Can Talent Be Taught Or Is It Innate?
So today I want to talk to you about talent – is it taught or is it innate?
This is a question that someone sent in to me and I think it’s a great subject to talk about and consider where our personal views lie.
It is a really important topic to discuss. Firstly, it can help us understand more about ourselves and our art, and secondly, I think it can help people who are perhaps struggling with their art at this moment to know that things can and will change.
Am I good enough?
Looking back on my life, when I was younger I did so well in my first year at school. I loved art and was pretty good at it. Then I had lots of time off and in my final year when I sat my exams, I failed in art. Automatically, I told myself I didn’t have any talent and I wasn’t good enough so there was no point in making art. And I didn’t for a long time after that.
When talking to people about what I do for a living it will quite often spark a conversation, and nine times out of ten they know someone who is an artist, who creates and makes. It’s fascinating. But I have lost count of the amount of times it is followed up with “but they don’t think they are good enough to do it full time” or “they gave up as they believed they weren’t the best at it”.
People I know ask me all the time about how I got back into making art even with those thoughts of not being the best or good enough to be an artist, so I want to share my views with you today. Please note – these are just my thoughts and everyone will have their own opinion on this, so let’s dive into it!
What is talent?
Talent – this is my view of it. Talent is a way of working that comes really naturally and hasn’t been taught. It’s something that you can just do. I often refer to these as my superpowers. I’ll let you into a little secret, for decades I truly believed I didn’t have any talent. I was crippled with anxiety for years and years and really thought I wasn’t good at anything. This was with work, life in general, as well as my art.
As I’ve gone through life, grown up and worked with people over the years I have become self aware of those natural traits in people and myself that come easily. There is maybe some natural aptitude.
And then there is skill. For me, skill is different to talent. Talent is not taught, it’s a natural ability to see or do something in a certain way. But skill is something that we have become good at and love doing but have been taught. It’s taken hours, days, weeks, months, years to master. It’s something that you get better at over time and that you desire to do and master.
I found this quote – “desire is more important than talent” and I find this quote to be so true. Talent, this natural aptitude, exists in people. The more you tune into what you want to do and really desire, the more you will tap into those natural aptitudes that you have.
For years, I felt like I didn’t have any talent but it was only when I started to move towards what really excited me as a person and what I was curious about that I started to see these little superpowers come through. I guess that’s me describing little bits of talent, but for me, I really do think that everything that I’ve discovered about myself has come from hard work and from learning.
For example, take Mozart. He was a great composer and everyone will say how talented he was. But for him, it came from hours and hours and hours of practice. He openly said this. He used the 10,000 hour rule to master his music. He just kept going and never gave up.
I’ve even done this myself. I never felt I could draw but I was determined to learn so I took drawing classes. I drew every single day and over a couple of years of being persistent, I got to the place where I felt I really could draw. I have so many examples of this where people have practised, practised, practised on something they really desire and now they have this amazing ‘superpower’.
And it will always come back to the quote “desire is more important than talent”. I have seen people with this born talent to make music, make art and create but if they don’t have the passion and desire to take that talent to the next level – it will fall flat. It is that burning desire that drives you forward.
Once you have this desire for your art, the process of making is simple. It’s a process. Like reading a book, playing an instrument – just putting one step in front of another. Once you know how, you can always do it. You can create a piece of art in informal steps, like creating a collage. The actual process of making art doesn’t have to be a massive complex masterpiece.
We can keep on learning and adding to our skills with desire pushing us forward. Working on the principles of art, so that art is continually evolving with us as people, is so powerful and this is why I love the work of Nicholas Wilton (you can watch our interview here). Nicholas teaches those principles of art-making where you can really fine tune one area of your artwork and it transforms everything because it is like a language. Once you learn it, it becomes fluent and things just feel natural and make sense.
I find it fascinating that these principles, no matter what medium you use, whether acrylic, watercolour, sculpture – when you learn them they can really empower and change your artwork. It blew my mind the first time I took part in Nic’s training and again, it’s adding to the knowledge, learning and improving my skills to help with my art.
In fact, I will be going live with Nic on Monday 21st Feb at 5pm UK time, for a live critique session. Nicholas Wilton will be giving his thoughts on 5 pieces. If you want to join us, you can here.
Desire is more important than talent. You may not think you are the best at something but if you have the desire to keep going and keep learning you can achieve anything.