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Friday July 12, 2013, at 10:25 pm


When we talk about artists, whether they are making movies, comic books, novels or anything else the word that most often seems to come up is talent. That’s reasonable these people are most certainly talented, but it’s important to remember that there is a lot more to any of these than talent. Talent is an inborn ability, but none one of those very talented people have created the things you like based solely on talent.

I have spent a fair amount of time around comic book artists so know that group better than many of the others and while I respect their skill it the amount of effort and work ethic that really impresses me, because there are ten people with artistic talent for every skilled artist.  The skilled artist is the one who got up two hours before work to learn to do something better and then after work when everyone else was relaxing went back out and did another hour because it wasn’t quite right yet. They are the people who give up something because they understand that you can’t succeed without a lot of effort and that doesn’t scare them away.

The most basic number that I assume is ten thousand. It takes ten-thousand hours to become a master at a skill. And for artists that’s often ten thousand hours that they aren’t getting paid at all, or getting paid a lot less than they could have been paid doing something else.  To put that in perspective, if you work forty hours a week for fifty weeks a year that’s 2000 hours, so that artist who does the comic book you like spent five years full time, and even if you don’t consider them a master they’ve still spent a lot of time, effort and even money to perfect something simply because they love to do it. And while ten thousand hours is the beginning for the people who want to be the best, the ones whose names you know and impress you by doing something you hardly knew was possible that was just a down payment. They’re still improving and while they might love it, don’t forget that it’s still work. And even if they love doing it they still have days they’d rather be doing other things.

So the next time you want to complement how talented someone is don’t forget the skill that they paid for and include it as well as the inborn talent, because hard work and passion are a far greater measure for success than any amount of inborn talent. And if you happen to be interested in making art yourself, whether it’s music, painting, illustration, writing or anything else remember that if you work hard enough and long enough you can get there. But don’t expect overnight success unless you’ve been laying the groundwork for at least a few years.


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