In the depths of the sea, Poseidon forever sets the course of fate on waters of emotion, raging waves one moment and calm tides the next. He is unpredictable, dangerous and intriguing all at the same time. His eyes hide a mystery no one can quite touch. Once you think you know him he changes. Once you think you have helped him through an emotion another one surfaces more intensely than the last. He can give abundance from the sea’s riches or take your life for venturing across his waters.
The Artist is a man who is in touch with his emotions but may not always be the master of them. He can channel his feelings into a creative act, or he can let them simmer under the surface without an outlet until he bursts, lashing out at everyone around him. He has a hard time fitting into a world that devalues men who express their emotions, and this adds to his insecurity and anger. Anger seems to be the only acceptable emotion he is allowed to express, yet his feelings run the gamut from love to rage.
Women are initially very attracted to him for his intensity but soon learn how volatile his emotions can be. If he brings this same intensity when making up after a fight he’ll win her over again because he’s full of passion.
He doesn’t realize the strength his emotions hold. He’s very spontaneous and alive. He can amuse himself for hours with a simple toy or switch from one activity to another without missing a beat. If he can learn to control his outbursts he can be a very healthy and vibrant person who deals well with stress and the complexities of life. If his emotions control him he feels completely out of sync with the world around him and becomes a time bomb capable of going off at any moment.
He may seem calm on the surface but he has strong creative juices flowing deep inside. He is very driven to express himself and his ideas; he’s passionate and his creativity is always personal. If he creates something, it always holds a deep meaning for him.
He’s very instinctual and loves to be out in nature. He probably liked to tell time by the sun as a child.
What Does the Artist Care About?
- The Artist cares about releasing his own emotions. He thinks he’s the center of the universe. It doesn’t matter who is around him or what they may be going through; his emotions come first.
- He cares what others think of him and his creative efforts. Rejection is like death. He may destroy a work of art he created if even one person doesn’t like it.
- He wants to be treated as an equal to all the smarter men around him, but he isn’t good at the business side of things and depends on them to help his career along. He cares about pleasing his boss or agent and may wait until he comes home to vent his true feelings.
- He cares about appearing in control and looking strong to others. He likes his rage, as he thinks it gives him power and prowess. He uses it as a protective shield, and he needs it to defend himself. He doesn’t know how to react to someone without anger as fuel.
- He can get behind a creative project and work for years without running out of steam. He is a born creator.
What Does the Artist Fear?
- The Artist fears being seen as inferior to other men who can hold their emotions inside as society expects men to do. He wants to be king of his castle but lacks the authority of the King.
- He fears himself. He doesn’t want to be a tyrant but has trouble controlling his outbursts. He’s terribly afraid of hurting the ones he loves. He’s also afraid that someone will harm his loved ones, which would release the vengeful monster in him.
- Because he’s not a good businessman he’s afraid of missing out on big career-making deals. He’s always watching to make sure no one else takes credit for his work.
- He also fears the creative block. He may have a family or business problem that stifles his creativity, and he may wonder if the muse has permanently left him.
What Motivates the Artist?
- His biggest motivator is survival. Every encounter feels like a threat to his survival. It’s as if one wrong comment or opinion on his work will destroy his career.
- Everything is seen in the extreme with him. He constantly feels he is fighting for his very life. If his wife talks to another man he thinks she’s going to leave him. He’s driven to prove himself right in such cases but he often proves himself wrong instead.
- Whether or not he realizes how foolish he has been, he still has trouble trusting others. Revenge can be an obsession.
- He’s driven to be somebody important.
How Do Other Characters See the Artist?
- Some may see him as neurotic and as having no boundaries, while others may see him as passionate, spontaneous and alive, an unpredictable joy to be around.
- He dresses in comfortable clothing that expresses his mood, and he usually lets his hair hang loose. He’s the most expressive man at the party, waving his hands as he talks.
- With one stare he can put another man in his place. His eyes speak volumes.
