Not born with it
I believe we all have some kind of passion within us. For some of us it’s having a particular passion for cooking or for racing cars. For others it’s for dribbling a basketball. None of us were born with a talent. But at some point in our development years or even later, we become passionate about something. We pursue it or we ignore it. If we pursue it long enough we become good at it, and as such “talented”. Turning a passion into a talent is what it’s all about.
When I was a student at the Academy of Art in San Francisco I wanted to be a Disney animator. I had been drawing since I could first hold a pencil. I thought I was pretty good at drawing until I got to the Academy. There I learned that I had to be a beginner all over again. But this pushed me to succeed. I had to accept that I had a LOT to learn.
I made an effort to learn as much as I could from my teachers, who were all incredibly gifted in art. But importantly I would also pay attention to what the other art students were producing and what direction they wanted to go in art. Eventually some of my friends would be hired as animators at Disney and Dreamworks. During my freshman year one of my friends close friend, who had just graduated from the Academy, had been hired to LucasFilm. I remember hearing the stories of his experiences working for George Lucas and getting to know him. This was a big turning point for me. Later I started hearing news of talented Seniors finding art jobs in companies like Hallmark cards and Fox Animation. This inspired me to practice drawing day and night.
Practice makes perfect
For about three years in the mid-1990’s I was a workshop junkie. That is, I was an art student who attended drawing workshops at the Academy almost daily, in addition to being a full time student. The many 3 hour weekly workshops that I frequented ranged from 1 min poses to 3 hour poses. They were held Monday through Saturdays throughout the school year. There were fashion workshops, clothed figure workshops and nude figure workshops. Most of them were focused on drawing, but you could bring in your paints too.
The most popular of the weekly workshops was on Friday nights; quick drawing. The student who ran it always had great models, great music and great stories. We all enjoyed the workshop. It was broken up into 1 min, 2 min, 3 min and 5 min poses. If you were one of the Academy’s top drawing students you were there. This attracted a lot of us to the Friday night drawing group. The Friday night session was how we learned what the other students were doing. For those with eyes and ears that wanted to improve, we would check out someones sketchbook. And if David Mar was using a Pigma micron 005 pen to sketch people on the Muni, we would do the same.
If someone says you can’t, do it anyway
Mozart didn’t know how to play the piano fresh out of the womb. Perhaps close to it though. He just happened to really like music at a very young age and when he was old enough to hit the keys he practiced. He had all the right support and tutelage plus the incredible passion for it which is how he became a child prodigy. Then later a legendary composer. But it all started with a passion.
Practicing your passion is what it’s all about. If you love something, do it. It doesn’t matter what someone says about you or your skills. Do it in spite of them. Do not give up. Work harder and smarter. You will find your happy place and someday it will become a “talent”.
I believe we all have something we are naturally drawn to. For those that practice their passion often they get good at it. It’s just how it works. But don’t forget to take breaks so you don’t burn out or lose interest. Breaks are necessary for the longevity required to be “talented”.
Take advice from Forrest Gump when recounting his success: “When I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go, you know, I went.”