Talent

talent“Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express.” - Brenda Ueland

First, I’d like to say that I don’t believe in talent as an innate ability to do something. Whether we’re talking about art, sports, or anything else. Talent is  skill acquired over a certain period of time, and a certain individual’s talent depends on a lot of factors, both internal and external.

Also, art is about perception, and, over time, the way people understand, analyze, and derive pleasure from a work of art changes. The way they interpret the world around them, and thus art, changes as well. Simply put, art is subjective.

There’s a lot of pressure on artists to develop a vision, a style; for their works of art to deliver a certain message. And artists feel that they need to live extraordinary lives in order to create extraordinary works of art. It’s not true. The thing is, art has a lot more to do with your vision of the world then it has to do with what world you’re trying to describe.

It’s more about how than it is about what.

That being said, I believe that every individual is capable of creating a wonderful piece of art… given enough practice, time, determination, and, possibly, luck. But they also need to open up, to let themselves go, to stop worrying whether or not people are going to like it… they simply need to make art.

Good or bad, immoral or not, bloody, archaic, stupid… don’t label what you’re doing, don’t limit your vision.

Our freedom is always limited by what we believe is the perception others have about us. And artists have to escape this fate. They have to forget about others, about consequences, about sales, about critics, about everything. It’s just you and your computer/typewriter/canvas/sheet of paper. It’s just you and your vision…

Art is not about creating one’s vision… it’s about finding it; about rummaging through your brain for the right memories, those memories and thoughts you care deeply about. Your voice is unique, because you’re unique. No one else has lived, thought, or felt the way you did. No one ever will.

And in this simple concept lies the beauty of art itself: maybe we do say the same things, over and over again, but we’re saying them in different ways every single time.

Talent derives from this, from this single determination to say what you want to say, how you want to say it, how you feel like saying it, without bothering to care what others will understand from it. Talent is the ability to express what only you can express, in such a way that it makes us see things we’ve never see before, because only you’ve seen them… or maybe we’ve all seen them, but only you became aware of them…

If you want to find something worth writing for, worth painting, worth putting into a song… stop and stare around you. Rummage through your brain for all the memories you wish you had forgotten. What keeps you up at nights? What makes you feel alive? What’s killing you? What’s giving you wings and what’s setting those wings on fire? What makes you feel vulnerable? What makes you strong?

What makes you you?

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38 comments on “Talent

  1. I believe nearly all talents are developed over time through hard work, practice, dedication, learning from others, and patience (except for the talent to annoy people, which is usually brought into being through pure serendipity). I can only speak from experience though, so someone may have different experiences and therefore different ideas. Anything’s possible.

  2. I personally believe that a person is either born with a natural talent or they’re not. Anyone can learn a skill. With enough practice you can teach a person to paint, to write, or to play a sport particularly well. But they will never write/paint/play with the same passion as the person who comes by that skill naturally. You just have to look at the different ways in which we use our brain, and I would argue that all artists are dreamers. They see the world differently. Can this be taught – perhaps, but there’s a difference. Everyone has a right to express themselves in the way they choose, and in doing so that expression is beautiful. But not everyone can weave a story without any formal training, not everyone can recreate the beauty of nature by picking up a brush. For the lucky ones it comes from within; it’s a need that drives them, and if they had been taught, perhaps it would even take some of the pleasure out of it.
    That’s just my humble opinion.

    • I agree with mbarkersimpson. I think what you have written here has a lot of truth, except I too believe you ARE born with innate talents, and not everyone will be the same. My daughter was drawing and writing before she even started school, with no real instruction, and showed a unique talent for it, which other children had to learn. Sure, we can all learn skills (as mentioned above in the comment), but talent is a different thing. Anyone can paint, but that doesn’t make them a PAINTER, anyone can write, but that doesn’t make them an AUTHOR, anyone can dance, but that doesn’t make them a BALLERINA. Those who excel in their fields do so through hard work, yes, but mostly because they already have the innate talent within them.

  3. Desperado316 says:

    Ever heard of the term, ‘God given talent’? Some people are actually born with amazing ability. They are naturally gifted. Others are born with a lot of potential and thus can become amazing through hard-work and dedication.

    I’m lazy so I don’t think I would have been able to accomplish much relying on hard-work and dedication so I rely on the stuff I was born with and that’s my brain.

    I’m not going to claim I’m a genius. I would probably pass for just above average but I know what I’m capable of and my potential is limited by my lack of ability to push myself.

    Both of these opposites are different types of talent and both can take a person to great heights. I’ve studied people whilst growing up in school and I’ve noticed there were kids who didn’t have it as easy as me and struggled with learning new things. However, they were able to do better than me in exams because they worked harder than me.

    So my opinion is both hard-work and being gifted are talents. Some things you get naturally. Some you learn.