Developing the Character Arc
Look at your character’s main goal in the story and then at the fears you’ve selected to use against him. What does he need to learn to help him overcome his fear? Does he need to learn the ways of the business world? Does he need to learn to control his fears of his wife leaving him? Does he need to get over a creative block? Does he need to learn how to interact with people? Does he need to give up his need to control others?
Very often the Artist needs to learn to distance himself from his initial feelings on a situation. He needs to react in proportion to the reality of the situation as it is, not as he imagines it to be. He needs to see his access to emotions as an asset that can help his artistic career and to recognize how he feels before his emotions get the better of him.
What happened to him at an early age to make this archetype dominate his personality? Was his father a rage-a-holic? Did a teacher criticize his creative work? Was he never able to grasp math and logical thinking? Did he love to play in nature and tell time by the sun?
To grow, this archetype is best paired with one of the following:
- The Businessman – can teach the Artist how to take care of and manage his own career and destiny. He can show him how to be organized and in control of his feelings.
- The Woman’s Man – can show the artist how to be sexual and sensual. He can teach him how to love women and to find his feminine side. He can make the artist feel ashamed for the way he overreacts to events in his life.
- The Seductive Muse – can teach him how to get in touch with his body and how to feel pleasure and happiness instead of just pain. The love she instills in men can make him willing to change for her.
- The Troubled Teen – can turn his world upside down, leaving when he is on a rampage. She won’t enable him to be emotionally abusive to her. She’ll force him to look at his actions.
The Villainous Side of the Artist: The Abuser
When the Artist can’t control his emotions he becomes a volatile and vindictive man. His sense of revenge is strong, and he’ll never let it go until he feels satisfaction. It’s as if his survival depends on an eye for an eye.
He’ll lash out in a rage at home without regard to anyone else’s feelings. He loses all boundaries and often hurts those he cares for. If his sexual urge is strong he may rape a woman, not understanding the word “no.” He’s not out to hurt her from the start but gets caught up in his own emotions; he doesn’t understand how she feels. He’s very good at making up. He’s the quintessential man who beats his wife and gives her flowers and promises afterward.
He’s antisocial with irresponsible behavior lacking in morals and ethics. He exhibits unlawful reckless behavior, refusing to conform to social norms. He seems to have no remorse and shows no thought for the consequences of his actions. He is physically aggressive, erratic and irritable, and disregards the safety of himself and of others.
He feels justified in his actions because he feels his basic rights have been violated. He doesn’t care what anyone else thinks, and he’ll destroy himself before he lets anyone else do it.
- Beats his wife and then brings her flowers to apologize.
- Plays head games with people.
- Is irritable and unpredictable.
- Is a ticking time bomb.
- Disregards the safety of himself and of others.
- Can’t control his emotions and flies off the handle.
- Is driven to revenge and will hold a grudge for years.
- Has no boundaries.
- Doesn’t understand the word “no” because he always gets his way.
- Is reckless and full of rage.
- Loves to create and change things.
- Is spontaneous and instinctual.
- Could be a great creative artist.
- Is full of passion and intensity.
- Loves his family and friends despite how he acts around them.
- Will seek revenge for a harm done to him or his family.
- Is very street-smart as opposed to book smart.
- Expresses himself without regard to the feelings of others.
- Has trouble controlling his emotions.
- Invades other people’s boundaries.
- Takes things to extremes.
- Is obsessive and relentless in his need for revenge.
- Imagines situations to be worse than they really are.
- Is self-centred.
POSEIDON IN ACTION
Artist/Abuser TV Heroes
Bobby Donnell (Dylan McDermott) in The Practice
Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) in Will & Grace
Christ Stevens (John Corbett) in Northern Exposure
Artist/Abuser Film Heroes
Jim Stark (James Dean) in Rebel Without a Cause
Boss Paul Viti (Robert De Niro) in Analyze This
Larry (Billy Crystal) in Throw Momma From the Train
J.D. (Brad Pitt) in Thelma and Louise
Artist/Abuser Literary and Historical Heroes
Vincent Van Gogh
Tristan in Arthurian legend
Angel Clare in Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Othello in Othello by William Shakespeare
Queenqueg in Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Dad in Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Prospero in The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Yuri Zhivago in Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak