The Three Monkeys of Creativity – What’s your creative personality style?

3 stone statues of monkeys. One monkey has hands over ears (hear no evil), one has hands over eyes (see no evil) and last has hands over mouth (speak no evil).

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Snapshot : Following our articles on the three monkeys of marketing and e-Commerce, this week we apply the three monkeys thinking to creative personality types. Read more to find out about the three monkeys of creativity.

As we’ve covered insight colours and personality types based on the three monkeys of marketing and the three monkeys of e-Commerce, we didn’t want creative types to feel left out. So, this week, we’re applying insight colours and personality types to the three monkeys of creativity. 

Insight colours are a personality and working style assessment used in many businesses to identify how people like to work and to interact with others. It comes from a company called Insights and the styles are based on psychological theories first put forward by Carl Jung. That fact alone lets you say Jungian principles and sound clever, without sounding too much like a pretentious dickhead. 

When we reviewed insight colours in the areas of marketing and e-Commerce, we likened each colours to one of the famous three wise monkeys. Those are the ones that hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil. That’s what got us to the Three Monkeys of Creativity. 

Stick with it, it’ll make sense we promise. 

Sunshine Yellow Creative Monkeys

So, the first of the Three Monkeys of creativity are the Sunshine Yellow creative personality types.

Sunshine Yellow Personality types are Extrovert-Feelers in psychological terms. That means they get their energy from being with others. They hate being on their own, or not being able to socialise. Social distancing and lockdown rules will have Sunshine Yellow types climbing the walls with boredom. 

Emotions rather than tasks are what drives them. They like to work with people, rather than with things. Sunshine Yellows get great energy from anything new and shiny. They bring great energy and buzz to everything they do. 

These can be very positive attributes when you need creative work done. Sunshine Yellows are unafraid to try new things. They positively buzz on pushing boundaries, without fear. These types love to produce creative work that’s shocking, disruptive and breakthrough. If that’s the sort of creative work you need or want, Sunshine Yellow creative personality types are a good choice. 

You’ll typically find them as creative directors in agencies. Or, running ideation and creative thinking workshops. You’ll also find them prolifically appearing as guest speakers at events, and very active on social media. They love an audience and love an audience listening to what they say. Creative yellow types love when an audience basks in their creative brilliance. 

Here’s the thing though. 

Nobody is creatively brilliant all the time. And Sunshine Yellow monkeys are no exception. 

Hear no evil

But Creative Yellow Monkeys don’t want to hear this. They think are 100% “on” all the time. They hear no evil. 

You have to work hard to make them listen to anything other than the sound of their own voice. 

These creative personality types think everything they do is creatively brilliant. All the time. Super positive about everything.

They have no critical filter.

Two people holding up large ears on a small dog

Yet, sometimes what they produce won’t be creatively brilliant. And, if  you tell them something they’ve done needs more work, well, it’s like taking sweets away from a kid. They will not be happy. 

It’s hard to give feedback to Sunshine Yellow creative personality types. They don’t want to hear it. And often, their heads are already on the next project, anyway.

They lack the patience to focus on the project at hand. Grinding though several rounds of feedback to get to brilliant creative is a total buzz kill for them.

So, typically, they are great to have at the start of a creative project. But, a total pain in the arse when you actually want to complete a project.

They don’t like detail, so they make terrible editors. They’re quite ‘meh’ when it comes to deadlines. They’ll argue when you comment on any creative decisions about colour, typography or the style of your photography or video content. That can be hard work. 

And even when it’s not feedback, they’ll still generally be terrible at listening. They’ll look at a brief, get an immediate idea, and then totally forget the brief. Seen it happen many times. 

They usually have little to no interest in the commercial outcomes of the creative work. Working within budgets is a real drag for them. 

So, in summary, bags of energy and ideas. But feckless and disorganised. And, terrible at listening.

Fiery Red Creative Monkeys

The next of the Three Monkeys of Creativity are the Fiery Reds.

Fiery Red creative personality types are also extrovert like Yellows. But, they are much more focussed on the task at hand. Extrovert-Thinking is what drives them. 

They are who you want on your creative project when speed is of the essence. Fiery Reds are super focussed on the end result. So much so, they they will tune out or ignore anything that’s not relevant to that result. They see no evil when it comes to creative.

Man with hands behind head and a frustrated look on his face

These types are typically hard grafters, who won’t stop. They love the pressure of a deadline. Fiery Red creative personality types feel a real sense of achievement when they hit or beat deadlines.

They positively thrive on it.

Fiery Red creative personality types love the sense of reward and achievement when things get done. 

You’ll have no issues with the quantity of work that a Fiery Red will turn out for you. They’ll turn things around quickly and focus on giving you whatever solves your writing, graphic design or  creative problem fast.

See no evil

But, a little like the Creative Yellow Monkeys, the extrovert nature means they push energy out, rather than notice the energy coming from others.

