The Creative INTJ

We have all seen those little posts where they define each personality type and then list the “ideal jobs” belonging to these personalities. The INTJ always gets World Domination – no, but really we get suggested jobs like bankers, financial analysts, engineers, neurologist, attorney, judge…but artist?

I am a professional artist. I LOVE being creative – no, I HAVE to be creative or it starts coming out in weird ways (“Babe, who spray painted the chicken coop purple??”), so I have tried my hand at many different art forms and mediums. Oil painting, water colors, leather, photography, textiles, collage, sculpture, 3D mixed medium, the list is endless. Art is in my genes. My mother is a professional oil portraitist descended from the Dutch Masters and my father is an architect. And both are musical, and so am I. Some folks are just creative. I am creative. Everything I do has a smidge of creativity somewhere within it. I think in colors and sounds and patterns and fibonacci sequences and music and tone and imagery. I constantly visualize things done five different ways and what it would look like.

Now, I have worked in the art world for 20 years. I have taught art. I was a theater major and a business minor in college. I have taught children’s theater. (I am a drama teacher now!) I have worked in galleries. I have had exhibits and I have been in art shows. I have been in plays, written plays, directed plays, built props and scenery for plays. I have worked as a professional photographer. All of these have been satisfying outlets for my personal creativity. Yet one of the most interesting jobs I held in the art world was as a consultant and mentor to artists who make the choice to go public – try to sell and exhibit – their art. Stereo-typically, creative folks are a messy, free-spirited, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants race of people. I have also learned that many artists are TERRIBLE when it comes to business and numbers. So, creative person = brilliant artist + disorganized business person. I have seen it countless times.

I am an artist. Add Female INTJ to that. Yeah. Layers. LOTS of LAYERS. Being a creative and artistic INTJ offers a unique phenomenon. I can do both. I can also see where another artist is veering off course and is naively preparing to self-sabotage their art career. I can price art whereas most artists have no idea what their worth is. I understand the ways different galleries function and whether or not it is a waste of my time and energy to sell in that establishment.  I understand that, unlike manufactured goods, art is a unique and limited endeavor that can increase in the item’s value over time. Artists use talents to make things most people cannot make. That is a lucrative skill! That is WORTH a lot!

I am also much more organized than most of the creative people I know. I have a thing about cluttered surface areas – I like my desk and tables clean. I like tidy. I like to know where stuff is. And yet I am not bothered by other artist’s mess because somewhere in my soul I get it. I am a perfectionist when it comes to myself, but I am flexible and tolerant and patient with others (unless they are being irrational or making a repetitive clicking noise. #INTJ).

I am not impulsive. I am not super emotional. I analyze and pre-plan my works long before they ever manifest on paper or canvas. I loathe most commission work because I feel like it robs me of my own creative voice and ideas. Commissions make me feel like I am spending all my talent and energy on someone else – money is rarely a motivator for me. I am stingy with my gifts and talents – and if I create something for you that means I REALLY like you! I am subjective about art and view the works of others as a narrative and visual emotional response. Some art touches me deeply.

I feel like creative INTJ’s have the unique ability to stand in both worlds and see them with all of these magnificent visual layers. I believe creativity is intelligence having a lot of fun. My art is where my emotions DO leak out far enough to be seen. My art is my soul on canvas. Being an artist has taught INTJ me that mistakes and failures are my university. I learn and get stronger, better. An INTJ artist truly does get to make their own world, and yes, dominate it if they feel up to it.

I have tried for years to find another professional artist who is also an INTJ. So far no luck. I know you’re out there. If you’re reading this, do you find it easier than your fellow non-artist INTJ’s to communicate your thoughts and visions because of your creative flair? Do you help other artists become better in their business? Do you advocate the arts and artist’s rights in a way that is difficult for some artists to clearly communicate to others? Just wondering. Also – I would LOVE to see your work!!

