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Eccentric Artist

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Hwel snored. In his dreams gods rose and fell, ships moved with cunning and art across canvas oceans, pictures jumped and ran together and became flickering images; men flew on wires, flew without wires, great ships of illusion fought against one another in imaginary skies, seas opened, ladies were sawn in half, a thousand special effects men giggled and gibbered. Through it all he ran with his arms open in desperation, knowing that none of this really existed or ever would exist and all he really had was a few square yards of planking, some canvas and some paint on which to trap the beckoning images that invaded his head.

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 a lack of common sense and/or cluelessness about mundane subjects beneath their intellectual interests. Can also overlap with Eccentric Fashion Designer if they do fashion illustration and design. See Reclusive Artist, Sensitive Artist, and Starving Artist for other artist stereotypes. Heavily associated with True Art Is Incomprehensible.


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    Alternate Reality Games 
  • Omega Mart: The deli section has products made in collaboration with an in-universe artist who believed meat was an untapped method of artistic expression, resulting in scenes like The Birth of Venus recreated in meat samples and "Collector's edition" hams with frescos on the inside.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Dr. Ramune: Mysterious Disease Specialist: Aona, the Patient of the Week in "Popcorn Head", is an extremely talented artist. According to his classmate Kuro, he's won every single art competition he entered, and when their school allows him to open a solo exhibition, which managed to draw in packs of visitors. However, he also has a very odd way of communicating, tends to narrate his emotions, regards his artworks as his friends, and otherwise has trouble focusing on other subjects beyond his interests.

    Fan Works 
  • Chris Griffin in Family Guy Fanon shows this more compared to his real counterpart. As he's transformed into a slow-witted teenager that makes strange and abstract art
  • Horror fanatic Drama Heart in Manehattan's Lone Guardian is a nutcase at her best. She does things like hugging Leviathan to make her wake up, dancing around the room to music when cleaning Levi's frame and endoskeleton, and contemplating using a tail trimmer to remove the nose hairs of a few thieves. When she begins channeling her Burning Salamandra persona, she escalates fully into a bombastic Large Ham and half-insane storyteller with enough enthusiasm for her work to trigger Spontaneous Choreography just by willing it.

    Films — Animation 
  • Coco: One of the celebrities Miguel meets in the Land of the Dead is Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who's depicted as one of these. Her idea for a performance art piece for the Sunrise Spectacular involves dozens of dancers dressed like her emerging from an enormous papaya, climbing up a giant cactus with her face on it, and drinking its tears.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Adventures of Picasso, most characters are artists (painters, poets, singers, and ballet dancers), and pretty much everyone is a Cloudcuckoo Lander.
  • American Psycho: Vanden and her boyfriend Stash, both invited by Evelyn, are all black-clad and looks like dazed.
  • Duck Butter: Nima is an actress. Sergio is a singer. Both of them are kind of odd, though in a good way, and have long conversations on strange topics. Easily the most eccentric either of them gets is Sergio shitting into a pan then showing Nima as a sign of her displeasure (she did this as a child as well).
  • The Electrical Life of Louis Wain: Louis is a very popular illustrator, but has always He's completely unconcerned with money, has a number of weird hobbies, is rather awkward and easily manipulated, and is prone to ranting about electricity in the world. Tellingly he kept a pet cat, at the time an unconventional choice since they were mostly seen as mouse-hunters.
  • This House Has People in It: The sculptor character is a weirdo who rambles on about Lynks disease, is delusional about how good his art is, and runs a very weird, poorly-written, and unprofessional website.
  • If You Could Say It in Words: Nelson, a painter with undiagnosed Asperger's, attributes his symptoms to this trope. When Sadie is surprised by his low pain tolerance, he says, "I'm an artist. That means I'm sensitive or some crap."
  • In Miracle on 34th Street Mr. Shellhammer is so desperate to keep Kris on staff despite his delusion that he says "Maybe he's only a little crazy. Like painters, or composers, or some of those men in Washington!"
  • In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, affluent aspiring screenwriter Javi pursues his desire to script a Nicolas Cage movie through unconventional tactics. Some of these include paying Nick a million dollars to discuss his writings in person, renewing Nick's interest in storytelling by tricking him to help improvise an adventure, and sharing LSD with him when they need new ideas for the movie's plot. Javi's tactics all prove worth it, as moviegoers end up loving the completed film.

