What Makes an Artistic Genius?



By Eric Fortune.

If you've read enough artist's bios you may notice a pattern. Many include the statement "I've been drawing since I can remember". Years of practice and drive to master our craft definitely plays a part. It also reminds me of a saying I heard back in art school which is "Everyone has a 1000 bad drawings inside. The sooner we get those out the sooner we can start making better drawings". But is that enough?

I've had people approach me with their portfolio and show me work that was definitely not at a professional level. When asked how much time was spent on the work I've heard "about 10 hours". It makes you wonder why someone is trying to be in the field if 10 hours is the limit they've devoted to a "final" piece of art. Are people interested enough on a personal level to put in extra hours and to refine their work beyond what is necessary even when not asked or to pour themselves into a personal piece they aren't getting paid for? But perhaps this is a different issue.

So what are the factors that make a great artist? Why is anyone good at anything? This gets into the old nature vs nurture concept. A friend of mine shared this three part documentary series with me entitled "My Brilliant Brain ~The programmes look at a group of remarkable people and poses questions about the origins of genius: are these extraordinary abilities genetic, developed or acquired by accident?" This documentary isn't about art alone but does shed some light on these questions. It also makes me question my own upbringing and influences(my step father was actually a pretty good artist who would draw and paint with us as children sometimes. I think the bigger influence for me is probably cartoons in the 80's and video games which had me obsessively drawing robots for about 10 years. I actually made cut out paper robots that could transform into different vehicles with just a few folds. I later upgraded to comics and anime and my art upgraded to muscles, breasts, and a lot of sliced up body parts.....things haven't changed much since). This film was produced in 2007. I wonder what new things they may have learned since then. It also makes me wonder where I can get one of those magnetic brain pulsey thingies? FYI Small speaker magnets have no affect even after wearing them for days...so my friend told me. If you haven't seen this before it makes for a great listen while drawing, painting, and getting your art on in general.

View the video here: "My Brilliant Brain"