What is talent?

 I don't quite know what "talent" is in both the academic and professional sense.

 How would you define it in your experience?

Sep 4, 13 2:19 pm

Talent comes from the devil. You have to buy it. 


"Paganini was considered a genius, a god, a devil worshiper, anything but that of reality. There was a rumor, for instance, that when Niccolo was only six, his mother made a pact with the Devil and is said to have traded his soul for a career as the greatest violinist in the world... Whenever and wherever he played, he aroused tenor and awe in his audiences. There was the rumor that a satanic figure, a double of Paganini, always appeared in the audience in sombre black with the same long black locks, burning eyes, and sardonic smile. Or else the figure appeared on the stage at Paganini's side dressed in a red cloak and pantaloons, with horns, hooves, and a tail to guide Paganini's bow arm through a performance. It was believed that this figure raised a thunderstorm, during a concert and conducted lightening to the free end of the bow, and at another performance he actually took possession of Paganini's body." -

Sep 4, 13 3:58 pm
boy in a well


the sweet taste of internets.

so nice.

Sep 4, 13 6:14 pm

  I would like a more serious response to the question, and maybe it's because I didn't clarify the question enough to merit one. So I'll break down the question in this way then:

 1. Everyone has their own ideas, bringing different concepts while providing "responses" to the problem. So would a talented individual, or one who's "exceptional" just provide the most feasible, practical and aesthetically pleasing proposal/work/project? 

2. And I'm even more unclear as to what makes a good architect. What sets one apart from another? 

 These questions are still open-ended...Maybe I should do my own research and depend a little less on Archinect. But I would still appreciate any input if it comes. 

Sep 6, 13 3:33 am

Talent is subjective

Are you trying to become "talented" ? One solution is to move to a smaller pond.

Sep 6, 13 4:45 am

Talent is an excuse for lack of drive

Sep 6, 13 9:32 am
won and done williams

Not sure if it is "talent" or not, but the best professionals I have met are equal parts thoughtful, organized, friendly, and most importantly, can actually make stuff that is both attractive and useful.

Sep 6, 13 10:47 am

^ Pretty much the definition of a good architect.

Talent is having a recognizably superior skill or set of skills in a particular area. For example, my father was recognized in a modest way for his architecture, but for me his talent wasn't in design as much as it was in creating the situations that allowed him to do the architecture that he did. Call it client management if you will.

Sep 6, 13 10:50 am
"Talent" is a mix of dedication and intelligence. I don't believe in anyone being born an architect, doctor or pianist.

People may naturally be better to a degree than others at certain things. However the person with the dedication and capacity to learn will ultimately succeed.
Sep 6, 13 11:18 am

As a young man, I tended to believe that talent was potential ability that you might be born with, but you had to work at it to 'unlock' the talent within.

That belief changed radically once I had children. As I watched my own children grow and develop, I learned very clearly that each had a special - and somewhat unique - aptitude not necessarily shared with either parent or sibling. One was naturally gifted in drawing / the other was naturally gifted as a musician -- by that I mean they each demonstrated an accomplished natural ability at a very early age and with virtually no practice or training. Our eldest literally could draw naturally and realistically almost from the time she first picked up a pencil. Our youngest literally could read and play music before she could read a book.

In my current view, true 'talent' is a naturally occurring high-level aptitude that is inherent in the individual. While I believe that most people always can improve their abilities with practice and training, some abilities -- like hitting a major league curve ball -- cannot be mastered by some people, no matter how hard they work at it.

In my view, hitting a major league curve ball consistently and well requires talent. I tend to believe the same may be true for architectural design.

Sep 6, 13 1:15 pm

talent is plentiful.. hardworkers aren't.

Sep 7, 13 12:04 am

"talent is plentiful.. hardworkers aren't."

Sep 7, 13 12:32 am
^ That's a gooder. But I also hear hard work is pertinent to talent.
Sep 7, 13 1:38 am

Actually, if you really look at the (architectural) situation, hardworkers are plentiful. Thus it is most likely (a composite of) talent(s) that distinguishes the exceptional.

Sep 7, 13 9:55 am

agree with quizzical.

apologize for cruddy wording (not MY talent), but here are my definitions:

innate talent is executing an intended action better than most people would if they performed that action at the same level of dedication as you.

general talent is a mix of innate talent and experience/practice.

"talent" in architecture, or any field, is pretty vague.  you can break things down into so many different categories...  great designers don't necessarily make great project managers, or great marketers, etc.  even within one of those categories like design, some people have more talent at doing big picture vs fussy details.  some people just know how to pull the right team together, and that's a talent in itself.  sometimes someone's relatively good at everything, but not the absolute best in anything, but their work is strong because there aren't any particularly weak areas.

Sep 7, 13 7:07 pm

The ability to work hard is a talent.

Before we go too far, it's important to define exactly what "hard work" is.

Hard work is either physically or mentally (or both) difficult and laborious. Combat is probably the most extreme example of hard work.

Certain people would have you believe that "hard work" is something that if diligently pursued will make you a gazillionaire ("pull yourself up by your bootstraps"). Of course those very same people are the ones stealing from your taxes, pension, and health care while manipulating and controlling the prices of every thing you require to live (unless you grow it yourself).

