What’s the formula for talent?

What’s the formula for talent?

06 Apr 2023

Ability. Ingenuity. Sublime. Extraordinary. Just some of the words we could use as a synonym. But how do we spot talent? What does it look like? What does it weigh? Can we take a numerical measurement to help us figure out when someone does, or doesn’t, have talent?

"Delivering on your talent is a talent”
1. An aggregation of skills, natural or acquired, which favourably impact one’s success in certain tasks;
2. A sublime or extraordinary level of specific skills or competences which are particularly appreciated and admired;
3. Enormous intelligence or vision; shrewdness or cleverness;
4. Dexterity, wisdom or ingenuity;
5. An individual who stands out for their exceptional vocation or inclination to perform or complete a particular task;
6. Name given to an former unit of weight in the ancient Greek and Roman empires;
7. A gold coin which served as currency during the Greek empire.
(Etymology: from the Greek talanton and the Latin talentum)

Ability. Ingenuity. Sublime. Extraordinary. Just some of the words we could use as a synonym. But how do we spot talent? What does it look like? What does it weigh? Can we take a numerical measurement to help us figure out when someone does, or doesn’t, have talent? 

Dalila Pinto de Almeida, Psychologist and Coach in the area of Talent Management for the business sector, talking on the podcast O Frio é Psicológico and quoting the artist Ana Jota, said that "talent is something that’s there. It’s a question of spotting it and knowing how to transform what you see.”

"Talent is a formula made up of different ingredients. It involves natural skills and the capacity of the person who has them to know how to manage them,” says Eduarda Abbondanza, president of ModaLisboa. This fashion event is behind the Sangue Novo platform, which each season presents young designers who try their luck in the world of fashion. "Talent, in its purest form, exists, but it’s not enough. Delivering on your talent is a talent. Nowadays, making talent tangible is a greater skill than talent itself.” Dalila Pinto de Almeida also adds that besides this, ”talent requires a lot of hard, hard work. Everyone is good at something, it just needs to be discovered... of course this involves having certain more technical skills, but it also includes such things as enthusiasm, the way we engage with what we do, our passion...”

An opinion shared by Paulo Cravo. "There’s no single formula. But rather a combination of factors which can help us be our best.” For the Porto designer, in charge of the Bloom studio, "as a rule talent is associated with someone’s natural ability to do a certain activity, but this talent will only bear fruit if it involves work, dedication, individuality, humility and a certain amount of luck.” 

Dedication and hard work are essential factors for talent. "Talent is all about the work you put into something. If we think of Beethoven or Einstein, we see a lot of hard work. And ultimately we notice something that’s always there, which is an enormous persistence,” Dalila suggests. 

Hundreds of projects from young designers who’ve dared to take up fashion have fallen into the hands of Eduarda Abbondanza. Many of them in ideas competitions, or fittings... but how can you evaluate talent at times like these? "It can be a matter of personal taste, but there are decisive factors which always come up. The first is to search for clear indications of creative talent and unique vision, an undeniable personality. Right after that are a countless number of pointers, which are just as intangible: willingness, dedication, ability, artistic background, know-how, ambition, rebelliousness, not being a slave to pre-conceived ideas, and vision, vision, vision. If that person has all of this, but has yet to develop the technical skills, they’ll get them. And then they’ll be on their way.” 

Paulo Cravo agrees. "Evaluating talent is no easy task and often we’re not just judging someone’s talent. In the area of fashion design, what I place most value on is the designer’s unique vision, discipline and the capacity to convey a coherent message through their work with artistic expressiveness.” In Paulo’s case, the following is key. "When I have the opportunity to get to know the designer personally, their personality is a decisive factor for me... If we’re just looking at a project submission or collection, I always seek out the work’s attention to detail, creativity and freshness, and whether the designer’s own artistic expressiveness shines through.” 

But we’ve still yet to answer the crucial question: is a designer born with talent or is it something that can be the result of hard work? "I think both scenarios can exist, depending on the case in question. We could say that maybe fifty percent of designers are born with it. For the other fifty percent, talent is hard, talented graft. As I said previously, the capacity to work and grow is a talent in itself.” 

Paulo Cravo believes that the designer isn’t necessarily born talented. "Talent is not necessarily in the designer’s DNA, even if this is sometimes the case. It actually is something that can be built/worked on/moulded through learning tools, and the evolution of the designer’s identity.” 

"Creativity is sometimes confused with good ideas. Creativity is something that has to be worked on and it also requires training,” the psychologist says. "You have to have put in the groundwork for the inspiration to flow,” Dalila Pinto de Almeida suggests. 

Words / Cláudia Pinto
Illustration / Sofia Pádua