Little is known about how generalist primary pre-service teacher education students perceive their own background and confidence in relation to the arts and arts education. This paper reports the findings of a large international study involving 939 pre-service generalist primary teacher education students in five countries. The study tests specific hypotheses concerning the relationship between creative arts background, sex and confidence in teaching in the creative arts. The study also explores sex differences in patterns of background and confidence across the creative arts, as well as relationships between background and confidence in one creative arts area and background and confidence in other creative arts areas. Results of the study indicate that students' background in the creative arts and their sex predicts confidence in teaching in the creative arts, although the interaction between background and sex does not, in general, predict confidence. The study also identifies different profiles of background and confidence in teaching the creative arts for males and females. Moderate associations between background and confidence in different creative arts areas are also identified. The educational implications of the findings of the research are discussed in detail in the paper.