Historically, artels were semi-formal associations for various enterprises: fishing, mining, commerce, of loaders, loggers, thieves, beggars, etc. Often artels worked far from home and lived as a commune. Payment for job done was distributed according to verbal agreements, quite often in equal shares. Often artels were seasonal.
Gradually formalized types of artel emerged, with internal hierarchy and legal agreements.
In modern Russia there is no legally defined business term "artel" as a type of an association, however some companies use the word "artel" in their name, especially in areas traditionally handled by artels, such as gold mining or fishing.