What Is Your Creative Personality Type?
Earlier this year, during lockdown number one, I was pondering—as one does—on the nature of creativity.
More specifically, I was honing in on the following questions :
- Why do we create?
- What does the act of creation bring us?
- Why are some compelled to create while others are happy to spectate?
- And even in the act of consuming art, what are we seeking, truly?
Beyond catharsis and self identification, which are pretty much universal outcomes, I started to wonder what specifically we may hope to attain when we consume art—or indeed, when we create.
Is it a particular sensation or emotion?
Is it a mental state that we are yearning to reach?
Is art’s purpose self motivated–or is it for the greater good of all?
These are timeless questions indeed, and frankly the answer to them is as varied as there are creators—and if an answer is burning your tongue right now, I’d genuinely love to hear about it in the comments.
Nonetheless, I was edging towards a categorisation of creative fulfilment—a synthesis of this inner realm that holds the system in which we operate, conducting our behaviour as creator and as a consumer.
As a result, I came up with five different types of creative fulfilment.
Each one of these contain a specific set of emotions that drive us towards a desired result. There may also be more types to form in the future.
How these Five Types of Creative Fulfilment can help you as an Artist / Creator
Admittedly, there’s a joy in categorising things. It stems from a deeply human need for control. And indeed, I could very much leave this process alone and let art—like joy—be unconfined.
What I came to realise however, is that compiling these creative personalities may indeed help artists and creatives who find themselves in a rut, disconnected from their voice.
It can feel quite disconcerting when you find yourself in this vortex of communal thought, trying to navigate your inner realm alongside the collective unconscious, persistently in search of an idea.
In this great formless empire, a new sort of compass is needed, one that will guide you towards the work that you are most naturally called to bring forth.
Don’t get me wrong, ambling aimlessly in the great internal void is wildly enjoyable. It’s even a process that ultimately may lead to breakthroughs and to new ideas, if you stay in the stillness long enough. On the other hand, the stasis and the silence may also lead to despair, madness and a tragic abandoning of one’s creative endeavours.
I’ve created this framework for those who seek a gentle nudge going forward—a reassurance that they are on the right path.
When you tune into your current creative personality, you become aware of what you’re seeking, which can feel so difficult to formulate otherwise. From this base, you may indeed deviate, but you can always come back to the centre for guidance.
What goes into a creative type?
Each of the five types of creative fulfilment is composed of the following elements :
- The unique sensibilities, perceptions and interpretations that you have built within yourself over time
These are areas of focus, subjective observations, zones of genius. Inevitably, we will be seeking these same sensibilities, or derivatives of it (or indeed wild opposites to it that only confirm our point of view through contrast) mirrored in the art that we consume, and reflected in the art that we create.
- The external influences that make the spectator/creator’s vision come to life—sometimes in spite of them
Our life experience—sorrows, disappointment, joys, challenges and victories—will influence the art that we seek to enjoy and that which we create. Our experience in our given environment and default reality (until we are able to choose otherwise) will have an impact of what art we seek to soothe ourselves with.
- The artistic inspirations that seeped into your soul and, once assimilated, participate now in your art.
Do you remember the first time you let your curiosity lead you? When leisure was no longer a compulsory read in school, or a museum that your parents dragged you to … what art did you find yourself drawn to? It can start with music, or film, or literature. Go back to your early teens as that is when the age of “autonomous thought” begins for most. What was the art that sheltered you from the world, made you feel safe, seen and heard?
- The art form in which you thrive as a result of your journey both as an artist and as a human
Whether you’re actively creating or tentatively dabbling, there is an art form that you’ve chosen as your preferred mode of expression, even if it is just for the time being and even if you don’t consider yourself a creator.
To exist is to create—you’re constantly making up these forms in your head called thoughts and dreams and visions. That’s creating.
Your chosen way of manifesting your art may fluctuate through time and you may have to try out different forms to ascertain which one is most suitable for you. It does nonetheless participate in understanding your creative type.
If you wish to know what your creative personality type is, I’ve created a quiz for you to find that out here.
Ready to dive in? Let’s begin.
The Five Types of Creative Fulfilment
The art of sensation is characterised by a deep yearning to experience this life through all of the senses. It is art that is visceral, sensual and almost all consuming. There’s an emphasis with working with, or through, the body, or in making physical sensations a primordial element.
As a spectator, you’ll be seeking to be thrilled, titillated, turned on, revolted, disgusted, thrust into the storytelling.
