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James N. Coppock

ENGL 8800 – Artisan Analysis

Dr. John J. McKenna

Feb. 2, 2008


Artisan Analysis


“ . . . in Plato’s Republic the Artisan’ social function is to fashion those

 sensory images, ornaments, and objects that are useful in daily living” (Keirsey 33).


Interestingly, the Artisan is perhaps the one type of temperament to whom societies have to thank for much of what we have today.  They are the doers and actors that forge forth into the unknown and create, doing what is “practical and effective” in achieving their very real, tangible goals (Keirsey 18).  When analyzing the temperament of the Artisan personality, David Keirsey, in his book Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence offers a very insightful and convenient – albeit somewhat intricate – break down into the following categories: Language, Intellect, Interests, Orientation, Self-Image, Values, and Social Roles.  Utilizing Keirsey’s character and temperament trait categories, I shall explore that which makes the Artisan personality unique among the four temperaments.


            Linguistically, Artisans are “concrete” in as far as being in the “moment” and considering “what is immediately at hand” (Keirsey 36).  They tend to shun abstract language that does not address the here and now.  As McKenna and Raabe say in their temperament analysis of Hemingway’s “Soldier Home,” “language is an abstraction” and “talk can never substitute” action (204).  For example, in Hemingway’s tale, we find Krebs resorting to telling lies and exaggerating his war stories, yet this disingenuousness of self leads to a “distaste for everything that had happened to him in the war because of the lies he had told” (Hemingway 185).  Artisans are compelled to speak in concrete, real terms.


            Intellectually, Artisans are tactical, doing that which improves their position in the here and now.  In executing this, Artisans can take one of two roles and tend not to move far from this perspective: Role Directive or Role Informative.  The former means that Artisans will be operators, “acting expediently” and doing whatever it takes to get their job done.  In this facet, operators may be promoters who express “boundless energy” in getting others to go along with their plans, or crafters who primarily focus on the tools necessary to complete a job (Keirsey 41).  Artisans exhibiting the latter role will be entertainers, able to improvise on the spot.  Entertainers will be performers who enjoy showing off their skills or composers who create things not for show but instead for pleasure.  We find a good example of the Role Informative Artisan in Krebs.  The latter lies to his mother when she cries after finding out Krebs didn’t love anybody (Hemingway 189).  He is reticent to confront his father in his office directly, and his subsequent flight to Kansas City is as much to “get a job” and placate his mother as it is to escape his confining, controlling home life (190).  Yet whether Role Directive or Rome Informative, Artisans will be tactical in their thinking process, distinguishing themselves from Guardian, Idealist, or Rational temperaments. 


            One particularly defining difference among the temperament types is interests.  Artisans’ interests vary, as most people’s do; however, this temperament type finds fulfillment in art crafts, techniques, and handling equipment.  Academically, Artisans “typically head for the arts and crafts, and steer clear of the humanities and sciences” (Keirsey 44).  This is not to say, of course, that Artisans would not make good scientists, yet where some temperament types, such as Rationals, may become astronomers, Artisans would become astronauts, primarily interested in mastering tools and techniques associated with whatever artful interest they pursue.  Interestingly, Krebs seeks to avoid the work and complicated social conventions in attaining a girl.  “He would like to have one of them,” we are told, “but he would not go through all the talking” necessary to get one (Hemingway 187).  This resistance to the rules in pursuing his interest exhibits the Artisan’s core temperament.


