Artistic people are a special group of people whose creative capabilities are engrossing and laced with such gentleness that ordinary people have to take notice. Their ability to coax the miraculous out of the mundane is not only exciting, but also frequently paradoxical.
Distinguished professor of psychology and management, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains it best in his seminal book Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People:
“I have devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work, to make more understandable the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.”
That’s right; each of them is a multitude. Here are 15 things only truly artistic people would understand drawn largely from Mihaly’s Creativity:
1. They get inspired at the least expected moment
Artistic people know they can’t decide when their next big idea will come. Sure they can have many great ideas, but they really don’t know when their greatest idea will come. It just will, in the least expected way, at the least expected moment.
2. They are passionate about their work, but can also be extremely objective about it as well
Artistic people are passionate about their work, but also objective and detached from it in such a way that they can accept criticism and response. That happens because they know without being objective art lacks credibility and is not very good.
3. They are humble, and yet proud and confident
Artistic people are always willing to learn and grow their skills no matter how good they are. Meeting them, you will be struck by their humility and self-depreciation. But amidst this humility and modest demeanor is deep seated pride and confidence in their ideas and creations.
4. They are here, but they’re not
Artistic people are dreamers. They alternate between fantasy and reality with considerable ease. When you’re conversing with them, you’ll get the feeling that they are present and at the same time they’re not. That’s because they can fly away with their mind at any given moment into a world that is different from the present, and yet rooted in the present reality.
5. They tend to be both extroverted and introverted
Artistic people seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously. They can be a lone for long spells of time creating and also be in the thick of crowds showcasing their work. Other times they simple sit quietly on the sidelines observing and absorbing the passing show.
6. They are conservative and disruptive at the same time
Artistic people have internalized specific aspects of culture, so much so that they can breach or preserve both traditional and modern norms at will in their creative expressions. That’s the reason why artists can be so disruptive and unnerving in society sometimes.
7. They follow their heart even when their mind tells them otherwise
Artistic people tend to take more risks and worry less about problems than the average person. They understand a thousand fails can bring a million satisfactions. And so they never give up on their art or creative ideas. They stick to them no matter what others or even their own minds tell them.
8. They embrace their genius even if others don’t
Even when others misunderstand their art, artistic people stick to it and remain true to themselves without compromise. They treasure their creations and would rather be authentic than popular.
9. They live on the edge of joy and depression
Because artistic people feel so deeply about their work, they can quickly fall from joy to sadness and even depression in an instant. They are sensitive human beings whose delicate hearts, while the source of their brilliance, is also the source of their suffering and emotional anguish.
10. They draw inspiration from their surroundings
Artistic people can seize moments or events in their surroundings and create something brilliant in an unusual way, including moments of internal and or external troubles. As Mihay says, “creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals.”
11. They have immense physical energy and grit, but they’re also subdued and laid back
This is evident in the way artistic people work. They display remarkable physical energy and can work long hours behind closed doors with great zeal and enthusiasm. At the same time, they project an unmistakable aura of calmness and freshness while working that is quite awe inspiring.
12. They are free spirited and yet quite disciplined
Artistic people are so free spirited that they often come across as carefree, playful and even irresponsible. But that “carefree playfulness” helps unshackle their creativity, while their dogged self-discipline and perseverance in their art drives them on when less driven individuals would quit.
13. They don’t subscribe to strict gender role stereotyping of masculinity and femininity
For some strange reason, the most creative and talented male artists are usually more sensitive and less aggressive than their non-artistic male peers, while the most creative and talented female artists are often more dominant and tough than their non-artistic female peers.
14. They are smart and naïve at the same time
This tendency is heightened by their hunger for originality in picking and generating unusual associations of ideas, and brilliant fluency in executing those ideas and switching from one perspective to another. This dimension of their personality is what makes artistic people equally smart and naïve.
15. They battle Resistance every day
Artistic people wake up each morning fully aware that they need to push themselves to grow. But there is always the fear, anxiety, or (as Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, calls it) Resistance that stands in the way, telling them that they can’t do it; that they don’t have what it takes. No matter how masterful an artist gets, that fear never goes away. But, truly artistic people learn to battle Resistance and subdue it day by day.