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Twelve years from hobbyist to pro

Want to check out an excellent post for people who a) like cool artwork and b) want to be a professional in a creative field? Well, here you go:

How I Became an Artist: The 12 year journey of my art thus far.

Takeaway: At the start, he wasn’t much better than me. Maybe a little better. At the end, he’s creating art so cool that it’s downright spooky.

But there’s no mention of the word talent–except once, in quote marks. All he talks about is hard work, and education. When he was starting out, he found a useful community for mutual support and critique. As he continued, he took classes, worked on techniques to improve the places he felt weak, continued to strengthen his strong points, and he practiced like whoa.

It’s a reflection of the growth mindset discussed in (among many others) this Atlantic article: Don’t Call Kids Smart. The way to find success is to force yourself to grow and improve, and to expect it to take a long time and a lot of work.

This is important. Too many people would look at the art at the bottom of that page, think how talented! and assume his ability to create that artwork comes from some spooky inborn trait. It doesn’t. It’s just hard work and self-education.

This is something I’m trying to impart to my son. It doesn’t have to be art; it can be anything. You suck at things when you start out, and you get better over time. With extra effort, you get really good. That’ what it takes.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 8th, 2015 05:39 am (UTC)
That is remarkably inspiring. I had a junior colleague who took a year of unpaid leave to study pottery with a master in Japan (he had practiced it as a hobby for years, with a master in his home country and already had a fairly high level of skill). No-one thought that he would come back, but he did, and when I asked why he said that he had realised that he could become a master, but only by devoting his whole life to it. He had other things that he wanted to do as well, so he decided to return to the job and do them, and be content to remain a good amateur potter.

Apparently a lot of Japanese take up all manner of traditional arts in their retirement, and practice them to mastery. The gardens of the Imperial palaces are maintained by volunteer amateur pruners chosen by audition. It is considered, obviously, a great honour.

Edited at 2015-07-08 05:41 am (UTC)
Jul. 8th, 2015 01:30 pm (UTC)
It's the same way for writing, or anything. It takes a crazy amount of dedication to become good, and all that work time is subtracted from living.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )