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Mad Artist

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"I now do what other people only dream: I make art... until someone dies! See? I'm the world's first fully functioning homicidal artist."
The Joker, Batman (1989)

The right-brain equivalent to the Mad Scientist, Mad Mathematician, and Mad Doctor. May work in any medium, but the subject is almost always evil (for a non-malicious version of this, see Eccentric Artist). They may make statues by dipping live people in concrete/wax, redecorate other people's houses with explosives, or try to get the perfect ending to their murder mystery novel by starting a real murder mystery. The unifying thread is that they always see a few incidental deaths as meaningless compared to the eternal majesty of their masterpieces.

Mad actors, artists, dancers, singers, and the like do outrageous and sociopathic things in public either as art, or so that people will pay attention to their art.

God help everyone if this character has art as an actual superpower. Just think of the terrifying monsters and objects they could create, the uses of the Anomalous Art they make, or even the terrifying potential in combat as an Art Attacker.

This character's motivation and descent into madness may be similar to their scientist counterpart, caused by shunning from the community or a dismissal of their work as too crazy or unorthodox.

The Mad Artist is somewhat rarer a trope than the Mad Scientist since, while Science Is Bad, art is almost always good, or at least benign (even if it is angsty or incomprehensible). Some characters actually embody both tropes at once, combining horrific artistic features into works of insane scientific genius with the mad piece of artwork in question simultaneously being a product of mad science (Truth in Television, given applied arts combine art and science to the point of being indistinguishable, with artistic features being incorporated into science and vice versa). Similarly, a Mad Artist could use their expertise gained as a Mad Doctor or Mad Mathematician to work in creating their insane artwork (the Mad Genius archetype subtypes aren't mutually exclusive and overlap quite often). While a Mad Scientist can sometimes be one of the good guys, you'll practically never see a Mad Artist so venerated—to escalate into Mad Artistry, the artist must usually break too sacred a taboo (e.g. murder or torture) to be an acceptable good guy.

There is an element of Truth in Television with this trope. However, most Real Life Mad Artists aren't violent. They're much more prone to Angst.

For actual artists who draw for MAD (who may or may not qualify as this, depending on the point of view) see that Trope Page.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Afterschool Charisma has Mozart's clone. He believes that as a clone, he's a genius, but the pressure of living up to the original is too much and he attempts suicide. He only survives because Shiro and Hitler got there on time.
  • Ena of Corpse Princess was a mentally unstable portrait painter in life; in death, he exists only to create incredible beauty. Pity he's utterly deranged about it.
  • D.N.Angel: The whole alter-ego thing STARTED because of Satoshi's ancestors becoming obsessed with a very strange god-complex in which Art Initiates Life and they are interrupted mid-life-giving-ceremony of the KokuYoku (Dark and Krad), in which everything explodes. Including the Niwa ancestor's arms and legs. Owch. It is stated that the Hikari ancestors were mentally unstable to begin with, creating dangerous art pieces such as Argentine who kidnapped Risa because he wanted her heart. Literally.
    • No, Argentine didn't literally want Risa's heart. He wanted her to teach him how to have a heart so he could give one to Qualia. He didn't really seem to realize that a 'heart' also was an organ. It was more a concept to him.
  • Caster and his new buddy Ryuunosuke in Fate/Zero. Sometimes they artistically murder people, but the cake winner for squick has to be the giant cavern filled with people who had their organs turned into musical instruments. There's an organ that works by squeezing intestine sections for the screams of the victim. Rider notes that a lot of them are still alive... technically. He fixes that.
  • Rohan Kishibe, the mangaka from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable has shades of this, with Bunny-Ears Lawyer mixed in. When Koichi first meets him, Rohan raves about how true art should be and proceeds to eat a spider so he can experience how it tastes. He then holds Koichi captive in his home to steal his memories using his Stand ability. They both get better, though.
  • One episode of Hell Girl centers around an elderly dollmaker's increasingly cruel attempts to make her daughter-in-law, the Victim of the Week, as close to the dolls she makes as it's possible for a living creature to be. Naturally, the old hag gets sent straight to Hell. Then the poor woman's husband picks up right where his mother left off. It's one of the few straight-up Downer Endings of the first season.
  • Killer Killer had two of these: Shinagawa, who killed people in order to draw the perfect account of the Hope's Peak Killing School Life, and Ted Chikatilo, who combines this with Mad Bomber to create the most beautiful fireworks out of bodies he can.
  • In The Kindaichi Case Files, Yoichi Takato sees himself as an artist who creates masterpieces by staging a perfect murder mystery. He even offers his services to those who are seeking revenge against others by helping them kill the people who had wronged them.
  • The Knight Hunters series is full of these: the musician whose music drives people crazy, the dollmaker who uses human skin in his creations, and a whole cult that revolves around using the body parts of women in artistic arrangements... among others.
  • The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service based one chapter around a former embalmer who went insane, and in the process concluded that artwork aimed at the soul was meaningless; true art, in his view, was based in flesh. He took up a job as a hairstylist and offered women he found attractive a "special cut". If they accepted, he chloroformed them, cut off several of their limbs, and waited for them to wake up. Once they did (and panicked at their maiming), he cut off their heads and assembled a new body using random corpse parts; the resulting patchwork corpses were his "masterpieces".
  • MPD Psycho features a serial killer architect who employs "human planters" to perfect the landscaping around the buildings he designs. He literally grows plants inside the brains of girls he kidnaps, then plants the whole body, with the plant growing out of the top of the head.
  • Naruto:
    • Deidara and Sasori are an Evil Duo of "artist" villains. Deidara makes frequent references to his "explosive" art, even affirming once that he doesn't do pop-art, he does superflat. Sasori, by contrast, specializes in creating puppets, sometimes out of people (including himself). He and Deidara often argue about whether art is supposed to be fleeting and transient (like Deidara's exploding sculptures) or eternal (like Sasori's puppets).
    • They're both quite dedicated to their art as well. Sasori is ultimately defeated after his resurrection when it's pointed out that his creations will go on forever and no longer need him. Deidara has an existential crisis after being resurrected as an unkillable zombie who thus cannot end his life in a blaze of glory.
  • Mr. 3, high-ranking member of Baroque Works from One Piece, had the ability to emit wax from his body and used it to entrap victims in interesting poses in the name of art. Similarly, his partner, Miss Goldenweek, would then paint the resulting statues. She also used her paints to create "color traps" in order to emotionally control and manipulate victims. While the two of them, want to eliminate their targets in the most stylish way they can, them being artists, they (or at least Mr. 3) are cunning enough to have been promoted in their organization above physically superior fighters.
    • A more direct example is Giolla of the Donquixote Pirates. She has the power of the Art-Art Fruit, which allows her to turn anybody or anything into her artistic vision. In addition to instantly nullifying the effects of any weaponry and most Devil Fruit powers once they become afflicted by her creativity, she can embed opponents into her works of art, killing them and turning them into part of her "permanent collection."
  • Any time Hideshi Hino "hosts" one of his semi-autobiographical manga stories. The eponymous Panorama of Hell (as well as the rest of his paintings) is painted with the artist's own blood while his inspiration comes from the refuse and bloated animal (and occasionally human) corpses in the next-door River of Hell. While Hino's real-life childhood probably wasn't as bad as described (for instance, it's doubtful his grandmother actually became a chicken), it obviously wasn't very nice either.
  • Yuri Tokikago's father from Penguindrum. His creations were seemingly normal (save for a huge tower in the shape of Michelangelo's David, or something), but he was so obsessed with beauty and aesthetics that he heavily scarred Yuri with his chisels to "make her perfect". He may have molested/raped the poor little girl as well.
  • Marchello Orlando of Le Portrait de Petite Cossette murders his young fiance in order to eternally preserve her youthful beauty (and her family, too, presumably to avoid getting caught).
  • The cast of Princess Tutu is subject to the whims of a writer named Drosselmeyer, who has the power to make what he writes become reality and is obsessed with tragedy — even if the characters he's putting through trial after trial are real people.
  • Psycho-Pass (written by Gen Urobuchi) features a high school girl who dismembers people alive, turns their bodies into plastic, and sculpts them into morbid H. R. Giger-esque horror-sexual displays.
  • Eiji Kise of Psyren sees himself as an artist. Everyone else sees him as an insane killer.
  • One of the "Witches" in Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an artist who instructs her Picassoesque familiars to capture people who fall into her Eldritch Location barrier, tear them to shreds, and place their remains inside their bodies. Her familiars' duty is "to be works of art". Since familiars in this show reflect the contents of Witches' hearts and desires, this example counts.
  • In Rosario + Vampire, the art teacher is secretly a medusa, and essentially seduces girls into stripping down and posing pretty before turning them to stone. Much like one of the above examples, this is especially creepy because they're clearly still conscious... Tsukune realizes something is wrong when he notices one of them crying.
  • Rurouni Kenshin - Gein sees himself as an artist. Everyone else (including the people he was allied with) considers him creepy.
  • Sgt. Frog: Putata, whose art can come to life and attack people. Also, he paints with people's... fluids.
  • Jake Martinez in Tiger & Bunny. While in prison, he paints a huge mural of a skull made from a forest scene on the wall of his cell.
  • Vampire Princess Miyu fought one of these in the second episode - the shinma Roh-Sha, who sought to eternally capture the beauty of women, by freezing them in time and dressing them up. The fact that the women apparently remained completely conscious of their paralyzed plight, just added to the sheer madness of his 'gallery', as their muted whimpering resounded through the dark halls...
  • Minor example was the one-shot villain and manga artist Chitaro Ariga from Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL. (Not truly mad, and he was actually a decent artist. He was just a Brainwashed and Crazy pawn of the real villain.)

