What does it mean to be a creative person?
Some might only lump artists or musicians into this category, but it actually includes quite a number of different creative types.
For example, a person can be a creative problem solver, or show creativity in leadership. While creativity can manifest in the arts, it’s also vital in science and medicine.
Below are some of the most common traits of creative individuals. As you go through them, you might recognize many of these traits in yourself, or in those close to you. They won’t all apply to everyone, but creative types often display several of them together!
1. They’re fond of discovering new approaches and uses.
Did you know that chefs are some of the most creative individuals on the planet? Think about it: there are only so many base ingredients out there, but these brilliant folks have managed to use them in countless, imaginative ways. They’ve combined them in different ratios, treated them with heat, cold, or agitation to change their molecular structure, and have created some of the most tantalizing dishes imaginable.
This ability to approach things (or problems) from many different angles is also invaluable in the sciences. Let’s take medicine, for example. Some of the greatest innovations in modern medicine have come from scientists and doctors who wanted to experiment “just to see what would happen.”
Creativity can lead to significant improvements in one’s life, as well as benefitting a whole community. For example, check out the Lego beehive created by an Irish beekeeper, or the water bottle lamps dreamt up by a Brazilian mechanic.
This is how creative innovation changes the world: one bright idea at a time.
2. They understand different perspectives.
A lot of misunderstandings between people stem from the fact that many folks simply can’t see from others’ perspectives. Either they can’t visualize what the other has experienced, or they can’t imagine what it must be like to walk in that person’s shoes.
Meanwhile, creative people can easily view situations and experiences from numerous different perspectives. This ability is what grants writers and filmmakers the ability to tell such evocative stories: they can envision what it must be like to experience every situation through the eyes of all involved, and then transform that into words or images.
Creative types don’t need to experience something firsthand in order to visualize it or empathize with it. This makes them invaluable as therapists and counsellors: they can put themselves in their patients’ places to see and feel what they must have gone through. As such, they can tailor their treatment to suit each individual, rather than expecting one solution to fit everyone who walks through their door.
3. They embrace playfulness.
Some of the most brilliant innovations have come about through creative play. Consider the aforementioned Lego beehive: do you think that could have come into being without someone sitting on the ground surrounded by thousands of blocks, playing with different designs until they found one that worked?
Take a moment, look around yourself, and take stock of all the items that have required creativity to become reality. If you’re listening to music right now, consider how many times the musician or band had to toy with a particular riff or song lyrics until things felt “right.”
How about art on the walls? Do you think those pieces were perfect from the beginning? Chances are the artist or photographer had to play around with different pigments or angles until they had a “Eureka!” moment. Pottery only exists because someone played with clay they found while squatting in a ditch about 30,000 years ago.
4. They display a fondness for breaking the rules.
As children, creative people might have gotten into trouble for “coloring outside the lines,” but that nature is vitally important for creativity. Granted, being creative within constraints can be beneficial in some instances, but those same constraints can smother the creative drive.
As such, these people continually find new ways to break (or simply bend) the rules. This ability can be helpful or harmful in various instances, depending on who else is involved.
Say, for example, you have an incredibly skilled lawyer who’s great at either finding loopholes based on past precedents, or new interpretations based on evolving word or phrase definitions. This would be highly beneficial to the person they’re defending, but potentially devastating to someone who’s trying to bring their client to justice.
5. They are nonconformists.
Creative people like to live authentically and express themselves as they see fit. These aren’t people who listen to top 40 radio or dress according to current fashions simply because everyone else is doing so.
Instead, creative folks might come up with a style that’s completely unique, or they will amalgamate a variety of styles to suit their own personalities. This might involve looking to the past, such as Dita von Teese’s vintage 1940s aesthetic, or futuristic like David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust days.
They might be nonconforming in terms of their gender identity, or have romantic relationships that others may not understand, such as being either polyamorous or aromantic.
These people might also draw criticism for not following current trends, as they often think differently from their peers and refuse to follow the crowd. In fact, they’ll often find themselves ostracized by people who think that their views and practices are the only right ones.
6. They are independent thinkers.
Do you remember that episode of the Simpsons where teachers hit the “independent thought alarm” when Lisa decided to become vegetarian? Many creative types think and feel differently from those around them, which can result in them being mocked or shunned.
Albert Einstein is famous for many things, including that whole theory of relativity thing he came up with. One of his more well-known quotes is: “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
You see, a lot of people feel threatened when others challenge their way of thinking. They are uncomfortable with those who are different from themselves, which is why xenophobia (and various other phobias) are so rife.
Creative types, on the other hand, actually enjoy having their views challenged because it unlocks further creative thoughts and ideas.
7. They regularly experiment with things.
Creative types are often fond of experimenting with different things to see what they like best. You may have encountered this with musicians like Beck, who seeks to reinvent his sound with every album, or someone like Madonna who has reinvented her entire appearance (including her name) several times over the course of her career.
Much like the aforementioned pros and cons of creativity in rule breaking, this willingness—even eagerness—to experiment can have beneficial and detrimental effects on an individual’s life.
For example, a person who has a dozen different types of jobs on their CV, all only lasting for a few months, may be considered flaky or unreliable by a potential employer. Similarly, a person who’s known for having numerous short-term love affairs may find that nobody is interested in starting a serious relationship with them, as they figure the person will cut and run as soon as they get bored and want to try something different.
8. They find comfort in solitude.
Every creative person I’ve ever known has appreciated their own company more than that of other people. They’re less likely to feel lonely without other people around, and they need a significant amount of solitude in order to think or create anything.
