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Eccentric Artist

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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

  • In The Adventures of Picasso, most characters are artists (painters, poets, singers and ballet dancers), and pretty much everyone is a Cloudcuckoo Lander.
  • Coco: One of the celebrities Miguel meets in the Land of the Dead is Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, whose idea for a performance art piece 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.

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.
  • 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.

Live-Action TV

  • The Great Gonzo from The Muppet Show comes up with acts like smashing up a car to the tune of "The Anvil Chorus" or reciting the poetry of Percy Shelley while disarming a bomb, so maybe "eccentric" is putting it mildly.

Music

  • 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

  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

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