In fiction, any "serious" artists will be depicted wearing a beret, also known as a basker, to the point that the two are almost synonymous. The beret is usually black, and is often paired with skinny pants, a black turtleneck, a horizontally-striped shirt, or a paint-stained smock or other paint-covered clothing item. This is most ubiquitous with painters and other fine artists, but is also commonly worn by the Prima Donna Director or other avant-garde creative types.
A common execution of this is to load the beret-wearer with artist stereotypes. These characters will be Starving Artists driven by consuming pain, often to the outskirts of sanity. Such characters may be snobby and pretentious, or they may be very eccentric. They'll definitely be on a quest to find True Art, and may claim that True Art Is Incomprehensible. Sometimes, a character may suddenly adopt these mannerisms upon donning a beret. The beret is also iconically associated with France, note so depictions of artists can overlap with French stereotypes including Gratuitous French, stemming from Paris' reputation as an arts haven.
The beret specifically has become a visual shorthand of this cliche image, and is an easy way to mark a character as a pretentious artist, or sometimes also an intellectual or other "great individual minds". However, in many works a beret is simply a stock accessory for an artist, just as a nerd will have his eye-concealing bottlebottoms and a nurse will wear a skirted uniform and a cap.
This may sometimes overlap with the Beatnik, as 1950's counterculture was responsible for the mainstreaming of the beret and pretentious artist stereotypes. Beatniks are rarely found outside of The '50s, and can be spotted by their use of Jive Turkey. Also compare Bob Ross Rib, the other stereotypical visual depiction of artists.
Nowadays, this trope is hardly ever played seriously.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Shugo Chara!: Miki, the Guardian Spirit representing Amu's artistic side, wears a blue beret, which carries over into Amu's transformation using Miki's power, Amulet Spade.
- One of Doraemon's gadgets is a special beret that makes the wearer able to draw very realistic paintings.
- In one episode of Sailor Moon, Chibi-Usa wears a beret, fake glasses and a mustache during art class because it makes her feel more like an artist. Her teacher thinks it just makes her look silly and tells her to take them off.
- In an episode of Smile Pretty Cure! Yayoi partecipates to an amateur manga contest, and wears a beret while working on her entry.
- Older Than They Think: Dutch painter and Trope Maker Rembrandt van Rijn painted a number of self-portraits wearing a beret. The simple hat was popular among peasants and outdoorsmen long before Rembrandt, but incorporating it into his portraits was an apparent first on his part.
- Pablo Picasso often wore a rakish black beret, while his painting Femme au béret et à la robe quadrilléenote (1937) is a Cubist portrait of his lover and longtime "golden muse" Marie-Therese Walter wearing a bright red beret.
- Rembrandt's contemporary Johannes Vermeer is seen wearing a beret in his only known portrait (although there's still some slight uncertainty remaining as to whether the portrait is in fact Vermeer).
- The Far Side:
- One strip has an artist who uses his shoe to paint pictures of squashed bugs. The artist wears a red beret and paint-stained smock.
- The cover of Wiener Dog Art, a collection of strips, features an artist dabbing wiener dogs in paint and rubbing them on the canvas, parodying a style in midcentury abstract art. The artist wears a beret and a paint-stained smock.
- In another strip, an painter (signified by his beret), who is trying to paint a still life, yells at the anthropomorphic fruit in the bowl to settle down.
- In If..., a recurring character used to Lampshade the pretentiousness and foibles of the art world is an Up to Eleven French avant-garde artiste, note who wears the classic artists' smock, and a very obviously oversized beret.
- Cats Don't Dance: The snooty Prima Donna Director Flannigan always wears a red beret.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Of the background students at Canterlot High School, one of the "Dramas" (nicknamed Watermelody) always wear a red beret and is often pictured holding a skull. Later installments show her being skilled at painting and drawing.
- Marion, the protagonist of Biography Of A Bachelor Girl and a female artist, wears a beret.
- In Clueless, Josh briefly has a pretentious college girlfriend, who talks condescendingly about philosophy and wears a beret. She's not quite as intellectual as she thinks she is, as she mangles a Shakespeare quote that Cher knows correctly.
- Double Wedding: the main character is an painter and aspiring screenwriter and director who constantly paints pictures of the woman he loves. He's always wearing a beret and striped shirt.
- In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy borrows female lead Elsa's beret and puts on a ridiculous accent to pose as an effete Scottish art collector in Castle Brunwald. The beret is the whole disguise. (It doesn't work.)
- The artsy director of photography in Living in Oblivion is wearing a beret. And as if wasn't pretentious enough, he adds an Eyepatch of Power later on.
- David, the protagonist of Lucky Partners, is a Bohemian artist who lives in Greenwich Village in New York and wears a smock and beret.
- The 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.
- Worn by The Truman Show's Christof, the auteur creator/producer/director of the eponymous Show Within a Show — the Reality Show which Truman is unaware makes up his whole life. Christof views him as an odd mix between work of art and his own son.
- In White Christmas, Phil wears a beret and all-black costume for his "pretentious artist" persona. Watch.
- Daniel Pinkwater's The Artsy Smartsy Club features a group of kids learning to paint and draw. When they go to the art supply store for the first time, the shopkeeper gives them all "genuine artists' berets" to go with their new art supplies, and tells them the hats are just like what Vincent Van Gogh wore. They proceed to wear the berets whenever they are engaged in art-related activities.