In construction we use the phrase "knows how to work" to describe a person's suitability for a job. In the trades it is painfully obvious who is and isn't pulling their own weight. In an office situation this is far less clear.

For me, the ability to work hard is the same as "knowing how to work".

Is there is a lazy gene?

Sep 8, 13 10:49 am

The ability to work hard is an ability, not a talent.

(You could say) Talent is what makes hard work seem effortless.

Sep 8, 13 11:30 am
Bravo and agree with Quondam's last post. Masters make work look effortless.

In my experience, talent in architecture is both an innate ability to think on many levels at once and a lack of fear about trying something new.
Sep 8, 13 11:48 am

The ability to work hard is an ability, not a talent.

(You could say) Talent is what makes hard work seem effortless.

Ability and talent and ability are one and the same. Look it up, one is a synonym for the other. 

Sep 8, 13 4:31 pm

depends on the context.  i.e. you have the ability to throw a football, but you're not very talented at it.

Sep 8, 13 4:55 pm

Yes, in one-dimensional thinking, ability and talent are the same thing. Yet, in three-dimensional thinking, ability is two-dimensional and talent is three dimensional.

Miles, don't worry, I'm sure you're extremely talented in a one-dimensional world.


Sep 8, 13 4:57 pm

tal·ent  [tal-uhnt]  
1. a special natural ability or aptitude: a talent for drawing.
2. a capacity for achievement or success; ability: young men of talent.
3. a talented person: The cast includes many of the theater's major talents.
4. a group of persons with special ability: an exhibition of watercolors by the local talent.
5. Movies and Television. professional actors collectively, especially star performers.

Miles, I would never view "talent" and "hard work" as synonyms. I've known many people who had a "talent for hard work" but many of those folks still had no inherent design ability, even though most had a burning desire to work as designers.

Sep 8, 13 5:38 pm

nice, quondam.

too true.

no idea how to really define or understand creativity and talent, but it is known when it is seen. I like Donna's point about lack of fear.  Its essential to good design.

Sep 8, 13 8:11 pm

quizzical - I didn't say hard work was a talent, but that "knowing how to work" is a talent. There is a world of difference between wearing out shovels and smoothly accomplishing volumes of work. As previously discussed natural ability without development (hard work or diligent application) doesn't make one talented (there's that synonym again). LITS4FormZ nailed it.

I spent a few years in apprenticeship with a Japanese Master Builder who appeared to do little more than drink coffee and smoke cigarettes (ippuku) all day long while managing to accomplish an absolutely amazing volume of the highest level work, all by hand. This was not the result of genetics but rather a lifetime of dedication to his profession.

Quondam, pretty funny, especially coming from someone whose entire output is two-dimensional. At least Will thinks so, anyway. LOL

FYI, real buildings exist in four dimensions.

Sep 8, 13 9:58 pm
vado retro
I would like to see some of quondams stuff built but certainly don't think an architect who isn't building is not an architect. That would be silly.

A perfect archinect would be free of Ad hominems.
Sep 9, 13 9:11 am

if you take talent to mean:

"2. a capacity for achievement or success; ability: young men of talent."

shouldn't that include pretty much everyone?

i get that some think talent is a thing you're born with, and either you have it or don't, based on quizzical's experience with children (i would expect this to be a common experience).  but this definition i think suggests one can become talented by the decisions they make rather than the situation they're born into.

i don't much like aristocracy.  i don't like the idea that a few 'well-bred' wealthy people should be in control.  to say that "talent" is limited to your breeding would support this sort of system.  i would rather say "talent" is something a person can achieve if they care about what they're doing and put effort into it.

Sep 9, 13 9:29 am
vado retro

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. -Calvin Coolidge

Sep 9, 13 1:09 pm
Erik Evens (EKE)

Fearlessness, unaccompanied by talent, and untempered by conscience and wisdom, is what has ruined so many of our cities.

Sep 9, 13 4:42 pm

EKE, please provide a list of the ruined cities. I'm curious if the city of Hyperbole is one of them.

Sep 9, 13 5:01 pm
Erik Evens (EKE)

I live in one of them.  Los Angeles is a collection of interesting pocket neighborhoods connected by miles and miles of spectacular, inhuman ugliness designed by fearless people with little talent or conscience.  So for me it's reality, not hyperbole.

Sep 9, 13 6:25 pm

Many define "talent" as an innate ability. It is perhap due to the seemingly effortless performance. Talent, for me, just means skills. And, any skill you want can be trained.

I avoid using the word "talent" because it means different things to different people. When you tell children that they are smart or they have talent, research have shown that they are less likely to try harder due to fear of failure. There is a great article on Psychology Today called "How to be an Expert". The article pointed out that deliberate practice is the key to excellence.

Still, I think there are innate abilities that helps you become a good architect. (Much like height helps you in basketball) Empathy is almost impossible to trained in adulthood. Highly empathic architects can understand people easily, and may come up with more suitable design for people's actual living and budget. But I don't know anymore. Architecture is a tournament style industry that glamorizes sociopathic designers that are driven by personal ego. I guess what makes you good, unfortunately, doesn't necessary makes you popular.

Sep 10, 13 10:01 pm

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