“One Question: Talent” at Balticon 2012 (pt 1 of 2)

Balticon 46 logo
Balticon 46

This year I had the privilege and pleasure of attending Balticon 46. I’ve been to game and fantasy conventions before, but never Balticon, and I had heard it was THE con to attend for podcasters and new media creators and fans alike.

Wow.  Yeah.  It was amazing… fabulous panel discussions, great events, remarkable guests… and you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting an author, editor, publisher, or podcaster (I tried and, for the record, it wasn’t a real cat and I apologize to John Mierau for any injuries sustained during the experiment).  I learned so much and had the pleasure of finally meeting people who had existed only as voices in my iPad.  Just amazing.

Brion was unable to make the scene (with some excuse about continuing the education of our nation’s youth or something) but I had to share the awesomeness with him.  So I walked around the convention asking these remarkable creators one question:

“Is talent something you’re born with, or is it something you acquire?”

I recorded each response (and thank you to everyone who participated) and now I get to play them back to Brion. Of course, being the wind-bags that we are, we can’t pass up the opportunity to wax philosophical about each one and it leads to some great discussion about creativity.

 What about you?

What’s your take on the whole “talent” issue? Is it something you’re born with?  Can it be developed or is it a finite thing? And (perhaps more importantly) how do YOU integrate that into your own life and creations?

[caution: mature language – listener discretion is advised]

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Comments (14)

I’m only partway thru this, but this is a hoot-and-a-half.

I particularly like your chat-up between.

Thanks, Nathan! We figured it would just be a quick recording – 18 minutes of interviews, maybe 20 minutes of commentary. Turns out A) the interviews were REALLY intriguing and B) Brion and I are windbags. Who knew? So BAM… 2-part podcast. 😉

Michael Brudenell

And we will be the better for it. Thanks Dave.

Don’t wait until you’re 80 to give yourself permission to be awesome!
You guys rock!!

That’s one of my favorites. 🙂

Don’t try doing something that’s not you, you will suck!

To clarify a little bit:
I do indeed dislike attributing any mystical properties to the word “talent”. The best I can do is quantify it as skill divided by effort, but these two concepts are also difficult to measure. And coming up with any number and appropriate units doesn’t answer what talent is. I mean, coolness per hour? Calling it something generic like ‘talent’ and not caring about the probably infinite ways people combine their abilities and experience to create art makes me sad because it doesn’t tell anyone how they got there and doesn’t teach potentially creative people how to find their special niche. I’d rather pinpoint a specific skill (photographic memory with drawing, mental dexterity with music, etc.) so those who have these skills can learn at a young age what others may have taken a lifetime to apply.

I completely agree, Bryan. In fact, every discussion/argument I’ve ever had about this ultimately breaks down to semantics. “Talent” is as hard to quantify as “love” and no single definition seems to fulfill every aspect of its context (although “coolness per hour” is pretty awesome. “Yeah, I hit about 150 CPH during that interview”). 😉

Both you and Nathan touched on the notion of combination and integration of diverse skills and qualities in your interview and I really think that comes closest to expressing the nature of the phenomena. Every creative endeavor draws upon a wide spectrum of perceptions, experiences, and knowledge… the fusion of those into a “successful” (more vaguery) creation is complex and unique, not only to each individual, but each individual in that moment.

I agree with you that people use the term too casually. The notion that some might actually be considering NOT pursuing a craft or art form because they may not have any “talent” breaks my heart. Lacking the scientific background to do anything about that, the best I can do is keep people (like you and everyone on the podcast) talking and thinking about it. 🙂

I think there are gifts, talents and passions. Gifts are things we are born with, talents are things we can learn and passions are what fuel our energy. If all three line up, we have something amazing!

Michael Brudenell

Love it!

In my years at Massachusetts College of Art this subject came up frequently. We would talk about “Craft” Vs. “Creativity”. Craft referred to learn-able quantifiable skills (although that some learned skills more quickly than others was referred to as “Natural Ability”). Creativity was harder to define but was recognized as an important element in making art. Creativity was generally felt to be an “in-born” thing which could not be taught.

So, Peter… in your opinion, can Artist A who doesn’t have that “in-born” gift create a work of art on par with Artist B who does, if Artist A has passion and discipline in the pursuit of their art?

I realize that “a work of art on par with” is fraught with its own ambiguity, but you know what I mean. To put it another way, can a person without that in-born gift still create magnificent work?

Mary Ellen Warren

So many great comments/ideas on this subject…

…but really, “boobs” sums it up quite nicely….some get small ones, some get large ones, some are artificially enhanced….but without support and a little style to dress them up, they just don’t impress for long….

Please, please keep up your fabulous podcast guys. It is always one of my weekly highlights!

Keep sending us wonderful lifelines like that, Ms. Warren, and we’ll run this show ’til Doomsday. Affirmations like that put a huge smile on our face and a spring in our step (vocally speaking, of course). 🙂

And I’m amazed at how much mileage you can get out of Norm’s “boob” analogy… the man may be on to something there…

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