And if you want to know how I really feel about the “art world”, visit my article “ART: A Common Sense Guide to Survival” published on DeviantArt:

https://sarahredhead.deviantart.com/journal/ART-A-Common-Sense-Guide-To-Surviving-214243524

 

19 thoughts on “The Creative INTJ

  1. I’m an artist as my side gig, haven’t been able to achieve the dream of quitting my job and living off of it though. I also come from a long tradition of artists. My mother did tattoos for 15 years of my childhood and we have some of my great great grandmother’s paintings on the walls still. The etymology of my last name suggests someone waaaay back was heavily involved in the theatre which has also been an interest for me. I am also musical. People have asked how I could be so shy and be on stage and the answer is, when you are on stage everything is planned and you can’t actually see the audience past the lights, they are at a distance and they aren’t paying attention to who you are as a person so much as what you’re doing and all they do is clap. So as long as you have prepared adequately, it’s actually more comfortable than a lot of situations. I went to university for fine art for a while until I became frustrated with my teachers (those classic messy fly by the seat of your pants types you mentioned) showing up to work high, unprepared, or not at all, and came to the conclusion that rather than going in to massive debt paying these people to do a shoddy job, I can learn anything I want to know about art independently from books and practice.
    I have tried a little bit of everything, but my favorite activities are sewing and drawing. Sewing takes the form of creating my own patterns through trial and error. I do comission work on the regular, and it is definitely not as fulfilling as choosing your own creative endeavors. Some clients are happy to let me go nuts and see what I come up with while others are exactingly specific in what they want. The problem lies in the area where they present themselves as the first type but then reveal themselves as the second type once a project is essentially finished. Like thanks, I’ll just go start over I guess? You couldn’t have told me your specific needs before I started? I am grateful for the internet as a buffer. And nothing is worse than being asked to hem pants. Groan. I don’t need $15 that badly. LOL.
    I also must exercise my creativity urgently. It is not negotiable. Sometimes I wake up at four in the morning and have to go create something. The ideas consume my attention until they are released from my head. When I am in the middle of a job the fabric flies. I can only describe it as a creative frenzy. Things get messy. But it feels much better to tidy everything up. I have a meticulous filing system for fabric and supplies involving about 50 shoe boxes with swatches stuck to the fronts so I can see everything at a glance without having to sort through. They are organized by type of fabric. I also organize my other art supplies in the same way with labels on the end of shoe boxes and everything related kept together like kits. Taking time to find things is demotivating.
    In my daily life I am a retail manager/merchandiser, so I get to plan and impliment all the styling choices for the fashion displays in my store. It is an excellent practical application of design principals for a steady reliable paycheck. I loathe human interactions though, so I have become startlingly adept at “faking it” in order to do the parts of the job that are less enjoyable to me. It is exhausting. Communicating is just as hard, honestly. The ideas are like a Chess game in progress in my head but everyone else just wants Connect Four. I read on my lunch breaks because I need to remove myself from reality for that time to recharge. If someone tries to talk to me in the lunch room they will get one word answers until they stop.
    One thing I find frustrating is rampant underpricing in the art and design world. Some people out there give away their skills for almost nothing and it makes the going very difficult for someone trying to make a living, stand their ground, and then be forced to justify why they ask say, $15 an hour for their skills, whereas someone else is only charging $15 for the whole project. It’s hard to say, “Well, that person either doesn’t understand the economics of capitalism, is doing it as a casual hobby, or their quality is not as good as mine” and not sound like a jerk.
    I am also interested in science, but due to having Dyscalculia I could never consider following the sort of paths that are usually suggested for INTJs. My theory is that it was never caught by any of my teachers because I was a fantastic dedicated student who excelled in literally every other area other than mathematics. I actually wasn’t even bad at the functions of math, it was just that I consistantly made transcription errors that got attributed to carelessness rather than disability and resulted in wrong answers. So, hi, that’s me. Neat blog, I’m trying to get one going too. When I saw you picked the name I was gonna go with I had to start reading 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sweet baby Jesus in a snowglobe. It is nice to meet YOU! You, my dear, are welcome here anytime and I can relate to so many things you have so eloquently articulated here. Thank you for sharing – and I feel ya on so many levels. That’s it. We should have a secret INTJ gathering once a year. Let others know they are not alone. And yes – I would love to read your blog! (sorry I stole your name😀). You might be my new spirit animal!

