Created By: SwampAdder on April 11, 2011 Last Edited By: Paradisesnake on December 11, 2013

Artist Beret Compulsion

An artist (especially a funny one) must wear a beret.

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Page Type:
Trope
Everyone knows that all true artists are driven by consuming pain (often to the outskirts of sanity... if not beyond) and sacrifice mundane needs for their vision (and also inadequately valued by the society) to create incomprehensible but oh-so-sublime works (which they'll soon disown in disgust, especially if the audience likes it). Artists are also always moody, lanky chain smokers who subsist on cheap red wine and bitterness, only speak in irony, and habitually wear skinny pants, polo shirts and berets. Always in black.

The beret specifically has become the icon of this cliché image, and turned into something of a visual shorthand to code for pretentious artists, sometimes also philosophists or other "great individual minds". In some works a beret is simply a stock accessory for an artist just like a nerd will have his eye-concealing bottlebottoms and a nurse will wear a skirted uniform and a cap.

This trope is nowadays nearly never played seriously.

Should non-artist intellectuals be included?


Examples:

Music
  • Referenced in the song Taiteilia (Artest [sic]) by PMMP. The song is filled with parodying self-importance and hypocricy of self-proclaimed artists:
    "Olen työstänyt matskua, sitä muistakin mainostaa - onhan baskeri kallellaan?"
    "I've been working on some material, remember to mention it everywhere - is my basker tilted enough?"

Video Games
  • Painters on Pokémon games wear berets, and Smeargle, a painter Pokemon, looks like he's wearing one too.

Webcomics
  • The unnamed Beret Guy may not be an artist, but his choice of headwear seems to signify his status.

Real Life

Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • April 11, 2011
    Fanra
    Ed Harris as Christof: The creator of The Truman Show.
  • April 11, 2011
    Speedball
    Indiana Jones is aware of this trope, since he borrows a beret in The Last Crusade.
  • April 12, 2011
    TheChainMan
    Painters on Pokemon games wear berets, and Smeargle, a painter Pokemon, looks like he's wearing one too.
  • April 12, 2011
    Grug
    One of the spy's hats in TF 2 is the Frenchman's Beret, complete with brushes.
  • April 12, 2011
    JonnyB
    I think this is largely because artists are stereotypically French.
  • April 12, 2011
    TonyG
    Elliot on Just Shoot Me. The others make a point of mocking him for it.
  • April 12, 2011
    EternalSeptember
    The Beret Guy in XKCD
  • April 12, 2011
    peccantis
    They also wear (black) polo shirts, and live on a diet of cigarettes and cheap red wine.

    • Referred to in the song Taiteilia ("Artest" [sic]) by PMMP that parodies self-importance and hypocricy of self-proclaimed artists:
      "Olen työstänyt matskua, sitä muistakin mainostaa - onhan baskeri kallellaan?"
      Or for the non-Fennophone, "I've been working on some material, remember to mention it everywhere - is my basker tilted enough?"
  • April 12, 2011
    Jordan
    Good find- how did we miss this one?

    In one volume of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, an extra at the end makes the (false) claim that the manga's author, Koji Kumeta, is actually a pen name for two authors, one of whom is identified as Osamu Kometa, and who is depicted wearing a beret. This is a reference to/parody of the famous manga author Osamu Tezuka who was known for wearing a beret.
  • April 12, 2011
    Rolf
    One of mythmuster is an odd aversion. He wears one but is not really an artist (or is he?)
  • April 12, 2011
    RickGriffin
    That's not an aversion. That's just wearing a beret.
  • August 21, 2011
    peccantis
    Is this going anywhere? It's a valid trope, but it needs a nice description and a snappy article. Page image shouldn't be too hard to find. Maybe widen scope to the whole image of artists
    • being lanky with bad posture
    • wearing berets and tight polo shirts with slim trousers, most always in black
    • living on cigarettes and cheap red wine?

    Otherwise, Basker Of Artistry?
  • August 21, 2011
    dotchan
    It also needs a pothole to Starving Artist.
  • August 21, 2011
    TBeholder
    ^^ berets sometimes pop up on their own, but otherwise, yeah.