    Comic Books 
  • Gilded Lily, in Alpha Flight, married men and turned them into gold statues.
  • In Grant Morrison's Animal Man run, one story had an alien artist from Hawkman's world, who created an orb that displayed psychic images from his life. The psychic output is strong enough to threaten the world.
  • Batman
    • The Joker, to varying degrees in one adaptation or another. The comic version definitely is, if stand-up comedy is considered "art", as his constant goal is to make people laugh as he kills them.
    • Arkham Asylum: Living Hell includes mad graffiti artist Doodlebug, who makes his paint from human blood, which he uses as part of a long-running plot to free a bunch of demons trapped beneath Arkham Asylum.
    • And don't forget Professor Pyg from Morrison's run, who uses surgery and chemicals to turn his victims into mind-controlled slaves with doll masks glued to their faces.
      Professor Pyg: I'm an artist! I can't be expected to work on antipsychotics!
  • Daredevil (Charles Soule): The Muse is a Serial Killer who attracts Daredevil's attention when he begins kidnapping Inhumans and turning them into his latest "masterpieces".
  • Lord Momin from Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, who dedicated himself to creating artwork that elicited pain and fear. As a child he killed his pet and used its body parts as a sculpture. After training as a Sith, he built a superweapon that could destroy a city, hoping to freeze the inhabitants at the exact moment they knew their doom. He also designed Darth Vader's castle, which is first shown in Rogue One.
  • The Deathwish miniseries that spun off from Hardware (1993) had the villain being a murderer of transgender prostitutes named Boots, who used his victims to create "art". One crime scene in particular had his victims arranged to copy The Birth Of Venus.
  • The Necrotists, from the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip, are basically an entire artistic movement made up of Mad Artists. They believe murder is the only true form of creativity, and use their victims to make their 'creations'. Their founder, Azrael, at least once committed actual genocide as an art project.
  • Grant Morrison's run on Doom Patrol includes several mad artists. The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, one of Crazy Jane's 64 personalities, creates living paintings. The Brotherhood of Dada isn't so much a team of villains as a troupe of anarchistic performance artists, which leads to their quest for The Painting That Ate Paris.
  • In the DCU, Thanagarian artists often complete their "life's work" by killing themselves and a lot of innocent people with them.
  • Shortly after the Fantastic Four gained their powers, the Human Torch fought a guy named Wilhelm von Vile. (Seriously, that was his name.) Originally a rather incompetent counterfeiter, he found a set of magical paints that could bring anything he painted to life. The Torch defeated him and supposedly destroyed the paints, but he showed up much later (about thirty years) in Spider-Man, where he used his paints to awaken the latent mutant powers of two unsuccessful performance artists, then enhance them, and form a team called the Avant Guard, with the goal of plunging New York into an ice age as their insane version of a "masterpiece". They were defeated by the combined efforts of Spidey and the Torch.
  • One of the Lights in Generation Hope is Kenji Uedo, a young, acclaimed Japanese artist. He considers his special ability to be a true art form.
  • Then there's King Mob's gang in The Invisibles (also by Grant Morrison).
    • Ironically the character who flirted most closely with true insanity was Ragged Robin, whose contributions to KM's cell rarely involved a body count, and whose influence helped convince King Mob to dial down his (always ambivalent) urge toward gunplay and mayhem.
  • The Swedish comic James Hund featured an art critic serial killer; he kills people he thinks produces worthless "pseudo-art" by means reflecting their work — so for instance, a man that makes wooden sculptures then saws them apart is, well... They set a trap for him by portraying a man as a "neo-brutalist" who creates paintings by shooting intestines with a shotgun at canvas. Alone. At night. On top of a deserted building...
  • The titular character from Johnny the Homicidal Maniac is implied to have once been a rather talented artist who lost his creativity, and subsequently went completely insane.
    • Nail Bunny actually implies that Johnny was messed up before losing his ability, and still did horrible things to people, but for different reasons. The fact that the thing-behind-the-wall is sapping his creativity might be worsening his condition, but only because he was seriously messed up to begin with. The process usually just drives people to suicide, as Senor Diablo points out, not murder.
    • There's also Jhonen Vasquez, the creator of Johnny. While not nearly as psychotic as his creation, he does have hypnophobia, and throws around terms such as "Moose", "Meat", and "Chihuahua" in his creations. Of course, there's also the matter of what he has created.
  • Alan Moore's Providence tackles this when Robert Black notes in his commonplace book that he doubts he has the literary talent to write the Great American Novel about the "hidden America". He states that he's probably too normal to be a great writer and that to properly deal with the occult one has to be a little crazy to start with.
    • Ronald Underwood Pitman plays with this trope. He paints murderous ghouls and the Stella Sapiente, and kills people for his art. But he acts perfectly sane.
  • Steve Ditko did a The Question story about a charlatan modern artist who hated uplifting and high-quality historic artworks, who dressed up as one of his own ugly, sludgy-looking sculptures to become an art-vandalizing supervillain.
  • Crazy Quilt, Robin's Silver Age archenemy, was originally an artist who turned to crime and used clues hidden in his paintings to taunt crimefighters. Then, after being blinded by a gunshot wound, he had experimental surgery that restored his sight... but allowed him to only see in clashing, garish colors, driving him insane.
  • In Superman: Lois and Clark, Blanque claims that death and destruction is art, so he does his best to make his killings as creative as possible.
  • "Accidents and Old Lace" in Tales from the Crypt #43 features three elderly ladies who produce some rather striking tapestries shortly after witnessing a violent accidental death — an "accidental" death caused by their pushing the victim in front of a moving vehicle, that is...
  • A lighthearted example was the art-themed villain the Impressionist in The Tick. His roommate called him crazy in one issue. (At the time, the Impressionist was trying to eat a paint omelet.) The villain's reply?
    Impressionist: I am not crazy! I am an artist! Was Michelangelo crazy? Was Renoir crazy? Was Van Gogh crazy? OK, bad example, but still..
  • The unfinished last Tintin book, Tintin and Alph Art, would have had Tintin encountering the modern art scene and becoming the focal point of one of these.
  • The Orchestra Verdammten in The Apocalypse Suite arc of The Umbrella Academy are a death cult composed of virtuoso classical violinists.
  • Usagi Yojimbo: In one encounter, Usagi runs across a villain with an ink set that can bring to life anything drawn with it. Particularly vicious, because the ink is made from children's blood. Used for Shout Outs to various Kaiju, such as Mothra, Daimajin, and, of course, Godzilla.
  • Lisa Molinari, a.k.a. Coat of Arms, creates her own version of the Young Avengers (who later change their name to the Young Masters) as an art project examining the nature of superheroism. Lisa is a True Neutral person whose only interest in superheroism is artistic. Besides herself, this team included two genuinely good people, a Punisher wannabe, a size-changing neo-Nazi, and a robot that said neo-Nazi reprograms to have views similar to her own. She is also a fan of Norman Osborn.
    • She later appears in Avengers Academy helping Jeremy Briggs remove and redistribute all superpowers in the world because she thinks it will be a piece of "performance art" even greater than the Civil War.
  • Arthur "Art Dekko" Dekker from Zot! goes crazy as his body is replaced with robotic components, with his artistic vision crossing the line into outright hallucination.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin can stray into this territory when he builds snowmen, which tend to be monstrous, demented, and/or grotesque. His dad once suggested getting him to a psychologist upon seeing one of Calvin's "works".

    Fan Works 
  • The Overwatch fan character Canvas, created by Simon Ashberry, is a reprogrammed and insane art robot who sees the battlefield as a "living work of art" and uses a paint-like substance to incapacitate and damage his enemies. He's described as delighting in the pain, mayhem and suffering he inflicts.
  • Yayoi Kise becomes one in Respect after a bout of bullying by an Alpha Bitch, some Break the Cutie, and the associated Sanity Slippage. She specializes in Phantom Zone Pictures.
  • In Shadowchasers: Power Primordial gorgons are mostly aversions; one of them relates why the atypical depiction of them fitting this trope by displaying victims is self-destructive. (It's kind of a dead giveaway for any potential victims.) Despite this, one respected gorgon (Althea, curator of the Musee Arcane in Rome) is rumored to punish guests who try to rob and vandalize the museum this way - with the heroes' approval. (This rumor is, in fact true, the Shadowchasers have a deal that gives them unlimited access to the museum in exchange for letting her deal with such guests her way, although she restores them and lets them go after someone pays for the damage they did; blackmail, perhaps, but after the magical security she formerly used to protect the place caused too many accidents due to thieves that were too stupid to heed the warning signs and get the hint, Jalal decided this was easier.)