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  2. Pingback: INTJ und Kreativität | INTJBlog.de

  3. Nice to read your article. I am not an professional artist, but I can relate because I did several creative part-time-jobs. I am mostly drawn to music and more technical art like photography and the creative process sounds a lot like Introverted Intuition: First fill the pool with a lot of base material, then wait for the imagination to put out ideas … look at my blog article above (bilingual english/german, and all INTJ grammar nazis please excuse the not so good english translations, languages never were my forte).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stephan, thank you for the reply. I am absolutely going to visit your blog! I like your “pool” allegory. And I promise to overlook your grammar and spelling if you promise to never challenge me to an algebra test (math and numbers are my wretched deficiency)!😁💀

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  4. Oh goodness, I’ve FINALLY found what I’ve been looking for! I’m an INTJ myself, and landed super deep into psychology and personality tests to figure out my weirdness. So far it’s paid off.
    BUT, being all logical, I understood that living out of art would be difficult, so I took economics at uni in hopes of getting a corporate career, for the money, while planning to do an academic side hustle (ambitious, I know). I’m in my final year of uni now, realising that my plan has backfired: sitting in a glass box 9-5, surrounded by numbers and uncreative people is hell (visiting finance career fairs is like staring into a deep, black hole with no hope) so I know I cannot fully commit to a career like that. I also know that I’m not as ‘artsy’, carefree or über- stylish/effortless/chic that all the creative people I admire seem to be. It’s like I’m between two worlds and I don’t fully belong to either one. How do I find/start my own clique?
    And just in general, what does an INTJ do if they see no hope in mathematics (horror), science (ugh), or IT (gag)? Any advice would be VERY appreciated, from the bottom of my heart. Thanks, fellow unicorns.

    P.S. I did not at all miss the solution you proposed – I’ve long thought of being some kind of consultant, but the idea is still very foggy in my head, and I somehow can’t get enough clarity into it. I want to see if there’s anything else other amazing creative INTJs can propose. Please do. Or shed more light into the consulting thing.

    Another question: how do I find other creative/artsy INTJs, apart from this website? I sometimes tire from all the science-y/political debates (we’ll all die anyway) that various blogs claim we’re so into. I so need artsy, evil, witty friends, and if it has to be done through internet-friendling, then so be it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Honey, we all need artsy, evil and witty friends! And you sound pretty amazing. As for the math part – my brain is just wired differently from others. Higher math eludes me. I DO love science – let’s say I am a huge cheerleader for science, watching each new discovery while I eat buttered popcorn. However, I am no scientist. I do, however, relish my strengths and those interests which consume me and send me into those beautiful “Zen” moments. As I grow older I realize that while my worldly successes have their place, I lean much more toward my truest inner self: what I WANT to do. I sometimes wonder how many INTJs put the arts and the frivolity on the back burner because they know – logistically – that they must make a structured living doing the mundane (or not mundane – just the stuff that pays the bills).
      Consulting: Listen, we just know so gosh darn much. You know?? And we can pretty much read people AND see into the future AND easily warn others of their impending doom, so why not be a consultant of some kind? I have a friend who does this for small businesses – and although she is an introvert and she hates “people” as a whole, she does get to set her own schedule, pick and choose her clients and she makes hella money. Just think about it. Or do an INTJ podcast. I would, but I have to absolutely perfect it before I even begin the process and I am still doing too much research listening to countless other podcasts (LOL). Let me know how it goes! We are cheering you on! From home! In our pajamas! Judging with love!