    BTW, do we have "France Is Made Of Art" trope, or something about Beau Monde?
  • August 21, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Don't they also do turtle necks a lot, when they aren't wearing polo shirts? I can't think of any examples but I could have sworn I've seen something like that.
  • August 21, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Oh, and Artists Wear Berets works better as a trope title.
  • August 21, 2011
    foxley
    Tony Hancock's character in The Rebel (a.k.a. Call Me Genius).
  • August 21, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Hemingway wore a Basque beret.

    Here's an image of Rembrandt wearing one, so it's Older Than They Think.
  • August 21, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    I want to say The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Daria have invoked this. But the memories are all so distant all I can do is mention it, and hope someone else saw the particular episode more recently than I have.
  • August 21, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    Caveat lector: intellectual != artist. I'm pretty sure this example doesn't fit.

    • In the episode "Little Girl in the Big Ten" of The Simpsons Lisa poses as a college student to hang with her fellow gymnasts. Given that she is 10 years younger than the average student, she takes to wearing a black beret with hopes of fitting in with the intellectuals.

  • August 21, 2011
    randomsurfer
    I believe that on The Simpsons when Marge took a painting class several of the students wore berets. But I could be wrong.
  • August 21, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    ^ I know right. The show's so long and so Trope Savvy that there HAVE to be berets on artists. Only problem is it's nearly impossible to zero-in on the episode to be sure.
  • May 9, 2013
    peccantis
    Bump?
  • May 9, 2013
    peccantis
    Please beef up the following examples:

    Also, anyone can point down these in more detail?
    • The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Daria have invoked this.
    • On The Simpsons when Marge took a painting class several of the students wore berets.
  • May 9, 2013
    totorolover33
    • In Super Scribblenauts, the character simply titled 'Artist' constantly wears a red beret and scarf over black clothes. (Having said that, this isn't a special thing in the game; none of the labelled characters ever change their clothes, and they're all dressed to embody the steretypes they portray).
  • May 9, 2013
    peccantis
    People please remember, we want substantial examples. Who and what are the beret wearing characters? Also it would be helpful to say if it's a) played seriously b) beret as stock accessory c) parody, and if the characters fit the other parts of the larger stereotype.
  • May 9, 2013
    MaxWest
    The Three Stooges short "Pop Goes the Easel" has the Stooges ducking into an art school to evade a cop. They put on artist smocks and berets to disguise themselves. In fact, the entire art school is dressed similarly.
  • May 10, 2013
    Arivne
  • May 10, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    Real Life:
    • The "father of manga" Osamu Tezuka, who is often seen wearing a beret. Another mangaka often seen wearing beret is Fujiko F. Fujio, the creator of Doraemon.

    Manga:
    • Aspiring mangaka Roman Saotome from Sket Dance, is mainly a parody of old-school mangaka, and as such is always wearing a beret on her head.
  • May 10, 2013
    Karalora
    I'm not sure about the Indiana Jones example, since he was pretending to be Scottish nobility, not an artist. He was probably hoping the beret would be mistaken for a tam o'shanter.

    Toys:
    • In the LEGO Collectible Minifigs series, the Artist wears a beret. In fact, LEGO berets did not exist before this figure was produced.
  • December 10, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    Wow, bump! How did we miss this?
  • December 10, 2013
    CrypticMirror
    • Part of Penny Crayon's outfit. Technically she is a graffiti artist, but since her drawings come magically to life we'll let her off with that.
  • December 10, 2013
    DracMonster
    Beret Artistic

    Or Beret Artistic Hat if thats clearer.

  • December 10, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Did some formatting.
  • December 11, 2013
    RandomSurfer
    The Simpsons: When Homer & pals become a barbershop quartet a la the Beatles, Barney gets a bizaare Japanese conceptual artist as a girlfriend, who wears black and a beret. So did Barney when he was with her.
    Moe: Hey, Barney! What'll it be?
    Barney: I'd like a beer, Moe!
    Yoko: I'd like a single plum floating in perfume served in a man's hat.

  • December 11, 2013
    henke37
    • Larry "Laurice" Butz from Ace Attorney always wears a beret when he is in his painter persona.
  • December 11, 2013
    EponymousKid
    During his stint as an artist, Penguin in Shirokuma Cafe wore a beret. It was green, probably as a Tezuka reference. Polar Bear and Panda don't comment on it, but it's sillier-looking than a lot of other examples.

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