    Films — Animated 
  • Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians is a fashion designer who thought that designing and wearing a coat made of a hundred dead puppies would be absolutely fabulous.
  • Coco has Ernesto de la Cruz. He aims to become famous in life and death, and he won't think twice if he needs to murder his songwriter and best friend for that. And then, he makes a movie about the murder.
  • Van Schoonbeek from the first segment of The House (2022) is at least allegedly an architect doing what he does for his artistic craft. Considering he designed an Eldritch Location for the primary purpose of torturing and humiliating a family he is certainly mad.
  • While Queen Barb from Trolls: World Tour isn't necessarily a full-on villain, she still manages to put on wicked show.
  • The main antagonist of We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story is Professor Screweyes, who operates a Circus of Fear and intends to use the dinosaurs for his already visually impressive number. He's contrasted by his brother, who is a benevolent Mad Scientist.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dino Velvet of 8mm believes his films are very artistic, even though in reality they're just BDSM porn and, in one case, a snuff film.
  • Cruella DeVille from 101 Dalmatians (1996) is a fashion designer who thought that designing and wearing a coat made of a hundred dead puppies would be absolutely fabulous.
  • In the backstory of Art of the Dead, Dorian Wilde made a Deal with the Devil to achieve immortality through his work. He created a series of seven paintings known as the 'Animals' (or the 'Sinsation Series'), each one representing one of the Seven Deadly Sins. He used human skin as canvases and mixed his victims' blood, sweat and tears in with the paints. In the modern day, these paintings can corrupt anyone who comes in contact with them.
  • Jimmy in Art School Confidential. He paints pictures of his murder victims and incorporates mementoes he took from the actual body.
  • In Batman (1989), The Joker describes himself as "the world's first, fully functioning homicidal artist" and shows a perverse delight in Vicki Vale's graphic war photos, telling her that she gives it all such a glow. She is definitely not appreciative of the "living work of art" that he shows off to her (Alicia, Jack Napier's girlfriend, who has been physically and emotionally scarred such that she has to wear a mask as a result of what the Joker did to her).
    • His minions join in, splattering paint on works of art in a museum gallery and otherwise being creatively destructive. The Dragon even takes this a step further, slashing open canvases with a sword — until the Joker stops him, admitting that he "kind of likes" one of the paintings (Francis Bacon's infamously macabre Figure With Meat). The premise is so absurd that it's hard to tell if the Joker truly believes that he and his men are "improving" the artistic pieces or if he just wants to destroy everything in sight out of bitterness at his own disfigurement.
  • The discovery of art therapy is shown in Bound for Glory: Woody Guthrie is approached by an escapee from an insane asylum, who says he sees "news reels" in his head. He complains of seeing images of people suffering from from the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, to which Woody replies, "Ain't nuthin' wrong with your head!" Then Woody hands him paintbrushes and coaches him to paint the "newsreels" he sees in his head, so that the troubled man calms down and becomes an artist.
  • The main character in Roger Corman's A Bucket of Blood gains recognition in the Beatnik art community with a dead cat covered in clay. He works his way up from there...
  • Antonio, the brilliant flamenco dancer and choreographer in Carlos Saura's Carmen, becomes obsessed with the young woman dancing the lead in his new production, Carmen. Her name? Carmen. Let's just say that Life Imitates Art.
  • Cecil B. Demented and the Sprocket Holes go so far as to steal equipment and kidnap a movie startlet to make Cecil's latest film.
  • The protagonist of Close Encounters of the Third Kind obsessively builds more and more elaborate sculptures of a mysterious mountain as the rest of his life falls apart.
  • In the film A Double Life, the lead character (a noted stage actor) gets so far into the characters he plays that his whole day-to-day personality is overwritten. This is bad news when he plays Othello.
  • Effects: Lacey Bickel is a film director whose idea of good cinema involves actually killing people on camera. Good thing he's actually a fictional portrayal in universe.
  • The Electrical Life of Louis Wain: Louis graduates to this from Eccentric Artist in his later years. For example, when he arrives in America, the staff tells him his artwork is very popular...but when giving a speech about it, Louis imagines everybody in the audience as anthropomorphic cats and starts raving about negative electricity. He has a mental breakdown after the deaths of several loved ones and is eventually committed.
  • The villain in Freaked manages to combine this and For Science!. He uses his "TastyFreekz Machine" to create concoctions that horribly (and ridiculously) mutate people, because he sees it as an art form.
    "I can look at a guy like Mick Jagger, and see a pillbug that can fart the Blue Danube!"
  • In Horrors of the Black Museum, Edmond Bancroft is a blocked mystery writer who decides to hypnotize his assistant into becoming a deformed killer so that he can witness the deaths first-hand for inspiration.
  • The House That Jack Built: Jack’s view of art is... postmodern, to say the least. In his discussions with Verge, Jack outlines his philosophies about the value of decay in classical art as well as artisanal fields such as wine-making to justify his monstrous actions. Most tellingly, Jack lectures Verge on the iconic value of the German Stuka divebomber planes from WWII and expresses great admiration for the Nazis' atrocities (plus Communists') since in his view destruction is the greatest art, with it being a kind of creation itself. So they were the greatest artists who ever lived. This is the last straw that enrages Verge enough to cement Jack as the worst person he had ever ferried.
  • In House of 1000 Corpses, Otis B. Driftwood uses his abductees' bodies to make tableau-sculptures. And rants impressively at them about being an Artist in Torment.
  • One of the most iconic examples was Professor Henry Jarrod, portrayed wonderfully by Vincent Price in the 3-D horror film House of Wax (1953). A disfigured sculptor, he repopulates his destroyed wax museum by murdering people and using their wax-coated corpses as displays, also using wax to conceal his own scarred face.
  • In Kick-Ass, the Anti-Hero Big Daddy could be considered one. In the apartment where he and Hit Girl live, one of the walls is covered in comic-book villain style pictures of the Big Bad. His obsession with vengeance is not unwarranted, as the man had framed Big Daddy as a drug dealer, putting him in jail for 5 years, which drove his pregnant wife to suicide.
  • In The Menu, Chef Julian goes this route for his greatest and final dinner, meticulously planning torment and death to go with the dishes.
    Chef Julian: Let you live? No! Of course not. Can't you see that that'd ruin the menu?
  • The villains in the low budget horror movie Murder Party are all willing to kill the film's hapless protagonist for an art project. With the exception of Alexander whom even calling an artist would be too charitable they're all untalented and incompetent artists which perhaps explains why they are so willing to commit murder.
  • In Mystery of the Wax Museum, Ivan Igor is a wax sculptor who is determined to restore his previous creations, no matter the cost.
  • Lukey, the eccentric and violent artist from the concluding parts of Odd Man Out (1943), is an alcoholic version of this trope, creating religious-styled paintings of tortured souls with bulging eyes and setting them on fire when he's unhappy with them. Ultimately he tries to paint the film's protagonist, who is dying from gunshot wounds, as he sits bleeding to death, to get a glimpse into the "human soul". And fails.
  • Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in Perfume has a superhuman sense of smell, but no scent of his own. Believing that "the soul of beings is their scent," he decides to create the perfect perfume by capturing and combining the scents of beautiful young women. It turns out that he must kill the women in order to capture their scent, turning his artistic quest into a murder spree.
  • A Serbian Film: Vukmir genuinely believes in the power of his cinema and is invested in his vision. His sick and twisted vision...
  • Inverted by Self-Made Orphan Benjamin Pierce in Scanners:
    "My art... keeps me sane. Art. Sane."
  • In Secret Window, the main character turns out to be a mad artist (of the 'mystery writer who acts out his own story' type) with Split Personality.
  • Evelyn from The Shape of Things:
    "As for me, I have no regrets, no feelings of remorse for my actions, the manufactured emotions— none of it. I have always stood by the single and simple conceit...that I am an artist, only that. There is... only art."
  • Shadow of the Vampire turns F. W. Murnau, the real-life director of Nosferatu into this trope, since he hires an actual vampire to make his movie realistic as possible. Naturally, he doesn't seem to realize the danger he brought to the cast and crew for his artistic vision and and things quickly go FUBAR. By the end of the movie, he has completely lost his mind as Max Schreck kills his co-workers and he finishes the movie while Schreck is killed by sunlight.
  • Irving Wallace, the killer in the Slasher Movie StageFright -Aquarius- is hinted to be one. After disposing of everyone in the theater (except the Final Girl, whom he somehow forgot), he starts organizing the bodies into a bizarre display. After he is done, he sits down in the middle of it and starts stroking the local caretaker's cat.
    • Michael Myers also seems to occasionally "admire" how he kills, and displays, his victims.
  • The film Stranger Than Fiction plays with this, and splits it into two parts. Karen Eiffel, the author, isn't aware that the protagonist of her tragedy is going to die in real life, but she certainly acts a bit Mad, loitering in the emergency room of a hospital and complaining that nobody's dying; another character who's a fan of hers fits the "sees life as incidental next to Art" bit, advising the hero not to try to avert his doom because it makes such a good story. He actually manages to persuade him, but the author changes her mind and lets him live.
  • The Theatre Bizarre: "Vision Stains" is about a writer/Serial Killer who cannot dream. She extracts fluid from her victims' eyes as they die and injects it into her own eye so she can experience the others' lives as they flash by in their dying moments. She ten writes their life stories down in a series of journals, which regards as memorialising their deaths and giving their lives meaning. There appear to be hundreds of these journals in her squat.
  • The Truman Show's Christof is far more concerned about his reputation as an artistic boundary-pushing genius director than about the ethics of never letting someone know that his entire life is televised for the world's entertainment.
  • Fashion designers are portrayed this way so often it could be an entire subtrope. A prime example would be Will Ferrell's magnificently over-the-top Mugatu, from Zoolander — who, ironically, seems to be an Only Sane Man in that he realizes Zoolander only has one look.
    "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!"

