1 / 1



May 27, 2021 - Joy Reed Belt


Vincent van Gogh, "The Starry Night," 1889, Oil, 28.7 x 36.3 in

In graduate school I was introduced to the Myers~ Briggs Type Indicator, commonly known as the MBTI, and became fascinated with personality theory, particularly as it related to the workplace. Developed by a mother and daughter team at the University of Florida, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers, the MBTI was based on the work in archetypes by Swiss psychiatrist, C.G. Jung. Individuals taking the Myers Briggs can determine their personality type by selecting preferences when answering specific questions. In scoring, those responses are then compared to eight personality preferences that all people use at different times. According to this theory there are sixteen basic personality types and each type is identified by a four letter Code.  For instance, I am classified as an ENTP, which means my order of preference in any kind of human interaction and especially in problem solving is: #1 Intuition, #2 Thinking, # 3 Feeling, and #4 Sensing. My late husband, John Belt was an ENTJ which means his order of preference was #1 Thinking, # 2 Intuition, # 3 Sensing and # 4 Feeling. You can see that although we were very close in type, we approached problem solving and communication differently. If you think about everyone in the world being placed into one of sixteen categories, then you realize these are very broad descriptors, but still the MBTi is enormously helpful in understanding and communicating with people.

Pablo Picasso, "Portrait of Dora Maar," 1937, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 26 in.

Over the years as an Art Gallery owner, I have noticed that we tend to believe that all artists share a common gene or personality type that allows them to be creative. Just the other day a visitor to the gallery, who had come to see Sheridan Conrad’s jewelry, mentioned to me that she had a daughter who was an artist. She continued by saying that her son merely had an “artistic temperament.” Later, I started wondering what she meant by “artistic” temperament. Did she mean her son was Unpredictable? Moody? Sensitive? Creative? Or, all of the above. Did she think that all artists share a certain temperament or personality type?  It has been widely touted over the years that most artists are of the ISFP type. In fact David Keirsey, the author of “PLease Understand Me” says that almost any especially gifted artist, painter, sculptor, or designer is likely to be an ISFP. I don’t agree. I believe that one can find artists in all sixteen of the personality types. However, I will concede there are some very famous artists who are reported to be ISFPs including: Barbara Streisand, Billie Eilish, Bob Dylan, Jimmi Hendrix, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Audry Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor, Mozart, Prince, Van Gogh and Liberace. Granted all of these people are wonderful artists but there are great artists in every type. For instance Leonardo da Vinci, Socrates, Harry Connick Jr., and Winston Churchill are reported to be ENTPs, which is my Myers Briggs Personality Type. Possessing a certain personality will not make one an artist. To become an artist one has to have character and a tolerance for adventure because being an artist is not a particularly secure profession. An artist must also have the courage to follow their dream and give themselves permission to be an artist.

Claude Monet, "The Artist's Garden at Giverny," 1900, Oil on Canvas, 32.1 x 36.5 in.

Back to Blogs