Fiery Reds can be oblivious or challenging to the views of others, seeing different points of view, as getting in the way of their progress. They see no evil in the way they approach creative tasks.

These types are much more comfortable telling people how the world is, than listening to other’s point of view. They have low boredom thresholds. Creative Red Monkeys can be snappy when others are reflective or thinking out loud about the creative problem. 

If you give feedback they don’t like, they can become aggressive and confrontational. They’ll ask challenging questions about why you think like that, and why you don’t see how good their work is. 

Creative Fiery Red Monkeys are not unheard of. But, they are comparatively rare compared to Yellow and Blue creative personality types. Use them in creative areas where high volume of output and speed really matters. Go very carefully on bigger projects with higher quality standards and more stakeholders to include. 

Cool Blue Creative Monkeys

And then finally, we get to the last of the Three Monkeys of Creativity. That’s the Cool Blue creative personality types.

These are Introvert-Thinkers who get their energy from being on their own. Or, at a push working in smaller groups. 

They don’t have the sociability of the Red and Yellow types. In fact, you might not notice they are there. But, in many marketing agencies, these types do the vast majority of the work. Because, what they do have is a much more thoughtful and focussed approach to creativity. 

Your man looking up towards the ceiling

They see creative arts like writing, graphic design and photography through a much more crafted and perfectionist lens. Cool Blue creative personality types work best when they have time to think, research, reflect, craft and test their creative outputs. 

When people outside creative jobs think about the word ‘creative’, they do tend to focus on more extrovert types. But, in actual fact, this introvert energy can be hugely important to craft great creative work. 

Copywriting for example. It takes time and concentration to draft, re-draft, edit and publish. Graphic design jobs like logos and icons take time and effort to pull together. Cool Blue creative personality types are great at this level of focus.

Cool Blue creative personality types are the best of the three at putting themselves in the shoes of the target audience, for example. Given time, they will work away at producing the highest level of creative. 

Speak no evil

And that’s where you run into the biggest two challenges with Cool Blue creative personality types. 

Firstly, you often have to work to a deadline to deliver creative work. Cool Blue personality types hate this. Cool Blues can get really stuck on detail, and agonise over the right word, the right illustration or the right use of photography.

In a big advertising campaign, you might have that luxury. But, on regular social media posts which need to go out on a schedule, that “thinking time” can be a challenge.

Cool Blue creative personality types also don’t take well to the test and learn approach to creative. They’d rather perfect something before showing it, than send out something that’s only halfway right and get feedback. 

And secondly, because the creative thinking is internalised in the head of the Cool Blue Creative Monkey, you don’t always hear or see their creative outputs. They don’t proactively put ideas out until they are absolutely sure they are good ideas.

This speak no evil approach can frustrate others. It can mean others find them too quiet or too low energy to inspire others with their creative. 

The best at thinking, and the most dedicated to high quality creative outputs. But, also the slowest at action. And, the worst at inspiring others with the energy behind their creative outputs.  

And what about Earth Green Creative Monkeys?

Let’s not forget that there’s a fourth insight profile. 

The Earth Green Introvert-Feelers. 

There are many people of this type out there. But, we’ve racked our brains and can’t think of a single person working in a creative role who has Green tendencies. 

Don’t get us wrong, Earth Green personality types are a must have in your wider team.

Earth Green personality types are empathetic and caring. They hold teams together. And, they are supportive and collaborative in the way they work with others.

But, they are also very averse to conflict and challenging conversations.  And the nature of creative development is that there are lots of conflict and challenging conversations.

Lots of criticism.

Lots of feedback. 

These are all very challenging when your main goals in your working life are to bring harmony and routine.

Green personality type people can bring a lot of calmness and common sense to the creative approach of others. But, they rarely have the bloody-mindedness that the other insight profile colours bring to creative work.

They are just too nice to work in creative.

Though, arguably, they can make great leaders of creative teams. 

So which of the three monkeys of creativity do you need? 

Like our articles on insight monkeys in marketing and e-Commerce, we don’t believe there’s a single insight style that’s better than others. Each of the Three Monkeys of Creativity come with their own strengths and weaknesses. It’s really about finding the creative personality style that suits your current business need. 

Need something disruptive and break-though? Find a Creative Yellow Monkey. 

Need something fast? Find a Red Yellow Monkey. 

And got time to have someone put a lot of time, effort and thought into making your creative the best it can be? Then Creative Blue Monkeys are your best bet. 

Check out our skill guides to creative to find out more on this topic. Or contact us if we can help you identify the creative personality type you need to grow your business. 

Photo credit

Three Monkeys of Creativity : Photo by Joao Tzanno on Unsplash

Dog ears : Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash

Frustrated Man : Photo by Usman Yousaf on Unsplash

Man looking at ceiling : Photo by Anton Danilov on Unsplash

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