  4. 1. “First, I’d like to say that I don’t believe in talent as an innate ability to do something.” My innate abilities express themselves if I am free to be myself. I gravitate to ideas or works of art, for example, that complement who I am. I respond to elements of the world that represent my beliefs, attitudes, and values.

  5. Darrell C says:

    In answer to your last seven questions, upon reflection, I’d have to say those are the reasons that I write…so that I might begin to understand the answers to those questions. Very insightful post!

  6. I agree with Cristian that talent is cultivated over time. sometimes a long time. So I wonder if this could be a good argument in support of reincarnation? I’m thinking about how some people seem born with a certain talent – say little kids who come into the world with a near perfect set of skills or outrageously sharp aptitude for something in particular. Maybe they’ve already lived lives honing those skills?!

  7. 2. “Also, art is about perception, and, over time, the way people understand, analyze, and derive pleasure from a work of art changes. The way they interpret the world around them, and thus art, changes as well. Simply put, art is subjective.” Perception comes from a predetermined loci. Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye by Rudolf Arnheim describes motor skill-like predeterminations that are built into the human body. A circle, in Gestalt psychology has an implication, warm and fuzzy, for example, that generally at least a square would not, basically hard corners and such. Pleasure from a work of art can change. One’s immediate introduction can be less impressive than the result of an investigation behind the meaning, or intended meaning of the work, but the statement ‘art us subjective’ undermines the argument, where subjectivity assumes a response in isolation to intention or previous interpretations, which implies learning.

  8. 3. “There’s a lot of pressure on artists to develop a vision, a style; for their works of art to deliver a certain message.” As an artist, I do not feel the pressure to develop ‘a vision, a style…to deliver a certain message,’ rather an eloquence of an idea in my head demands that I fulfill what the muse has embedded with no contribution of my own other than to listen and reproduce the initial idea. Ideas just come.

  9. 4. “And artists feel that they need to live extraordinary lives in order to create extraordinary works of art.” I do not feel that I have to life an extraordinary life. I work as a waiter and pen what I might when I have time. At this point in my life I have no pretenses about how the world should be. A writer for The New Yorker, for example, is actually not what I have in mind when I think of a writer. That is too much structure to impose upon oneself if someone were to be true to a muse.

  10. I believe each of us is born with talent, and I don’t believe “talent” can be taught, but skill certainly can. Either way, talent needs time to develop and it’s up to each of us to determine what your talent is and how you want to use it. I think it’s unfortunate that some of us never discover our talent.

  11. 5. “The thing is, art has a lot more to do with your vision of the world then it has to do with what world you’re trying to describe.” Yes, art has to do with a vision, but not your vision, per se, and it is not that you are trying to describe it on the outside. It is rather on the inside as a thought. Perhaps art is a concept as a thesis of a dissertation. The aspects of a work of art are like a series of words composed as phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. Where a picture paints a thousand words, each word has to evoke a coherency of the idea or else it doesn’t make sense.

  12. Talent seems to be a natural inclination towards something but you still need to put in effort though to develop the skill. Some people are good at languages and learn them easily, but even people with no special talent can learn too, it just takes them more effort sometimes. So, as you said, a lot of it comes down to putting in the effort to develop the skills we want to have.

  13. 6. “I believe that every individual is capable of creating a wonderful piece of art.” This depends on how you define wonderful. You are saying is that people can create works of art. Telling the truth is art. Truth is beauty. If people tell the truth they can create art. When you or I say something that is true, we create art.

  14. marisoto says:

    I strongly think that we were all born with a set of skills different from others. Developing them is a personal matter. Every skill needs to be nourished to become a talent. Great post.

  15. 7. “Our freedom is always limited by what we believe is the perception others have about us.” Our freedom is only limited by our energy and desire. We stand in our own way. I agree it is just us, as individuals, and it is about our visions.

  16. 8. We agree about finding the vision. I am not sure we are unique in the sense that the truth is an ah ha moment. People recognize it as being true and yet it is a construct or an amalgamation of that which already exists. Every idea, for example, is already there. We just have to discover it? “Maybe we do say the same things, over and over again.”

  17. 9. “Talent derives from the single determination to say what you want to say, how you want to say it, how you feel like saying it, without bothering to care what others will understand from it. Talent is the ability to express what only you can express, in such a way that it makes us see things we’ve never see before, because only you’ve seen them… or maybe we’ve all seen them, but only you became aware of them…” Talent derives from an individual way of expressing something, which is derived from individuality or a predetermined set of innate abilities or recognitions and capacities to react given a certain set of circumstances. I am not sure artists actually care what others think, if they did, they wouldn’t do what they do because there’s often no positive reinforcement or monetary reward and that gets old after a while.

