Big Cartel have removed artist categories from their standard controls - refer to Big Cartel's Artist Categories article. The information below - and in other articles at this site - regarding artist categories, only applies if Big Cartel has activated this feature for your shop or your shop predates the removal of this feature by Big Cartel.
If you do not have artist categories available, note that you can achieve the same level of product organisation by applying standard product categories and subcategories, for example you can create a parent category named “Artists”, “Bands” or “Brands” and the add subcategories below this parent as needed. Refer to How do I edit product categories and subcategories in my Big Cartel admin? for information on using product categories and subcategories to create multiple levels of product organisation.
Artist categories provide an additional category system for your products that works independently of your standard category and sub-category system. Artist categories can be used to sort products by any single property of your choosing, e.g. artist name, product brand, record label, author, etc.
Activating Artist Categories
To activate your artist categories, navigate to the Store > Settings section of your shop admin, scroll to the Options section and check the Artists option.
Click the Save button at the bottom of the admin page after changing your settings.
Assigning Artist Categories
Once your artist categories are activated, the artist category controls will appear directly under the standard category controls on all existing and new product edit pages (refer to your Products admin area).
You now can add, edit and assign artist categories in exactly the same way you work with standard categories. For more information, refer to How do I edit product categories and subcategories in my Big Cartel admin?
You can not add artist subcategories.
Managing the artist category menu links
By default your artist category links will be added to the end of your Category Menu. You can change the location of these links via the x-sp-artists special menu item - see How do I edit my navigation menus in my Big Cartel admin?