Almost There
Making a Lost Island


Nature_1 The expression of the Artisan temperament is related to a need for freedom, a desire for impact, and a hedonistic drive to enjoy life, and avoid boredom. Those that express this pattern of emotional response strongly are happy-go-lucky free spirits with a natural competence for quick thinking, and the skilled use of tools and machines of all kinds. It is the driving pattern behind the many arts and crafts, as well as fire fighting, piloting and professional sports. 

Please read the Statistical Disclaimer before proceeding (which also includes the copyright notices). Remember that what is provided here is effectively a detailed definition of an adjective, ‘Artisan’, which has been defined in line with a psychological model. 

Conversion from Myers-Briggs Typology

To anyone familiar with the Myers-Briggs inventory, the Artisan temperament is expected to be the primary Temperament pattern for any preference code containing SP (Sensing and Perceiving preferences), and a supporting pattern for any code containing NP (Intuitive and Perceiving preferences). 

1. Profile

In the Introduction to Temperament Theory, we saw how the Artisan temperament was related to Concrete language use, a Pragmatic approach to taking action and a focus on Motive. We will begin by reviewing these three axis in the specific context of the Artisan temperament. Throughout this piece we shall be referencing the work of David Keirsey, marked [K], and his student Linda Berens, marked [B] (complete references are provided in the disclaimer). Where quotes talk of “an Artisan” as a type of person, they have been rewritten to talk of people expressing Artisan as a pattern, i.e. the use of ‘Artisan’ as a noun has been rewritten such that it is used as an adjective. 

Concrete language use reflects a focus on tangibles rather than ideas and concepts:

The communication [associated with the Artisan pattern] can be said to be concrete in that [people expressing Artisan] are apt to talk mostly of what is going on at the moment and what is immediately at hand. Most [such people] spend little time considering things that cannot be observed or handled. This means that they are likely to take things literally rather than figuratively and, when making comparisons, to use similes more often than metaphors. Their everyday speech is typically filled with details and devoid of planning, and they are more inclined to be specific rather than to generalise. [K] 

Berens emphasises the focus on immediacy:

In the Artisan pattern, concrete language is used to denote immediate or near future events or experiences in a more random fashion. [B] 

Concrete language is common to the Guardian pattern as well as the Artisan pattern, but in the Guardian pattern the focus is more often on the past, sequences of events or how one fact is linked to another.

The second aspect of the basic profile is a bias towards a Pragmatic approach to taking actions:

In implementing their goals, or as they say, “going for it”, [people expressing Artisan] are primarily interested in what works, what fits, and only secondarily in what meets with social approval… a thing must be useful to interest [such people], immediately useful, concretely useful, otherwise who needs it? If some action doesn’t fit your intention and advance you towards your goal, then why do it?

Because of their [Pragmatic] character, [such people] will strike off down roads that others might consider impossible, tackling problems, making deals, clearing hurdles, knocking down barriers – doing whatever it takes (authorised or unauthorised) to bull their way through to a successful outcome. [K] 

Put succinctly:

For the Artisan pattern, pragmatic roles give the freedom and autonomy to act according to the needs of the moment. [B] 

The Rational pattern shares this Pragmatic focus with the Artisan pattern, but with a greater focus on the theoretical which delays action while the contingencies are considered:

[People expressing Rational] share this utilitarian, whatever-works mindset with [people expressing Artisan] but functional utility in the concrete differs from functional utility in the abstract. [People expressing Artisan] do not map out the relationship between means and ends as do [people expressing Rational]. [Those expressing Artisan] simply and without hesitation give the chosen operation a try, put it to the test, give it a whirl or a shakedown cruise. If it works it is used, if it doesn’t it is set aside without a second thought. [K] 

The third and final aspect of the basic Artisan profile is a focus on Motives:

In the Artisan temperament pattern, attention is paid first to what an individual “gets” out of a situation. Motives are the reasons people do things. They must be paid attention to in order to get the desired results. Knowing a person’s motives provides [people expressing Artisan] cues to freely respond as the other person pursues his or her wants or needs. [B] 

Keirsey sees this focus on Motive as essentially cynical:

[People expressing Artisan] can be cynical about human motives… they harbour no illusions about people being noble or saintly – “come off it”, says the [archetypal Artisan], no matter how virtuous we think ourselves, we all have feet of clay, we are all ultimately corruptible and self-serving. [K] 

(When the Artisan and Rational patterns are expressed together, the result can be especially sardonic, as the cynicism associated with the Artisan pattern and the scepticism associated with the Rational pattern can feed upon one another).

Although this focus on Motives is shared with the Idealist pattern, the interpretation of motivations by someone expressing Artisan is more down-to-earth than by someone expressing Idealist. Viewed through the Artisan pattern, people’s motives might be a source of suspicion, but viewed through the Idealist pattern, motives express the unique identities of individuals. 

