The Old Artist is pretty much what his name says, so no false advertising there. He appears only briefly at the beginning of the book, and he is the man who paints a new number on Shukhov's jerkin in the morning. What's interesting about the artist is that Shukhov compares him to a priest in the scene where he paints Shukhov a new number (158). This links in to the book's theme of memory. To read more about that, check out the "Memory and the Past" Quotes section, where there's a discussion of this scene with the old artist.