Steal Like An Artist

This Book Will Completely Change The Way You Work

austin-kleonIt is very rare that I read a book so good that I cannot put it down. The last time this happened was with a book titled ReWork by Jason Freid and David Hansson. But this time, it is a short book titled Steal Like An Artist, by Austin Kleon.

Kleon is an artist who lives in Austin, Texas and his book will completely change the way you work, whether you are an artist, an entrepreneur, or a person who just wants to be more creative.


Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

I’ll admit, the first time I picked up this book and started to read, I was a little hesitant as to whether this would be the book for me. After all, the title suggests that this is a book is for creative people. And while I consider myself creative, I’m certainly not an artist like Kleon is.

In the first section of the book, Kleon proposes the central idea of the book, which is that all great artists steal from other people. He writes that “what a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.”

Other lessons I learned:

Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started

“In my experience, it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.”

Write the book you want to read

“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.”

Use your hands:

“The computer is really good for editing your ideas, and it’s really good for getting your ideas ready for publishing out into the world, but it’s not really good for generating ideas.”

Side projects and hobbies are important:

“It’s so important to have a hobby. A hobby is something creative that’s just for you. You don;t try to make money or get famous off it, you just do it because it makes you happy.”

Do good work and share it with people:

“Step one, ‘do good work,’ is incredibly hard. There are no shortcuts. Make stuff every day. Know you’re going to suck for a while. Fail. Get better. Step two, ‘share it with people,’ was really hard up until about ten years ago or so. Now, it’s very simple: ‘Put your stuff on the Internet.'”

Geography is no longer our master:

“You don’t have to live anywhere other than the place you are to start connecting with the world you want to be in.”

Be nice (the world is a small town):

“One time I was up late on my laptop and my wife yelled at me, ‘Quit picking fights on Twitter and go make something!'”

Be boring (it’s the only way to get work done):

“The truth is that even if you’re lucky enough to make a living off doing what you truly love, it will probably take you a while to get to that point. Until then, you’ll need a day job.”

Creativity is subtraction:

“The way to get over creative block is to simply place some constraints on yourself. It seems contradictory, but when it comes to creative work, limitations mean freedom.”

Check out Austin’s website and follow him on Twitter.

Featured image from Advance Your Slides.

  • Patrick Estes

    It is truly hard to make something without stealing an idea from somewhere else, consider it an homage and get over yourself, it’s what you did with it that’s yours.