The current concept of “artist”
Artist is a descriptive term applied to a person who is engaged in an activity considered art. An artist can also be unofficially defined as “a person who expresses himself through a medium”. The word is also used in the qualitative sense of a creative person, an innovator or an expert in an artistic practice.
Most of the time, the term describes those who create in a context of fine art or “high culture”, activities such as drawing, painting, sculpture, acting, dance, writing, film production, new media, photography and music: people who use imagination, talent or skill to create works that can be considered of aesthetic value. Art historians and critics define artists as those who produce art within a recognized or recognizable discipline. Contrasting terms for highly skilled workers in applied arts or decorative arts media include craftsman, craftsman, and specialized terms such as potter, goldsmith, or glassblower. Fine art artists such as painters succeeded in the Renaissance to elevate their formerly similar status to these workers to a much higher level.
The term can also be used loosely or metaphorically to designate highly skilled people in any non-“artistic” activity, such as law, medicine, mechanics or mathematics.
Discussions on the subject often focus on the differences between “artist” and “technician”, “animator” and “craftsman”, “fine art” and “applied art”, or what constitutes art and what is not. The French word artiste (which in French simply means “artist”) was imported into the English language, where it means performer (often in Music Hall or Vaudeville). The use of the word “artist” can also be a pejorative term. 
The English word “artiste” therefore has a narrower range of meanings than the French word “artiste”.
In Living with Art, Mark Getlein proposes six activities, services or functions of contemporary artists: 
Create places for a human purpose.
Create extraordinary versions of ordinary objects.
Record and commemorate.
Give a tangible shape to the unknown.
Give a tangible shape to the feelings.
Update our vision and help us see the world in new ways.
After analyzing years of data on art school graduates, as well as on policies and program outcomes regarding artists, art and culture, Elizabeth Lingo and Steven Tepper propose that the divide between artists from “arts for the sake of art” and commercially successful artists are not as broad as one can perceive, and that “this bifurcation between commercial and non-commercial, excellent and basic, elite and popular, is increasingly breaking” (Eikhof and Haunschild, 2007). Lingo and Tepper underline: 
art consumers are not limited to “high” or “ordinary” arts; instead, they demonstrate “omnivorous tastes, who love both reggae and Rachmaninoff” (Peterson and Kern, 1996; Walker and Scott-Melnyk, 2002)
The data indicate that “artists are willing to move between sectors and no longer see work outside the commercial sector as a badge of distinction or authenticity” (Bridgstock, 2013; Ellmeier, 2003).
Academic, political and government leaders are adapting (expanding) programs and opportunities in recognition of the “role of artists as engines of economic growth and innovation” (Bohm & Land, 2009; DCMS, 2006, 2008; Florida, 2012; Hesmondhalgh & Baker, 2010; Lloyd, 2010; Iyengar, 2013).
art graduates define “business and management skills” as “the number one area they would like to have been most exposed to in college” (Strategic National Arts Alumni Project [SNAAP], 2011; Tepper & Kuh, 2010).