Narcissists Make Better Artists, Study Says, Surprising No One

A pretty successful artist named Pablo Picasso once said to one of his friends: “God is really an artist, like me… I am God, I am God, I am God.”

Some people might qualify a statement like this as a sign of gratuitous and perhaps delusional self-obsession. In essence, it’s a bit narcissistic. Yi Zhou, a Florida State University professor, would agree. And while such exceptionally high self-interest isn’t the only characteristic that led to Picasso becoming one of the most iconic names in the history of art, it certainly didn’t hurt.

Zhou recently conducted a study examining the correlation between an artist’s narcissistic tendencies and his or her success. And according to her findings, you may want to invest in your most self-absorbed artsy acquaintance, because narcissistic artists were determined to have higher market prices, higher estimates from auction houses, more museum shows, and more recognition from the art world.

As Zhou explains in her abstract: “We find that narcissism [...] is positively associated with the market performance of artworks.

My number one enemy has been my ego… there is only one throne and that’s God’s …

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 17, 2016

To test the correlation between narcissism and success, Zhou honed in on a particular manifestation of an artist’s ego: the size of their signature.

Following 2014 research that established an area-per-letter measure is correlated highly with the score on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory scale, Zhou’s team measured the dimensions of artist signatures sampled from Oxford Art Online. The team then compared them to the market success of the artists as determined by auction data from Artinfo,, and websites of various auction houses.

Turns out what they say about artists with big signatures is true — literally writing —> Read More