Every art form involves a unique set of skills, such as different drawing styles for fine arts, painting methods for painters, core strengthening for dancers and even editing techniques for filmmakers.
I could write 20,000 words on the necessary expertise(s) for every art form but I wanted to focus on the common characteristics of an artist.
Though there are hundreds of different art forms and creative careers someone can choose from, artists are still very alike in a lot of ways.
On one end of the spectrum, they’re all unique but on the other, they all possess very similar characteristics.
There’s no perfect recipe of skills and traits that defines an artist, but it’s no secret that all the successful creators in the world share similarities.
So if you’re wondering what makes creative people so darn amazing, read on. Because below are the 10 essential characteristics of an artist and how you can improve on each one.
1. Creativity is the fundamental characteristic of an artist.
This might go without saying, but it still needs mentioning because when an artist is experiencing a creative block, it can be detrimental to their work or even their career.
You need to practice creativity regularly and should make the effort to experience new forms of it whenever possible.
For example – If you’re an illustrator and all you do is draw, try sculpting something with your hands, or go out and take pictures. No camera? Use your phone. Or perhaps challenge yourself and try to draw something completely out of your norm.
Creativity comes naturally for some and luckily for artists, the lifestyle is all about it. But if you don’t use it, you will lose it.
Do you struggle with creativity? Here are 3 ways to perfect it.
- Figure out the best time of day
- Take walks
- Read a lot
2. Another characteristic of an artist is how observant they are.
Everything that a creative person looks at, touches, hears, tastes and/or smells is a possible inspiration
Artists see the world differently and process their senses in a much deeper way.
Sometimes it can be sensory overload.
But, what might be mundane to others, is a world of ideas for an artist.
Either it’s a paper and pen, phone or just mental, they’re always taking notes and absorbing all the inspiration they can.
How observant are you? Here are 3 ways to perfect it.
- Rid of distractions, including your phone
- Use all 5 senses
- Be Curious
3. Being introvert AND extrovert are characteristics of an artist.
Yes, artists can be both, introvert and extrovert. We sometimes get persuaded with the notion that all artists are weird and introverted or on the complete other side, very outgoing and extroverted.
But research has proven that artists typically have a healthy balance of both.
Socializing and surrounding yourself with others can cultivate inspiration and spending time alone helps to process the ideas and put them into “art”.
“I work alone” You hear that a lot in the art world.
And that’s ok.
But you’re seriously limiting yourself and the experiences you can have.
Working with others can inspire, teach and even challenge you to do better. Don’t let egos get in the way. It’s all too common of an occurrence when people can’t work with others due to clashing views.
Are you more introverted or extroverted?
This is how to perfect the balance.
- Be open-minded
- Push yourself a little
- Try to be more spontaneous
- Nurture your individual creativity
- Enjoy your solo time
- Keep a journal
4. Deep thinking is a very common characteristic of an artist.
When a creative person encounters an obstacle in life there’s never only one option.
If their first idea doesn’t work, they try another, and another.
A creative’s mind is non-stop thinking and analyzing.
But artists can think too much as well and be the victim of analysis paralysis if they don’t snap out of it.
It’s ok to ponder and brainstorm, but don’t overthink things either. It can be draining.
Are you a deep thinker? Here are 3 ways to perfect it.
- Welcome new thoughts
- Eliminate all distractions
5. Self-motivation might be one of the most important characteristics of an artist.
Art professions have some of the largest numbers for self-employment. That means no one to tell you what to do.
Sounds like a dream?
Might seem like it, but finding the motivation to get out of bed and create when you have no money coming in and it’s all non-billable time, is hard.
*Statistics from the United States Department of Labor
Not having a boss is the ultimate dream for everyone, but if you can’t motivate yourself to get the necessary work done, you’re sure to fail.
In addition to not having a boss, creatives normally stay up late and sleep in.
It can work for some people and many artists have created a successful life with this schedule.
