Talent vs Skill

A topic I’ve been meaning to discuss for a while is Talent versus Skill. It kind of irks me when someone mentions talent, because it sort of implies that you haven’t worked hard for your ability. I know it’s always used as a compliment, but really SKILL is what really should be acknowledged.

But what’s the difference between Talent & Skill?

An aptitude is a component of a competency to do a certain kind of work at a certain level. Aptitudes may be physical or mental. Aptitude is not knowledge, understanding, learned or acquired abilities (skills) or attitude. The innate nature of aptitude is in contrast to achievement, which represents knowledge or ability that is gained.

So.. Talent (or Aptitude) is natural or innate ability. Skill requires knowledge and ability that is gained through learning / practice (HARD WORK).

Albert Einstein said “Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work…”

I think everyone is born with some kind of gift. Whether you nurture it and progress it is up to you, and you alone. It’s not raw talent that will get you anywhere, it’s the time you put in to develop this talent into a true skill. Lots of people are talented, but also lots of people don’t make use of this talent and let it go to waste.

I also once read somewhere that it takes 10,000 hours to become a ‘Master’ at something. Whether it be painting, music, science etc. For instance, it would take 10 years of practicing 3 hours a day to become a master in your subject or 5 years of full-time employment to achieve this 10,000 hours. This means that ANYONE can become a master; regardless of initial talent. If you’ve ever wished to become good at something but don’t believe you have the ability then this method proves that you can master a skill by time & hard work alone.

I *try* to draw or paint every day. Even if it is just a little bit. Even if it is just the 10 minutes that I’m on the bus waiting for my stop. Keeping a sketchbook with me all the time has been the best possible investment into myself (and boredom) I’ve ever made. I’ve definitely improved my skill over the past year. For instance; At the start of 2010, I realised that I could not draw people to save myself. (Now you’re probably thinking – you’re being dramatic) But it’s true. I used to hide behind drawing make believe characters which came easy but didn’t really further my skill.
So my first ever sketchbook I made it my goal to get better at drawing people.

Here’s an example of this 10,000 hours of practice thing specific to me (Warning Terrible early drawings are about to be shown):

Left: 2009 / Right: 2011

Left: 2010 / Right: 2011 (Last painting I’ve finished)

So you can definitely see the improvement (I hope!) between the 2 years.

Those earlier works are Terrible and every time I look at them I cringe really badly. I’m super embarrassed about them but I had to show you guys what I mean about putting in TIME if you want to improve. Every piece of work you do, you get better. You learn to use the pencil or brush in a different way. You adapt to the medium every time you use it. Even now with my latest work I tend to not be totally satisfied with it. But that’s natural progression. That is the force that will push you to want to get better. I’m nowhere near where I want to be in terms of skill, but glad that I’ve recognised that there’s some serious work and time to put in to get where I want to be in the future.

Raymond Klecker, An Artist buddy gave me this quote – “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem wonderful at all.” – Michelangelo

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Are you trying to master something?

For now here’s some more progress on this latest painting.


2 Responses to “Talent vs Skill”

  1. Rhonnie says:

    Awesome post Sam!! Totally agree and you can most certainly see the difference. Your latest piece is amazing, it looks like a photo it’s so realistic. All the layers and intricate details that make it up – it’s really quite astounding. It’s actually comforting seeing your early works compared to your more recent works and how your skill has developed. Very inspiring :)

  2. Christopher says:

    I think about this way to much and I’m glad we’re thinking the same way. Loving every new piece you put up dude! Keep it coming and always remember why and for who you are hopefully doing it for.

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