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Eccentric Artist

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Artistic creativity leads to - or is used as an excuse for - quirky behavior.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
JoieDeCombat on Feb 20th 2014 at 12:21:16 PM
Last Edited By:
JoieDeCombat on Dec 15th 2017 at 7:33:33 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

The creative process is associated with breaking from convention. By definition, creativity and originality involve the ability to produce something new, or to interpret the familiar in a way that people haven't seen before. Because of this, it's no surprise that highly creative people tend to see and interact with the world differently from others, in ways that less imaginative people around them may not be able to follow or understand.

In short, there's an expectation that artists are going to behave kind of oddly.

Unlike their Evil Counterpart the Mad Artist, eccentric artists are relatively harmless Cloud Cuckoolanders. They may be annoying, perhaps even Insufferable Geniuses, but their eccentricity is not dangerous or destructive - or, in the worst cases, they're most likely only dangerous to themselves. They simply don't conform to social norms - to do so would stifle their creativity, and their art would suffer in quality as a result.

By the same token, self-styled artists with more ego than talent are very likely to invoke this trope, using their "creative genius" as an excuse for ignoring their community's standards of acceptable behavior. Unlike the Bunny-Ears Lawyer, however, artistic ability is no guarantee that other people will tolerate the artist's behavior if it grows too obnoxious or outlandish, or that anyone else will understand the work of a true creative genius - at least not within their lifetime.

Regardless, artistic creativity and eccentricity often go hand in hand, and an artist character is highly likely to be depicted as at least a little quirky, especially if the audience is meant to understand that their creative talent is genuine.

Eccentric artists are highly prone to being Large Hams, Drama Queens, and/or Attention Whores, although such flamboyance is not a required element of their eccentricity. They may show up playing the role of Blithe Spirit or Manic Pixie Dream Girl to more straitlaced characters, or may be the "doer" half of a Talker and Doer partnership.

Specific subtypes include The Prima Donna and the Prima Donna Director. Also compare Ditzy Genius, where a character's high intelligence is offset by lack of common sense and/or cluelessness about mundane subjects beneath their intellectual interests.


Examples:

Film

Literature

  • In 1634: The Baltic War, professional diplomats Scaglia and Rubens discuss how strangely peaceful the "siege" of Amsterdam has become:
    Scaglia: Dear God, what a preposterous siege this has turned into. The chief diplomat for the besiegers setting up his domicile in the city besieged. What's that American expression? Charles V must be spinning in his grave.
    Rubens: There are some precedents, actually. Not many, I admit. But that's always the advantage of being an artist, you know. People are willing to label my behavior as 'eccentric' when they need to look the other way.
  • The title character of Anne of Green Gables has a very vivid and whimsical imagination that causes her caring but prosaic guardian no end of frustration and sometimes leads to mishaps like nearly drowning when she tries to act out the funeral of Elaine of Astolat in a leaky rowboat. Although even some of her closest friends can't help finding her a little strange at times, her flights of fancy make her a talented writer who could probably have made a successful career of it had she chosen.

Video Games

  • Yusuke from Persona 5 has a tendency to look at most things in an artistic context, like rather than enjoying the flavor of food he's more interested in the plating aesthetics.

Visual Novels

  • Sousuke Taira in Our Two Bedroom Story is a popular writer of erotic fiction who's in high demand by editors for how well his work sells. He's also prone to doing things like running out of his apartment half-naked trying to chase after a (non-existent) woman he was dreaming about, and insists on "acting out" love scenes with female editors for greater authenticity. The protagonist does her best to tolerate his behavior for the sake of his contract with the magazine she works for, but some other editors take a much dimmer view of his shenanigans.

Western Animation

  • Inversion in SpongeBob SquarePants: Squidward fancies himself as an artist and yet he's so straightlaced. That's probably why people think his art is tasteless.

Real Life

  • Artist Gérard de Nerval kept a lobster as a pet and walked it around on a leash as if it were a dog.
  • Italian Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli at the height of her career during the 1930s and 40s. Being a Fashion Designer who is also affiliated with Surrealists, her designs included atypical and "shocking" motifs like the shoe hats, the Lobster Dress, the Skeleton Dress, and the Tears Dress.

Feedback: 13 replies

Feb 20th 2014 at 3:47:00 PM

  • In 1634: The Baltic War, professional diplomats Scaglia and Rubens discuss how strangely peaceful the "siege" of Amsterdam has become:
Scaglia: Dear God, what a preposterous siege this has turned into. The chief diplomat for the besiegers setting up his domicile in the city besieged. What's that American expression? Charles V must be spinning in his grave.
Rubens: There are some precedents, actually. Not many, I admit. But that's always the advantage of being an artist, you know. People are willing to label my behavior as 'eccentric' when they need to look the other way.

Feb 20th 2014 at 5:38:43 PM

Inversion in Spongebob Squarepants: Squidward fancies himself as an artist and yet he's so straightlaced. That's probably why people think his art is tasteless.

Feb 21st 2014 at 2:43:20 PM

Feb 21st 2014 at 2:47:54 PM

The doer half of a Talker And Doer duo may be one of these.

Feb 21st 2014 at 3:49:33 PM

Can we list Real Life examples? Because I think the likes of John K., Ralph Bakshi, and John Dilworth very much fit the bill in this department.

Feb 21st 2014 at 3:56:39 PM

I kind of feel like how to address real life examples is beyond my personal expertise as a troper, which is also why I didn't include any lines about it in the description. I'm pretty sure it's Truth In Television, though, so real life examples should be okay?

Aug 9th 2016 at 1:35:53 AM

Real life

  • Artist Gérard de Nerval kept a lobster as a pet and walked it around on a leash as if it were a dog.

Aug 10th 2016 at 9:13:12 AM

Copying from another YKTTW (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=hnhg8rl2p3dxsqak6u53jkm7), if Fashion Designers count as artists:

  • Italian Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli at the height of her career during the 1930s and 40s. Being a Fashion Designer who is also affiliated with Surrealists, her designs included atypical and "shocking" motifs like the shoe hats, the Lobster Dress, the Skeleton Dress, and the Tears Dress.

Aug 10th 2016 at 7:28:14 PM

I wonder if this can be extended to actors.

Jan 28th 2017 at 8:46:40 AM

  • Sander Cohen from Bio Shock 1 was this in the backstory, before he went full-on Mad Artist in the main timeframe of the game.

Somebody who actually played the game should probably add some context to that example...

May 8th 2017 at 3:48:38 AM

Yusuke from [1] is an example: he has a tendency to look at most things in an artistic context, like rather than enjoying the flavor of food he's more interested in the plating aesthetics.

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