Steve Jobs: The Character Of An Artist


Steve Jobs was an artist at heart. He believed good products came from good design, and he believed good design came from truly creative people. Steve viewed each and every product apple made as a piece of art, a creative masterpiece; from software to hardware. Steve had the character traits of an artist, and I herein explain those character traits.

Words: 1599 – Reading Time: 5:09 – Sentences: 73 – Paragraphs: 44 – Reading level: 12th;

Ideasinhat banner

Table Of Contents

Art Transcends Biology

  • Steve Jobs Outlived You

The Traits Of An Artist

  1. Hardworking
  2. Detail Oriented
  3. Deluded From Reality
  4. Assertive
  5. Controlling

A Comment On The Artist

  • A Must Have

Art Transcends Biology

Steve Jobs Outlived You

Some chairs have three legs rather than four. Some vehicles have two wheels rather than four. And some humans traits are artsy rather than social. But, as with the three legged chair or two wheeled vehicle, artsy traits are uncommon, and that makes Steve Jobs all the more interesting.

Steve Jobs, remarkably so, was prolific in the technology sector. In that domain, he obtained the level of success most commonly associated with the label, “genius”. As a result of these efforts, he has gained a form of non-biological life extension, similar to Beyoncé Knowles. That is, the legacy of Steve Jobs, the idealized representations we have of him inside our minds and books, will continue to draw breath because of us: a digital transcendence. The symbols and ideas which correlate to his biological being shall remain present in the consciousness of humanity.

(See Article: Beyoncé Knowles: Will She Die?)

And that is, I believe, the end goal which every artist can reach; to transcend biology through art and become immortal, a stream of information that transmits through each and every platform within humanity; like when we placed the Mona Lisa into a printed photo and then into a jpeg. Digital immortality is desirable, to say the least.

But in order to reach digital immortality, an artist must first be of a certain character; as great art can only come from certain character traits.

An artist must be:

  1. Hardworking
  2. Detail Oriented
  3. Deluded From Reality/Have Vision
  4. Assertive
  5. Controlling

The Traits Of An Artist


Steve Jobs spoke frequently of a common misconception which most people had about artists; namely, that artists seldom work hard. For whatever reason, artists have been given the stereotypical image of being lazy, as though each day artists lounge around in wait for creative breakthroughs. A mistaken conception, Jobs would argue.

Much to the contrary, as Jobs not only argued but also demonstrated, artists seldom wait around for inspiration; they are in constant search for it.

To elaborate, though artists can have moments of inspiration, these moments don’t strike them from nowhere. Sure, the oddity which inspiration seems to be may lead us to conceive of inspiration as something that comes from nowhere, but that is never the case. Artists effortfully seek out inspiration. For example, Steve Jobs regularly sought out new bands to sample from, regularly went for long walks to brain storm ideas, and regularly read literature; these are all sources of potential inspiration which consume ones time and efforts.

When an artist seeks inspiration from those sources, I ought make great pains to clarify, there is little in common with how the average person experiences those same exact sources; put otherwise, artists neither listen to music nor experience literature in the same fashion that an average music goer or book reader would. The artist is active in while the commoner is passive, with respect to those above mentioned endeavours.

When an artist listens to music, the process is different. An artist actively deconstructs the work into its constituent pieces, like an astute scientist. The artist must understand how each smaller piece causally influences another, both when alone and together; only so the artist can thoroughly understand the larger aesthetic experience which is produced from the interactions. The artist is deeply analytical when it comes to music, whereas the average listener is deeply experiential.

The same can be said about walks in nature. The average person may walk through nature for relaxation, but the artist seldom finds relaxation in nature. Much rather, the artists utilize their faculties of reason to derive the necessary conditions for different types of experiences found in nature; in example, the euphoria of a sunrise in early day or the melancholy of a slow Sunday’s rainfall.

The point being, however, that the artist has to be hardworking to come across new ideas. And what seems like relaxation to outside observers can often be strenuous intellectual labour.

Detail Oriented

Details constitute existence, entirely. All that we are and all that there will ever be is details. We are the details of our society, we are the details of our communities, and we are the details of our lifespan.