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  5. I’m an INTJ costume/fashion designer. I found your article because I was tired of reading about how we INTJs are all scientists and tech people. My experiences are VERY similar to yours! Most of my work is commission but I refuse any work where someone already has a design or sketch. I’m NOT a seamstress! I’m a creative designer! My business is amazingly creative, focused, and quite successful. I’m constantly coming up with new ideas for growing it and creating buzz on social media. I really enjoy implementing new things and sitting back to read the data. (Not typical of most artists.) I have other artist friends that I see flailing and I do what I can to mentor them. I can see what they are creating and I’m able to tell immediately if it’s sellable or not. I try to coach them on building a business for themselves but it can get VERY frustrating. So often they can’t stay focused or follow through.
    I’m definitely not typical INTJ in the sense that I LOVE fashion. It’s another creative outlet for me and although people may think my wild digs are for attention, they definitely are not.
    I’m also not a very emotional person. I’ve often been frustrated with seeing women around me get in their own way because they are led by their emotions. It’s not something I can understand. It’s like they’re speaking another language. I had a friend once say, “Erica, you’re a guy. What do you make of this?”
    It’s not that I’m emotionless. I’m just not comfortable with highly emotional people. I’ve had friends come to be crying for some reason or another and I’m an empathetic listener. However, when they’re done I will ask, “Do you want me to just listen or do you want my advice?” and if they want my advice, I can EASILY remove all the emotion out and give them good, reasonable, step-by-step, bullet-pointed instruction. Haha!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG PREACH love. PREACH. FIRST of all – my precious Saint of a mother was a costume designer for the Louisville Opera for years so I LOVE YOU already. YES. Secondly – you are amazing. I felt every word of that. I absolutely have to activate my “bubble” when I deal with highly emotional and reactionary people – especially in business. It is exhausting and ain’t nobody got time for that. I think you are brilliant and relish in the fact that you are giving the world a good dose of that INTJ brand realism. We need more of that. We all know you are not emotionless. Hell, our emotions run far deeper than most humans – we just don’t showcase them like a burlesque dancer waiting for the encore. As for the mentoring aspect of your life – man oh man have I been there many times over. I have to step into that realm only up to my ankles – the LAST thing I ever want or need to do is “FIX” people – whether it is their business or their little human selves. I think we are all pre-programmed consultants to a degree. I would actually have coffee with you. And that is saying a lot. Thank you for sharing!!

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  6. It’s nice to read about INTJ females that are artistic. I’m well versed in the theory behind MBTI and am certain of my type. I have a fascination with the hidden nuance and beauty in the theory, and unfortunately, rarely do people see through the most obtuse stereotypes. The INTJ stereotype is rough and narrow, when I really think there’s no reason for some of us to be more subtle and artistic. No, I’m not flamboyant like my FP friends, but I have a colorful interior and I can guide my often aimless and easily disheartened artsy friends. Especially at my stage of life (28), I’ve seen people stray only to rediscover their true love again but fear how to commit and be practical. I’ve always known what their true love was and how they could pursue it. Foresight is definitely rare in the artistic world. On the other hand, at times my friends are good as the “just do it” part of things when I’m overanalyzing–my brain has a life long dual between creative thinking and technical thinking. I think effectively wielding one over the other at the right time can be a successful approach.

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  7. Hi! I love your blog! I’m an intj and I found it difficult to balance my two worlds. I’m studying accounting but I do love arts. Just in case you want to have a lil conversation with me, send me a reply! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi intjunicorn! I’m a female intj, I understand and relate so well. I questioned myself so many times that if I’m an intj… Why on earth am I being pulled between art, if the personality test suggests that I’m better suited to study in the sciences? Don’t get me wrong, I love science. Its that inner feeling of being attracted to art that I question… Yet, now that I know there are intjs who have an artistic “bone”… It really helps in what I want to truly study.

    My favourite part of being an intj is that I can see a sort of pattern unfold in the world around me. Being able to connect the dots of every event to make a full picture… Almost like a domino or a snowball effect? Or that my creativity does not make me think outside of the box, but create a new box instead…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Danielle, What a great feeling it is to meet another creative INTJ – we truly are unicorns! I suspect there are a lot more creative INTJ’s out there – and that the stereotypical descriptions of the INTJ are the tip of the iceberg. It is lovely to meet you. I love patterns! I see them everywhere, both physical and behavioral. Yes with that Big Picture energy!! I believe we absolutely create a new box – or new world every time we think outside the proverbial box. Lest we not forget: the arts ARE science. Especially math and nature (Fibonacci sequences and patterns, rule of thirds, color, geometry – one cannot exist without the other). Creative INTJs use their left brain more than or equal to the right brain, so the creativity abounds. (Many artists are bilateral, especially women!)

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  9. Hey INTJunicorn,

    I am a 31-year-old male and I relate to this post 100%. I recently discovered that I am an INTJ and I feel relieved knowing that my personality quirks are innate and I now feel less pressure to be the “extroverted American ideal.”

