“I wish I had talent.”

Who hasn’t said, or at least thought that before?

While innate ability does play a role, it plays a much smaller role than most people believe. This leads us to–

The 10,000 Hour Rule

What's that guy doing here??

Well, poop.

You may have heard of it, the 10,000 Hour Rule is the average amount of time it takes someone to become a master at something through deliberate practice.

This is often seen when one attends art school, there’s always some students far ahead of the others. The “talented” students.

Rarely does anyone stop to ask what that person’s experience prior to art school was. Perhaps they started drawing since they were very young?

Maybe they had a parent or sibling that did art that helped them to progress. Their parents might have gotten them art lessons or sent them to art camp during the summers.

But most people don’t think about these things playing a role. They figure that said person is, just better.

If you practiced drawing for one hour a day, it would take over 27 years to reach 10,000 hours.

If you practiced for 40 hours a week, like a typical job, it would be slightly under 5 years.

The practice of course has to be deliberate practice. Talent isn’t developed through half-assed work.

But most often it takes one about 10 years to reach mastery over whatever they pursue.

That being said, let’s go over–

Accumulated Advantage

So what is accumulated advantage? Accumulated advantage starts when we’re very young and is based on our surrounding circumstances.

For example, someone born in September and someone born in July the year following. That’s 9 months difference. But they will very often be in the same grade going into school.

It doesn’t seem like a lot, but 9 months difference as a child is a lot. It starts as a very small advantage. That being the case, chances are however that they’ll be a little bit better at things like writing and math. Therefore, by being better it’s very likely they’ll be placed into harder math and english classes than the person born later. Harder classes with better teachers… you learn more. This continues through the years and by the time they reach high school, the person that originally had a small advantage has accumulated a large advantage over their younger peer. Giving the illusion that the person who was born earlier was simply more intelligent and talented from the start. Of course, other outside influences such as parents play a role as well, not everyone born earlier in the school year go off to be “geniuses”, but the cards are unfairly stacked in their favor.

Think about this in regards of being right out of high school.

You’ll see all these people that appear to have been blessed with OBSCENE ARTISTIC TALENT. It might even be you that comes across to all the others as the talented one.

But either you or they more than likely just have thousands more hours of experience and are that much closer to mastering your craft.

Artistic Talent

So, do you have “artistic talent?” Think about it realistically. How much time have you put deliberate practice into art?

I don’t mean just drawing for fun, I mean deliberate practice. Construction, perspective, proportions, anatomy, drapery, etc.

Studying other artists, from books, tutorials. How much time? If you have less than a thousand hours. I would say, not yet.

But you can. 

It’s just a matter of how soon you want it.

1 hour a day = 27.4 years

2 hours a day = 13.7 years

4 hours a day = 6.8 years

8 hours a day = 3.4 years

We’ve all seen those people who go from awful to incredible in a incredibly short period of time. Now you know part of how they do it.


Not everyone can put in 8 hours a day though. Becoming a great artist isn’t a race and certainly don’t torture yourself if it means reaching mastery sooner.

You’ll be good far before you reach mastery.

But this should give you a good idea of how much time you need to put in so that you can make time to become as good as you want to be.

Now quit dillydallying and go make some art!

If you’d like to learn more about the 10,000 Hour Rule, Accumulated Advantage, etc. I would HIGHLY recommend reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers.” I personally found it very entertaining and enlightening on the subject of talent. Be warned though, it’s about 300 pages long. It however, didn’t feel like a 300 page book if that says anything about how good a read it was.