer with a dark secret

Blow Up is not your typical artist story as it follows the adventures of a fashion photographer who believes to have captured a crime on film. Thomas experiences certain qualities and plot journeys that make him the archetypal artist. 

He spends most of his days in studio and picture-perfect scenery, taking pictures of models and savoring his work, which he seems to really enjoy. Everyone wants to work with him. He is highly sought after, which goes to substantiate his skill. His work puts him in contact with many beautiful young girls, who he constantly hits on in search of someone to make him feel alive.

The photographer battles depression, despite his grandiose lifestyle. His passion offers brief moments of escape where he can lose himself in his creativity. Although a murder mystery, the film is truly about an artist lost in his craft. 

He values his work above all else, and he is not in it for the money but the pleasure and wholeness he derives from it. 

The true hallmarks of an artist. Protection Status