at a professional level. The San Diego Union Tribune once described his singing: "like if Jack Johnson weren't so dang annoying." He makes art and sells it for actual money. He does graphic design, marketing, and was a founding member of San Diego's art collective, Sezio.
Also, he's a college-educated engineer and (thanks to Iraq) a war veteran. So yeah, talented.
For years, I was in awe of what he could do. I'm still, always extremely impressed by what he does, but I'm no longer in awe.
I know how he did it.
I remember the first time Andrew picked up Dad's classical guitar and had trouble banging out the theme to Spyhunter. I remember that, even though I sucked at piano, I was ahead of him in our lessons. I remember doodling at an equal level on the church bulletin during sermons.
When we were kids, he was no better at these things than I was, and I wasn't very good at them.
He surpassed me because he didn't quit. While I was working out how to program a text adventure, he was working out my dad's old banjo or ukelele. When I beat Fool's Errand, he was recording songs on the keyboard. When I was ten pages into my crappy Lord of the Rings knock-off, he was filling his tenth sketchbook.
Whenever he came across a challenge, he faced it again and again until he beat it. THAT is the secret to being talented.
It's possible that some people start off with a little more ability than others. I don't know. I've never seen proof. Andrew is the most talented guy I know, and when I think about where he started, I realize I had started in the exact same place.
This isn't to belittle Andrew's accomplishments at all. The opposite, actually. I would much rather someone praise all the work behind what I did than tell me I was given a gift nobody else was.
It's also to encourage you. Is there something you wish you were better at? You can do it. It's freaking hard work, but you can do it. (Can you succeed professionally at it? Well, that's not really up to you. I bet you've never heard of my brother's band).
Instead, focus on what you can control. Choose what you want to excel at, and work at it everyday. Even when it gets hard. Especially when it gets hard. Until one day someone looks at what you're doing and says, "Hey, you're really talented!"
Then you can tell them your secret.