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Being an artist - Talent or skill?

edited March 2008 in Flamewars
I've been thinking about this topic for quite some time now:

Do you guys think being able to make art is a skill or a talent?

When I say skill I mean that close to anyone could just take a book and learn how to draw/ make music. When I say talent I mean that someone who has talent could just draw much better pictures/ make better music than someone who had tried to learn for years. I know there's a very fine line between both, but I've personally come to the conclusion that most of it seems to be talent. I've tried to draw/ sketch since I was little, but the outcome was always garbage. The total opposite goes for playing instruments. So, what's your opinion?


  • Both. Only with Talent and Skill (i.e. lots of practice) you might be able to one day make a masterpiece. I know a few people with some talent in drawing, but it's not in their interest, so they can draw only slightly above average (average = crap) since they never practiced and developed skill. Just to add, Talent imho is the 'feeling for the art', the sense of proper drawing or composing or whatever.
  • So someone with no talent can never be as good as someone with talent?
  • A lazy person with talent is no use to anyone. A hard-working and passionate person without talent can still be great.

    Many of my friends draw and paint. A few of them have true-blue natural talent but I can point to one specifically who, as long as I have known him, has always had a passion for drawing even though he wasn't very good at it at all in the beginning. Now, five years later, he is excellent and wants to work on graphic novels or illustrate for a living.

    Things that talent provides can be learned with time and hard work, there's no doubt about it.
  • Here's the thing: you really don't know how good you can be until you've had some meaningful instruction. Try working through "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" all the way through. It will teach you to draw. That's just the beginning. It helps to be able to draw things out of your head, not just things you can see in real life. Also, you have to love to make art all the time. I don't mean a little bit. Even if I had real talent, I would be a lousy artist because there are other things I'd rather be doing.
  • So someone with no talent can never be as good as someone with talent?
    If both people are equally dedicated and have practiced an equal amount than as far as I can see the person with talent will be producing greater drawings than the person without talent. But I agree with Sail, anyone with dedication can eventually make great work.
  • edited March 2008
    This is similar to the age old: Genius - being born this way, or through a lifetime of learning.
    Post edited by Zeehat on
  • Sometimes, neither. I have heard stories from my art professors of people who got into galleries simply because they knew the owner/curator. Another example of this: Thomas Kinkade.
  • edited March 2008
    The most difficult thing I find about art is being content with what you can currently do while looking at people three quarters your age pulling masterpieces out of their arses while knowing that there will always be someone better than you, no matter how you try.
    What you would describe as talent (innate ability?) is much less a "I can draw well" kind of thing. Drawing isn't something linear like running fast. What will help you, as Emily said on the podcast, is certain habits like constantly noticing things; Those small revelations about the way the world looks are part of what makes you improve.
    The other, in my case, is enjoying doing drawing and then when it is no longer enjoyable, stop. If you realize you are getting frustrated, put things on hold for a while then come back to it days, weeks or months later, you will notice a big improvement.
    Post edited by Omnutia on
  • Its all about dedication and patience, so called "talent" only goes so far, it's all about how serious you are about it, people that claim to have "talent" are actually people who love what they do to a point that they do it every day, at every moment of their lives, so when people ask them "How did you get so good?" they usually just say "It's been like this my whole life" and often don't even realize the actual amount of time and effort they have placed on their skill.

    Now I admit there are geniuses out there at everything, people that just "get it" but that is also a double edge sword, for example:

    I love to play the guitar, but my ear is not really that developed, some people are born with "perfect tone", they can tell when an instrument is not in tune, or when something doesn't sound right, the difference is, that probably I enjoy music more than the "perfect tone" guy, because I can jam with others and not notice the slight variations in the notes, the other just can't stand it, thats why few of them play in orchestras or bands, and go mostly "solo" their whole lives. Now, people claim they have "perfect tone" and probably someone here may claim so, and say they don't really have a problem with it, well... probably you don't, you just have a pretty good ear for music, a slightly out of tune instrument is like nails on a chalk board to people like that.

    So, to end this long rant, most all great artists are born by a labor of effort and sacrifice, the geniuses are the ones that more often than not live in seclusion or are not really understood. So if you want the "Mad Skillz" better start practicing and putting a real effort to your skill.
  • What I've experienced while being a guitar "teacher" is that when some students cover a song by some artist they can't at all get the rhythm of the song and it sounds close to painful. They always ask me: "When do I have to strum up and when do I have to strum down?". Other students just hear a song once, grab their guitar and can immediately play to the rhythm of the song. The only answer I can give the students who ask the somewhat stupid question is: "You have to "feel" it". Which is, as you can imagine, a very unsatisfying answer.

    But what is this "feeling"? I've had a friend who learned to play the guitar 4 years ago and still can't et the rhythm right...
  • I don't think that art skills universally translate either. You could be one of those rare souls who is facile with water color, piano and acting. More often, people fall into one category of art where they excel more than in others. Of course, there's always people like Leonardo da Vinci who was good at everything he did.
  • edited March 2008
    Talent or a big interest will get you started; hard work will keep you going - I think that summarizes my view.

    I don't have natural talent. There's tons of people my age out there that I see who rarely practice and never 'learned' it like I have who draw well, but I always will eventually pull past those because they're not actively learning how to improve it. I started with doodles, and started using 'How to draw' books, usually anime style, and that's how I got to where I am.
    some people are born with "perfect tone",
    I have a friend like that, but it's not instruments - it's singing. I can't sing near her at all, and I'm only slightly off key. She has to sing with a choir though apparently because she's a 'tuner' - can only sing using other people. She made it to the highest choir possible within our school, and they're good overall, but the one time there was a slightly off key person, she wouldn't stop griping about it. >
    Post edited by kage_rod on
  • edited March 2008
    When I say skill I mean that close to anyone could just take a book and learn how to draw/ make music. When I say talent I mean that someone who has talent could just draw much better pictures/ make better music than someone who had tried to learn for years.
    I can't speak about art because I'm a pretty shit artist, but, as far as music goes, it's all practice. When I first decided I wanted to play percussion, I thought I'd never be able to. I had more or less no sense of timing or keeping a beat. However, I just kept practicing with a metronome everyday because I wanted to be a good drummer so hard. Now, not to sound conceited or anything, but I'm a beast at the drums.
    Post edited by whatever on
  • edited March 2008
    , but, as far as music goes, it's all practice.
    Did you not read the thread? Some people need no practice at all. To some, it comes completely naturally- no practice required. This just means they are talented enough to not need practice, and still be better than some who do practice. I will put forth however, to get past a certain level, practice will be required.
    Post edited by Zeehat on
  • edited March 2008
    I will put forth however, to get past a certain level, practice will be required.
    That's pretty much what I meant. I can play percussion much better than people I know who are great but never practice.
    Post edited by whatever on
  • I recommend you going to and look through his newer journals, the answer lays there.
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