Artists are a distinct group of people whose creative abilities are engrossing and laced with such gentleness that ordinary people must take notice. Their ability to coax the miraculous from the mundane is not only thrilling, but also frequently contradictory.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a distinguished professor of psychology and management, explains it best in his seminal book Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People:
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“I have spent the last 30 years studying how creative people live and work in order to better understand the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. If I had to express in one word what distinguishes their personalities from others, I would say complexity. They demonstrate thought and action tendencies that are segregated in most people. They contain opposing extremes; rather than being an individual, each of them is a multitude.”
That's right; each of them is a plethora. Here are 15 things that only true artists would understand, based largely on Mihaly's Creativity:
1. They are inspired at the most unexpected times
Artists are well aware that they cannot predict when their next big idea will strike. Sure, they can have a lot of great ideas, but they never know when their best one will come. It will just happen in the most unexpected way and at the most unexpected time.
2. They are enthusiastic about their work, but they can also be objective about it
Artists are passionate about their work, but they are also objective and detached enough to accept criticism and response. That is because they understand that without objectivity, art lacks credibility and is not very good.
3. They are humble while also proud and self-assured
No matter how good they are, artists are always eager to learn and improve their craft. When you meet them, you'll be struck by their humility and self-deprecation. But beneath their humility and modesty is a deep pride and confidence in their ideas and creations.
4. They are present, but they are not present
Artists are daydreamers. They effortlessly switch between fantasy and reality. When you speak with them, you will have the impression that they are both present and absent. That is because they have the ability to fly away with their minds at any time into a world that is different from the present while remaining rooted in the present reality.
5. They are extroverted as well as introverted
Artists appear to have both traits at the same time. They can work alone for long periods of time while also displaying their work in front of large crowds. Other times, they simply sit quietly on the sidelines, observing and taking in the action.
6. They are both conservative and disruptive
Artists have internalized specific aspects of culture to the point where they can break or preserve both traditional and modern norms in their creative expressions at will. That is why artists can be so disruptive and unsettling in society at times.
7. They listen to their hearts even when their minds tell them not to
Artists take more risks and are less concerned with problems than the average person. They understand that a thousand failures can lead to a million successes. As a result, they never abandon their art or creative ideas. They adhere to them regardless of what others or even their own minds tell them.
8. They accept their brilliance even if others do not
Even when others misinterpret their art, artists stick to their guns and remain unwaveringly true to themselves. They value their creations and would prefer to be authentic rather than popular.
9. They live on the precipice of happiness and depression
Because artists are so invested in their work, they can go from joy to sadness and even depression in an instant. They are sensitive people with delicate hearts that, while the source of their brilliance, are also the source of their suffering and emotional anguish.
10. They are inspired by their surroundings
Artists can seize moments or events in their surroundings and create something brilliant in an unusual way, even when they are experiencing internal or external difficulties. According to Mihay, “creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and make do with whatever is available to achieve their goals.”
11. They have a lot of physical energy and grit, but they're also calm and relaxed
This can be seen in the way artists work. They have incredible physical energy and can work for long periods of time behind closed doors with zeal and enthusiasm. At the same time, they exude an undeniable sense of calm and freshness while working, which is quite inspiring.
12. They are both free-spirited and disciplined
Because artists are so free-spirited, they frequently come across as carefree, playful, and even irresponsible. However, their “carefree playfulness” helps to free their creativity, while their tenacious self-discipline and perseverance in their art drives them on when less motivated individuals would give up.
13. They do not adhere to rigid gender role stereotypes of masculinity and femininity
For some odd reason, the most creative and talented male artists are typically more sensitive and less aggressive than their non-artistic male peers, whereas the most creative and talented female artists are frequently more dominant and tough than their non-artistic female peers.
14. They are both intelligent and naive
This proclivity is exacerbated by their desire for originality in selecting and generating unusual associations of ideas, as well as brilliant fluency in executing those ideas and switching from one point of view to another. This aspect of their personality is what makes artists both smart and naive.
15. Every day, they face off against the Resistance
Artists wake up every morning fully aware that they must push themselves in order to grow. But there is always fear, anxiety, or (as Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, refers to it) resistance that stands in the way, telling them they can't do it; that they don't have what it takes. That fear never goes away, no matter how accomplished an artist becomes. True artists, on the other hand, learn to battle and subdue resistance on a daily basis.
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You have heard it all before: "Live life to the fullest", "follow your dreams", "be who you are" and "if it is meant to be, it will be". These are all wonderful quotes that are meant to help you live a happy life but they miss the point. Our lives are interconnected with each other and with the world.
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