This combination of a Concrete and Pragmatic focus (with particular emphasis on the immediate benefits to be acquired) creates behaviour which is very much focussed on the situation at hand, and determining the best action from what is immediately available. It is this focus on action in the present that underpins the type of intelligence associated with the Artisan pattern.

2. The Tactical Intellect 

According to Temperament Theory, each of the patterns is associated with a particularly kind of intelligence. The Artisan temperament is related to Tactical thinking:

What [people expressing Artisan] do most and best is work on their immediate environs in a tactical way. Tactics is the art of making moves to better one’s position in the here and now, whether those moves are dabbing oils on canvas, flying in rough weather, dishing off the basketball on a fast-break, or skirmishing on the battlefield. Indeed [Artisan-style] battle leaders are no different from [Artisan-style] painters, pilots or point guards: they are always scanning for opportunities, always looking for the best angle of approach, and so are able to come up with that particular action which at the moment gives them the greatest advantage, and that brings success. [K] 

Spontaneous creativity is the essence of this Tactical approach:

[Those expressing Artisan] tend to be gifted at employing the available means to accomplish an end. Their creativity is revealed by the variety of solutions they come up with. They are talented at using tools, whether the tool be language, theories, a paint brush, or a computer. [Such people] tune into immediate sensory information and vary their actions according to the needs of the moment… They can easily read the situation at hand, instantly make decisions, and, if needed, take actions to achieve the desired outcome. [B] 

The Tactical thinking associated with the Artisan pattern is also associated with skilfully using tools, controlling equipment or animals, and operating equipment:

…whether on the battlefield or on stage, in the corporate suite or the political arena, [people expressing Artisan] are busy making manoeuvres with equipment of all sorts, from paint brushes to basketballs, jet planes to tanks – even singers, dancers, and actors call their voice or their body their “instrument”, and comedians describe their skill with an audience as “working the room.” Artisans can handle their equipment in an expediting or an improvising way – or both – but they are interested first, last, and always in working with equipment. [K] 

In general terms, Tactical thinking can be understood as the capacity to read the current situation and produce a desired result. The immediate circumstances can be interpreted rapidly, a variety of possible solutions considered and then action taken accordingly, with any obstacles circumvented as necessary. A particular competence with tools, vehicles, and equipment is also associated with this particularly intellect.

When the Artisan pattern is supported by the Rational pattern, the focus of the tactical intellect tends to be machines and tools specifically. Examples of this side of the Artisan temperament include carpentry, mechanics, electrical engineering, plumbing, computer repair and all manner of careers with a tool focus, as well as those skilled professions that focus on vehicles, such as piloting and race car driving. 

Conversely, when the Artisan pattern is supported by the Idealist pattern, the focus of the tactical intellect tends to be artistry and self-expression, but particular in art with a practical side (less so the wild excesses of modern art, which is more abstract in nature). Examples include painting, sculpting, pottery, gardening, music and acting. Many of the musicians, singers, actors and actresses that have become the focus of our modern fame-obsessed culture express the Artisan temperament as either a primary or a secondary pattern.

Other examples of the expression of the Artisan temperament include the exceptional physical skills of professional sports players of all kinds, and heroic professions such as policing and especially fire fighting, and as we shall we the theme of risk taking is intimately connected with the Artisan pattern. 

3. Motivations

Those who express the Artisan temperament as their primary pattern generally display a strong need for the freedom to act on their impulses and, relating to this, a desire for their actions to have an impact. This need for freedom is not the abstract desire for autonomy expressed with the Rational pattern, but rather a more immediate form of independence – the freedom to act on impulses: 

[People expressing Artisan] are impulsive. They like being that way. To be impulsive, spontaneous, it to be really alive… Life for [such people] means having impulses and acting spontaneously on those impulses. Since an impulse, by definition, is ephemeral, [those expressing Artisan] must live in the immediate moment. [K] 

Whereas the Rational pattern’s desire for autonomy is associated with a need to express independent thought, the Artisan pattern is more concerned with being unconstrained:

[People expressing Artisan] value freedom and pragmatism above all else. As a result, they often appear to avoid ties, plans, commitments, or obligations that can get in the way of being spontaneous. [B] 

The goal of someone strongly expressing Artisan in acting impulsively is generally to have an impact:

[Those who express Artisan strongly] need to be potent, to be felt as a strong presence, and they want to affect the course of events, if only by defying, shocking, or mocking the establishment. For [such a person] to be without impact, to make no difference in human affairs, is like being deprived of oxygen… [they] hunger to have a piece of the action, to make a splash, to make something happen, to hit the big time… [K] 

