Thursday, October 29, 2015

What is Talent? - Why You're Not Automatically Talented If You're Gifted

Most important about art is enjoying it.

Writing my post on originality and coming up with the idea that knowledge might be more important for creating art than talent made me see the necessity of a definition of talent.

So what is it? - This question gets even more interesting as many great artists insist that they don't have much talent and that they acquired their skill through a lot of hard work. At the same time, there are lots of people who are called talented in their childhood, who can do something amazingly and still don't become professionals.

Please allow me to put a link to such a story: A story told by Jazza, a professional artist and ... Let's put it this way: If you don't like his art tutorials on YouTube and don't subscribe to his channel we're not friends anymore. I'm serious. He's great.

Here's the link. The part I'm talking about starts at 6:28, but I suggest you watch the whole video.

According to Jazza, it's most important to be creative and to enjoy art, no matter how talented you seem right now.

I agree with him and believe that you need lots and lots of practice to become a good artist. And if you really enjoy - or rather: love - the process practising is what you'll use almost all of your free time on. Yet of course art isn't a learned skill only, since otherwise anybody could become an artist, and it isn't the case in reality. So it seems you actually need some mysterious thing called talent.

There are people in this world who can make art without much effort. And there are some very few people who draw or play an instrument amazingly when holding a pencil or a violin for the first time in their life. I believe that the majority of people can learn to make great art. And there are also a few who are unlikely to ever learn it.

Me Drawing vs. Me Writing


My personal story is that I used to draw and paint very much when I was little. I wasn't bad for my age by Russian standards, and I turned out to be quite good by German standards when I came here. (Yes, Russian kids can draw better than their German peers. I've seen it myself.) But little by little I stopped drawing and painting until I revived this hobby in 2013.

On the other hand, however, I was always making up stories. When I was younger all my toys had a consistent character, the fictional world they lived in had its own society and background story and all I did while playing was recreating the stories I had in my mind. - Stories that even dealt with serious real world matters (such as racism, war, personal responsibility and self-fulfillment) and had a beginning, an ending and a moral. There were also stories I made into comics. And at the age of 13 I started writing stories, and I still can't imagine my life without writing.

I don't know how good I am, but I'm pretty sure my writing isn't the worst. Sure my first works are ... well, first works and contain Mary Sues, but there are also some good ideas in them.

I've definitely improved my writing over time. It happened through practice and enjoying the process. Yet don't you think there's a reason why I stuck with writing rather than drawing and painting? The reason for this must be something that I was born with, since I create stories for as long as I can remember. Yes, I did get approval for what I was doing, but no one ever encouraged me to start it. Concerning drawing and painting I actually got lessons, I got the materials, I got everything and I liked it. But when it comes to writing I did everything by myself.

A Shot of Constructivism


My opinion on how to define talent is inspired by radical constructivism. The general idea of this philosophy is that we can't perceive the world as it is. What we believe to be the truth is only our interpretation of it, based on our subjective perception. Radical constructivism is radical because it actually says that objectivity is impossible. That everything we believe to be true is merely a construction in our heads.

Since every perception is subjective I believe that a human being can't perceive anything than himself, his own subjectivity. When you look at a pencil you don't see a pencil but only your perception of it, defined by such factors as you being a human, your eyesight, your point of view, the way your brain works, your former experiences with pencils and so on. What's most important here: Every perception is unique. - And this is when we come to originality.

In my former post I wrote: "So can we agree on one thing? That originality is nothing more than a new combination of already known material? What makes such a combination original and unique is the train of thoughts that led to this combination. And it's nothing new that some people are better at creating new combinations than others. And maybe it has to do with talent."

Every person has a very individual train of thoughts when looking at a pencil. Everyone's mind is structured differently. And different people would do different things with that pencil. Some may just passively look at it while others will use it. Others may get fascinated by how the shadows fall and analyze it. Someone may imagine the pencil is alive. Some trains of thoughts may lead to artistic expression.

Defining Talent


So is talent a special way of perception that leads to artistic expression? Let's add that the way of perception isn't only inborn but also changes with experience. And experience can be acquired. It can grow and lead to more extraordinary ways of perception. I believe that these ways of perception can contain philosophical ideas as well as just ideas for new techniques. Art is an idea put into action, and talent is the mastermind behind it. Skill acquired through practice is the tool. Joy is the motivation. And since practice and joy are part of gaining experience they're all interconnected.

At this point it's important to draw a line between talent and gift: You receive a gift, but you can develop a talent. You can't question that our abilities are influenced by genetics. As mentioned above, some people can do some things better than others just by nature. The question is rather: What do you make of your gift, no matter how great or tiny it may seem at the moment? Do you make it a talent or will you just forget you have it?

Personally I think that there are artists who are gifted and talented, non-artists who are gifted but not talented, hobby artists who are a little gifted and a little talented, artists who are just a little gifted but extremely talented, pseudo-artists who aren't gifted or talented and non-artists who are not gifted, not talented and happy with it. - Which type are you?

And what do you think on this topic as a whole? Do I have some valid points or is this article just nonsense? How do you define talent? And all false modesty aside: Do you consider yourself talented? What is your story of talent-development? Do you think there can be talent without at least a little bit of gift? - Don't hesitate to use the comment section!

In joyful anticipation of your precious opinion,
Feael Silmarien

PS: Don't forget to share this article!

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