  • 2666: There’s an artist who chopped off his own hand to provide the centerpiece for his last work. The critics visit him at the asylum.
  • Possibly the original namer for this trope, Horace gives this description of the "Mad Poet" in the Ars Poetica, making this trope Older Than Feudalism.
    It's far from clear why he keeps writing poetry. Has the villain pissed on his father's ashes? Or disturbed the grim site of a lightning strike? Anyway, he's raving, and his harsh readings put learned and unlearned alike to flight, like a bear that's broken the bars of his cage. If he catches anyone, he holds on and kills him with reading. He's a real leech that won't let go of the skin till it's full of blood.
  • The Lamb, from Mervyn Peake's short story Boy In Darkness, who uses Psychic Powers to change people, physically and mentally into half-person, half-animal...creatures for the sake of art.
  • David Wingrove's Chung Kuo series of novels has Ben Sheppard, a schizophrenic genius who straddles the line between For Science! and For Art . He throws himself into improving his new virtual reality artistic medium while civilization is tearing itself apart, sees a bandit raid as a chance to improve his artistic skills by observing their slaughter, and openly scoffs at the idealistic goals of his more outward-looking counterpart Kim Ward.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos:
    • Richard Pickman from "Pickman's Model". He's an artist who is obsessed with painting grotesque pictures, and can produce extremely lifelike and frightening portraits of inhuman monsters because he uses real ghouls as his models.
    • Erich Zann from "The Music of Erich Zann", who certainly seems somewhat crazy. He spends most of his time locked up in his apartment, playing his cello, and doesn't let anybody else hear him play. He does that because he believes that his music is the only thing that keeps Eldritch Abominations from entering our dimension through his bedroom window. This being Lovecraft, he turns out to be right.
    • In "The Call of Cthulhu", Cthulhu himself induces mad artistry around the world when the stars are right for his rising.
  • The Dark Hunters: Apollo is the god of the arts, such as poetry and music, and is a depraved monster who occasionally mixes his evil deeds with his love for the classics. He even recites a new song as he has his forces attack his own family on Mount Olympus.
  • Navarth from The Demon Princes saga is referred to as "the Mad Poet," though his works are well-known and fashionable.
  • The villain in Dexter By Design. To a degree, Lila in the TV show.
  • Discworld:
    • Thud! features the mad artist Methodia Rascal, painter of "The Battle of Koom Valley", who spent the last few years of his life thinking he was being pursued by a giant chicken. Or that he was a giant chicken. He appears to have tried talking in Chicken, and even wrote some of his diary-like notes partly in Chicken. Or possibly both. He was a Mad Artist after all. If you can't handle the idea of being afraid of a giant chicken and actually being the giant chicken you have no business appearing in this trope. He died with chicken feathers stuffed down his throat. After writing "AWK! AWK! IT COMES!"
    • Owlswick Jenkins from Making Money forged stamps because he liked the delicate details they had, but was prosecuted. Moist springs him from jail (he was really impressed by the way the forged stamps actually had more detail than the printing process on the real stamps was capable of) and after some ordeal, gets him to design bank notes. He comes under this trope because he sees his art as a way of avoiding "Them". one of whom is apparently standing directly behind Moist.
    Moist stopped himself from turning, because that way madness lay. Mind you, a lot of it was also standing in front of him.
  • Dust Devils: Adam Price and his troupe of actors are vampires and mix their love of killing into some of their performances. Adam enthralls an entire town with his violent play, which quickly becomes real as he feasts upon them and turns on them as part of his show.
  • In The Egg Man, the protagonist gradually turns into this. He ends up killing his unfaithful lover and then painting a picture of her corpse while standing on a rooftop with corporate soldiers trying to break down the door and kill him.
  • Faction Paradox's Godfather Auteur, is as the name suggests a mad writer convinced that he has the ability to write reality into existence. And indeed, it is often suggested that he may be correct to some extent, although he is certainly not omnipotent as he thinks he is. At any rate, he has written such things as Dracula becoming the all-powerful leader of a future Earth, simply because he believes it would make for a more interesting story; and even among his charges and followers, he has deliberately separated lovers because it amused him.
  • In Susan Cooper's young-adult fantasy novel Greenwitch, the unnamed villain is a painter who produces brilliant but evil art. It is even described at one point as being 'twisted but good', implying a clear talent even as it disturbs the viewer.
    • Since his paintings can literally be used to cast spells, an 'old method' which Merriman notes he had forgotten existed, that makes this one of the few literal examples of Dark Arts. Some of this originality, though, may be undermined by the painter in question living in a Gypsy caravan which apparently is a mark of his actual racial heritage. (He even attempts to use the grail—no, not that grail, though it is 'made after the fashion of' it — as a scrying device.)
  • In Agatha Christie's novel Hallowe'en Party, Michael Garfield will do anything for the sake of creating a beautiful garden on a Greek island. That includes killing numerous people, including his own daughter.
    • In her novel And Then There Were None, the mastermind behind ten unsolvable artistic deaths on Soldier Island considers himself this, not for having planned and carried out his plan but for writing a confession detailing how he did it. He acknowledges that while he made a crime noone can solve, he wants someone to know he did it so that people can bear witness to his genius, twisted as it may be.
  • Chuck Palahniuk seems to like this trope. Nearly all the writers in Haunted (2005) qualify by the end of the book, if not at the start. Diary protagonist/narrator Misty, a painter, has symptoms of instability that even predate the strain of being the wife of a coma patient trying to care for her mother-in-law and teen daughter with the family money running out.
  • Benjamin, the serial killer antagonist from Hollow Places, has shades of it. His modus operandi is to turn women into mummies because he sees them as beautiful and ‘natural’, though it’s for an audience of one.
  • Opyros from the Kane Series story "The Dark Muse" is a young man obsessed with the idea of writing a perfect poem on Gods of Darkness. To this end, he befriends shady characters (like Kane himself) and experiments with different mind-altering substances (once almost killing his lover Ceteol in the process). Finally he lays his hands on the titular Dark Muse, an artifact that can transfer the user - bodily - to the realm of dreams... and nightmares. This experience wrecks his mind but also finally allows him to write his poem which turns out to be a Brown Note that kills most listeners during the first official reading and turns the rest stark raving mad.
  • Carol O'Connell's crime novel Killing Critics is full of them, and the one who turns out to be the killer isn't the maddest.
  • From Dean Koontz' works:
    • In Relentless, we have Shearman Waxx, a book critic obsessed with destroying any writer who dares veer away from the postmodern, deconstructionist philosophy... to the point that, should they keep writing after he trashes them in a review, he will hunt them down, destroy everything they own, murder their loved ones while forcing them to watch, then finally torture them to death. As it turns out, he is just one of an entire rogue black-ops bureaucracy dedicated to the cause, as a way to control and steer the popular culture to a more "ideal"... Nietzchean... end. Subverted in the fact that, as a writer, Waxx himself is an abysmal hack, using boilerplate quotes and recycled turns of phrase in all his reviews.
    • Velocity deals with a crazed performance artist named Valis, who sends written ultimatums to the protagonist rhetorically asking which people he should kill. The protagonist correctly surmises that Valis sees his crimes as works of art and eventually tracks him down, leading to a deranged monologue from Valis.
  • Erasmus of the Legends of Dune series is a robot independent of Big Bad Omnius whose job is to understand human behavior. In studying art, he has murdered human slaves and used their parts as subjects of paintings.
  • One of Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey stories, "The Man With the Copper Fingers," featured a sculptor who disposed of his murdered girlfriend by dipping her into his bronze-plating solution, thus turning her into a statue.
  • The Trope Maker is E. T. A. Hoffmann's short story "Mademoiselle de Scudéry" about a jeweler who is psychologically driven to kill people who buy his work, even though he doesn't always want toIt Was His Sled.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • Book eight, Toll the Hounds, has Kadaspala, a once brilliant painter known in all of Kurald Galain. By the time of Toll the Hounds he's busy using those imprisoned within Dragnipur — whether they're willing or not — to create a Child God by tattooing an intricate pattern on his victims with the goal of taking revenge on Anomander Rake.
    • Invoked with the so called 'Mad Poets' of Kurald Galain, centered around the poet Gallan — who, incidentally, was reportedly Kadaspala's best friend. They were so obsessed with brevity that they eventually annihilated their own art form.
  • The MacGuffin in Robert Asprin's novel Myth Directions is a hideous metal toad sculpture, the last piece done by a sculptor named Watgit "before" he went mad.
  • Various Kim Newman works feature Constant Drache, a modern architect who is a follower of Derek Leech. He does things like designing buildings intended to drive people homicidally insane, make them unhappy and use their negative emotions to create magical power, or gas all their occupants on the orders of a malevolent boss with an Egypt fixation and a desire to take his employees to the afterlife with him.
  • One of the major signs that society has completely screwed itself over in Otherland is that serial killers are revered as "forced involvement artists". A subplot involves a less murderous artist calling a serial killer a hack for making art of others' deaths rather than his own, and challenging him to a dual suicide, to be judged by posterity. The killer doesn't respond to the challenge, but shortly afterwards, he's hit by a car. Nobody's sure whether it was a murder, a suicide, or an accident — and ironically, he does create "art" by raising such a question.
  • The Weaver, from Perdido Street Station, whose eternal goal is to increase the aesthetics of the universe. It lives off the appreciation of beauty and has god-level powers so that it can make the "world-weave" ever closer to its ideal of beauty. However, said beauty is incomprehensible by humans.
  • The Phantom of the Opera is a mad musician, composing music and teaching Christine how to sing.
    "Did you design that room? It's very handsome. You're a great artist, Erik."
  • Subverted in The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which the painting definitely has a very dark side, but it's nothing to do with the artist Basil Hallward (who is actually a fairly sensible and decent fellow). It's actually the titular Dorian Gray, who was the one who commissioned the portrait, who goes a bit murderously mad because of it. He ends up murdering Basil after he takes a look at the portrait, which has become hideous as it absorbs Dorian's evil and old age.
  • The Radix: The Knight paints scenes of death of the Christian martyrs using unwilling models. "Pain was beautiful. It inspired him."
  • Boday from Jack Chalker's series Riders Of The Wind, who turns girls into living pieces of art for the rich clients. It's somewhat a stretch to call her evil (she travels with the main characters, and becomes more of a good character by the end of the series), but she's still quite insane (third-person speaking included).
  • A film director in the Brian Evenson short story “Room Tone” makes a deal with a crooked realtor to shoot a horror movie in an empty house. Then the new owner arrives, and the director notices that he resembles the murder victim in the movie, starting a chain of bad news.
  • From J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion: Fëanor probably falls somewhere between this and Mad Scientist, being an incredibly talented craftsman who becomes more or less insane after his greatest works are stolen (though he was already slightly unhinged due to a particularly unique case of Missing Mom.)
    • Despite his son Maglor following in his father's footsteps both as an artist and a murderer, he actually becomes a subversion of all that his father represented. Instead of smithing, his renown came as the greatest minstrel of his time which as peace was never much of an option led to him becoming a Warrior Poet. As for the atrocities that he was involved and contributed in, he was easily the most reasonable and kind of Fëanor's sons - he was mostly convinced to commit them by his brothers and by the oath that his father forced them to take, and deeply regrets all he's done wandering along the seashore singing laments.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Several characters played by Julian Barrett, including Julian from Asylum and Howard from The Mighty Boosh. The below mentioned Brian Topp of Spaced was originally written for Barrett.
  • In The Adventures of Sinbad, Sinbad and his crew encounter a sculptor with a lot of female statues, and Sinbad notes the lack of any apparent tool marks. Turns out the "sculptor" had a magic glove that turned anything he touched to marble and had been using girls that he lured into his mansion to become his "art" after sedating them. The only way to free the girls? Sinbad turns the glove onto its user.
  • The original Bloody Face (revealed to be court-appointed psychiatrist Oliver Thredson) from American Horror Story: Asylum liked to recycle the bones and Genuine Human Hide of his victims, making a bowl of mints from a skull-cap and a lampshade from skin.
  • Black Mirror: In "The National Anthem", one of these turns out to be the "terrorist" responsible for kidnapping the Princess and forcing the Prime Minister to have sex with a pig on national television to release her, which turns out to be performance art. In the epilogue, some drama has been raised by someone calling it the only great work of art of the century.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Angelus believed that killing and torturing (and evil, in general) should be an artform. Drusilla (whom he tortured into insanity) was what you might call an extended performance piece. He is known to be the most vicious vampire ever recorded in the history of the Buffyverse. Angelus' old student Penn also claimed to be an artistic killer, but Angel mocked him for his lack of creativity; all of his murders were imitations of his first.
  • In Castle, a fan of the title character's mystery novels murders people and writes novels about it. He targets Detective Beckett because she is the inspiration for Castle's "Nikki Heat" franchise.
  • Criminal Minds:
  • One episode of CSI revolved around a serial murderer who killed people and used rigor mortis to pose them in the poses of his sketches, then placed them around the city.
    • The episode "The Execution of Catherine Willows" introduces a serial killer who kills once every 15 years, and later is revealed to make detailed drawings of his victims just before he kills them.
  • On Season 1 of Dexter, the Big Bad Ice Truck Killer would display the neat, bloodless body parts of his victims in an artistic manner that wins Dexter's admiration. Vince would later compare the Ice Truck Killer to an artist.
    • In Season 2, Lila is an eccentric artist who works with items that she steals. She's also a pyromaniac and a Stalker with a Crush for Dexter.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Mehendri Solon in "The Brain of Morbius" is this in addition to being a Mad Scientist and a Mad Doctor. He wants to revive a Time Lord dictator by building him a new body, but is far too concerned with both the body and the methods being used to build it being beautiful. He has decorated his house with home-made sculptures of heads which the Doctor comments he finds a bit disturbing, and it's implied that despite his stated reasoning, the real reason he becomes dead-set upon using the Doctor's head in his project is simply because he likes the look of it.
    • The main villain of "Paradise Towers" was Kroagnon, an insane, intellectually-snobbish architect who filled his buildings with booby-traps to kill anyone who tried to actually use them and "spoil" their aesthetic beauty.
    • "Bad Wolf", already a parody of reality TV, had a futuristic version of What Not to Wear hosted by two robots with, er... unconventional fashion ideas.
      Trin-E: I think you'd look good with a dog's head.
      Zu-Zana: Or maybe no head at all! That would be so outrageous.
      Trin-E: And we could stitch your legs to the middle of your chest.
      Zu-Zana: Nothing is too extreme. It's to die for.
    • The Doctor meets Vincent van Gogh in "Vincent and the Doctor". While Vincent's mentally ill, he isn't dangerous.
  • The Following: Joe Carroll, Gothic literature scholar, mediocre writer, Serial Killer and Cult Leader. He looks at his killing spree as a performance art piece. He also encourages his followers to come up with their own signature murder style and carry out their crimes with as much dramatic flair as possible. It's implied that his failure as a writer helped to spur him onto murderous insanity; basically, it helped him find the best medium for his talents.
  • Frasier: Caitlin in "Frasier Gotta Have It". She makes collages out of dead mice and stuffs pillows with human hair.
  • The character James Franco plays in his recurring guest role on the soap opera General Hospital fits this. The character, nicknamed Franco, is an artist, sociopath and serial killer who artistically depicts crime scene reenactments and is obsessed with murder and death as an art form.
  • According to Hannibal, the Baltimore area has a worrying supply of inventive serial killers ready to turn human bodies into nearly anything; this includes "angels", string instruments, a giant totem pole, beehives, or a mural in the shape of an eye. Most of them leave their work on display, while the title character turns his victims into lavishly-prepared meals — which he regularly serves to his friends.
  • In the episode of House titled "Moving On" there was performance artist Afsoun Hamidi, who on introduction was willing to let herself be set on fire during one of her performances. She then purposely manipulated her own symptoms in order to draw House's attention to her case.
  • The second season opener of the anthology series The Hunger ("Sanctuary") has Julian Priest (David Bowie), whose fascination with/resentment of death manifested itself in increasingly grisly and shocking performance art — one piece had him surgically strip away a large piece of skin from his lower arm — that led to outrage and shunning. Encountering a young man on the run for the murder of Julian's agent, he decides he'd make the perfect subject for his next work... the madness runs so deep that the stranger is all in his head. Julian was the murderer and he's actually killing himself — since turning his demise into a work of art will bring him the immortality he craves. The ghost of Julian goes on to host the rest of the series. (This is not Bowie's first encounter with this trope — see Music below.)
  • An episode of Inspector Rex has a photographer who wants to take a perfect picture of death. He murders women to achieve this.
  • One Zodiart in Kamen Rider Fourze is a painter who is making a drawing of Mt. Fuji as a Christmas gift for a class of young children. Unfortunately, he attacks and turns to stone anyone who breaks his concentration, even damaging a building because he thinks it's disrupting his view.
  • One Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode had an artist who killed women and sketched them as a way to deal with his feelings about the women who'd abused him his whole life. Goren eventually catches him by pointing out that the other artist whom he got to photograph the corpses had touched them up to make the women look angelic, ruining the "integrity" of the work. This causes the killer to flip out and incriminate himself.
  • The Big Bad in Monster Warriors is Klaus Von Steinhauer: an embittered 1950s film director. His career was destroyed in the 1960s when beach movie supplanted his giant monster movies in public popularity. Now granted a machine called the Monster Maker by aliens, he seeks revenge by using the Monster Maker to create real versions of the monsters from his movies and unleashing them upon Capital City.
  • The Great Gonzo from The Muppet Show. Not evil like many other examples, but he's definitely crazy, 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.
  • The remake of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) had Gordon Stylus. Making sculptures out of frozen urine is actually among the saner things he does; by the end of the episode, he's murdered both his wife and Marty Hopkirk, tries to kill Jeff by dunking him in resin, and is seen wearing his wife's wedding dress and wielding a chainsaw.
  • Ripper Street: In "I Need Light", Detective Inspector Reid and his team enter into the world of Sir Arthur Donaldson (Mark Dexter), a pioneer in early photographic pornography and producer/star of one of the first 'snuff films', after discovering motion film of Thwaites being strangled. The insane Donaldson is attempting to capture vision of the soul leaving the body at the moment of death.
  • Parodied in Spaced — on first appearances, Brian Topp seems to be the kind of weird, creepy and intensely psycho artist who ends up making art out of people's skins, but he's actually completely harmless and quite normal (relatively speaking, that is); he's actually just incredibly shy, rather pretentious, and somewhat angsty for reasons that are never quite explained.
    • Actually they did explain, it is because he saw his dog ran over as a child. "Such vibrant colors..."
  • Strangers From Hell: Moon-jo considers what he does art, and kills anyone who interferes with it. Especially in regards to turning people into killers.
    Moon-jo: What I do is art. Not murder.
  • Stargate Atlantis: In the Alternate Reality Episode "Vegas", Todd the Wraith (a race of vampiric human-insect hybrids) is captured after his Hiveship was destroyed in a failed invasion of Earth and held in Area 51. He eventually goes delirious from starvation and starts reciting Wraith poetry.
    Todd: Fish in a pond, busy busy, lots to do, here and there. Dry as a desert outside, no place to go. Eat up, get stronger, think and hope, think and hope. Don't look now! Oh, keep dreaming. There must be some other reason for your existence. Defiance tastes like life itself. No river. No water. Dry as a desert. Darkness all around. The harvest moon is rising. Wraith are never-ending. I know the future. Come inside. I'll show you your destiny... John Sheppard.
  • There are at least a couple of Tales from the Crypt episodes centered around Mad Artists. One of them was about an artist who killed people and used their blood in his paintings and another featured a young female artist (whose work bordered on the grotesque) killing her sugar daddy husband and turning him into soap.
  • "The Jeopardy Room", an episode of The Twilight Zone (1959), features the Wicked Cultured assassin Vassiloff, who uses complicated death traps to kill people because he thinks it gives his victims' deaths more subtlety and sophistication.
  • An episode of Ultraman Ace features an artist who made a Deal with the Devil to bring his artworks to life, including that of a prehistoric monster, which the artist then set loose in the city. The reason for his actions? Getting rejected by a woman he had a crush on... also, the artist is a serial killer who abducted and killed at least two women, and at one point we get to see the remains of one of his victims.
  • The X-Files features a mad artist or two, most notably the episode, "Grotesque", in which a sculptor (and later, one of the cops trying to catch him) is possessed by a desire to kill people and encase their bodies in clay gargoyle sculptures.

  • In Alesana's album The Emptiness, the Artist is messed up in so many ways, and it bleeds through into his art.
  • The plot of David Bowie's 1. Outside album is apparently about a mad artist kidnapping and murdering a colleague as a work of art.
    • Not a colleague, but the adopted child of said colleague. However, she could only have adopted that child because she killed her biological mother several years before - apparently.
    • Originally intended as the beginning of a concept-album trilogy — a murder mystery involving a serial killer artist, and told in a non-linear style.
    • Bowie's fascination with the trope goes back at least to the late seventies; it didn't help that he himself was coked out of his mind for a while there (giving us the Thin White Duke from Station to Station). His song "Joe the Lion" is inspired by the frequently self-injurious performance art projects Chris Burden was doing at the time.
  • Undeniably a gifted artist, Doctor Steel screams "I'm the greatest creator this world's ever seen!" ... while blowing up a toy factory.
  • Pink of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" is a talented musician who lets fame, copious drug use, and a fatherless upbringing drive him a little off the deep end. He finds himself isolated from everyone, particularly his estranged wife, women in general, and his fans, has elaborate drug-fueled fantasies of himself as a fascist leader, trashes hotel rooms, and is generally self-destructive. The ending implies that he gets at least somewhat better.
  • Downplayed in Poets of the Fall's "Drama for Life," where the agitated "madman" of the song is a "prolific designer" Ghost in the Machine who has a Battle in the Center of the Mind with the singer over who gets creative control. In the full video itself, they've reached a compromise of sorts, with the singer as a Willing Channeler who refines the madman's Room Full of Crazy lyrics and manic impulses into songs and performances.
  • "Ich Will" by Rammstein features the band as Art Terrorists, blowing up a bank and one of the band members. It's a commentary on media obsession with a good story and the Immortality Immorality of those who are (or who seek) to be remembered due to their crimes.
  • The Chaa song "Fear Garden" (sung by Rin Kagamine) features a psychotic and vile teenage Serial Killer who obsesses over human hands. She stalks her "friends" until she can get them alone, then uses a knife to rip their arms off of their bodies. She will then plant the arms with their hands out in her garden and flowerpots, decorating them and arranging them in a "secret garden that no one knows about".
  • On The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Eminem imagines himself, under his old Politically Incorrect Villain persona, as this — spewing out hatred and negativity, and traumatising a generation of kids, as a sort of For the Evulz performance art of pointless rage. He describes himself as "an artist, tortured, trapped in his own drawings" and "the type to find a way to complain about a Picasso painting", using his savant's talent at rhyming to become as bad as the bullies that oppressed him in childhood.

  • In On the Threshold Zoey Evans combines this with Mad Scientist. She says that "the human mind is the ultimate canvas on which I paint my art", which means she's intent on creating novel mental experiences through her VR artwork, one environment of which includes an altar with the corpse of Jesus Christ as a preamble and is intended to cause the "inversion of religious ecstasy", which she says leaves those who experience broken and shunned if they ever express it. The fact that many who have tried the VR environment have seizures doesn't concern her in the slightest, and indeed just seems like proof that she is close to her goal.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The National Wrestling Alliance has had two mad musicians known as Mariachi Loco, known for rambling on about things tangibly related to upcoming matches while strumming their guitars. The second of which would go on to win Lucha Underground's Trios Title for The Disciples Of Death.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Any Big, Screwed-Up Family worth its salt should provide examples of almost any trope with "mad" in its title. The Whateleys in Deadlands are no exception. Basil Whateley is a painter, a painter of scenes both mundane and surreal. He can even paint your portrait for you! In fact, if he paints it well enough, the painting will swallow your soul! He's even painted a rather iconographical-looking monster into existence!
  • In Dungeons & Dragons some races, especially non-humanoid, have whole disturbing forms of art. E.g. one supplement described beholders' art — unsurprisingly, visual and Eye Beams-based: disintegration-carved stone sculptures and installations of petrified victims in various expressive poses. And sometimes one is combined with the other.
    • Depending on the Writer, Medusas can be like this, displaying the remains of their victims like groteque museums. The 2nd Edition versions were a bit more sensible, however; their entry in the rulebook stated that most of them didn't do this, seeing as a lair full of such statues would likely make it obvious what sort of creature lived there, scaring potential prey away.
    • Spelljammer has Reigar, who combine this with elements of Parody Sue and Mad Scientist. They are more nice people than not, but...
    Estriss: This determination to push the horizons of art for art's sake ultimately explains the rare occurrence of reigar. Simply put, they went a bit too far.
    Teldin: A bit too —
    Estriss: They blew up their homeworld. And that is another issue. If the reigar were to gain control of the Spelljammer, they would regard the ship as little more than a base for artistic experiments. Given the reigar's penchant for excess, it is an appalling prospect.
    • In the Eberron setting, while nobody really understands why the Daelkyr like to conquer planets and horribly mutate the local inhabitants, Word of God leans towards this interpretation - the Daelkyr aren't conquerors but artists, and destroying worlds is simply a form of art to them.
  • The Yozi Kimbery in Exalted is an enormous Mood-Swinger whose Excellency can specifically enhance any attempt to create "disturbing art", which explicitly includes things like particularly picturesque blood splatters.
  • A couple of Mutants & Masterminds villains also qualify, most notably Fear-Master and the Maestro.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade, the Nosferatu clanbooks mention some of them making an art out of killing, intentionally employing tropes from slasher movies when stalking their victims. Such Nosferatu are nicknamed "Leatherfaces".
    • The Tzimisce are quite fond of doing this by using their unique talent of Fleshcrafting to "improve" both themselves and their victims.
    • The Toreador antitribu of the Sabbat follow a similar path. Like their cousins in the Camarilla, they're absolutely fascinated by beauty and defined by art... it's just, their definition of "beauty" and "art" has been altered to include "a masterfully executed flaying."
    • One character in the Devil-Tiger Dharma book for Kindred of the East is a Japanese performance artist who had herself torn to pieces by hungry dogs as part of a piece combining escape artistry and video art to commemorate the futility of human struggle. This was entirely intentional on her part, her only concerns in planning it being artistic ones. Her return as one of the Wan Kuei appears to have helped her recover somewhat.
    • Vampire: The Requiem has the Architects of the Monolith, a bloodline of the Ventrue who believe in Geometric Magic and think cities have power. Combine the general tendency of the Ventrue to go cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs under mounting odds with blood sorcery that allows them to draw strength from the city, and...
  • Followers of Slaanesh in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 exhibit shades of this at the least, and prefer to go the horror route in subject matter and medium.
    • Serena D'Angelus in the novel Fulgrim uses her own bodily fluids to supplement her paint after being corrupted by Slaanesh. When that doesn't prove satisfactory she murders someone and adds their blood to the mix. The artwork is eventually used to trap Fulgrim's soul when he is possessed by a Daemon. Fulgim later turns the tables and traps the Daemon in the painting instead.
    • There's also an alien species mentioned in the background that has this as their hat. They consider everything, including war, as an artform. As a result, they tend to go to battle wearing brightly colored armor with weapons shooting technicolor deathrays and have battle plans designed to create the most artistic result, even if it would mean that they would lose.
    • The Tomb King necrotects are ancient architects who were entombed within the pyramids they built for their kings, and have the Hatred rule because they're so mad that during the centuries they were dead their monuments have suffered from erosion or pillaging. Ramhotep the Visionary in life used to drug other architects into a stupor so he could complete multiple great works as their "assistant" while leaving them to be buried in his place, and wants to raze other civilizations to the ground so he can build necropoli over them.

  • A relatively benign example is Willy Wonka in the 2013 musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the original novel and most adaptations he's a Mad Scientist of confectionery; here that trope is melded with this one to explain why his factory has such strange sights as the Chocolate Room, which beyond its chocolate-mixing waterfall has no practical, money-making purpose. His song "Simply Second Nature" reveals that he is driven to create beautiful things to liven up the world, and where some artists might use paint or clay to do so, he uses candy.
  • Jitter in The Musical of Musicals: The Musical!:
    "I want you to pose for me—so I can sneak up behind you, slit your throat and cover your corpse with papier mâché."

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: Odyssey: A quest on Lesbos has the Eagle Bearer run into an eccentric young woman who insists she has a cure for petrification, and asks them to fetch the ingredients for it. Investigating her workshop has the Eagle Bearer notice something very "off" with the statues. She is, in fact, poisoning people and turning them into statues.
  • Reijek Hidesman, the serial-killing tanner in Baldur's Gate II, talks about how his work has only one place to go, ending in a coat of human skin that can be converted into really, really creepy leather armor with silver dragon blood.
    • The first game has a mad gnome who has somehow gotten control of basilisks and uses them to make statues. Fortunately for everyone involved, he is hanging out a fair bit from any roads or inhabited places, and he doesn't seem very proactive in acquiring new statues unless they come to him.
  • BioShock:
    • Sander Cohen, the radio and stage personality and spliced-out freak who lurks in Fort Frolic. He apparently went from writing propaganda for Andrew Ryan to gems like forcing a man to play a piano rigged with explosives, turning people into plaster sculptures, and forcing the player to kill four of his disciples-turned-rivals and take photos of their corpses. His madness may not stem from his art, but they definitely run together at the time of the game. The best part? According to both BioShock: Rapture and BioShock Infinite's Burial at Sea DLC, he was just as loony BEFORE he was spliced up.
    Atlas: Cohen's an artist, says some. He's a Section Eight, says I. I've seen all kinds of cutthroats, freaks, and hard cases in my life, but Cohen, he's a real lunatic, a dyed-in-the-wool psychopath...
    • The game also features Dr. Steinman, a plastic surgeon who eventually got bored with having to make "the same tired shapes" over and over again, then went crazy from ADAM abuse and started to fancy himself "Surgery's Picasso". Keep in mind that he's not only referring to level of genius, but also technique.
      Steinman: I try to make them beautiful, but they always turn out wrong! This one - too fat! That one - too tall! This one - too symmetrical!
  • Bravely Default II has Folie holder of the pictomancer asterisk who in her quest to get high quality paint for her magnum opus has among other things: participated in the invasion of Musa in order to get her hands on the earth crystal, used the earth crystals power to force the growth of several massive trees within the city of Wiswald, destroying public infrastructure and leaving many people homeless just to extract yellow paint from the bark of these trees. Killed Mona and used the despair caused by her death in order to brainwash Mona's parents and loved ones so that she could use Mona's dad Roddy's resources in order to have him create high quality blue paint and lastly secretly kidnapped and killed a lot of people in order to harvest red paint from their blood. Oh and the painting she created using all this unethically sourced paint also happens to be an vaguely organic looking cave mural that fights alongside Folie during her boss fight.
  • Brauner from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. In a sense, the point of the whole game.
  • The first Parasite from The Cat Lady is a doctor that uses his victim's skin and body parts to recreate famous works of art.
  • The Maestro from City of Heroes - a famed singer who lost his voice, went crazy, and was offered a new voice by The Council. His new voice will Break Your Bones. By the time you meet him, he's a boss-class supervillain who uses sonic attacks and complains about you interrupting his 'symphony'.
    • Also, Malaise - he's an artistic psychic with illusion powers who's only heroic when he's been taking his medication. He finally makes a permanent Face Heel Door Slam in the "Who Will Die?" arc, before dying.
  • When you first meet Kent in Dead Rising, he's merely an egotist photographer who challenges Frank to take specific pictures of him. The second time you meet him, he demands an "erotic" photo, showing a bad side. By the third time you meet him, he's clearly lost his mind, and is preparing to hand over an innocent human to a zombie so that he can photograph the moment of zombie transformation. At this point, Frank interrupts and attacks him (appropriately enough, he's a boss fight — bosses in Dead Rising are called "Psychopaths"). Kent's last request is that you photograph his corpse.
  • Many players of Dwarf Fortress take on this sort of role during megaprojects or killing sprees.
    • In-game, dwarves can go into Strange Moods, where they get an idea for an artifact and pursue its creation at the expense of everything else. If they get everything they demand, they'll produce a masterwork item from their highest skill that ignores normal material requirements (e.g. beds usually must be made out of wood, but artifact beds can be metal) and is heavily decorated. If they fail for whatever reason, they go insane. If they succeed, they (usually) become Legendary in the used skill. There are three normal mood types—Fey (are clear with their demands for materials), Secretive (sketches pictures of demands), and Possessed (doesn't gain experience on success), and two that only unhappy dwarves can have, which really fit the trope best- Macabre (will want bones as a material) and Fell (will murder another dwarf and make the artifact out of their victim's corpse).
      • From the popular LP of this game, Boatmurdered, Sankis becomes one of these after retiring as overseer of the fortress, making engravings about various things that had been happening around the fortress, including elephants killing dwarves, burning goblins, cheese, and homages to other images of cheese.
  • In Dead by Daylight, Ji-Woon Hak, aka the Trickster, records his songs by finding the perfect victims torturing them to death just right, not just for his sick pleasure because he Loves the Sound of Screaming, but also so he can twist each sound of their death cries into K-Pop hits.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, Sheogorath is the Daedric Prince of Madness. His sphere also covers creativity and the arts, with it being said that he invented music on Mundus (the mortal plane). Naturally, those who fit this trope are indirect followers of Sheogorath. Of course, being an unpredictable Mad God, he's as likely to torment them as he is to inspire them, but still.
  • The Evil Within 2 has Stefano Valentini, a photographer turned Serial Killer who is obsessed with capturing people at the moment of their deaths via a Magical Camera as well as creating grotesque art pieces out of corpses.
  • While Fallen London occasionally brings The Set up, it's in Sunless Sea that they are properly characterized as an extremely vicious gang of artists who moonlight as the most dreaded pirates in the Unterzee.
    • One of their ex-members is one of the recruitable officers, and known only as the Merciless Modiste. She is unparalleled when it comes to creating beautiful and awe-inspiring clothing, but she's also a fan of carving up people with her beloved knives. If you want her to teach you about stealth you have to outwit her in a game where losing means getting stabbed. And don't leave pets in her reach if you don't want her to skin them and make amazing coats out of them.
    • The Modiste herself speaks of a few of her crewmen, such as the Perfidious Composer, who made entire Operettas out of her Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, the Ender of Critics, who enjoyed using knives as dull as the critics' wits to end them, and the Silent Sculptress, who did something so awful with clay and bone (keeping in mind Clay Men are a thing in this setting) that she got exiled.
    • Last, but not least, there's the Pianolist, the captain of the vessel who gives The Set their fearful reputation: The Irrepressible. The single most powerful zubmarine beneath the waves, it's reasonably sturdy, and also packs extremely dangerous weaponry, the centerpiece being a cannon that fires Irrigo paint, which destroys the minds of the crewmen whose vessels are painted with it, and also has a dedicated breakfast nook. The Pianolist usually keeps it around the Gant Pole, presumably to give his fellow Set members either zee-monsters or eerie and unnatural colors to work with. The only time you can speak with him "personally" (using the Irrepressible's speaker system, that sounds like an old gramophone) he demands two previous crewmembers that left The Set, which he considers betrayal, and your own betrayal of them would be a delicious irony. Hand them over, and after a few horrifying noises and an unusually terrifying Vivaldi performance he'll hand you back their hearts made into pianola sheets, which is perhaps part of why he got that name.
    • Not every insane artist is a part of The Set. Sunless Sea has an underwater cigar shop known as Rosegate, whose owner has plans to create the very first underwater cigar, one that can actually work, and be improved, in zee-water. This process requires several acts of cruelty to properly gather the flavors the tobacco needs, with one last touch of Human Resources, and if successful he outright tells you he will light the zee on fire with his new cigars.
  • Pickman in Fallout 4. When you first encounter him, some Raiders are attacking him for slaughtering their buddies and using their body parts to paint some rather disturbing portraits. And should you save Pickman, he tells you that he's in fact a Serial-Killer Killer, who hunts down the Raiders and bring terror upon them. Whether or not he lives is up to the player.
  • Fate/EXTRA: (Your) Saber is not just a very good swordswoman, she's also a mad artist whose Noble Phantasm, Aestus Domus Aurea, is the manifestation of her derangement and delusion of grandeur. Justified, because she is Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus. See also Real Life section, below.
  • Mr. Mechanical from Freedom Force. Though at first glance he may look like your average Mad Scientist villain, he is actually a disgraced architect (real name Clyde DeWitt) who was laughed out of the profession after one of his avant-garde buildings collapsed a week after it was unveiled. Insisting the building was sabotaged by petty and inferior minds, jealous and incapable of appreciating his works, he unleashes an army of giant robots (apparently designed by him with the help of Big Bad Timemaster) to destroy the city and its "hideous designs". And when the heroes defeat those, he jumps in an even BIGGER robot and goes on a rampage trying to destroy schools and hospitals while blathering on how he's superior to Gropius and Frank Lloyd Wright. He's quite entertaining.
    Mr. Mechanical: All architects before me only knew how to build...create...only I'm bold enough to destroy!
  • Grand Theft Auto V has the man who brutally murdered a young actress named Leonora Johnson back in The '70s. Peter Dreyfuss, a legendary filmmaker of the New Hollywood era (and a thinly-veiled, unflattering parody of Roman Polański), believed that, in order to truly understand suffering and improve his art, he needed to inflict it upon others himself. This led him to kidnap Leonora and horrifically torture her to death, then mail her locket and her severed lips to her family just to twist the knife. Franklin eventually confronts him after you find all fifty scraps of his confession letter, whereupon he rants about how his status as a famous artist grants him the right to do whatever he wants in the name of his art, and how criticism of his behavior is "just the blind moralizing of the proletariat".
  • Hiveswap has Amisia, who uses various colours of blood for paint.
  • Ib has Guertena Weiss, who created all the paintings and sculptures that appear in the game, making him responsible for everything that happens.
  • Illbleed has Michael Reynolds, a horror movie director who apparently though the only fitting tribute to his work was a booby-trapped, monster-infested Amusement Park of Doom.
  • Immortal Love 7: Stone Beauty has Cesare, a sculptor who fell in love with a statue he created and attempts to bring it to life by turning people into stone.
  • The protagonist of Layers of Fear is making a painting out of his own flesh, blood and bone.
  • League of Legends has Jhin, the Virtuoso, a theatrical, yet serene masked madman who sees a perfectly-crafted death as an artistic masterpiece, leading his subjects (i.e. coldly gunning them down using magic guns) like a theatre director. While playing as him, every time he speaks to himself, the faint sounds of orchestra and choir follow.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: The Big Bad, Yuga, has the power to transform people into paintings, and sees the act of doing so as a form of art. Fittingly, he considers beautiful young girls like Seres and Zelda to be masterpieces, while he considers Link to be very plain, even ugly.
  • In Life Is Strange, Mark Jefferson is a photographer that drugs and kidnaps teenage girls and then take shots while the victims are looking desperate. The reason for this? An obsession with the Break the Cutie trope, according to his own words.
  • The Lion's Song: Franz can see into the hidden layers of people, and can make portraits that show off the personality traits of their selves, but he is tormented with blackouts, exhaustion, and despair that he cannot see his own layers. Eventually it gets so bad that he pays a visit to Freud for psychiatric help. In the very end of episode 2, he discovers that in his blackouts, he has been painting his own layers. Despite the painting being in his studio, it is implied that he is disassociating so hard that he does not even notice its presence until it is explicitly pointed out to him by someone else.
  • Luigi's Mansion: Vincent Van Gore is an obvious parody of Van Gogh (though inexplicably French instead of Dutch), he's apparently never sold a painting in his lifetime, kept painting long after death and brought numerous ghosts to life from the artwork in his studio. And sets a total of 21 of them on Luigi in-battle, mook rush style.note  Funnily enough, he's painting the key you get from defeating him when you actually fight him.
  • Fatman from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is a Mad Bomber who thinks of himself as an artist.
  • Henry Gordon from The Other Side: Tower of Souls, a sculptor who lured victims to his studio and turned them into plaster statues.
  • In No Straight Roads, there's Eve. Between her Cloudcuckoolander tendenciesnote  and her top-tier artistic talent, she definitely qualifies for this trope. Unlike most examples, though, her madness comes from her utter devotion to her unique worldview rather than her methods of creating her art. She also serves as a deconstruction of this trope, since it's because of her worldview that she felt like an outsider. It didn't help that the one person she felt understood her, Zuke, left just as she was finally learning to be comfortable being herself.
  • In Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent, the Big Bad of the Master of Glory storyline is Arguste, a complete sociopath who is renowned throughout the lands as a genius actor and playwright. Not only does he regularly torture others to gain sexual gratification, but he also writes plays and acts them out about the terrors he inflicts on others. All the while, he remains beloved due to his Cult of Personality.
  • Downplayed with Yusuke from Persona 5, the Ambiguously Gay quirky art student party member. While he's far from a bad person, there's no denying he's got some kind of disorder, possibly on the Autism Spectrum.
  • Doug Rattmann of Portal is an interesting case. Unlike most Mad artists, he's benevolent to the player, and most of his artwork is mad paintings that he makes because they help with his schizophrenia.
  • The Sly Cooper games feature these once per game;
    • Panda King of Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is, as Sly put it, a spurned firework artist turn homicidal pyromaniac. He turned to crime when his skills were dismissed due to his poor background, and he's taken to setting off avalanches on villages that won't pay protection money.
    • Dimitri of Sly 2: Band Of Thieves was an up-and-coming painter, but his "Kinetic Aesthetic" (Painting while swinging from a rope) was unappreciated. He became an art forger, and uses the Clockwerk tail feathers to print counterfeit money.
    • Don Octavio of Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves is a mad opera singer turned mob boss when rock and role supplanted his career. His masterplan is to destroy Venice if no one comes to a recital he's hosting.
    • The Grizz of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is a graffiti artist who had a day in the limelight because people thought True Art Is Incomprehensible. He's joined Le Paradox to put graffiti in the Ice Age so his work will have historical precedent.

    Visual Novels 
  • Hatoful Boyfriend's Anghel Higure is a kind and sweethearted amateur (and Giftedly Bad) manga-ka who sees the world through hallucinations of a fantasy JRPG universe and believes himself to be the fallen guardian angel of an imprisoned warrior goddess (guess who that is). He may ramble on, but he's a benevolent example of this trope.
  • The second killer in Kara no Shoujo cuts girls up because he feels he needs their bodies in order to make some 'art.' Though it's subverted when it turns out he's insane and trying to revive his mother. But that's how it's initially presented. However, his father did go insane some years before, killing his lover and using her body as a model for his masterpiece. When he was sane again, he thought of his piece as the work of a depraved lunatic.
  • Downplayed in Rin's route during Katawa Shoujo. While going through a bad case of artist's block, Rin tries new methods to help her gain inspiration. Methods such as smoking, not sleeping at all, not eating enough and generally destroying herself for the sake of becoming a real artist. It culminates with Hisao catching her masturbating, leading to her requesting he help her finish. In the scene afterwards, he gives her a minor What the Hell, Hero? over the whole thing.

    Web Animation 
  • In the short Patchwork by IsArt Digital, a sculptor finds he can no longer create beauty from stone, so he starts murdering various women for their best parts to create a flesh statue. In the end, all missing is a pretty head. His would-be victim, however, is a serial killer herself who likes to cut off men's heads, leave them in a creatively picked spot, and take a photo to make it last. So, she kills the sculptor and finishes the flesh statue with his head.

