In my drawing class, there is a quote by Leon Kossof that hangs by a door frame. It reads: “Not being able to do it is part of being able to do it.”
We live in a society where we mythologize first time hits, beginner’s luck, striking gold on the first try. We revel in the idea of you either have it or you don’t. She’s just so talented. She could just pick up the pencil and draw. As if there were magic involved.
We fetishize this type of magical luck so much that as a society we now mistake it for proof of whether someone should or should not pursue an artistic goal. Did you start an Instagram account and then overnight get discovered? No? Well, I guess you just don’t have it in you then.
Are they perfect? Who cares! I drew for over 90 minutes straight![/caption] Those of us who are makers understand a deeper truth, the one Kossof speaks of. That everyone walks the exact same road to being good at something. And it starts with being terrible. At some point we were awful. Sometimes we can’t see the awful stage because it happened when someone was a child and the people around her didn’t know better and no one around her expected much. And maybe by the time she and the adults around her started passing judgement she was already a bit better than her peers who hadn’t been drawing that entire time. Those are the people who get labeled, “talented.” But they walked the same path and it started with awful.
For those of us who have been awful as adults, it’s paramount to understand that being bad at something isn’t proof that you should quit. It’s just proof that you haven’t yet spent long enough with it. So you have to ask yourself, “Do I want to be good at this?” And if the answer is yes then actually the path is relatively clear: Do more. Go harder. work longer. That is the answer. No magic, thankfully, required.