New Genre Personality: The Artist

Welcome to the first in a series of four posts about my four new Genre Personalities! My “What’s Your Genre Personality” Quiz is my oldest and most popular product on TPT. I update it every summer for Back-to School, but this year, I’ve got the biggest update ever! I’ve added four new Genre Personalities!

Read more about what’s included in the update

Each week this month, I will feature a new Genre Personality. The update will go live on June 30, 2020 in both my TPT store and my MrsReaderPants blog store. The price will go up, but if you buy before the update goes live on June 30, you can lock in the current price and still get the update on June 30. If you have already purchased the Genre Personality Quiz, you can download the update free starting June 30. Both the elementary and secondary versions are getting the update.

So our first new Genre Personality is…The Artist!

Artists excel in creating and appreciating beautiful things. They may focus on any kind of art, or all kinds. Whether it’s painting, writing, drawing, photography, design, dance music, film, or something else entirely, Artists use their many talents to make the world more beautiful and interesting.


I’ve known so many Artists, and some of them–particularly writers–will read literally anything. Other Artists are a much tougher sell. With the exception of writers, the Artists I’ve known haven’t been heavy readers with only one exception: graphic novels.

Graphic novels are extremely popular with Artists, especially graphic novels that combine visually-interesting illustrations with a unique story. I recommend books like The Prince and the Dressmaker (Wang), Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (Tamaki), Cardboard (TenNapel), New Kid (Craft), and Page By Paige (Gulledge) frequently to my Artists.

Depending on their art specialty, Artists often enjoy books that show glossy photos of paintings, sculpture, photography, fashion, and more. Many of these books are over-sized and don’t fit well into my bookshelves anyway, so I often leave them out on tables for students to browse. I find them open to different pages all the time, so students are clearly looking at them throughout the school day. One over-sized book of colorful tattoo art, was so popular that it went missing for awhile. Someone “borrowed” it without checking it out. Thankfully, it was later found in a classroom and returned to the library for all to enjoy again.

Picture books for older readers tend to do well with my visual Artists. Shaun Tan, for example, is not always popular with my non-Artists. They don’t always “get it.” But Artists appreciate Shaun Tan’s surreal illustration style. Kadir Nelson, Chris Van Allsburg, Ann Jonas, and Rudy Gutierrez are more favorites of students who love visual arts.


For this Genre Personality, Artists do not have to be “the best” or even all that great at their chosen art form. This Genre Personality is more about creativity and appreciation of art. I personally identify myself as an Artist Genre Personality, even though I wouldn’t say that I’m particularly talented in art. I like creating new things, but I’m not especially great at drawing or ceramics or crochet. I love graphic design and color. The beauty of music can make me cry. I love complex song lyrics and unique voices. I go crazy for art supplies and “conversation piece” rings and brightly-colored hair and unique shoes. I’m more sensitive than I let on. And yes, I love graphic novels.


Shannon: The Visual Artist

Shannon moved away from my school at the end of her 10th grade year, but I have zero doubt that she is going places with her art. At age 15, she had already created digital graphic novels. She won our library bookmark art contest every year, by a huge margin of votes. I still have two coffee mugs that she designed for our school’s Christmas Bazaar. Her art is colorful and detailed and has serious personality.

Because Shannon’s artwork stood out, she was well-known in the school community. Her artwork didn’t even need her name on it–people knew it was Shannon’s because her style was so original. Though I’ve changed her name here, teachers and students who worked with me at my last school will know exactly who I’m talking about. She had a twin sister who we’ll call Cheri who was also excellent at drawing. And they had another younger sister, we’ll call her Beatriz…also an art prodigy.

Shannon was not a huge reader, but she really loved graphic novels. When ordering new library books, I would look for graphic novels that would appeal specifically to her. She would study those graphic novels, and I believe she took what she could from them to improve her own artwork.

Frederick: The Performance Artist

Frederick was a performer at all times. He performed for little kids, volunteered for story time in the library, did crazy voices and magic tricks, and dressed up as the school mascot at events. His talent show performances were talked about long afterward, and photos of his many performances appeared throughout school yearbooks. Frederick frequently made edible treats for his teachers, and he always brought some to share with us in the library, too. He even made vegan treats specifically for me sometimes.

Like Shannon, everyone knew Frederick. Even the little first graders knew the name of this 12th Grader. He would walk through the Primary Library on the way to the Secondary Library, and you’d think he was a celebrity.

As much as he excelled with performances and popularity, Frederick struggled academically. He graduated last year, but it was not an easy road for him.

Frederick was yet another graphic novel reader. He loved superheroes and musicals. We had some great conversations about the merits of La La Land, Deadpool, Bohemian Rhapsody, and The Greatest Showman. In the two years I knew him before he graduated, I never knew Frederick to checkout anything but graphic novels. And some of those–particularly Svetlana Chmakova’s Awkward series–he checked out over and over. He said he identified with Jansen (the Sunspots Kid featured in Brave).


1. Encourage their passions, even if it isn’t traditional books.

It shouldn’t be hard to figure out what Artists love. They won’t need help finding movies and music that they obsess over, but finding books may be more tricky. For visual artists, recommend graphic novels with unique illustration styles. Details are good, especially when there are things to look for in the art. Performance artists might try listening to audiobooks. Photographers and fashion designers will love books from the 700s section that show glossy photos with commentary. Keep in mind that Artists are probably better than most at picking out mistakes in the art (such as film errors), so make sure what you recommend is of the highest quality you can find.

2. Encourage their art, but don’t push.

Artists create because they must. No one can stop Artists from writing, drawing, performing, or whatever they do. They will do it on their own and in secret if they have to. Pushing Artists, though, is a huge no-no. Let them explore their art freely and without expectations of a future career or “being the best” or any sort of methodical perfection. Artists will improve the more they do their art, but the most important thing is that they choose their art in their own way and in their own time.

3. Lessons are great…if they want them.

Let your Artist guide their own art education, and provide them with opportunities when art education is insufficient. I took every art class my high school offered. I was lucky in that my high school offered specialized art classes. Many don’t. But by the time I was a senior, there was nothing left for me to take. Too bad I didn’t know anything about taking art classes in my community or at our local community college. Why did no one tell me about this? I went way too long–more than two decades–without any art education. I’m trying to make up for that gap now, but it makes me sad that I didn’t know what was available.

4. Arrange illustrator visits to your library.

Author visits are a mainstay in libraries, but illustrator visits are less common. When I had illustrator Matt Holm (Babymouse and Squish books) visit my school in Suzhou, China, I set him up to work with the IB Art students. Matt was excellent with all the grades he worked with that day, but those IB Art students loved him. If you don’t have IB Art, arrange a session specifically for more advanced art students. They will never forget it!

5. If your Artist doesn’t love reading…

Offer to get them a subscription to a specialty magazine they might love. Let them choose it and be the first to check it out each month. If your library subscribes to visual, music, or performing arts databases, make sure your Artists know they are available. If you are the parent of an Artist, let them browse the many art, theater, music, film, photography, fashion, design, whatever magazines they might find interesting. If they can choose the magazine based on their own niche topic, they will read it. Yes, magazine reading is still reading. Who cares if it isn’t books?

6. Give artists stage time in the library.

Poetry slams, lunchtime musical performances, and displaying student artwork in the library helps Artists be seen outside the traditional art or music room. This is especially important if your school doesn’t support the arts as much as they should.

Curious about more Genre Personalities? Read more profiles here (click the link and scroll down about halfway).

Who are your favorite Artists?

How do you support them in the library?

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