  • Calamities of Nature discusses how artists may use their art as a form a psychological therapy, naturally explaining why mad artists are so ubiquitous.
  • Robot art in Freefall consists mostly of things humans would be unlikely to do. As in, Orbital bombardment in D minor. And something much more disturbing. But they don't want to shirk the work — see their Making Swan Lake ballet. Of course, there's also this:
    Blunt: Some months back. A robot named Qwerty. Wrote the first. Of his epic. Rap yodeling. Operas. It is then. I knew. Conflict between the two. Was inevitable.
  • In He Is a Good Boy when Crange finds that all of his organs have been stolen, he goes to a hospital and meets Rob, a spider who has been using organs and dessicated carcasses as a medium. Surprisingly, he's not the one that gutted Crange, and even points out that whoever did was an amateur.
  • Gamzee Makara from Homestuck.
    TC: and paint the wicked pictures with your motherfuckin blood.
    TC: your crushed bones will make my special stardust.
    • Actually a subversion. He's only a psychopath when he's sane, and spent the majority of the story in a Sopor-slime-induced haze. Or maybe he was just always insane and that just kept him functionally insane.
  • Last Res0rt features Geisha, an inept medusa-esque sculptor who figured out that the critics loved his work MUCH more when he kidnapped and petrified people vs. actually bothering to sculpt.
  • Lovely Lovecraft: Richard Pickman while he was still human, as shown in extra materials portraying him in his youth (a characterization which matches Pickman's Model).
  • Rikk Estoban in Sam & Fuzzy (who is most definitively not a pastiche of Jhonen Vasquez). Played mostly for comedy.
  • Xxxyyy, an artist in the far future setting of Starslip, tries to put forth her post-post-postmodern views on art, by a performance piece. That involves blowing up the battleship/art museum on which the comic strip is set.
    • Other highlights include a collage made from wings of an endangered (now extinct) species of bat, a design where she walked into a restaurant and punched people, a painting that was actually an earlier painting of hers (thus making it even more profound) and, as a display of her genius, an extensive tableau spontaneously crafted out of Vanderbeam's pure and unadulterated fear.
    • Subverted in that she's trying to get people to call her out as an attention-seeking hack. She tried it on the wrong ship.

    Web Original 
  • In The Artist, an original Reddit story from r/nosleep, the narrator falls in love with and marries an artist who creates deranged paintings but otherwise seems like the perfect woman—beautiful, talented, and vivacious. They start a happy life together, but the red flags begin to show when the artist has a mental breakdown, burns all her paintings to a crisp and sculpts the charred remains into a pained-looking phoenix sculpture. Despite this incident, the narrator stays with her and they have twin daughters, while the artist starts to see a psychiatrist and take mood stabilizers. Everything seems fine for a few years, until the narrator comes home one day and finds out his wife has killed their daughters—and their entire daycare class—and made them into an art exhibit, a twisted recreation of her favorite painting, Gustav Klimt's "Death And Life".
  • Either the Sketchbook or the Puppets during the Creativity Explosion from Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, depending on whether you see it as the Sketchbook's doing.
  • The Gallery of Henri Beauchamp is a creepypasta describing a secret gallery of the paintings of an artist who made 12 paintings using the blood and bile of three girls he kidnapped and killed, as well as a 13th painting he somehow made out of his own flesh and bodily fluids as he committed suicide. The 6 paintings on the left depict, in order: the genesis of the universe, the true image of God, the true image of Jesus, Fluffy Cloud Heaven, every Pope including future ones, and Jesus's appearance in his second coming. The 6 paintings on the right depict, in order: the end of the universe, the true image of Satan, the true image of Judas, Fire and Brimstone Hell, every human-embodied demon including future ones, and the Antichrist's appearance in his second coming. What the 13th painting in the middle depicts is unknown, as it is flipped over to face the wall. Underneath it is a sign with a single phrase written in Angelic, Demonic, and English: DO NOT TOUCH.
  • Less is Morgue has Shaz, a hallucinogen-addicted ghoul with an extremely strange approach to their modern art.
    Shaz: A crucial part of my creative process is this new form of visualization acupuncture that I invented, where I set my intention, I hold it in my mind’s eye, and then I spell the words ‘good art’ on my arm with thumbtacks.
  • The Touhou-like Nansei Project (which has plots, characters and themes for several games, but no actual games have been produced yet) has several: the art-loving troublemaker Wyra Sonohoka, the Big Bad of the game Chusokarashi no Manaato (herself a work of art, whose madness is a result of Wyra interfering in her creation), and the Disc-One Final Boss Hypolla Hiromi, who is not so much mad as she is manipulated by Manaato.
  • The Painter is about a serial killer who paints grotesque caricatures of their victims prior to murdering them in uniquely bizarre ways, and the paintings and their titles all reference how they died.
  • The Princess 99: Eulalie, a character who's present twice in the paperback version (and only once in the online version), is an Inkwitch who can make her painted creations come to life. She's also batshit, though it's justified since she's spent most of her life in an insane asylum.
  • Dark General Argon in Sailor Nothing, foreshadowed throughout and horrifically revealed in his Moral Event Horizon moment.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • The creators of SCP-804.
    • Are We Cool Yet?, a group of "art terrorists". They're basically what would happen if you gave a bunch of sociopathically pretentious modern art types reality-warping paranormal powers and devices.
  • Sarah Atwell of Survival of the Fittest. Originally just a typical pretentious film student, once she winds up on the island, she loses her grip on reality. Then things get creepy. There's also Madeline Harris of the Program, who, now that she has started to play the game, has been filling the gallery in her mind with sculptures of the people she's killed.
  • In Tales from Cherryshrub, Mississippi, one of the monikers of the multi-armed Humanoid Abomination D'regorra is "Mad Artist." True to form, she stitches every orifice of her victim's body and steals their souls to make them her eternal slaves. If they refuse, she would add them to the tapestry lining the walls of her catacomb she terms her "Wall of Pain" comprised of thousands of victims aware of their fates but are incapable of doing anything about it.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
    • Crazy Quilt, who as his name suggests didn't start off terribly sane, committing art-related crimes. Then Robin accidentally blinded him with a laser, making him even crazier. And obsessed with revenge on Robin.
    • The Music Meister, a choir student who discovered that he was capable of singing at a pitch that hypnotically controls peoples' actions. He grew up, using this power to command people into doing crime for him. His episode has him attempting to use a satellite to project his song around the entire world, enslaving the world's populace into A: becoming one gigantic musical under his command, and B: stealing for him.
  • In Beware the Batman, Anarky gives some street vandals some weapons for them to cause some destruction which they consider as art. It gets way out of proportion when he gives them Powered Armor.
  • The Crumpets: Fynartz, the artistic child in the Crumpet family, can veer to this. In "Taxidermama", when Ma gets increasingly insane because her new machine won't function, Fynartz makes countless paintings of her, mows the paintings, and transforms their house to resemble her. His final "tribute" to her is capturing and taxidermizing her until Pa thwarts the plan by rescuing his wife. It's downplayed in "Lil Wrinkly One" when Fynartz throws paint around his room with his brushes and Li'l One gets hit by the paint.
  • "Daffy Doodles" has Daffy Duck in his Cloud Cuckoolander phase as a vandal who draws mustaches on signs and billboards. That said, he’s less violent than most examples — he doesn’t murder or torture anyone, he just annoys them.
    Daffy: We've all got a mission in life,
    We get into different ruts.
    Some tighten the wheels on a cog,
    Others are just plain nuts.
    Science is some people's calling,
    Others pilot a ship.
    My mission in life simply stated is,
    A mustache on every lip!
  • Splatter Phoenix from Darkwing Duck, who could enter paintings or bring them to life. Ultimately defeated by turpentine, oddly enough.
  • The obscure Terrytoons character Gaston Le Crayon was an impoverished little French artist that could draw and manipulate things to aid him when needed.
  • The eponymous villain from the Gummi Bears episode "The sinister Sculptor". Not as much mad as he was greedy, he had no artistic talent whatsoever, using magical powder (which he had stolen) to turn wildlife to stone and sell them as decorative art. The Gummis (minus Grammi and Gruffi) fell victim to this and were sold to Calla, making the heroes attempt to recover and rscue them (very hard to sneak into the royal family's private rooms) a chore.
  • Metalocalypse is made of this, including the Five-Man Band and a majority of the other artists that they run into. Despite his stage appearance, Leonard Rockstein A.K.A. "Dr. Rockzo the Rock n' Roll Clown" is fairly normal when he's not on cocaine. Of course, he's always on cocaine.
  • Parodied in Moonbeam City with Von Groff, a pretentious artist who turns out to be murdering people for his creations and wiling to destroy the city to complete his final masterpiece. The 'parody' part is that his art is basically those cheesy animations that play on the monitors in bowling alleys after a frame has been bowled.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Inspiration Manifestation", practically every "improvement" Rarity does after a certain point is at least unappealing or potentially harmful to someone, but she either doesn't notice or doesn't care.
  • In one round of Ozzy & Drix, a beatnik guy was up to tricks. A mean cholesterol sublime, he dressed in black and spoke in rhyme. He zeroed in on Hector's heart so he could get an early start to make his great "disasterpiece," of which he'd name it "Heart Disease."
  • In an episode of The Simpsons parodying True Art Is Incomprehensible, Homer is taken for a literal mad artist from the result of his frustrated rage when trying to build a barbecue. After that burns out, for his next work he floods the entirety of Springfield. To rave reviews!
  • Zachariah Easel from Skysurfer Strike Force who has the ability to bring anything he draws to life.
  • South Park had funnybot, who was about to kill everyone on the planet to reach the maximum amount of "awkward" and therefore create the ultimate joke. Ultimately subverted in that it was talked out of it offscreen in a Bait-and-Switch gag involving Sealed Evil in a Can and Tyler Perry.
  • The supervillain Brushogun in Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo was a lonely artist from feudal Japan who used dark magic to bring one of his drawings to life. The newly-alive painting then possessed his body and transformed him into a demon of paper and ink who could create living ink drawings to do his bidding.


Stefano Valentino

Stefano Valentino, serial killer and fine-artist, given god-like powers within the mindscape of Union

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Main / MadArtist

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