Do You Need To Have Talent?


  • SVS OG

    alt text

    Art by Mag Takac

    Can you make it in illustration if you hate storytelling? Do you need talent to be a great artist, or can you make it work without natural talent? And what if your agent doesn’t give you the jobs you want to work on? This week, Jake Parker, Lee White, and Will Terry go over these questions and provide their answers.

    Ask A Question!

    Click HERE to listen and read the shownotes.



  • Great episode. Super, super thought provoking..



  • Can't wait to pitch my books to Terry Parker White😅



  • Great episode. My favorite part was when I was mentioned...lol. Just kidding.
    I loved the discussion on talent. This is something I often wonder about. I think people who are naturally creative, are always coming up with original ideas, and easily find creative solutions will always find they have an edge in a field like illustration. So many people can draw. But it is that creative edge that really makes some people excel.



  • @kylebeaudette Haha! I came here to say that! 😁



  • I was so excited to see our own SVS licensing courses instructor Gina Jane (mentioned in this podcast) featured in the latest Leanin' Tree stationery catalog, did anyone else notice? She has a whole boxed set for the holidays! Festive, fun work you can see here: boxed set by Gina Jane I also took her class and highly recommend it, I'll take it again once I'm closer to being ready for licensing.



  • Beautifully illustrated podcast art @mag!

    Loved this podcast gents!

    Friends, family and strangers (non-artists) always say how talented I am, amazing skills, etc.; however, it’s just not true. Personally, I know my art is lacking the professional look and feel, and my portfolio is just not there…

    Nevertheless, I continue. When free time is afforded to me, I spend it learning and drawing and painting, doing master studies, putting in the time and effort to get better, even incrementally.

    I’m so grateful to have found SVS and this forum, especially the overwhelming positivity of the tribe, and willingness to offer honest criticism when sought after.

    I love seeing the artists here on SVS grow and improve, and achieve their goals of landing an agent and getting published.

    Happy to be here.



  • In regards to talent, I want to share a personal anecdote here.

    When I was a tiny preschool tot, the teacher put us all to draw the outline of a pine tree for Christmas or something. Everybody seemed to accomplish that... but me. I'm nearing 48 and still remember it vividly. Finally the teacher assisted me herself.

    In fact I never took drawing seriously until my mid-teens where it turned into a channel to address all my other teenage issues and because I felt I had enough ability to keep going. Mine is not that story of "being born with a pencil", more like one of being persistent enough to improve, or being too dumb to quit. I'm still deciding. 😅

    This said I remember the other classmates who were apparently gifted from birth with talent and drawing a million times better than me. I don't know what happened to them thereafter.



  • I was that kid who always drew, and was encouraged to draw by my arty Mum. People often commented how talented I was, and looking back I'm not sure that was such a good thing for my mindset. I skated into art college (TAFE here in Australia) and kinda skated through on my natural ability without ever having to actually knuckle down and do the work. Now, thirty years on I am only just starting to do the hard yards to improve my skills, and am seeing some improvement beyond being simply 'talented'. It's an exciting time, and I think SVS is going to play a big part in my continued growth.



  • This post is deleted!


  • I made the transition to do illustration in recent years. I went to art school for design education and worked as a designer for many years. But the reason I did not pursue fine art was that I did not get into the fine art study (I tried 2 times). The rejections made me believed that I was not talented/good enough to be an artist. I stopped drawing/painting for 15 years before I picked it up again. Since my design education was in art schools, I always joked that I was an art school student who does not know how to draw.

    I agree there is probably something about natural talent. But I almost wanted to ignore that, because if I grew up in a culture that values hard work rather than talent, I might stick with what I truely love to do and kept trying to get better and never left the path of pursuing to be an artist in the first place.

    I love the Ted talk by Elizabeth Gilbert about creative genius. In her talk, she mentioned how she spoke to this creavtive genius of hers:
    "Listen you, thing, you and I both know that if this book isn't brilliant that is not entirely my fault, right? Because you can see that I am putting everything I have into this, I don't have any more than this. If you want it to be better, you've got to show up and do your part of the deal...."

    https://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_your_elusive_creative_genius



  • I was also rejected from the art program - twice. I got in on my third try and I got a C at the beginning of all my art classes and ended at a B+ or A-.

    I personally don't think natural talent has anything to do with becoming a professional, they are usually just someone who has been at it for longer or is better at learning things quickly (possibly due to necessity and humility as they suggested). Or honestly just someone who hasn't believed the person or society who told them it wasn't possible to make it as an artist. I was never the best in school, not even in high-school and definitely not in college. And even as a professional been told I wasn't skilled as an Illustrator.

