Naïve art is characterized by a childlike simplicity. (See also outsider art, to which it bears many similarities.) It is a gross oversimplification to assume that Naïve art is created by people with little or no formal art training.
The term naïve art presumes the existence (by contrast) of an academy and of a generally accepted educated manner of art creation, most often painting. In practice, however, there are schools of naïve artists. Over time it has become an acceptable style.
The characteristics of naïve art are an awkward relationship to the formal qualities of painting. Difficulties with drawing and perspective that result in a charmingly awkward and often refreshing vision, strong use of pattern, unrefined color, and simplicity rather than subtlety are all supposed markers of naïve art. It has, however, become such a popular and recognizable style that many examples could be called pseudo-naïve.
Whereas naïve art ideally describes the work of an artist who did not receive a formal education in an art school or academy, for example Henri Rousseau or Alfred Wallis, 'pseudo naïve' or 'faux naïve' art describes the work of an artist working in a more imitative or self-conscious mode and whose work can be seen as more imitative than original.
Primitive art is another term often applied to the art of those without formal training. This is distinguished from the self-conscious movement primitivism. Another term related to (but not completely synonymous with) naïve art is folk art.