What even is talent anyway

shoes Something I've been thinking about quite a bit lately is the idea of talent. To be talented is to have a natural aptitude or skill. This word is often used to describe creatives, especially successful creatives, and in some ways implies an entitlement to that creative success.

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As someone who creates a lot of different things, I have been described as "talented"(side note, this is not a descriptor which comes to mind when I think about how I describe myself), but really, looking back on my artistic journey, and the artistic journey of my peers, talent has played a very minimal part in any success we may have had.


Personally, I grew up in a middle class house hold with no siblings, and two parents who are creative, and encouraged my creativity, and funded a well rounded musical education. They provided (and still provide) unending encouragement and  support. Without their passion for the arts, and their encouragement there is no way I would have ended up as a professional musician. I personally have also put in countless hours of work to develop my skills. Basically without the resources and drive, this "natural aptitude" I have for the arts wouldn't nearly be as refined.


I suppose it's why I always feel super uncomfortable whenever someone goes on about my "talent" (as I said before, it implies I am entitled to any creative success I've had). I don't deserve any creative success I've had, I've just been lucky to stumble upon a set of fortunate circumstances.

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Taking the focus off my personal experiences, I've observed a few peers reach creative success, who were not described as talented through much of my compulsory education. These people are exceptional at their craft, and have worked very hard to get where they were, despite lacking that early "talent" descriptor.


I feel like the idea of talent, especially when describing small children, is one that places limitations on some, whilst removing those same limitations for others. It's for this reason I do not use the talented descriptor when talking to/about my students. Instead I prefer to describe them as displaying potential. When my students do well, instead of telling them how great they are, I commend their hard work, because, at the end of the day, having raw talent without hard work and a bit of luck rarely reaps creative rewards.


Let's take the focus away from teaching for a bit and talk about this idea of talent when it comes to making clothes. I can't tell you the amount of times I've had a conversation about the construction of a skirt I've made which ends with the other party lamenting their lack of talent, implying that sewing is either a skill you have, or don't have, rather than a skill that can be learned by anyone.

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I suppose what I'm trying to say is that talent isn't a prerequisite for being creative, nor does the possession of talent make anyone entitled to creative success.