Green’s Dictionary of Slang

-artist sfx

[note artist n. (1)]

(orig. US/Aus./N.Z.) a generic term for a person, esp. when cited as an expert or devotee of an activity; usu. in combs., e.g. legshake artist n.; piss artist under piss n.; short-change artist n.; trapeze artist n.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 117: Joe has been the stumbling block for many a mitt artist.
[US]San Juan Islander Friday Harbor, WA) 23 July 7/2: Beware of green goods men, gold brick artists, thimble riggers and three card monte sharps and bunco steeers.
[US]Daily Trib. (Bismarck, ND) 5 Aug. 8/6: Why, my boss has all the slang artists in this town faded to a whisper.
[US]Van Loan ‘Scrap Iron’ in Taking the Count 216: Celebrated knockout artists.
[US]A.N. Depew Gunner Depew 158: These knock-down-drag-out artists follow the riflemen closely.
[Aus]W.H. Downing Digger Dialects 9: artist (n.) ‘One-star artist’ — a second lieutenant.
[UK]Marvel 5 June 17: It is that faculty, combined with extraordinary skill, that enables a boxer to become a genius. No glove artist can become a champion without it.
[UK]Marvel 7 Aug. 18: Boxers did you say, sir? [...] I’m here with a troupe of mitt artists from America.
[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 87: A bunch of hot-air artists like Frank and Littlefield.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 13: Her clothing was examined by expert ‘frisk artists’.
[US]H. Asbury Gangs of N.Y. 187: Thieves, pickpockets, procurers and knockout drop artists.
[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 35: A hobo who shears sheep is a ‘clipper artist’.
[US]D. Runyon ‘The Brain Goes Home’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 224: A very good shiv artist.
[US]D. Clemmer Prison Community (1940) 334/2: poke-up artist, n. A professional highwayman.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 575: He’s just a jaw artist.
[UK]K. Mackenzie Living Rough 121: That’s Baby-face Winters, a great little stem artist.
[UK]S. Lister Mistral Hotel (1951) 197: The bad cheque artist does not hesitate, nor stammer blushingly.
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. 6: Artist, a fellow, a bloke. An expert, a specialist; also one who indulges in excesses, e.g., ‘bilge a.’, ‘booze a.’, ‘bull a.’.
[Ire]J. Phelan Letters from the Big House 75: A ‘smash artist,’ or what the press would describe as a motor bandit.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 14: Picking up a quiet C by arranging for one of his dive-artists to do an el foldo. [Ibid.] 205: This some tank artist, this Jones.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 32: box-car artist A tramp who steals train rides. [Ibid.] 45: castor-oil artist A physician.
[UK]T. Driberg Best of Both Worlds (diary) 11 July (1953) 206: There’s a blowhard, a bully, a goof-off artist [...] an alibi artist, and a one-stripe general .
[NZ]I. Hamilton Till Human Voices Wake Us 98: You’re a coward [...] a rape artist, you’re a murderer.
[Aus]T.A.G. Hungerford Riverslake 3: Urgers, touts, bludgers, bash-artists and straight-out crooks.
[US]‘Blackie’ Audett Rap Sheet 92: When I got to Leavenworth they celled me alone because I was an escape artist.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 255: The gunmen and shakedown artists who had made the docks their own.
[US](con. 1920s) G. Duffy Warden’s Wife 137: A cheque artist who had been in and out of San Quentin several times.
[US]W. Burroughs Naked Lunch (1968) 16: Some bush league short con artist.
[US]J. Blake letter 25 June in Joint (1972) 138: My cell partner is a check artist from Maryland.
[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 220: People who make a living smuggling narcotics into the States operate on the same principle as bad-cheque artists, who do not as a rule wear beards, earrings or swastikas.
[US](con. 1920s) J. Thompson South of Heaven (1994) 69: It was impossible for them to dog it as a muck-stick artist could.
[US]N. Mailer Why Are We in Vietnam? (1970) 18: Gather here [...] hot shit artists.
[Aus]S. Gore Holy Smoke 12: He’s been a bash artist ever since he was a tin lid.
[US]R.A. Wilson Playboy’s Book of Forbidden Words 150: Jaw Artist. Homosexual slang for a skillful fellator.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 16: He was bad. But wasn’t no flake artist.
[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 172: Artist Term often used ironically in conjunction with other words, e.g., ‘con-artist’ – fraudsman; ‘piss-artist’ – a man addicted to alcoholic drink; ‘skid-artist’ – a bad driver.
[US]P. Hamill Flesh and Blood (1978) 46: A narrow-shouldered Puerto Rican who was a knife artist on the outside.
[US]E. Torres After Hours 221: Not even to protect yourself from a frame-up artist like Kleinfeld?
[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 220: A mixture of burglars, bash-artists, white-collar criminals and sex offenders.
[UK]B. Chatwin Songlines 151: The work had been done by some ‘shit-artist’.
[US]A. Vachss Hard Candy (1990) 16: [of pool players] I was pushing balls around the green felt [...] The stick artists ignored him.
[UK]J. Cameron Vinnie Got Blown Away 75: Loved his football that Mr Norton, spot a ball artist a mile off.
[UK]M. Dibdin Dark Spectre (1996) 50: The former acid-head, sack artist and lead guitar manque was now a highly paid sound technician.
[US]C. Hiaasen Stormy Weather 103: The barkers, pimps and fast-change artists who controlled the legislature. [Ibid.] 295: Neria [...] wondered how he and his Earth Mother blow-job artist were getting along.
[US](con. 1948) G. Pelecanos Big Blowdown (1999) 104: The best butcher in town [...] a knife artist like no one in Farrell had ever seen.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 322: One of the neighborhood’s most committed short count artists and stash stealers.
[US]F. Kellerman Stalker (2001) 266: Because I know a bullshit artist when I see one?
[Ire]G. Coughlan Everyday Eng. and Sl. 🌐 Artist, government (n): person ‘drawing’ the dole [social security].
[US]J. Lethem Fortress of Solitude 423: Half the yoke-artists they clocked were chumps Dose knew from around the projects.
[US]Simon & Burns ‘More with Less’ Wire ser. 5 ep. 1 [TV script] That legislator, who happens to be one of the most corrupt extortion-artists in the state.
[Scot](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 331: That Charlene seems like a feisty wee banger, a no-questions-asked-or-demands-made fuck-artist.
[US]T. Pluck Bad Boy Boogie [ebook] A one-trick pony, a knockout artist who wouldn’t go the distance.
[US]C. Hiaasen Squeeze Me 17: [of a raccoon] ‘Break-in artist. Big sucker too’.
[UK]M. Herron Secret Hours 198: ‘We’ve all placed our faith, temporarily, in snake-oil artists’.