An artist is a person who participates in an activity related to the creation of art, the practice of the arts or the demonstration of an art. Common use in both everyday speech and academic discourse refers only to a practitioner of the visual arts. However, the term is also often used in the entertainment industry, especially in a corporate context, for musicians and other artists (although less frequently for actors).
“Artiste” (French for artist) is a variant used in English in this context, but this usage has become rare. The use of the term “artist” to describe writers is valid, but less common and mostly limited to contexts such as that used in criticism.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the oldest broad meanings of the term “artist”:
An educated person or an art master
One who pursues a practical science, traditionally medicine, astrology, alchemy, chemistry.
A follower of a quest where skill comes from study or practice.
A follower of a manual art, like a mechanic.
One who makes an art of his profession
One who cultivates one of the fine arts, traditionally the arts presided over by the muses.
History of the term
The Greek word “technì”, often translated as “art”, implies the mastery of any kind of craft. The Latin adjective of the word, “technicus”,  became the source of the English words technique, technology, technique.
In Greek culture, each of the nine Muses oversaw a different field of human creation:
Calliope (the “beauty of the word”): chief of the muses and muse of epic or heroic poetry
Clio (the “glorious”): muse of history
Erato (the “loving”): muse of love or erotic poetry, lyrics and wedding songs
Euterpe (the “beautiful”): muse of music and lyric poetry
Melpomene (the “who sings”): muse of tragedy
Polyhymnia or Polymnia (the ‘[singer] of many hymns’): muse of the sacred song, oratorio, lyrics, songs and rhetoric
Terpsichore (the ‘[who] delights in dance’): muse of choral singing and dance
Thalía (the “flourishing”): muse of bucolic comedy and poetry
Urania (the “celestial”): muse of astronomy
No muse has been identified with the visual arts of painting and sculpture. In ancient Greece, sculptors and painters were little considered, halfway between free men and slaves, and their work was considered mere manual labor. 
The word art comes from the Latin “ars” (root art-), which, although literally defined means “method of skill” or “technique”, also conveys a connotation of beauty.