The Artist series (or AR series) is a line of electric guitars produced by Hoshino Gakki and sold under the Ibanez brand. The first Artist models were introduced in 1974. It was one of the first series of original models by Ibanez. Prior to the early 70's Ibanez was mainly focused on producing copies of guitars designed by other manufacturers such as Fender and Gibson.
The Artist is clearly influenced by the Gibson Les Paul model, but it is not a Les Paul copy.
Originally, the Artist series did not only contain the now classic "Artist shaped" models, but also other body shapes like the first Iceman models and various semi-hollow models. By 1979, most of these models were offered as separate series, including the similar named Artist Semi-Acoustic series which later became the Artstar series. By then, the four digit numeral model names were also replaced with the now standard AR + model number format.
Due to popularity of the various Superstrat models of the early nineties, production of Artist models halted in 1992. The series was reintroduced in 1998. Since then, it has spawned all kinds of variants, including AX series (which also debuted in 1998), the ARC, ART and ARX series in 2006 and 2007, and the ARZ series in 2011.