In week 4, we were required to read Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s extract on the traits that the creative individual has. A brief summary of Csikszentmihalyi’s ideas in the text can be explained as: the creative person holds polar opposite traits. Now this immediately brings to my mind, the way in which horoscopes define our personality by broadening the spectrum, creating the illusion that it’s aimed directly at you. Although upon further reading of the text, it is apparent that there may be more to the idea at hand.

The first of the ten traits describes how the creative mind is found in those who portray a great deal of physical energy while also constraining themselves to rest at certain periods. I personally feel that this point largely relates to myself as I find myself at alternating energy levels throughout the day and I do consider myself to be creative. I agree that the mind requires a certain balance between the adrenaline rush of thought and the mental meditation, the individual must have a control over their energy; able to focus when necessary in order to achieve  the most acceptable result. Although I do feel a little unstable about the idea whether energy is not determined by an external schedule, on the one hand I agree that we can be creative regardless of time, yet on the other hand I feel that we are persuaded by our own individual schedule; I tend to feel more creative during the latter part of the day, a time where my mind has allowed itself time to mentally stretch and get prepared for upcoming challenges, some would say that I am an evening person (Plotnik & Kouyoumdjian, 2010, pg 155).

The second point relates to the intelligence of an individual, in that the more academically oriented tend to be constrained by the need to follow specific rules while the plain ignorant does not have the mental understanding of what is able to be done. To have a balance between these two allows one to use their knowledge in combinataion with freedom of thought in order to create something new. I find it quite interesting that after a certain point, a high IQ is no longer a beneficial trait in regards to real life, as the cutoff is apparently at 120 (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996, pg 59); meaning that being the extreme of either end of the intelligence spectrum may hold a lower level of creativity, not being a definitive rule but rather a theory.

Playfulness and Discipline are the third personality opposites, basically outlining the need to have control over the serious and child-like side of a mind. When a task is at hand and there is a time restraint, one must be able to focus on the task, while on the other hand the playful state of mind seems to aid in creative thinking, allowing one to freely experiment in the mind. Personally; I feel that this point is somewhat repetitive, in that it could have been added to the specifications of the previous point.

Alternating between reality and fantasy in the creative mind, seems to me like the ideal masterpiece portrayal of what creativity is; the individual must in fact have a sense of what can actually be achieved but also being able to push the mental limits of imagination; the ability to bring the mind into real life.

Introvert and Extrovert are two opposites which may be difficult to understand how they can co-exist within the same mentality, but upon reading the required text, I have been slightly persuaded to believe that a person must hold the ability to become a ‘solitary genius’, being that they are not entirely dependant on other’s approval nor their ideas. Although there must be a balance as with any of the ten traits; in this case it is the idea that one must also be able to see other points of view, one cannot be soley defined by their own understanding of the world but must also take into consideration the perception of others. In my area of graphic design it is largely apparent that we must take context into consideration, due to the fact that we are not only creating for the eye of our own demographic but rather the entire world. Colours in Culture is an interactive model of how different colours can have different meanings depending on the common ideas of a country and its experiences, in graphic design, this is important to consider that the design doesnt send across the wrong message.

Humble and Proud are two characteristics in which help the creative individual to understand what role they play in society. As with the majority of life’s elements, there will always be an amount that is either too much or too little. When a person is too proud of their work, they tend to overlook the opinions of others and become entirely self-absorbed in the passion of their own work, while on the other end of the spectrum, there is the idea that being too shy may hold back the enthusiasm to show off their work, thus unable to circulate artwork for appreciative purposes.

The seventh point is quite simple and yet can be branched into a number of topics. The two genders have been largely stereotyped over the years, holding back the thoughts of artists; constricting them to the hopes that the males do not appear overly feminine and vice versa. In this point, it is important to consider that we must hold traits from both genders, the strong and brave masculine, but also the soft and delicate feminine.

Pushing the limits of a specific domain is a small summary of the eighth point. One must learn and accept a domain of their choosing but not be bound by it, they must be willing to break the usual understanding in order to create something unique and unseen.

The ninth point outlines the idea that you must be critical of your own work but also passionate. You must feel the need to work on it constantly, but also not be completely absorbed in it that you are unable to criticize it in any way.

The final point is largely dependant on our emotional state, whether we let our own personality get in the way of how we create, emotions can be like a bear trap in our minds, once we touch upon them; it becomes incredibly hard to let go of the feelings. The creative individual is able to feel pain and harm for their work, but they must also stand strong and be capable of understanding criticism.

Our mind is an infinite piece of art that paints our individuality through our actions and creations.


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). The Creative Personality. Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention (pp. 51-76). New York: HarperCollins.

Hodges, P. (2010). Zoho Lab: Interactive Colours in Culture [Interactive]. Retreived from

Plotnik, R., & Kouyoumdjian, H. (2010). Introduction to Psychology (9th ed.). Belmont, California: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Inc.