            Orientation refers to a certain “social frame of reference” that includes one’s perspective on the past, the present, the future, time, and place (Keirsey 46).  Artisans will likely be hedonistic in living in the present, choosing activities that bring pleasure, fun.  They are optimistic in looking ahead toward the future, but cynical in looking back on the past, viewing life as a risk: either one is lucky, or their luck runs out.  And, of course, Artisans are truly focused on both the here and the now.  Rather than waiting for another day to do something or sitting on the sidelines merely watching the game of life, “they must be in the game” (Keirsey 48).  Nonetheless, this disposition often leads Artisans to miss the lesson of their mistakes and possibly unwilling to analyze their future.  McKenna and Raabe show this clearly in the character of Krebs, an Artisan, in “Soldier Home.”  Krebs move to Kansas City is not a solution to his personal dilemma, as the protagonist “will have to get a job” anyway, continuing to be “restrained by [his parent’s] expectations” (McKenna 212).  In relation to this, Krebs also becomes cynical in looking back upon the past, too, growing dissatisfied with his war experiences (Hemingway 185).  The protagonist certainly lives in the moment, “sleeping late in bed,” “eating lunch at home,” and “reading on the front porch until her became bored” (186).


            The triangular relationship of Artisan self-image revolves around being artistic, audacious, and adaptable.  It is important to Artisans that both they and others see themselves as able to act.  They wish to be perceived as capable in what they do and take great pride in being competent.  This is why Krebs resorts to lying about his war experiences.  Since the “town had heard too many atrocity stories to be thrilled by actualities,” Krebs was adversely affected by his inability to impress others by his competence (Hemingway 185).  Additionally, Artisans wish to be viewed as “bold, daring, venturesome” (Keirsey 52).  They do not fear putting themselves in jeopardy or at risk in attempting to perform actions, sometimes making themselves prey of cultural stereotypes of the bold, action-oriented maverick, like a cowboy or cowgirl, regardless of gender.  Lastly, Artisans are very adaptable, changing as circumstances change, whether or not their actions are ultimately successful.  If nothing else, though, they are actors, both in the metaphorical and literal sense. 


There are many values considered in analyzing the temperament of the Artisan type.  Artisans value excitement, impulsiveness, and making an impact.  Also, they value stimulation, generosity, and becoming, ultimately, a virtuoso at what they do.  When seeking to perform a task, Artisans craves action or else they “can easily become bored” (Keirsey 55).  Additionally, they trust their impulses and often act upon them, continuing in this strain until the urge passes, then moving on to another task.  Artisans wish, also, to make an impact on their world and on others, taking action or creating.  In doing this, they seek stimulation and “live in their five senses,” valuing variety and unpredictability over routine and monotony (Keirsey 58).  Krebs, for example, lacks this excitement in his hometown after returning from the war in Europe.  Krebs wishes to make an impact and yearns for something more exciting than his home has to offer, yet even obtaining the freedom of driving the family automobile comes with certain stipulations such as getting a job and ultimately settling down with a “nice” girl (Hemingway 189).  Yet the Artisan temperament-type is generous, giving spontaneously rather than out of a sense of duty.  Artisans with financial wealth are prone to giving expensive, too, in accordance with their pocket books.  Keirsey mentions Presley and Sinatra, but I would also offer a more modern example of Donald Trump, who exhibits similar spontaneity.  Lastly, the Artisan values becoming the best at whatever they do, often reinforcing the stimulation and excitement of being the best in their field.

Social Roles

            In as far as social roles are concerned, Artisan temperaments play the role of playmate with spouses and significant others, devoted to giving pleasure to their mate.  As parents, Artisans will tend to be liberators, allowing for far greater freedom of movement and choices for their children than other temperaments may allow.  And, when Artisans must negotiate with others, they will use “boldness and opportunism” to look for advantages over their opponents (Keirsey 298). 


            As we can see, Concrete Utilitarians (SPs) are the proverbial movers and shakers in this world, choosing to act rather than becoming bystanders, and considering everything they do in terms of the here and now.  Whether Operators of Entertainers, Artisans act and improvise expediently.

Works Cited

Hemingway, Ernest. “Soldier’s Home.” TheBedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael

            Meyer. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. 185-90.

Keirsey, David. Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence. Del Mar:

            Prometheus Nemesis, 1998.

McKenna, John J., David M. Raabe. “Using Temperament Theory to Understand Conflict in

            Hemingway’s ‘Soldier’s Home.’” Studies in Short Fiction. 34 (1997): 203-13.


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