1. (US Und./Irish) an adroit rogue, usu. a pickpocket, sneak thief or confidence trickster.
|Heart of London II i: Ne’er a set of cleaner fingered rascals anywhere than mine! Quite a pleasure to have such artists under one’s care.|
|Seymour’s Humourous Sketches (1866) 15: My pockets, too, are picked! Yes — some clever ‘artist’ has drawn me while asleep!|
|Vocabulum 9: Artist, An adroit rogue.|
|Sl. and Its Analogues.|
|Mysteries of Modern London 122: The majority are of the lowest order, but there are among them several superior ‘artists’ – men who plan and carry out big jobs.|
|AS IV:5 337: Artist — A skillful crook.‘Vocab. of Bums’ in|
|Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 20: Artist. — Any skilful crook or confidence worker who inspires respect in his work by other less gifted criminals.|
|Bardin Omnibus (1976) 79: The ‘artists’ came in later than the ‘drifters’.Deadly Pecheron in|
|World’s Toughest Prison 789: artist – Any skillful crook or confidence man or woman who inspires respect in his or her work by less gifted criminals.|
|Anatomy of Crime 193: Artist: Clever rogue.|
|Official Dancehall Dict. 1: Artist con artist: u. min’ de artist fool yuh/do not allow yourself to be conned.|
2. (US Und.) a skilful card-sharp.
|Wanderings of a Vagabond 208: Next to him comes the ‘artist,’ whose duty it is to be at all times in the house, ready to operate on any ‘sucker’ who may drop in accidentally, or be roped in by the attachés of the establishment.|
|Plastic Age 239: That boy wins big pots too regularly and always loses the little ones. I bet he’s a cold-deck artist or something.|
|(con. 1820s+) Sucker’s Progress 14: In the heyday of American gambling, a first-class faro dealer, variously called a ‘mechanic’ and an ‘artist,’ was paid from $100 to $200 a week.|