Being told that you're talented is considered something positive. It's supposed to be a compliment, some kind of way to tell you "hey, your work is amazing!" and yes, usually the person telling you that you're talented does so with admiration and with the best of intentions... but not always with the right idea in mind on how that art or design came to be. 

This is something I came to realize thanks to @ouiaboo's insight, and now even though I can appreciate someone telling me 'you're so talented!' I also try to clarify with a very subtle 'thank you! It took a lot of practice to develop the skills to do this'.

Because that's a thing that I'm sure a lot of creators can identify with: what we use to create are skills, not talent. There's a lot of analyzis, observation, time and practice behind every bit of knowledge we have and apply to our pieces. There sure exist people with natural talents, but there's also people with an inherent interest for something that's so strong it alone gives them the drive to develop the skills to be able to make that thing they're so enamored with. 

Besides, talent without practice fades away, or at the very least stays where it is. 

First pixel art I made, back in 2016

One of the last pixel arts I've made in 2017!

A professor of mine asked us once "who's doing a better job? The person that is given the task to create, and has this great idea right away but doesn't work on it, or the person that doesn't have a great idea but draws sketch after sketch searching for that idea, until they find it?" and at the time I understood this, but didn't absorb completely how real that was until years later. 

As an aspiring artist and graphic designer, thinking talent was the only thing helping me get where I wanted to be was damaging. I used to believe that I simply lacked something that made other artists better, and that as much as I wanted to be that good, I was stuck where I was because I just didn't have it in me to make my stuff look better. In my head, coming up with good ideas for my projects at the design school I was studying at was thanks to good luck, and more often than not I didn't realize how much me being constant and working hard paid off. 

This kind of mentallity held me back for many years. Graphic design I kept practicing because it was the career I chose, so I had to produce things every day and there was no avoiding it. But drawing and illustrating I left aside for six years or so, almost completely; what I used to do as a hobbie turned into something I was ashamed of, something that made me frustrated and sad. So I stopped trying. 

It was later, after I graduated, that I restarted my hobbie, which later turned into a passion (I have to thank one of my Analityc Drawing professors for that) yet I did so thinking there was only so much I could do to change the way I drew things. Each finished art took me so, so long; oftentimes the process turned into something painful and boring, and more often than not I wasn't entirely happy with the final product -but the pieces I started I made sure to finish, if only because I was stubborn and didn't want to feel as if I was loosing my time. 

Then, this happened:

I improved, and the improvement was so obvious to me. The sole fact I was able to make this kept me going! The drawing at the right you see above was a milestone to me: not only it looked entirely different from what I was drawing prior to it, but I was also able to give it the look I was actively searching for on my digital art! I couldn't believe I managed to create something like that, and so that's when, without knowing it, I started to realize my drawing skills could improve.

(With time I made the decision of taking a bit of distance from this technique, but I still took with me a lot of elements and details that later on I applied to my own style.)

So I kept drawing. Aiming to make finished pieces all the time and suffering through it. And looking back, no wonder I started to get frustrated again: I didn't leave myself room to sketch and experiment and make mistakes.


By the time I was about to give up again I was completely obsessed with Bayonetta games (and work was really frickin slow for me as a freelancer). So just like that, thanks to that game, a full month of sketching ideas and making fanart related to it while I fangirled with this person I had just met started in full force. This meant more time dedicated to drawing, more practice, and more trial and errors. I started trying new ways of sketching, of applying flat colors, of finishing pieces, of applying textures, gradients. This is when I really started to actively draw as often as possible, and not always with the end goal of making polished artworks. 

That happened in the middle of December 2015, and by Frebruary or March of the next year, I thankfully got inside my head the notion that, yes, practicing is the key to making good art!

End of 2015 - 2016

It's completely mind-blowing to realize you can improve how you draw, how you see compositions, how you notice details, even how you analyze your own process. Knowing that I could improve, that I could develop skills to help me and my art and my designs look better, gave me strenght and made me hopeful. It made me actually want to keep working constantly, it helped me to enjoy the process while I searched for an art style of my own, and even though it took me more time, some crying, and some more mistakes, I finally got to the point where I was happy with my work.

(...Not to say I'm happy with it 100% of the time, because that seems kinda impossible, but I am happy about my art style 90% of the time at the very least and that's what matters.)

So no, it's not like I'm gonna unappreciate someone that wants to give a compliment -attacking someone that genuinely appreciates what you do is not what I want to express here, if anything, please always try to educate people that have no idea how some stuff function! But considering how much work goes into a single concept, character design or illustration, I think it's fair to remind people when possible that a drawing is not just born out of some natural talent that doesn't need any kind of effort or compromise. These things take skills the artist develop and nurture for a long time, and if you feel like trying your hand at drawing and creating, you can get there too with a lot of practice and hard work. 

December 2017