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PE: Mastery and Purpose in Your Art

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 1:49 PM


"Wow, you’re so talented, I could never draw like that even in a million years!"

"You’re either really good at art or you aren’t."

"Some people have all the talent, and I’m not one of them."

We hear and see things like this all the time and people with the middle to high range art skills know these comments are just not true. As author Geoff Colvin says in his book by the same title, "Talent is overrated," and really it is. There is no such thing as one person being born super talented and another having none at all or other such myths in art like that. The only difference between you the beginner artist and that artist way up at the top is hard work, smart work and time.

One major study (listed in 'Talent Is Overrated') showed that there was no such thing as the ‘talented’ elite who hardly work and just come out on top. It was found that there was no such thing as the person who just worked super hard consistently and didn’t come out as the best of the best. Usually the people at the top worked much, much harder than everyone else. While this study I’m referring to was in music, it pertains to art just the same.


7 years of improvement by WingedGenesis5:thumb317312049: Draw This Again - Winter Melody by N-Maulina


So you want to be a great artist and be up there with the exclusive bests? It’s possible, but before you even start to plan how to make it there, you need to ask yourself some serious questions. As a famous quote, sometimes attributed to Francis Chan, goes "We don’t really fear success. What we fear is succeeding in something that doesn’t matter." So why not make sure you’re succeeding in something that matters to you before starting out?

1) What is my passion in life? Aka what do I wake up thinking about every morning that motivates me to keep going? Is it art or an art form I’m already trying to get better at? Or is it something else?

2) Is this something I can make money at?

3) Can I be the best in the world in this area? Will my passion for this and ability to make real, honest, non-delusional income with this actually propel me forwards to be the best?

If you can’t answer yes to all three of these areas you may need to re-think your art career.

I say this because you could make money at art and but if you’re not 100% passionate about what you do you will be passed up by the person with passion every time on the way to the top.

You may want to be the best singer in the world but if you don’t have the natural ability to sing you aren’t going to be a singer no matter how passionate about it you are. That's why you need to make sure you actually have some ability in the field you're choosing.

With the profits part, you’d better know that no matter what you do you’ll need money. Mostly because housing and food is important to your life goals. If you’re hungry you will become more passionate about eating then about your true calling if you get my drift. You need money to take care of the necessities and to open up more opportunities to you.

Spend as much time on these questions as you need. Art is so broad that you may just need to narrow down your passion to a certain field. It could be pasta art, crocheting voo-doo dolls, making robots out of cake or even covering rooms in glitter. Whatever your pinpoint area is, make sure the other two areas of profit and potential align with the passion and you’ll be well on your way to discovering your purpose.


Improvment Meme 2005-2012 by Minzile2002 - 2009 Improvment  Meme by DreamsOfALostSpiritImprovment Meme- redone by AJ333Weena and works:  2003 to 2009 by Alice-Bobbaji


Now that you’ve gotten the purpose part of art out of the way you’re ready for the next part; the deep truth about talent and mastery. Mastery takes three simple steps that you probably already know. No matter what area you strive to reach success in, that area will take these three steps.

1) Hard work.

2) Smart work.

3) Time.

Hard work is a given and most people know that. The thing is there is a shortage of people who actually do work hard. There isn’t a shortage of people who say they work hard for sure, but the people who truly do are rare and this is why success seems like it’s so difficult. If you want to reach the top in any area of art or life you must be willing to put in 10,000 hours of work towards mastering that area.

Now, this is where smart work comes in. You may look and think to yourself “10,000 hours… that’s about 10 years! I’ve been drawing for well over 10 years with little success! Why am I not a master yet?” That’s because you’ve been doing 1 hour, 10,000 times over. This 10,000 hours thing isn’t a, “Oh, I hit 10,00 hours, I’m a master now!” idea. It’s an “I worked on something new and challenging every hour for 10,000 hours, pushing my comfort level and skills every second of each drawing” sort of objective.  

Hard work alone isn’t enough; you need to be willing to push yourself hard every day of your life with your art skills. Every new drawing you need to evaluate what you did well and what you did poorly. You need to look at and go “what did I do right?” and “what did I do wrong?” Then you need to take that ‘wrong’ part and make an effort to improve it in the next drawing while continuing to do what was ‘right’ for you.

Add a new skill to every commission, personal drawing and even sketch. You’ve got to make sure to draw every day even if it’s just a doodle or 5 minutes worth of work otherwise you will go backwards. That’s where the passion comes in, it’ll keep you drawing or creating even when you don’t always feel up to it. Good sailors come from bad seas, aka challenging yourself is the only way to improve.