The freedom being sought is thus the freedom to act spontaneously and produce an effect:

In an energetic mood, [people expressing Artisan] crave activity and the freedom to act on the needs of the moment in a spontaneous way. Dull routine and structure put them to sleep or force them to “act out” if they cannot escape. They prefer activities with an immediate or near-term payoff or those that impact themselves or others. The payoff or impact can be tangible or take the form of feelings of risk for themselves or others. [B] 

This desire for risk can be problematic (as we will see below), but may be expressed as a harmless search for stimulation:

[People expressing Artisan] spend a good deal of their time seeking stimulation because they need it. As much as possible, they live in their five senses, and they seem to like their music a little louder… their clothes a little more colourful, and their food and drink a little stronger…. [They] believe that variety is the spice of life, and they want their lives to be filled with new sensations and experiences. [K] 

One can see behind the Artisan pattern a hedonistic influence:

[People expressing Artisan] do things for the fun of it; to them, a life without pleasure is not worth living, and the hedonist’s motto of “eat, drink, and be merry” are words to live by. To wait, to save, to store, to prepare, to sacrifice for tomorrow – that is not the Artisan way… today must be enjoyed, for tomorrow might not come. [K] 

While someone expressing Rational may analyse the contingencies in order to avoid failure, and someone expressing Guardian may plan and prepare for the worst, people who express Artisan often trust in luck instead:

The past is water under the bridge, so forget it. The distant future is a long way off, so don’t waste time planning for it. But the next moment? Here [people expressing Artisan] shine with a natural confidence that things are going to turn their way. [They] feel lucky: the next roll of the dice, the next move, shot, or ploy will be a lucky one, never mind that the last few have failed. What comes next is bound to be a break, a windfall, some smile from Lady Luck. And once on a roll or a hot streak, [such people] believe their luck will hold, and they will push it to the limit.

…[Such people may] have an incorrigible belief that they lead a charmed life… which can get them into trouble. [They] are more subject to accidents and downturns than other temperament, injuring themselves through inattention to possible sources of setback, defeat or loss. [They] often live a life of violent ups and downs, winning a fortune one day and gambling it away the next, trusting the fickle goddess Fortune as she spins her wheel. [K] 

(The influence of other temperament patterns can disrupt this trust in luck – Rational scepticism may lead to doubt, or Guardian temperance to pessimism – but even when depressed, someone who expresses Artisan can often find a way to regain their trust in luck under the right circumstances).

If one imagines that this trust in luck represents an extension of the desire for freedom, then the extension of the need for impact is a desire for perfect expression of abilities – what might be considered finesse:

Since [people expressing Artisan] are the ultimate pragmatists, everything, including people, theories, and ideas, can be tolls for reaching the exhilaration that comes with the execution of a perfect act, an act full of grace, dexterity, or finesse. [B] 

Keirsey seems this desire for finesse as an aspiration to virtuosity:

[People expressing Artisan] so covet skill in technique that they tend to aspire secretly to becoming some sort of virtuoso… [this] aspiration becoming less secret as the technical mastery increases. [K] 

Freedom and impact are the recurring themes of the Artisan pattern. When a person who expresses this pattern strongly is self-confident they are audacious and adaptable, which further feeds into these feelings of confidence. Confidence is in some respects the natural state for most people who express Artisan strongly – and hence it can be a serious problem if this confidence is disrupted in some way.

4. Problems 

Everyone is stressed by different circumstances; one of the advantages of looking at behaviour in terms of the patterns of Temperament Theory is the capacity to identify different stressing factors that relate to the patterns.

According to Berens, those who express the Artisan temperament strongly are stressed by feelings of constraint or boredom, and when stressed they are likely to retaliate against what is limiting them (with their angry responses expressed verbally or physically) or to become reckless: 

Kretschmer was the first to take a careful look at the dark side of character. So he named [people strongly expressing Artisan] “Hypomanics”, thinking of them as recklessly impulsive… If [such people] are forced by untoward circumstances to become recklessly impetuous they tend to do so as if compelled by irresistible urges which overcome their will. [K] 

Keirsey does not view this risk-taking as necessarily problematic, but observes that people who express Artisan often push themselves as close to the edge as they can:

[People expressing Artisan] are the world’s great risk-takers. They delight in putting themselves in jeopardy, taking chances, facing hazards, whatever form their endangerment might take… [Such people] say that “life is too short,” that they must “make hay while the sun shines,” and that “he who hesitates is lost.” [They] do not hesitate; on the contrary, they often find risk-taking so irresistible that they court it again and again, pushing ever closer to the edge. It is likely that most skydivers, race drivers, and mercenary soldiers [are expressing Artisan so strongly they] have become compulsive in risking themselves. [K] 

Ironically for a pattern associated with taking action, the Artisan pattern is also associated with procrastination. Whereas the expression of the Guardian temperament is associated with supplying what is needed, and doing what must be done, that is, with obligation, the Artisan desire for freedom from constraint is such that things that must be done will generally be ignored or put aside in favour of what is immediately stimulating or enjoyable. The logistical concerns of the Guardian do not generally matter to someone expressing Artisan (unless they express Guardian as a supporting pattern) – there is no capacity for impact in the menial realities of day to day life.