    I don’t believe that I am the only one who can say what I can express. Evidence of this is evident in the many artists who have come before. I subscribe to the thesis by E. M. Gombirch as to a “Story of Art.” Awareness is not uniqueness.

  18. bwdell says:

    “it’s more about how than what.” A very profound statement. The what is different for every artist and even for the same artist over time. The how is what is specific for that particular artist.

  19. 10. “If you want to find something worth writing for…What makes you you?”

    Merely, stopping and staring may not a work of art make.

    You can begin, which is what Julia Cameron advises in The Artist’s Way, since, and she is correct, quantity is better than quality since you can always go back and edit.

    And being you may not cut it if you like to play video games all day, for example. It takes a lot of work and sacrifice to be an artist. You have to make art. The ideas come, but you have to make what you have in mind or else the muse whispers into someone else’s ear.

  20. I believe slightly with the above that there are talents and then there are learned skills, there are a lot of arts, such as writing and music that can be learned. There are people that are just born to do certain things though too and no matter how many books you read or lessons you take you will never reach or have that “thing” that someone who is born to do what they do is doing (if that makes sense).

    I think that people should do what they love and speak from the heart. I know that I am not the greatest writer or artist, but I do enjoy it and I would not be who I am without that. I think that we are not all so lucky to do what we love as a profession, but I don’t think we should ever give up on something that we want, even if we have to change our plan slightly. All this being said, this too is just my humble opinion.

  21. The myth of the delicate genius born with talent has its origins in the late 18th and early 19th century. The development of real talent doesn’t lie in luck or genes, it lies in practice and awareness.

  22. myluckydayz says:

    Yup. I totally agree. Our painful and happy memories can be expressed through art…that’s what makes the piece so moving and relateable. You can definitely influence others positively or negatively through your art as well.

  23. Srinidhi says:

    As far as I’ve observed, people often get confused between skill and talent. And artists catering to an audience find it tough. You ought to have your own style

  24. I understand the idea you’re trying to send across, however I disagree on the aspect of a talent being a skill. Not at all. A talent is a talent, it is innate, it’s born within and not necessarily present in early ages, but rather awakened in reaction to something. For example, I’ve been told that my poetry is very vivid, wonderful, and dark that it keeps the reader with chills of doubt. I was told I was talented, but come to think of it, I only ever started writing in regards to this forsaken world upon watching a news report of a little girl who’s family was slaughtered on the beach before her eyes. That was the trigger to my nationalist embodiment of thoughts. And as you said, it has to do with the vision you have of the world, not how you describe it, as you said, it’s about finding that vision. And I had, I saw the world as evil, and I refuse to believe otherwise no matter how much good volunteers provide for orphans, elderly, no matter how much investments go to provide education for the poor, no matter nothing. There’s a reason all those people had sunk in poverty, and bad conditions, it’s because the world is evil. And that’s how my writing is, portrayed as the darkness of thoughts.
    It’s a talent, not a skill, in which I explained. Because someone as me, could see the same video, look at the world and notice its flaws but he/she will not be able to embed vowels and words that’ll leave a permanent impact in regards to their style.
    At least that’s what I think.

  25. Art is subjective, alright. And also, when we express ourselves…I believe that there’s bound to be at least one person in the world who will appreciate it. We have free will, and we shouldn’t forget that.

    Still, in my opinion, I do think respect is also important when we express ourselves. But it’s not like I can directly make you do that. Only you alone have the final call on your actions, you know.

  26. A very meaningful post.
    I agree, though, with mbarkersimpson. There’s a reason people are adviced to develop their God-given talents as it probably will give them an edge over their counterpart in their field.

  27. Mary Ann says:

    The idea of ‘how’ over ‘what’ would always hold true. So many ideas skyrocketed to fame because of the’ how’ factor.
    I also remember my lit teacher who once said that there are only so many plots in the literature that a writer can develop. The question that a writer faces is not what would I write about? But how would I write about it?
    And developing your own voice takes time, practice and deep attention to your inner voice…
    Thank you for the inspiration!

  28. JoAnn Chateau says:

    This post is the best advice & inspiration I’ve seen for “finding your “voice”.

    But… I happen to think we ARE given innate abilities (artistic or otherwise) – right through our genes – the same way we inherit our height or nearsightedness.

    These gifts need to be developed, of course – that’s what “following our path” is about.

  29. jamesgart says:

    The naturally gifted person is born that way. Their brains are geared for that differently than someone learning something. Many people will never be able to make a good drawing or will never become good singers.

  30. Debbie says:

    Well said and i wholeheartedly agree!

  31. i used to own a commercial janitorial service. Even that was an art for me. I’ve always loved what I’ve done in life. Whether it was a professional job or a passion. Very excited when my passion becomes my art. Thanks for the reminder to keep doing what is already in me. :)

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