The last component is time. You’re not going to improve overnight, in a week or even a month unless you are consistent. You probably won’t notice improvement until one day you look at a piece you just finished and compare it with something you did 6-12 months ago. It will be frustrating feeling like you’re going at a snail’s pace. In reality if you’re working hard every day really you’ll be going at a running pace and you just won’t see it at first. 


Draw This Again: The Ladybug by seniferreiraDraw This Again 2010-2012 by Chemical-Exorcist


Art is a marathon. You start out barely able to go, tired and ready to quit. If you don’t quit and you keep pushing, you will start to feel more energized and ready to keep running. While you may not yet see the end ahead yet you can see that you’ve come a long way.

As you near the finish line, your vision for how great you can be appears. This vision will spur you to gain even more momentum and energy at seeing you’re nearly finished. When you reach the end, you will have that huge thrill of success and victory. You’ll want to get started on your next big race right away.

Art is a never ending set of races. You will have to improve continuously until the day you die and that’s the beauty of it all. So you’ve got to go from race to marathon to 5k to practice to meet and onwards forever and ever. You always have to be reaching a new level of mastery and being the best artist you can be.

So, before you decide art isn’t for you because you just don’t see improvement, go back and look at your earliest drawings. If you’re in the middle skill level and you just don’t know if you can make it, go look at the improvement memes of your favorite artists and get hope that you’re nearly to the top you envision. If you’re at the top don’t forget to put together those improvement memes and show off that you started out the same as everyone else all that time ago. 


Draw this again by Tanya Bosyk by tanyabosykimprovement meme 2.0 by DetkefElven Archer: before and after by phomax


I hope this article and these featured artists and improvement memes inspire you to find your purpose in art so you have the tenacity to reach for mastery in your field. I hope you never say “I can’t do it because I wasn’t born with all the talent that so-and-so was!” ever again because now you know you can reach that level of skill too if you apply yourself. Go out there and be the best artist you can be, fulfilling your purpose as an artist and achieving mastery yourself so you can give hope to thousands in the future.



Ever wondered how people at the top got to the top? Think you can't get there too? This is the article for you where the truth will be shared and you'll see you can do it all as well.

Deviation Credits(in order of shown):
*WingedGenesis5
=Yunabella
=N-Maulina
*Minzile
~DreamsOfALostSpirit
*AJ333
*Alice-Bobbaji
~seniferreira
=Gold-Seven
*Chemical-Exorcist
*tanyabosyk
*Detkef
*phomax


Information credits/books on these subjects:
Resolved: 13 resolutions for life by Orrin Woodward
Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Add a Comment:
 
:iconjorik-spiritwolves:
Jorik-Spiritwolves Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Hobbyist
A lot of this is so~ true
But it is also true that some people do have in-born talent/gift for art :D
Though they would've never come where they are now if they didn't work hard as well
and you have put up such great improvement meme's (credit for the artists as well ofcourse) to illustrate your story
Nicely written ^^
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
sorry for the long not reply ^^;

Glad you agree with most of it. Yes some people are able to learn faster than others and have a natural knack for it but talent alone won't get you somewhere (with the extremely rare exception of a protegee), it'll still take work.

Thank you :la:
Reply
:iconjorik-spiritwolves:
Jorik-Spiritwolves Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Hobbyist
True!

And you're most welcome :D
Hope you had fun yesterday ;D
Reply
:icongold-seven:
Gold-Seven Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you for the feature! :)
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Welcome, thanks for sharing such an awesome improvement meme :meow:
Reply
:iconwhitekimahri:
WhiteKimahri Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012
As a struggling artist myself, I find this a truly inspiring article. I perhaps tend to diminish the importance of patience and perseverance in the growing process. I really need to revise my state of mind.