  • 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.
  • American Psycho: Vanden and her boyfriend Stash, both invited by Evelyn, are all black-clad and looks like dazed.
  • 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.
  • In The Gargoyle, Marianne Engel carves her grotesques with a manic obsession, eschewing food and sleep for days and days on end, leading to repeated hospitalizations and commitments. She believes that she is giving away her "thousands of hearts," and will die once she has given away the last one. Which she does. She also talks to herself in Latin and believes that she's Really 700 Years Old. Nonetheless, she is very kind and loving, and is the protagonist's Love Interest.
  • In Lo que le falta al tiempo (What Time is Missing) by Angela Becerra, a quirky young Parisian artist Mazarine goes barefoot all year round (even in winter).
  • Mass Effect: Annihilation: Yorrick the elcor, who as the name suggests is just a bit of a Loony Fan for Shakespeare, even coming to the conclusion that the Bard must have been a secret elcor. His dream is to bring the joy of Shakespeare made by him to another galaxy. That said, he's apparently pretty good at his day job - a GP (ear, nose, and throat).
  • In The Peacock Party, a sequel to The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast, Oswald Ostrich R.A. is an artist who keeps a bewildering variety of animals in and around his studio, is a Rummage Sale Reject who wears a bowtie and a regular tie, and his eponymous poem ends by calling him "as mad as a hatter".
  • Discworld:
    • Methodia Rascal in Thud! is famed for his incredibly in-depth and accurate painting of a famous battle from centuries ago. And also for thinking he was a chicken.
    • As described in the page quote, Hwel the Playwright is seen as eccentric, partly for being a dwarf in an atypical profession, and partly because the neverending stream of inspiration particles that hit him include ideas that are well before their time, and the Disc's theatre industry has neither the technology to achieve or the cultural baseline to understand.
  • The Psychology Of Time Travel: Grace is a conceptual artist with and expresses herself through unusual fashion choices and quirky time travel-based art installations. Her behavior often defies expectation as well. She leaves cryptic messages folded in origami rabbits, shoplifts from her own art exhibition, and arranges to meet Ruby in another city knowing she will collapse in a terminal coma before she can say a word.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Muppets:
    • The Great Gonzo from The Muppet Show comes up with acts like smashing up a car to the tune of "The Anvil Chorus", playing Eine kleine nachtmusik on the bagpipes while sitting on a flagpole, or reciting Percy Shelley's "To a Skylark" while disarming a bomb, so maybe "eccentric" is putting it mildly.
    • Musicians in Muppet productions are frequently portrayed as eccentric: The Electric Mayhem are so detached from reality that later productions just outright started implying they're on drugs; in the Debbie Harry episode of The Muppet Show, when she meets the Muppet punk group she says "You aren't my normal band. But then, whoever heard of a normal band?"; and in The Jim Henson Hour when Kermit questions how Solid Foam are actually musicians (since their music is synthesised and autotuned) he gets the reply "Who else would dress like this?"
  • Spencer from iCarly is an extremely talented artist, but he's also a quirky manchild often considered strange by other adults. His sculptures are just as oddball as he is.

  • Kids Praise: Psalty and the kids are mistaken for this while time-travelling to an 1820s tent meeting, due to the fact that they were wearing 1980s clothing, which would look strange to someone from the 1820s:
    Brother Fred: What're we gonna do, Brother Ted? The musicians haven't shown up yet!
    Brother Ted: I don't know, Brother Fred, but there are five hundred people in that tent, waiting for the service to start!
    (Time-travellers appear)
    Brother Fred: What's that?!
    Brother Ted: I don't know! They're very different-looking...
    Brother Fred: Then they must be the musicians! Hurry up! Hurry up, now, you're late!