    I too feel frustrated when someone says "oh you're so talented" as it feels dismissive to the literal blood, sweat and tears I've put into becoming an artist.

    But, I'm too stubborn to stop or believe it's not possible to make it at an artist, so I continue working to improve, and I think that's the main reason I've been able have art be my full time career



  • I think a lack of natural ability can be overcome by effort to a point, but not everyone has the free time, support systems and encouragement it takes to get there.


  • SVS OG

    Great episode as always!

    To answer the first question of the episode, YES this is a huge business!!!!!!!!!!!! Licensing, surface pattern design, greeting cards and so on!!!!! I think her name was Lilly.

    Just wanted to add a few educators that I use as far as licensing and surface pattern design. This isn't to say that SVS isn't the source I refer everyone to that is building a foundation in art or interested in illustration. You guys are the best in this genre by far!!!!! but here are a few that have insane programs!

    Bonnie Christine and Katie Hunt are pretty elite in the education industry in their niches. Bonnie does surface pattern design but heavy on the business and licensing areas as well. Everything from an intense training in illustrator for repeat patterns to a monthly membership that covers all the phases of making a business. Things that are covered are email lists, contracts, pitching to companies. TONS!

    I am not a member of Katie Hunt's proof to product, but she is the real deal. She focuses on stationary. Really manufacturing and making your own products.

    I have spoken with Stacey Bloomfield of Gingerber and she is an amazing educator as well. Focuses on multi revenue streams.

    Take as many free mini courses as possible to see which educator suits you best.

    Good luck and can't wait to see your products in target!

    But still love you guys at SVS. I promise.



  • I have an interesting story regarding the talent part.

    I always remember having huge drawing difficulties, but always having my art teachers telling I was super talented. Even with my difficulties and my constant avoidance of drawing, I went to arts on secondary school, and ended up in a fine arts university.
    And I was so behind everyone else on drawing... so, so behind. At the end of the first semester, I thought I would flunk the class. I had a 13 (from 1 to 20).

    When I talked to the teacher on why I had the same grade of people who drew better,
    he said that if he picked the 1st and last drawings from half the class, there was no evolution at all. But if he picked mine, he would see the biggest evolution in the class.
    In the end he said that he was a teacher his entire life (he was almost 80 by then), and through his experience, he could bet that in 10 years, I would still be drawing and would have a art related career, but he doubted that half the other students would, even the ones who seemed better than me. I thought he was just being nice, but damn he was actually right. Bless that teacher, I don't know if I would still be here if he wasn't so supportive. He made me go from avoiding drawing every time I could, to "drawing is my passion".

    So, I'm not sure about talent, I'm not sure what that teacher saw in me, and I know my path has been hard because of my drawing difficulties, and that my career could be way more advanced if drawing came easier for me, but I also know that with effort, you can get far. Also, I would be way more advanced if I had just stick with drawing, drawing, drawing instead of going through the design path for so many years, but well, it was easier to make money on design, and I learned a ton on that path too so...


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @TaniaGomesArt that is a great story! I would like to elaborate on that point. Many times in the class the person I think is the "best" will not be the one with the most developed skills at that point. Their work wont be as polished, or as accurate, but still there is something there. Sometimes I can see that "x factor" even in a total beginners work, it just hasn't been totally exposed yet.


  • SVS OG

    @TaniaGomesArt Thanks so much for sharing your story. I am going to share this with my daughter. It's such a great example of how growth and passion come differently to everyone. I've been trying to give her examples this week from other artists that she is just at the beginning and that it's all about how much you love it and also how much you work at it. Thanks again!!!!!



  • @Whitney-Simms Glad you find it useful. I always get amazed with the different paths people went through. When I started on SVS, I was a bit frustrated that at my age, I was still trying, I was still learning, I was going to the basics AGAIN, and I was still struggling with so many things in drawing. Since I'm here, I've been seeing so many different stories, people that started later than me, people that started at my age and are now successful... It made me feel much better with myself for sure. 🙂



  • @versaceian Same here. I always drew cartoons and my own comics since I was a little kid. I added cartoons and comics in projects at every chance I had throughout school — projects, essays, all over my binders, cassette and CD labels (even floppy disks), even in chalk on my uniform (I got bawled out by a teacher for that one).

    It wasn’t until post-secondary when I took proper art classes so it was always a passion thing for me. My talent, I think, came from having read a ton of Peanuts comics as a kid. Or at least, that’s how I learned to draw and set up scenes.


Log in to reply