- In Lucky Jim, various characters have distinctive hats associated with them. Professor Welch has a fishing hat, and Bertrand, a pretentious, Small Name, Big Ego painter, wears a blue beret.
- In the Community episode "The Art of Discourse", Small Name, Big Ego Pierce puts on a beret when flaunting his guitar skills in an attempt to showcase what a seriously artistic musician he is, even though he's only playing pop standards from the 60's.
- In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Paints His Masterpiece", Monk dons a beret once he becomes convinced he's an artistic genius. He refuses to wear it tilted, however.
- In an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (with I Accuse My Parents), Crow wears one while painting Tom Servo to look "naked".
- The TV series of Train Man (2004) has a beret-wearing artist (apparently on a world tour) as one of the people talking to "Densha" on the message board.
- Saturday Night Live: A Season 9 sketch has Gumby (Eddie Murphy) wearing one while directing his autobiographical film.
- Referred to in the song Taiteilia by Finnish band PMMP that parodies self-importance and hypocrisy of self-proclaimed artists:
"Olen muistakin mainostaa — onhan baskeri kallellaan?" ("I've been working on some material, remember to mention it everywhere — is my basker tilted enough?")
- The children's drawing and animation software Kid Pix had an anthropomorphic square holding a paintbrush and wearing a beret as the desktop icon.
- In the LEGO Minifigures series, the Artist wears a beret. In fact, LEGO berets did not exist before this figure was produced.
- Kirby's Dream Land 3: Ado/Adeleine is a young artist with a red beret, but doesn't have any of the stereotypes associated with it. Attacking Kirby while possessed besides, she's actually quite friendly and even uses her artistry skills to help Kirby in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards.
- Kirby and the Rainbow Curse: The clay sculptor Claycia always wears a beret. At first it adds to her shifty appearance, as she originally seems like a bad guy. But later on, after Claycia is freed from the evil force possessing her, she keeps the beret, and it instead makes her look cute.
- Kirby Star Allies: Vividria is another young artist with a beret, who's determined to enter an art school. Kirby can inhale her to become Artist Kirby, which also comes with a red beret.
- Luigi's Mansion 3: Morty, a Friendly Ghost who works as a movie director, and takes his craft very seriously, wears a black outfit with a beret.
- Painters in the Pokémon games wear berets, and the top of painter Pokemon Smeargle's head is shaped like a beret.
- Passepartout The Starving Artist is a Starving Artist Simulation Game, and the title character don a beret and striped shirt as he starts off his career in the streets of Paris.
- The artist-style Stuff costumes in The Legendary Starfy feature berets.
- In Super Scribblenauts, the character simply titled 'Artist' constantly wears a red beret and scarf over black clothes. None of the other labelled characters ever change their clothes, and they're all dressed to embody the stereotypes they portray.
- One of the spy's hats in Team Fortress 2 is the Frenchman's Beret, complete with brushes.
- Yandere Simulator: The Art Club members seem to be typified by their berets. Their leader wears one, and if Ayano joins them, she wears a beret to signify it.
- Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell:
- Melete, who dreams of being a serious artist, wears a beret in an Imagine Spot where she is a real artist painting.
- In a comic drawn by Skittles recounting his time living with Dante Aligheri, Skittles is a Renaissance painter and wears a beret while painting a portrait of Dante.
- xkcd: One of the recurring characters is a beret-clad cloudcuckoolander (fitting the "mad artist" stereotype).
- Bojack Horseman: In a show that generally follows Limited Wardrobe, Jill Pill is an avant-garde New York Theater director who wears a red beret.
- Doug: Doug's sister Judy is almost never seen without her Beatnik-inspired beret and circular shades. Her defining character trait is that she's a snobby artist who goes to a private highschool dedicated entirely to the arts and theater, so the creators made sure she looked as stereotypically "artsy" as possible.
- Here Comes Peter Cottontail features a gag involving the chocolate rabbit sculptors (chipping at a block of chocolate with a chisel like it was marble) Milkchocolateangelo and Leonardo de Bittersweet. The former wears a beret and the latter wears an artist's smock.
- Exploited by Alexander Cabot III while Josie and the Pussycats are hiding from two mooks in a fashion studio by posing as the couturier (fashion designer) Charles of the Bowery. Alex's wardrobe is already eclectic, but gets pushed to absurdity with a huge bow tie and an oversized beret. The mooks are skeptical but withhold their aggression. Then the real couturier appears: a middle-aged, balding man dressed like a proper banker.
- 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.
- In the opening theme song for Phineas and Ferb, Phineas wears a beret while painting a mustache on his sister's face.
- The Simpsons
- Episode "Little Girl in the Big Ten" has Lisa posing 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.
- When Homer & pals become a barbershop quartet a la the Beatles, Barney gets a bizarre Japanese conceptual artist as a girlfriend, who wears black and a beret. So did Barney when he was with her.
- In the Sonic Boom episode "Eggman the Auteur", Eggman takes to wearing one of these while making a movie, and in an argument over creative differences, makes clear he considers the attire to make the role:
Eggman: If you know everything, Mr. and Mrs. "Know Everything", where's your camera, your robots?! Neither one of you even has a beret!
- The Spongebob Squarepants episode "Frankendoodle" has an artist at sea who wears a beret and apron, with only a pencil as his medium. The narrator gives advice on bringing a spare pencil and a sharpener when one drops a pencil.