    Video Games 
  • Persona 5: Yusuke Kitagawa is a bit of a space cadet, and his passion for art is such that 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.
  • From the Mass Effect series, there's an eccentric human director who puts on a production of Hamlet with an all-elcor cast. Elcor are an alien species who all speak in a slow, emotionless, monotone voice (which sounds like Eeyore), and convey emotion through pheromones and extremely subtle body language, neither of which can be detected by other species. For everyone else's benefit, they simply state the intended emotion of their next sentence before they say it, making a play with nothing but elcor an extremely boring concept. The director's idea was to "give audiences a chance to judge Hamlet by his deeds and not his emotions". The final production clocks in at fourteen hours long, but nevertheless goes on to become hugely successful. His next planned project? Macbeth... WITH KROGAN!

    Visual Novels 
  • Larry Butz from the Ace Attorney series is definitely this. He's talented in all things art, including painting, sculpture, and acting. His endeavors are so well done that they impress whoever sees them, before they find out about who he is. Unfortunately, he's also a complete dumbass Casanova Wannabe who hits on any pretty girl he sees. This has earned him the ire of those that he considers his 'friends'. Who now consider him a nuisance at best! Because he's such a moron but also incredibly unlucky trouble seems to follow him wherever he goes, earning him the phrase catch "If something smells, it's usually the Butz."
  • 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.


    Web Video 
  • Jack Mann, from The Cry of Mann, is a quirky artist obsessed with painting trains. He's the "weird" child of the family, who spends all day just painting, sleeps in his studio on the very bed he keeps his tools on, and believes all of his callers to be a singular person named "Palmer".
  • Ambrosius, the spirit inside the Staff of Creation, in RWBY. His every line oozes hamminess and his over-the-top mannerisms only add to his artistic allusions, although it should be noted that he is still one of the most powerful characters in the show, hampered only by his inability to destroy.

    Western Animation 
  • Bojack Horseman gives us Jill Pill, a playwright and puppeteer who calls her plays "theatrical immersions", comes up with a show involving Bojack being birthed on stage while covered in milk, and demands that a restaurant cook whisper his dreams to the eggs while he makes her omelette.
  • Mabel Pines in Gravity Falls is an arts-and-crafts-loving twelve-year-old who can make professional-quality wax sculptures and has knitted herself an Unlimited Wardrobe of customized novelty sweaters. She is also the biggest Cloudcuckoolander of her rather eccentric family, and does things such as bedazzling her own face, getting excited about grass, and eating stickers.
  • Andy from Let's Go Luna!, whose main hobby is painting. Fitting the "eccentric" part, he tries to paint everything in sight in "What's the Big Idea?".
  • 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.
  • The Latvian artist Voldemārs Irbe was known for his disheveled appearance and going barefoot all year round.
  • Video game developer Yoko Taro, the man behind Drakengard and NieR: Automata, wears an Emil mask in almost all of his public appearances. That's just the tip of the iceberg that is his eccentricity.
  • Andy Kaufman's offstage behavior was at least as, if not more, eccentric than what he did onstage — and those two worlds had a tendency to overlap, such as when he'd assume his Alter-Ego Acting persona Tony Clifton for a week and break his usual Granola Guy tendencies to smoke, drink, and eat meat simply because that was Clifton's lifestyle. He'd freely assume various and sundry personae in everyday life to befuddle others and amuse friends and himself. A friend recounts in the documentary The Real Andy Kaufman that during one visit to Coney Island they rode through a cut-rate Nightmare Retardant haunted house attraction and he feigned terror by screaming the whole way through and emerging in tears, much to the shock of the ride's operators. He also would be ridiculously committed to a given "bit" — such as, after suffering a minor neck injury in his first wrestling match with Jerry Lawler, publicly wearing a neck brace that he didn't need for six months (except in certain situations such as shooting Taxi) and only giving it up because it started to smell bad.


Video Example(s):


Rohan licking a spider

Rohan: great at drawing manga, not so great at acting like a normal person.

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Main / EccentricArtist

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