This is basically the nature or nurture debate all over again. Some people swear by nature, some by nurture. And I think both of them are half wrong.
When it comes to creativity, things get even more complicated. Because, get this, the greats are not the bests.
Art, I’ve always been told, is an expression. But the point of expression is to communicate to others. At least, that’s how it seems to me. I do know that one year of public writing helped me improve much more than years of secret writing did. So ‘talent’ isn’t as much a skill, or a measure of how good someone is, it’s their ability to communicate to the audience. This is the only way I can reconcile for myself why artists sometimes only get recognized as great long after their death. Their skill is the same, their ability is the same — obviously, since they are dead, they can’t improve — the only thing that changed over the years is the audience. And by changing the people you are communicating to, you’re also changing the communication itself.
That means being great at art isn’t about skill or talent or ability at all. It’s about reaching people.