Hiding from obligations can also lead someone expressing Artisan into a state of imbalance; turning to familiar comforts instead of attending to tasks or chores that are not inherently stimulating. Thus, when out of balance the need for a freedom from constraint can lead to compulsive behaviour: 

Under stress, [people expressing Artisan] will sometimes claim that they have to behave in a particular way, that they can’t help themselves. Thus hey may admit to being “compulsive gamblers,” for example, or “compulsive drinkers,” and are likely to be labelled as such by therapists who encounter them. [K] 

Furthermore, the focus on the present associated with the Artisan pattern can lead to people expressing this temperament repeating their mistakes:

Since [people expressing Artisan] do not reflect very much on their errors or analyse their mistakes to any great extent, it is difficult for them to learn from their errors, and so they can become caught in a loop, repeating their mistakes. [K] 

This combination of natural recklessness and a capacity to become stuck in compulsive behaviour is the darker side of the natural hedonism associated with the Artisan temperament. When balanced, and hence confident, the person expressing Artisan can be ‘the life of the party’, enjoying life to its fullest – but when out of balance, the compulsive indulgence in hedonistic pleasures – alcohol, drugs, gambling as well as anything that gives a solid hit of adrenalin – can place such people in psychological or even physical danger.

Finding fresh options and new ways to have an impact in their lives – new and exciting activities to engage with – can help alleviate the problem, but it can be tricky for someone expressing Artisan to accept help from those around them. Their essential need for the freedom to orchestrate their own actions can make it difficult to others to render aid. 


The Artisan temperament is defined as Concrete Pragmatism with a focus on the immediate benefits that can be won. Driven by a desire to have impact through freedom of action, those affected by this temperament tend to be hedonistic free spirits who don’t wish to become tied down. The Tactical intellect associated with this pattern is capable of tremendous spontaneous creativity – an enormous capacity to achieve immediate goals through inventive action. This intellect appears to be the force behind arts and crafts, as well as high risk professions such as fire fighting, and challenging machine control professions such as piloting. Furthermore, most of the modern cultural heroes – singers, musicians, professional sports players and actors – express the Artisan temperament to a tangible degree, making this perhaps the most celebrated temperament pattern. 

Stressed by feelings of constraint, ineffectiveness or the boredom that results from a lack of stimulation, the Artisan temperament is associated with recklessness and compulsive behaviour when it is out of balance. Procrastination can be a problem for people expressing the Artisan pattern, as such people would rather be doing something exciting and stimulating than attending to the mundane. Always requiring their own freedom, and needing to have an impact on the people and world around them, the expression of the Artisan pattern can be filled with a joy of life, and a reckless abandonment that can be intoxicatingly rewarding for those who share in the life of everyday adventure and excitement that this pattern inspires.

Do you recognise yourself in this pattern? Feel free to share your perspective in the comments. Don’t recognise yourself? Check out the other three Temperament patterns and see if they fit you better. For more information, see or check out the books referenced here.

Note: If you have any comments specifically regarding justifications or criticisms of Temperament Theory, please use the comments to the post entitled Justifications and Criticisms, which has been set aside for that express purpose. Thank you!

The opening image is Nature by Pattana Changkaew, which I found here. As ever, no copyright infringement is implied and I will take the image down if asked.


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If this is a supporting type for me (and I note the statistical disclaimer) then it's weak. The exceptions are arguably:

- when I'm teaching or calling with the band, at which point I focus on the moment and strive for impact;

- in my view of people ("When the Artisan and Rational patterns are expressed together, the result can be especially sardonic" is rather too accurate for comfort);

- and in my seemingly limitless ability to procrastinate and find displacement activities, to the point that finances and relationships have suffered.

It may be that all/some of these can be explained by some other mechanism.

Supporting patterns are often weak. In general terms, I would say for Artisan in support the clearest indicator is the procrastination - since people who express Guardian in support (by comparison) maintain a general (and utterly converse) need to attend to things.

Since we are already placing you firmly around Rational as your native temperament, the jump to Artisan as a full pattern is going to be quite severe for you, so I would expect it to be weakly expressed.

As you didn't find Guardian a fit at all, finding Artisan as a weak fit makes sense; you're presumably flitting around INTP in Myers-Briggs.

I'm betting when you read the Idealist pattern you will also find a weak fit.

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