Atelier is French for ‘artist’s studio’ or ‘craftsman’s workshop.’ It’s not a snooty word in its native language. In fact, in France, where everyone from cobblers to internationally-recognized sculptors work in ateliers, it’s a neutral term. We Anglophones have given the word its snob value.
For example, in English, no one would think of using atelier to describe a place where mechanics fix cars. Instead, snobby art critics and collectors use the term to refer to the studios of certain artists, especially those who are French or who have worked in France.
One of these is Pablo Picasso, a Spaniard who had his first Paris atelier on a winding cobblestone street in the Montmartre district.