Horror films come to mind, but also the meditative nature of films like Moonlight in which one becomes transported by the story in a way that is felt in the whole body. Like a lyrical transcendence.
As a creator, you may yearn to express yourself using this body as your canvas or delving deep into physical manifestations of emotions. Representations of realness and authenticity are important. An extensive physical self analysis may occur. Films like Dans Ma Peau and Trouble Every Day come to mind, but also the work of Jackson Pollock, for instance.
As human beings, we are wired to connect, and art is the perfect medium to explore all of the facets of this timeless need. From sorrow to joy, the art of connection explores the minute aspects that make up the search for union in this great and vast solitary life.
It is composed of seemingly invisible details that exacerbate and sublimate moments of ordinariness and intimacy.
The everyday heartbreaks that compile each instant. Love turns into loss. The sudden becomes the eternal.
The films of Wim Wenders contain a similar quality, such as the magical realism of a piece like Wings of Desire in which two angels descend onto Berlin to send rays of peace to the population, until one of them falls in love and seeks to attain human form.
As a creator, you’ll be tuned into the expression of sentiments that are yearning to speak from the depths of your heart. You seek to transmit the strength that resides in the softness of enduring faith—and love.
Shedding light on the human condition rules the majority of this fleeting existence, and this creative type is concerned with making sense of it all.
As a spectator, the fables of an Ingmar Bergman may be of interest to you, or the stream of consciousness of Virginia Woolf. You seek to delve into the fathoms of this psyche that at once amazes and oppresses you.
There are moments when an accidental truth may emanate from within us, seemingly unprompted. Yet the more we pursue it, the bigger it grows, and sometimes it may threaten to take us with it.
As a creator, you’ll have to make sure to create landmarks for yourself, lest you stumble in this heart of darkness that may never bring you back to shore.
There’s art for art’s sake and then there’s art that seeks to change the world.
If you believe that art is a first and foremost a vehicle for truth and justice which brings with it enlightenment and a new world, then this creative type is your home.
As a spectator, you are looking out for films, books, pieces of music and performances that hold within them a strong stand against injustice, like the figure of Bobby Sands as portrayed in Steve McQueen’s Hunger, who led a hunger strike to denounce conditions in a prison in Northern Ireland, in 1981.
Similarly, the work of Ava DuVernay, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde and Maya Angelou come to mind, notably to put words on the continued oppression and flagrant injustice and intolerance that African American people are subjected to across the world.
There’s an element of the divine in this art more than any other, for it is through art that a higher force is seeking to right the separation that has been caused on this planet.
We are always a vessel through which a universal truth is striving to emerge, through compassion and lyricism.
As a creator, you’ll be seeking to speak about the injustices that move you into action, and to repair the damage that perhaps you’ve experienced or witnessed firsthand.
This art asks for a radical reshuffling of the powers that be.
This is a creative type that focusses on the effects of time, its magnitude, its potential and damages.
The dread of the ticking clock is an ailment that concerns us all, and yet it is also a total construct of the mind and therefore open to interpretation and analysis, from its distortion to its speeding up, slowing down.
Furthermore, the existence of time brings with it the construction of memory, and its celebration and loss. We also bear witness to the passing of time through ageing, illness, disease, death.
This creative type seeks to play in the temporal fields by examining any of these instances of time.
Cinema is sculpting in time — Andrei Tarkovsky
Could that be true of other art forms too? Think of Proust and his seminal work on memory and nostalgia and the famous madeleine, a soft French cake that transported him back to the innocence of youth.
Similarly, think of Primo Levi and Anne Frank who transcribe firsthand experiences of the horror of the Holocaust, so that indeed we may never forget.
Consider also the work of Richard Linklater in Boyhood or the Before trilogy and how he examines the quietly poignant passing of time through the story of a boy growing up, or two lovers meeting through the course of twenty years.
As a creator, you may be invested in personal memoir work, biography and genealogy. You dust off the stories that are threatened to be washed away by time.
Defining creativity as an act that fulfils a certain set of emotions may feel restrictive at first, but it may be a useful guide to hold onto, perhaps a bit like a colour palette for the messages that you wish to transcribe in your creativity.
At first you may start to try on each type for size, and see how it fits. Some practices may serve you at varying stages in your life.
The point is not to stay static within one but rather to find the freedom within the parameters that you set for yourself.
If you haven’t done so already, find out what your type is here.
Should you be interested in using these modalities further, you can also sign up to the waitlist for my online program Unearth Your Authentic Voice, which will be opening its doors very soon.