Artistic Personality Type: Traits & Common Careers

Instructor: Chris Clause
In this lesson you will learn about the artistic personality trait and how it relates to long-term career success. Following this lesson you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge by taking a short quiz.


According to personality trait theories, people who are considered to be Artistic tend to be attracted to activities that involve creativity, originality, and independence. People who enjoy singing dancing, writing, or just expressing their uniqueness are typically classified as being Artistic.

Artistic Traits

In addition to valuing creativity, originality, and independence, Artistic people tend to possess a host of other related, but maybe not so obvious, personality traits as well.

For instance, Artistic people also tend to be more impulsive than others. This can of course be a benefit when it comes to creativity, but can also pose its challenges as well. I'm sure you are familiar with stories of extremely talented musicians, such as Amy Winehouse or Jim Morrison, who, in spite of their talent, possessed an impulsive flare that led to severe addiction issues and ultimately their demise. Now, not all artists are so impulsive that they develop a substance dependence problem, but a connection between impulsivity and the Artistic personality trait certainly exists.

Artistic people also oftentimes possess a strong sense of attention to detail, and when it comes to their work, maybe even a sense of perfectionism. Some of history's best writers have famously toiled over and even seemed unsatisfied with their work while the public raved about how wonderful it was.

Artistic Personality Trait and Careers

While many trait theories of personality exist, each attempting to classify people's preferences and subsequent behavior into distinct categories, few have had as significant an impact as that developed by John Holland. In the Western world, people often define themselves according to the work that they perform. Holland astutely recognized that there must be some connection between personality traits and the careers that people choose. Through his research he concluded that six distinct personality characteristics exist as related to work. The six categories are Enterprising (aka the Persuaders), Conventional (aka the Organizers), Realistic (aka the Doers), Investigative (aka the Thinkers), Artistic (aka the Creators), and Social (aka the Helpers).

Holland believed that people who select careers that correspond well with their innate preferences will not only enjoy the work that they do, but will also have a much better chance of excelling in that career. Holland concluded that to increase the likelihood of success, the work environment must match up well with a person's personality characteristics. So, an Artistic person who enjoys being creative would likely perform his work best in an environment that includes other Artistic people and supports independence and creativity. Holland believed that both personality and environment must be a good match if long-term vocational success is to occur.

Holland's Three Code System

Even though Holland believed strongly in the six category personality system that he developed, he also understood that attempting to classify billions of people into one of six categories wouldn't work. People are too diverse in their personality makeup to simply label them as Artistic or Conventional. While an artistic person's main interests might primarily be centered on creativity and a conventional person's interests around organization, both people possess shades of the other personality traits as well. Holland's answer to this dilemma was to develop a three-category system that takes into account the fact that all people possess each of the six personality traits to differing degrees.

For example, the Holland code AIS would not be uncommon following the completion of a personality assessment designed to measure the six-category Holland personality characteristics. Interpreting this three-code system is pretty simple. The first letter, A, represents the personality trait Artistic, and since it is mentioned first, it is the strongest of the six personality types for the person being assessed. Following this same pattern, the second letter, I, represents Investigative and is the second strongest. Finally, the letter S represents the Social personality trait and is, you guessed it, the third strongest personality characteristic. Just because the other three personality traits don't appear in the Holland code doesn't mean that they are not present; it just means that they were not among the top three traits for the person assessed.

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