To them, the presence of others can be intrusive rather than inspiring. They need to be in their own heads so that they can formulate stories or melodies, or they might simply want to listen to their favorite playlists and zone out while they draw, paint, cook, or choreograph some wicked new dance moves.
Additionally, many get so overwhelmed by other people’s energy that they need alone time to decompress. Some might even be diagnosed with sensory processing issues: they can see, hear, or feel things so much more intensely than others that they need to be alone in order to regroup and recover.
9. They are open to unorthodox sources of inspiration.
Some of the greatest artists, writers, and musicians have been inspired by things that others might consider “otherworldly.” They might hear snippets of songs in dreams, which they then bring into the waking world and transform into bestselling albums.
Similarly, an artist might get a sudden vision of a landscape while taking psychedelic drugs, or a writer might hear a voice telling them the synopsis of a book they need to write.
These experiences would be considered disconcerting and even terrifying to the average person, but to a creative individual, they contribute to the “fire in the head” that leads to spiritual awakening and creation.
Alternatively, they might dive deeply into the past in order to work on things going on in the present. For example, inquisitive scientists recently discovered that a recipe for “Bald’s Eye Salve” from an Anglo Saxon book on medicine is remarkably effective against Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens and could plug part of the hole left by antibiotic resistance.
10. They are highly adaptable.
Sometimes, people find themselves in situations they hadn’t expected, and have to think creatively in order to muddle through. As a result, they’ll often come up with innovative solutions that can make the situation significantly easier or more comfortable.
A perfect example of this would be when we had a power outage for just over a week last year. While our neighbors were eating cold canned beans and soft bread, my partner rigged up a camp stove from a few cinder blocks so we could have hot coffee and stew.
Generally, creative people see challenging situations as opportunities rather than detriments. Sure, they might be temporarily annoyed at the inconvenience, but they also delight in the chance to try out some new things to see how well they work.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and the ability to create things from unexpected sources can make life a lot easier, as well as a lot more fun.
11. They are willing to take risks.
If you ask people to try something that’s outside their comfort zones, most will balk at the idea. They usually have a fairly limited array of things they’re willing to try, and they stick to a regular roster of experiences that they consider to be “safe.”
In contrast, creative individuals are much more open to taking risks. They’re not as fearful of failure because they know that even a failed endeavor will grant them a ton of great experience and insight. Furthermore, if it doesn’t fail, then they might find entire new vistas to explore.
This kind of risk-taking may apply to business ventures or financial investments, but it can also apply to travel or culinary exploration. They’re fully aware that everything they love now was once new and alien to them, and they had to risk personal comfort and security in order to try it.
What if that dish gave them an upset stomach? What if travelling to that place involved losing a suitcase? Creative people feel that life without risk is like a dish without salt: devoid of flavor and generally unfulfilling.
12. They have more energy than they know what to do with.
Some creatives have been diagnosed with ADHD because their minds (and hands) are constantly in motion, but this doesn’t mean that label applies across the board. Rather, creative people tend to have a lot to think about, and often have more energy than others do in order to fuel their whirring minds.
Furthermore, there’s so much for them to make with their skilled little paws that they draw from a bank of enthusiastic energy to bring those ideas into this realm.
As an example, I’ve never seen my partner simply sit and watch a film: she’s always knitting, sewing, drawing, or doing something else with her hands while the story unfolds. If you’re wired this way, you might have binge-watched an entire show and you still have no idea what the characters look like!
13. They are sensitive souls.
Most creative people have been criticized for being “too sensitive” at one point or another. Some get mocked for getting their feelings hurt over something that wouldn’t have even registered on another’s radar, or for being moved to tears by a beautiful song or breathtakingly beautiful sunset.
In fact, chances are that the average creative person has been called a “crybaby” at least once in their lifetime so far.
The thing is, the exact sensitivity that can make creatives seem flaky, strange, or even unstable is exactly what allows them to conjure intense beauty out of nothingness. Unfortunately, this sensitivity also makes them vulnerable to judgement and cruelty by others.
Too many bright lights have been snuffed out because they couldn’t take people’s criticism or abuse anymore. What slides off one person like water off a duck’s back can injure a creative person to the core.
14. They might seem intense.
Many artists and musicians are described as being “intense,” and with good reason. Much like with the sensitivity mentioned above, they feel things very deeply, and thus the energy they exude can also be quite strong.
As such, a lot of creative individuals have strong gazes that lock onto whoever they’re talking to, or energy that can overwhelm others in their company.
Those who aren’t creative often describe these folks as being “too much.” Either they’re too loud, exhibit their emotions too intensely for others’ comfort, pursue potential lovers a bit too forcefully, or are otherwise too passionate for most “normal” people to handle well.
As such, they often have tumultuous relationships with other creatives (who both understand them and can handle them), or they spend significant time alone. Which of course, they’re fine with.
Creative people are some of the most amazing folks to hang out with. They’ll encourage you to view the world in different ways and encourage you to step out of your comfort zone to try new, exciting things.
If you’re a creative type, then that’s a huge boon in your favor! A minority of the population has creative leanings, so you have traits and abilities that many people will never experience. You may feel things a bit intensely at times—even get overwhelmed by them—but you also have a much wider spectrum with which to view all the beauty and joy that life has to offer you. Furthermore, you likely pour a lot of beauty into the world as well!
You may also like:
- 18 Things Independent Thinkers Do (But Don’t Talk About)
- 15 Characteristics Of Open-Minded People
- 22 Things Curious People Always Do (But Never Talk About)