This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

The challenge of being an introverted creative person among extroverts

Like most artists, I'm shy around people. I'm an introvert. And it just makes sense that I am, as most creative people are, because all of my life I've preferred to be creating my art instead of hanging around socializing with people. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm much better at socializing in groups than when I was a kid, but I still find myself thinking about something I'd like to get back to whenever I'm going to spend yet another hour socializing in a group.

If that sounds like you, you have a challenge here on planet earth. Going off to a quiet place by yourself and working on your art may be great for your art, but it really isn't healthy for you as a person, and it certainly isn't going to get more people knowing about you, and your art. And the challenge is getting out there among the people who are comfortable socializing in crowds, the extroverts.

My experience with extroverts is that they talk way too much. Everything reminds them of another story, which winds on and on and goes off into tangents, and ultimately says nothing of any substance. And really, that's what socializing is - it's "small talk", it's a way for humans to connect with each other in the same way that groups of baboons communicate - with chatter. I've always called that "monkey chatter" both in a joking way and in a positive way, as it's the steady stream of communication that we do to constantly stay in touch. I've been working on doing that all of my life, and I continue to work on it.

Most of my friends are introverts. When we get together we talk about the things that matter to us, mostly our art. We talk about projects that we're working on and things that we'd like to do. I always enjoy hearing what my friends are working on, and I like to share the progress on my creative projects. Of course we provide encouragement, but we also provide some solid judgement, which is appreciated. My creative friends will often encourage me to stretch my boundaries a bit, to try a different medium, maybe get back to using oil paint, or adding digital color in Photoshop.

Conversely, extroverts tend to like everything that is done by someone who is their friend. To them, everyone that they like is "just amazing" and their work is "great". Typically the extroverts aren't artists, so they're reluctant to say anything specific about a work of art, so they tend to be very general, and will even resist making any kind of personal judgement, beyond that "they like it". They tend to talk of artists by name and reputation, or actors by their degree of celebrity. Showing my artwork to these people is wonderful at first, and then I realize that they're saying the same thing about everyone they like.

My solution to dealing with people who aren't introverts is to find what they do that I would like to do. Most of my introverted friends see no value in extroverts, but I disagree. These people are wonderfully comfortable in crowds, in fact they seek out other people to do their "monkey chatter" with, and in my mind that's wonderful. Yes, I know that I'll never be one of those people, but it can be a project of mine to be more like them. Yes, a little bit of extroverts goes a long way with me, so I'll have to watch the time I spend. But I'm an artist, and I'm fascinated with everything around me, even introverts.