But few ever take note of the details. And even when they do, their recognition of the details can be either accidental or too brief to matter; as though they had tripped and stumbled upon something in an evenings walk, like a dirty boot. and decided it to be of little value. Fortunately, such is precisely the opposite of an artist.

Artists, to the contrary, obsess over the details, even the details that seem insignificant; for example, Steve Jobs notoriously obsessed over the font styles for the mac, to the point where the production of the computer notably slowed. No detail can be left unperfected because the artist understands, as did Jobs, each detail contributes to an emergent experience. Bad details brings about a bad experience.

To elaborate, when the average person looks at a book, they see the tittle and perhaps the authors name alongside a few images and designs. They fail to notice all the other small details which contribute to the totality of the books aesthetics.

But when an artist looks at a book, so much more is noticed. The artist, being detail oriented, can see how colour schemes impact the impression of the book; the artist can understand the relationship between font size and message emphasis; and the artist can likewise take note of the font style and how it relates to the content of the book. It is these seemingly invisible details which artist spend great mental effort to find and perfect.

Deluded From Reality, Living In A Vision

Artists live in the ideal, they are german philosophers at birth. Artists cannot be artist without idealism, because idealism allows them to hold in their minds eye some image or scene that we want brought into reality. And that means we have to first leave reality to find the ideal; put otherwise, vision cannot be built by looking at what’s already there.

In the realm of ideal, artists hold the platonic form of an object and analyze in great detail what makes its essence so delightful. They have an uncanny ability to find the purity of an object, to which they then blend with other pure renditions of objects. After which appears before their minds eye a new, idealized thing that has yet to touch the face of reality. An object known only to the mind of the artist. It is this object of imagination that then becomes the vision which guides the artists behaviour and thoughts, so as to bring the ideal to the real.

In other words, artists have to be deluded from reality because imagination entails something not quite real, not quite here.


Change brings assertiveness; only because change requires effort on behalf of someone or something. A will must be forced upon reality if change is to occur. And since artists seek to bring their ideals to reality, they have to be assertive enough to change reality.

Painters have to force colour to behave in accordance with their imagination; entrepreneurs have to force products to behave in accordance to their whim; and sculptors have to demand certain behaviours from stone. Artists are in a battle with reality; a struggle to see who can resist or bring about change.


Because artists are so detail oriented, they have a tendency to want to control everything. Rooted within all the relevant variables to a project is some detail which has been neglected by others; and as a result, the detail has been left unperfected.

Similar to how Steve Jobs obsessed over font styles for the mac, so too will artists obsess over minor details that seem to not matter to others. They will kick and scream until each and every detail is brought under creative control.

Indeed, the creative person must be controlling as each detail creates an emergent experience; and the artist is concerned primarily with that end-experience which the product or design evokes. Control is a necessary tool for artists.

A Comment On The Artist

A Must Have

I want to clarify, there can be artists who are missing some of these traits, and there are artists who have more of some traits than others, but all artists have some combination of these traits.

Each of these traits contributes to some vital aspect of art, and if we are missing too many of them, then we cannot be artists.

For instance, an artist can be lazy for some extended period of time, but then have a burst of creative output. So some level of laziness is acceptable. However, even herein the artist has to obviate their lazy sentiments and welcome the inevitability of hard work at some point in time.

Likewise, some artists might be devoid entirely of control; in fact, some artists subscribe to a philosophy wherein which one loses control and produces chaos: that beauty can only be found in disorder. But nevertheless, such an artist has to have a detailed understanding of order versus disorder, and such an artist must be able to see when someone is sufficiently ordered and disordered inside their mind’s eye.

The point being, these traits may not manifest equally in everyone who is an artist, but every artist indeed has some of these traits.

Thus an artist, as demonstrated by the legacy of Steve Jobs, a man who was as controlling as he was imaginative, is someone who can work diligently, spot details, break from reality, assert their visions, and control each aspect.



Ideasinhat is a business development analyst and longtime reader of academic literature. He writes books and essays on science and philosophy, and posts them to this website. The essays, as with the books, cover topics from psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science to economics, politics, and law.

One thought on “Steve Jobs: The Character Of An Artist

Leave a Reply