But you have to be disciplined and stay committed.
That means it’s not party-time just because it’s late, and that you’re not sleeping in due to the fact you’re hungover from the night before.
This can lead to a major lack of motivation and cause a serious creative block.
If you’re a night owl, that’s ok. But stay on a good routine and maintain healthy sleep patterns. Because fatigue and an unbalanced schedule is no way to stay motivated.
Are you self-motivated? Here are 3 ways to kickstart your motivation and how to perfect it.
- Set Goals, but start small
- Find inspiration
- Celebrate the small wins
6. It’s no secret that passion is a vital part of being an artist.
The art communities are filled with it.
Bursting at the seams.
But, you can’t learn it. You either have it or you don’t.
Passion comes from loving what you do and having the desire to do it no matter the circumstances.
Creators are some of the most passionate groups on the planet and without it, they would be lost.
Are you a passionate artist? Here are 3 ways to perfect it.
- Cultivate positive energy
- Always try to be better than yesterday
- Be accountable
7. Another important characteristic of an artist is being open-minded.
This goes hand in hand with creativity but also opens the door for it. In order to think creatively, an artist must have an open mind.
Being able to see things from different perspectives can arm an artist with insight that other people may not have.
Also, the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes can greatly increase your chances of creating art that speaks to your audience.
Are you open-minded? Here’s how to perfect it and start thinking outside the box.
- No such thing as a stupid question
- Step out of your comfort zone
- Meet new people
8. Heightened sensitivity is very common for artists.
But this doesn’t mean they’re all cry babies.
It means that they’re always affected by their surroundings. Whether it be positive or negative, they are influenced by what they see, feel, smell, touch and/or hear.
This sensitivity to everything can heighten an artist’s creativity and in some cases could even crush it.
It all depends on what affects the experience has on them.
But being sensitive can help you to see things in a unique light and even cultivate inspiration.
Are you oversensitive or do you lack it completely?
Be more sensitive. How to perfect it in 3 ways.
- Don’t judge
- Pay attention
Be less sensitive. How to perfect it in 3 ways.
- Manage your emotions
- Breathe deeply
- Practice mindfulness
9. WooHoo! Being an artist in fun!!
Have You ever seen a child coloring, drawing or building something while crying. Didn’t think so.
Creativity = Fun.
That means artists are inherently more exciting than other people and know how to have a good time.
Creative people have a zest for life and are typically thrilled at the opportunity of new experiences.
Also, your chances of being bored are low because an artist will always have ideas no matter the occasion.
Are you a fun person? Here’s how you can work on it.
- Be positive
- Pay attention to people
10. Being original is a cornerstone characteristic of an artist and the reason creatives achieves success in the first place.
Originality is the foundation of art and goes hand in hand with creativity.
Very hard to create something original without any creativity.
“Great artists steal” – Pablo Picasso
At first, this quote may have you dumbfounded but when you investigate further into what it actually means.
You realize this happens every day.
Essentially, inspiration is stealing.
If you’re inspired by something and it provokes you to create your own, then you’ve just “stolen”.
But everything is inspired by something. Without that, we would have nothing.
If you see art and say “What if it was like this? Or “I could use that technique to create this!” or “I Love that colour combination, I’m going to use it for this!”
That’s “stealing” or being inspired. However, you choose to look at it is fine.
But if you copy something stroke for stroke, then that’s a no-no.
Are you original? Here’s how to perfect it.
- Love yourself
- Be confident
- Try new experiences
Having all the characteristics of an artist doesn’t come naturally. You’re usually born with a few of them, venture down the creative paths and begin to develop the rest.
If you can feel it in your heart that being a creator is for you, then go for it. There’s nothing worse than a burning feeling inside that you’re not doing what you love.
Being an artist is no walk in the park though and becoming successful at it is even more difficult.
But when you find your passion and go after it, many of the other traits will start to build themselves.
Stay creative everyone.