    My career path has been incredibly atypical. I am a Korean born, naturalized American citizen that grew up in North Dakota. I wasn’t exposed to “art culture” growing up in the Midwest, but looking back, many of my friends were into art. I gravitated towards skateboarding and building things out of wood as my creative outlets during my general education.

    Like many INTJ’s, I am very good at math and earned an undergraduate degree in physics. I very much enjoyed learning about physics but I didn’t think about what it would be like to have a career as a physicist. This was a massive oversight on my part because I don’t like the idea of having an occupation that is so niche and abstract that it makes it more difficult to relate to “regular people” (it is hard enough to relate to people as an INTJ).

    I started sewing during my college years because I thought it was a useful skill and I have always felt drawn to it. Initially, I only wanted to be able to alter and mend my clothing, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that alterations can only go so far. I wanted the designs in my head to be realized in the real world, and I couldn’t pay someone else to make it, so I dove deep into creating soft goods. Eventually, I would get into leather handbag making.

    The unique construction methods of leather bag making and creative freedom associated with designing an “elaborate pocket” are what initially drew me to the craft. I fully understand that “leather bag making” is a very cliched genre of “maker,” but as a good INTJ, my work is not what you typically see from a handbag-craft fair. So I spent a couple years tinkering around with leatherworking and I have come up with a bunch of designs that I think have some commercial potential.

    I have been trying to figure out how I could monetize my creative endeavors for some time now and I feel stuck. My vision for monetizing my handbags is to carve out a place for myself where my work is viewed more like an artist’s piece of art rather than a mass-produced piece of consumerism.

    I have perfected two simple designs that take 2-3 hours to make and sell for $300-$400. My main problem comes from the other side of being an INTJ, the marketing and selling part. Firstly, I am a man, I don’t use handbags, and I don’t understand how to market/sell them. Second, I feel like I need to promote myself as the designer and maker of my goods, but I am terrified of having to put myself into the “limelight.”

    I don’t expect most INTJ’s to be the luxury-handbag type, but I would love feedback about the potential my “art” has for commercial success.

    Website to my handbags:
    https://hailmaryusa.com/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Darren,

      It is delightful to hear from a fellow INTJ. I am glad to know that you feel our kindred spirits unite over this post! I will go ahead and say that you sound like an amazing and remarkable person – but of course you are…You’re an INTJ. What REALLY got my attention was when you began to describe your creative journey. First of all – I have enormous respect for your sewing abilities. My mother was a professional seamstress tailor for years and even made costumes for the Louisville Opera. Sewing and math absolutely go hand in hand.

      When you started talking about working with leather – that is something I DO know about!! I have been working with leather for several years and I love the medium. I am fascinated by your leather bag making. I visited your website and your small folded bucket bag is BRILLIANT! I adore it and I see myself purchasing one in the future. I love your designs: they are sophisticated and intelligent infused with elegance BRAVO. I also work with leather – thick leather – to create elaborate sculptural masks and corsets. So, again, you have my utmost respect! Thank you for sharing a link to your handbags. (Everyone – go look at them! https://hailmaryusa.com/ )

      When it comes to marketing, I learned by doing copious amounts of research and through trial and error. Marketing is all about finding your perfect audience through tools such as social media. (Etsy and Instagram proved to be my best tools). If this approach does not work, surround yourself with people (or even one adept person) who thrives in the realm of marketing. Sometimes the secret of the INTJ is that they surround themselves with people who know more than they do, at least until they learn and catch on! Are you on instagram?

      As for the INTJ’s not being the “luxury handbag type” – I have ALWAYS been drawn to luxury and pamper myself as a form of reward for all the hard work I do. INTJ’s are acutely aware of luxury and have a great appreciation for fine craftsmanship and the finer things in life. We tend to be practical and budgeted as individuals, but that does not mean we don’t appreciate art. I recently spent $300 on a beautiful leather case for my laptop and papers.

      It truly warms my INTJ heart to hear from other Creative INTJ’s. I know we are out here making the world far more scintillating and I love it. May all of your works sell and may your fans adore you. (From afar – not too close, because, you know…introvert stuff).

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