I am hooked on several reality shows that allow artists to show their creativity, such as Face Off and Project Runway. I’m continually astounded by the inventiveness of the competitors.

An archetype is not a noun, not a person; it is a way of being. The Artist archetype is about invention, creativity, even genius: the ability to imagine and then bring into being something that has not been seen before, to use materials in a way that has not been done before to create a new effect.

I’ve also gleaned some useful information about what other traits go into being a successful artist. While the popular idea of an artist often makes them out to be misfits, oddities, eccentrics or egomaniacs, the shows offer a different view. From what I’ve seen, the artists who do the most extraordinary work — and therefore win the competitions — have certain personality traits in common:

  1. They can collaborate with others. The people who try to dominate others or go off in a corner and sulk because they don’t like what the group is doing tend to get eliminated quickly.
  2. They have a healthy sense of self-esteem without an inordinate amount of ego. Those who start out unsure of themselves learn to believe in themselves; those who strut about claiming that everyone else should just give up now because they are the best get a comeuppance. The ones who can learn, stay. Which leads to the next point:
  3. They take responsibility. If they get a harsh critique, they listen and they learn and they do better next time. Those who make excuses and blame others for their mistakes are soon gone.
  4.  They’re often “fluid” when it comes to gender issues and demonstrate equal strengths in what we call “masculine” and “feminine” traits. Which means:
  5. They’re emotional. Male or female, everyone cries, everyone hugs, everyone shows passion. They love each other and they love their work.

Artists have to be open to the world, so see it fully in every aspect. Joseph Campbell said that the artist sees “with both eyes,” that is, without judgment or preference for one point of view over another. To see with both eyes means to see everything. The true artist looks at the world without any preconceived notions, with bias or filters that might blind her not just to what is there, but to the mystery and potential beyond what can be seen. Including oneself and other people, it seems.

Is creativity innate, or is it a result of having the kind of mind that sees and embraces the world as it is, fully and without reservations?

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