- On November 11, 2015
10,000 Hours of Art
Is Talent Enough?
Why are some artists so much more skilled than others? Are they more talented, intelligent, or hard working? Possibly, especially the hard working aspect. However, this is not the whole story.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote in Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery of any field. Art is no different. His research observed that the level of skill and success achieved by test groups was directly related to the subject’s time investment in practice rather than their level of individual talent at the start.
Subjects who practiced more were better, regardless of how much or how little talent they possessed when they began.
This means that natural talent will rapidly become less important than hard work, no matter how bright your beginning. People with more natural talent will be inspired to practice more, but anyone can achieve success if they put in the time. You can be as good as you are willing to practice to be, regardless of where you began.
Why is this important? If your goal is to be the best artist you can be, you need to have a strategy for putting in your 10,000 hours. At some point, you will either fall in love with your practice, making this pursuit cease to be work, or you will drop away and others will take your seat.
Here’s what 10,000 hours looks like:
10,000 hours = 40 hours per week for 4.8 years
10,000 hours = 20 hours per week for 9.6 years
10,000 hours = 10 hours per week for 19.2 years
10,000 hours = 5 hours per week for 38.46 years
If this isn’t motivation to find ways to make your art into your day job, I don’t know what is! Full time, you can be a master of your art in just under 5 years.
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“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
– Steve Jobs