Do you mind if I translate this enlighting news into my native language (Italian), so that my fellow community friends will enjoy it the most? Appropriate credit will be given by all means. :)
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Very glad you like it :heart:

And yes by all means translate this, I'm very flattered you like it that much :blush:
Reply
Hidden by Owner
Hidden by Owner
:iconminzile:
Minzile Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012   General Artist
:heart: thank you very much!
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Welcome, thanks for sharing your improvement meme with us :D
Reply
:iconarichy:
Arichy Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:clap:
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:meow:
Reply
:iconhopperskotch:
HopperSkotch Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Yay for artists! *applause*
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:icondancelaplz:
Reply
:icongold-beetle:
gold-beetle Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This has really been a reality check, I need to work a lot harder to become the artist I wanna be. :D
Thanks so much <3
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome, glad it's helped :meow:
Reply
:icondevious-snake:
devious-snake Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Student General Artist
It may not always seem like it but this is all 100% true, I've been avoiding drawing people for awhile, and I'm making myself face the ugly truth and continue to draw people and practice, I spent all morning while doing laundry working on a single pose but I'm very happy with how it turned out. Hard work and the will to keep trying even when you're embarrassed by your work will go a long way
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Very true, thanks for the awesome comment :la:
Reply
:icontheartistyk:
TheArtistyk Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very beautiful, inspiring, and motivational, especially for those budding artists who sometimes lose confidence! Great job~ :heart:
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much :heart:
Reply
:icontheartistyk:
TheArtistyk Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No problem!
Reply
:iconsquirrelgirl15:
SquirrelGirl15 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is awesome and super motivational! Thanks for putting this together!!!
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad you like :heart:
Reply
:iconsonicmasterhero:
SonicMasterHero Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012
I'll take part in this event!
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Be sure to send `JamminJo and/or =ValaSedai a note to see if there's still a spot open this week or for next time :D
Reply
:iconjamminjo:
JamminJo Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Well Done :la:

Your Awesome :#1:
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you Jo :heart:
Reply
:iconjamminjo:
JamminJo Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Welcome :)
Reply
:iconshadowqueen25:
ShadowQueen25 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
I'm going to print this out
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
D'aww I'm flattered :meow: Thanks Squeen!
Reply
:iconanyluck:
AnyLuck Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012
This is a really interesting article and important, because it highlights not only the need to work for what you want, but the potential pay-off of that work.

That said, I think it's one of life's greatest tragedies that while hard work alone will almost always beat talent alone, hard work will never beat talent and hard work combined. And the greatest road is not from good to great but from bad to average. You touch on it with the three questions, and this paragraph: You may want to be the best singer in the world but if you don’t have the natural ability to sing you aren’t going to be a singer no matter how passionate about it you are. That's why you need to make sure you actually have some ability in the field you're choosing.

:facepalm: Erm, forgive me for bringing melancholy to what is an inspirational and well-written article.
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I'll have to semi agree with you on that. I believe there are just a handful of things where yes you are either born with it or you're not but art is not one of those things. Singing is one of the rare things where you do have to have some ability. While a lot of ability can be learned you won't really ever be great at it unless you have some ability there.

But most of the big things like composing, art, sports, etc you can learn to be really good at with a ton of applied effort.

Thanks for bringing up the great point though :)
Reply
:iconanyluck:
AnyLuck Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012
I think semi-agree is right for me, as well. And I don't mean that as a euphemism for "disagree". :lol: I don't believe myself that talent is necessarily a quantifiable thing. It's a different something for everyone. But I believe technical brilliance is not enough. There needs to be something more there. And perhaps--and I emphasize the perhaps--that can't be learned.

And it's just... We only see the people who have worked hard and are successful, because those who have worked hard and are not successful are invisible.

Thanks for the article. Like I said, it's interesting. And interesting makes me ramble. But, yeah, I'll shut up now. :D
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
No no, it's all good. Thank you for the awesome comments :heart:
Reply
:iconanyluck:
AnyLuck Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012
I meant hardest road, not greatest, but I think you get my drift. :lol:
Reply
:iconrequiemachina:
Requiemachina Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012
This is such an interesting article.

Nicely written!
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you :la:
Reply
:iconrequiemachina:
Requiemachina Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012
no problem man!
Reply
:iconvalasedai:
ValaSedai Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
A very inspiring article. A lot of people should really take your words to heart. :)
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! And thank you for allowing me to participate :heart:
Reply
:iconvalasedai:
ValaSedai Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The pleasure is really all ours. ^^
Reply
:iconseniferreira:
seniferreira Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Wow! What an honor to be featured here especially amongst so many fantastic artworks. Thank you very much :) And I have to say, I totally agree with every thing said in the post, too many people say that they "could never draw like that in a million years!" and I also think that most of the times it isn't like that, practice leads to "perfection", you can't achieve anything without practice. Congratulations to all the artists featured and keep submitting those improvement memes to encourage other artists :hug:
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you :)

And as I said before, you're welcome and thanks for sharing that improvement meme with all of us :D
Reply
:iconque-ink:
Que-ink Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
hmmm...interesting article~
Reply
:iconaj333:
AJ333 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! :meow:
Reply
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