Every time I hear people talking about talent or see some pseudo artistic works/behaviours I’m prompted to the same deliberation: What is talent? Is there anything like talent at all? Why do I come across this word so often? Do people attach no importance to it or just concider it absolutely common?
I came to the conclusion that what we know as “talent” it is a mix of imagination, sense and probably some kind of ability of thinking within the particular subject (eg. being able to combine perfect notes for piano or colors while designing). I've encountered many people who started learning at the age of 18 or 25 knowing absolutely nothing about drawing. They couldn't draw a stickman, to be honest. But what they did was draw and draw and draw 24/7. After some time they really performed well. They did great things. Watchers (the non-drawers) saw their photorealism works and said "wow you are SO talented!". 90% of the society can't distinguish talent from hard work. If somebody draws or can play an instrument well or sing or dance they immediately are told to have TALENT. That’s a false assumption. ‘Cause is the talent something we acquire overnight? The group of mentioned drawers – a month earlier nobody claimed they had talent. Moreover, some of them were called life failures. You tell me “Oh, they of course had talent, they just didn’t know about it. But the time they started drawing it showed up”. Bullshit.
I can’t stand it when others look at a plain portrait I’ve just drawn from life and tell me I’m talented. Maybe I am talented, maybe I am not, but you don’t know that, and simply can not state it in this particular case. Not by looking at a photorealism portrait. It proves my manual skill only, nothing more. I feel the same watching some dancers or acrobats on the TV. That’s no talent, folk. That’s goddamn HARD WORK!
Mozart composed his first little pieces at the age of 5. He was talented - he learnt faster than others could, he SAW things others didn't. But if he left the piano and didn't pracise those X hours, he wouldn't be able to play turkish march, because it would be technically too demanding. For his fingers as well as for his untrained mind.
If I started playing piano today and practised 10 hours day by day, in 3 years time I would be a virtuoso. 10 000 hours you do need to spend on an activity to become a master. The talent is what lets you invent a work that would be known world-wide. The talent is what marks you out from the mob of other artists. The talent is what lets you make up something different on your own. Nevertheless success is only 10% talent 90% hard work. But the truth is to succeed you don’t often need talent at all.
I claim that by repeating schemes you do train your mind. If you train your mind, you are able to learn basic creativity as well. But the best ones, the talented, are able to do something above it. And it is about their mind. People with autism - math savants, amazing scupturors, they – I’m certain – do have true talent.
So, if my hitherto analyses are true, why is it used to describe ‘art’ domains mainly? Painting, instrument-playing. But also singing and dancing (!), that bothers me... Acrobatics even! Why? What is singing, if not a result of our body shape (the vocal cords) which we were born with? Everybody would be able to use their voice clearly, without false notes, if they only trained long enough. But not everybody would become singers, because their genes wouldn’t allow it. Their perfectly-trained voice would be too harsh or they simply wouldn’t be able to produce that superb shift on higher notes. All that because of their DNA which they wouldn’t be able to change. So why are singers called “talented”? Is a perfect-shaped model also talented? I guess not. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? For me these two are exactly the same.
By the way, if dancing, if acrobatics, why don’t people say it about running? Why aren’t runners talented? It’s also about our body practise, isn’t it? About cooperation of muscles, about self-discipline. If a thing so natural like sport, why not work? Why can’t a man be a talented programist? A talented speaker? A talented inventor? These domains seem much more complicated to me; they recquire special abilities only few possess. But it’s the SINGERS that are appreciated! To be honest, I don’t understand it. Why is the word “talent” being overused among some branches of our life, causing them to be privileged, while others concidering worthless?
I have no aversion for singing or dancing. I dance as well and I like it. I draw, because I like it. Maybe some day I could live out of drawing. But still, I don’t think of myself as an artist. I’m just a “painter”. My paintings are just “works”. I do play piano a little bit. I feel relaxed and excited at the same time and get gooseflesh while performing. Still, I don’t call myself an artist. I’m just a “piano player”. I used to be a swimmer once. Couple of championships won. But I had no talent. I just did some workout.
For me, art should be a combination of concepts, of actual thoughts AND manual skills. In dadaizm man took an urinal, sticked a piece of cake in it and told people it was art. I don’t actually think I would call it this way. Even assuming that the author stuck some hidden meaning there. Well, I won’t forbid anybody to call himself an “artist”. I just think this word, as well as “talent”, is being… overused. Shouldn’t it be reserved for the ones, who truly deserve it? Nowadays every kid is told to be talented, because it can read at the age of 4 or hop 10 times on a skipping rope. It has become a kind of a society illness where people crave for attention, crave for being famous and better than others. They crave for being assured that they are special, unusual, exceptional. And the truth is, when everybody’s unsusual, nobody is.
There is neither criteria nor a constant border of what we can call art. Somebody will say “Malevich is a true artist. Just look at the black square - the design, the intention of it, marvellous!” - I won’t quarrel about his taste, of sort. Neither about people’s drawing from left to right instead of from the whole to detail, doing a work which u can’t tell from a photo at every pixel. But tell me: is being a printer also a talent? Art (starting with capital) should induce particular emotions on us! Cause anxiety or make us ponder a while!
The only question you need to ask, when seeing somebody’s work: Does this really deserve being called “talent” or “art”? We truly underestimate these two words. We overuse them. In our world of deviations and wonders haven’t they become meaningless?
It's just that I wanted to share my opinion, see if you think the same or make you concider my words, cause some brainstorm maybe.
In the end I would like to thank CrimsonCreek for her post, it somehow made me think the whole issue over.