In the IELTS speaking exam, you might be asked to describe an artist or entertainer. This would occur in part 2 for the cue card section.

Today, I would like to show you how to answer this sort of task. I will explain some useful vocabulary, give you ideas about making notes, and then I will provide my own sample band 9 answer.

The Cue Card – Describe an Artist or Entertainer

First of all, let’s look at the cue card. When you are given a task in part 2 of IELTS speaking, it will be presented on a cue card that contains some instructions to follow. You have 1 minute to prepare your answer and you should speak for 2-3 minutes.

Describe an artist or entertainer you admire

You should say

– who they are and what they do

– how they became successful

– how you found out about them

and why you admire them

Analysing the Cue Card

Once you see the cue card, you should very quickly analyse it to know what is expected of you. Sometimes it is very easy but other times there may be some complexities to consider.

Here, you might wonder about the phrase “describe an artist or entertainer.” Well, what does this mean?

According to, there are various definitions of artist, but this is the broadest:

a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria

Meanwhile, an entertainer is:

a singer, comedian, dancer, reciter, or the like, especially a professional one

I mention this because some people might assume that “an artist” is just someone who paints pictures. This is certainly the most common use, but it is by no means the only right one.

As such, we can see that there is a broad spectrum of possibilities here. You could talk about a :

  • painter
  • sculptor
  • singer
  • dancer
  • musician
  • novelist
  • poet
  • actor
  • writer
  • comedian

There are other possibilities but I will stop here. As long as the person is “in the arts” or does some form of entertainment, it is reasonable to talk about them.

Note: If you want to learn how to describe a piece of art, then see here.

Vocabulary for Describing Artists

If you want to talk about an artist, then the vocabulary required would be specific to the kind of art they do. You would use different language for a musician than you would for an actor, for example. You would talk differently about a comedian and a novelist.

However, there are some phrases we use that could be applied across a range of artist types:

Starving artistSomeone who works as an artist and makes little moneyHistory is full of starving artists but it is not the only option for creative types.
Emerging artistSomeone whose talent or reputation is still growingEveryone is talking about her. She’s an emerging artist.
Established artistSomeone whose reputation is also establishedIt took him a long time but eventually he became an established artist.
Acclaimed artistSomeone widely respected for their artWe’ll have a visit from an acclaimed artist this weekend.
Major artistSomeone very important in their fieldShe has been considered a major artist for four decades.
Troubled artistAn artist with personal or emotional issuesHe was a troubled artist and people could hear that in his lyrics.

Of course, there are innumerable phrases you could use to describe an artist. I strongly suggest that you go to Wikipedia and look up some artists, then make notes on the vocabulary used. Obviously, you should not copy or memorise anything, but you can take inspiration from the vocabulary and grammar featured there.

wikipedia for ielts vocabulary

You can find lots of great language on these pages!

Making Notes

Once you totally understand the task, you should quickly think of a person that you want to describe. In this case, I am going to choose the British artist known as Banksy. I would note down a few important words:

  • unique
  • stencil
  • subversive
  • anonymity

Ok, I admit it – I have deliberately chosen some difficult vocabulary! 😁 However, I think it is important to note down only useful language like this. If it was very easy (ie “artist”) then I would be wasting my time to write it down.

Try to note down important ideas or language that you might otherwise forget. Don’t worry about spelling because no one will check your notes.

Sample Band 9 Answer

Here is my sample answer for the IELTS cue card, “describe an artist or entertainer you admire”:

One artist that I really admire is a person called Banksy. Interestingly, no one knows Banksy’s real name because he has chosen to remain anonymous. Despite lots of attempts to uncover his identity, he has so far managed to maintain his anonymity.

Banksy is a graffiti artist whose work is known around the world. He produces subversive, darkly comic images in public places. Because his work is illegal, he has to do it at night time to avoid arrest. As such, his graffiti tends to appear without warning and then captures the world’s attention until it is either removed or sold.

Banksy became famous in the 1990s after emerging from the underground art scene in Bristol, England. He uses spray paint to stencil images into walls. These images are often highly political and usually involve some degree of satire.

I honestly cannot remember when I first heard of Banksy. He was already quite famous when I was at university but I suppose it must have been around that time. I really admire him for several reasons. One, his work is genuinely impressive and brings important issues to light in an intelligent way. Two, it is very difficult and dangerous job to do and he could risk serious criminal charges for doing it. And three – as I already mentioned – Banksy has so far avoided being named. He has never capitalised on his fame by announcing his real name and getting rich. His desire for anonymity is truly admirable.

Notes on the Answer

I have basically followed the structure of the cue card but you do not have to do this. I just found that it was a logical system to follow.

In terms of vocabulary, I have used some language that is specific to this sort of art:

  • graffiti
  • subversive
  • darkly comic
  • capture [someone’s] attention
  • spray paint
  • stencil
  • satire

Obviously, you would need different language for your own answer.