Traits of creative people – is this you?


What distinguishes creative people and/or artists from another type of person is perhaps a willingness to go headlong into that uncertainty. Brandon Boyd

Can we really say that there is such a thing as “a creative person”, when there are so many different people who are creative and these people are making so many different kinds of creativity? Maybe not. But it has been shown time and time again that the vast majority of creative people, however we want to define them, do share many characteristics that enable them to put their skills to use.

Below is a list of the traits of creative people. Our list is compiled from the most frequently occurring characteristics as seen in a variety of research studies and books describing the lives of creative people. Please note that the list is in no particular order of importance.
A creative person is:

Curious – interested in a wide range of things and likes to find out about new experiences and knowledge.

Observant – notices and appreciates a wide range of things, including the mundane, the everyday and the behaviour of others.

Divergent thinker – produces a large number of ideas, many of which are quirky or innovative. Uses thinking skills effectively.

Hard worker – works when best suits self but usually puts in regular and frequent hours of work. Usually gets into a state of flow and does not notice work time passing.

Self-motivated – is “autotelic” because needs no other spur to create than own motivation or drive to do so, often feeling compelled to create.

Open to new experiences – is willing to try new things and to engage with them in both an emotional and intellectual way and is psychologically androgynous, having intellectual and emotional traits from both sexes.

Not afraid to fail – views failure as a necessary experiment and learns to conclude from it.

Risk-taker – new ventures, ideas and productions are always risky but the creative person seeks these opportunities to make ideas into material and practical outcomes.

Honest – evaluates own work with honesty and integrity and is often considered to have high moral standards (though some reports disagree with this).

Daydreams – allows time for musings and letting ideas build subconsciously.


Empathetic – listens and takes note of others and is able to understand how others feel. Not afraid of solitude – is happy, or at least productive, in own company.

Anti-authoritarian – non-conformist and can be seen as grumpy when refusing to take orders or refuting unjustified assumptions.

Intellectually nimble – plays with ideas, words or images and can take someone else’s idea and develop it in new ways, or can look at obstacles from an improving point of view.

Mindful – reflects on plenty of aspects of life, including self and is not judgmental about self or about the little things. Is usually happy just to be creating. May be interested in the spiritual, religious or especially the philosophical big questions of life and of humankind.

Sense of humour – humour helps with things like inhibition and risk taking, but creative people’s humour can sometimes be seen by others as insensitive or weird.

Beauty and self-expression – likes the chance to express themselves in a creative way and has own opinions about beautiful things. Sometimes likes to collect beautiful things.

How many of traits do you think you have? Which is your strongest one? Or your weakest one?

The above post is based on  an excerpt from The Graphic Design Project’s new book/course, Creative Training: How to be More Creative.

Image credits:

Top: Paint brushes of Leon Brazil from the 2016 exhibition at Mascalls Gallery, photo Sancha de Burca

Middle: Disruptive chess, photo Sancha de Burca

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