Artistic personality test

The Guardian reports that Scott McCloud (author of Understanding Comics) has devised a scheme for classifying writers, comic book authors, and other artistic types into one of four “tribes.” The Guardian writer’s article presents a handy chart, displaying the characteristics of these groups (formalist, animist, classicist, iconoclast) in relationship to one another. It reminds me of the kind of classifications you’ll find in the Myers-Briggs personality test, or the Kolb Learning Style Inventory: useful in that it makes you think somewhat systematically about the way you approach the world (or art), but never really able to fulfill the promise of placing you neatly into a predefined category (as people rarely fit neatly into any kind of predefined category).

Interestingly enough, Scott McCloud himself has left a comment on the Guardian article, in which he points out ways in which the writer failed to accurately reproduce his classification scheme, and then also distances himself from it a little bit. “It’s a fun party game,” he writes, but not much more.

I suppose most of us would always like to believe that it’s possible to be so easily understood—that all it takes is some clever person to describe exactly what we already know about ourselves but haven’t been able to fully communicate to the outside world. But identity is far more complicated than that—we all know this, but we’re all the same disappointed whenever a theory like this once again reveals the gaps in understanding that we have about ourselves and our relationships with others.

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