In 1880, at the age of 27, our protagonist decides to become an artist. He has already tried, and abandoned, the careers of art dealer, lay minister, school teacher and book seller.
This is one of his first drawings, of a carpenter:
5 years later, our protagonist is on the way to mastering his craft. He paints these potato eaters:
4 years, and over 2000 drawings later, he paints this:
There are some interesting parallels with software development here. Here are a couple. One fairly obvious, one less so:
- van Gogh had to master his craft before he became an artist. He spent years perfecting his techniques and copying other painters before painting any significant works. Software development is a creative process as well. You too will need to copy, try and fail, and eventually master the fundamental techniques before you can produce your masterpiece.
- Put the 27 year old van Gogh in a sketch-off with me and there’s no way that you could tell from our drawings that he would end up one of the most influential and famous artists of the past 200 years and that I was destined for eternal mediocrity. The same thing holds for software developers. If you’re faced with two untrained, wannabe software developers then you have no way of distinguishing van Gogh from the muppet.
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