Austin Kleon “Steal Like an Artist”

Have you ever dared to think about creating something completely innovative without actually copying others? Don’t you want to be the creator of your own unique masterpieces? Then, this finding is just for you!

In his book, Austin Kleon, the famous artist and writer, who conducts lectures and creativity master classes in such companies as Pixar, Google, SXSW, and TEDx, unleashes 10 powerful lessons that will definitely guide you through the lengthy road to the infinite success. Why are we wasting time, let’s get started, shall we?

1. STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST

All the artists are asked this same question:

“Where do you find your ideas?”

And the honest artist answers:

“I steal them.”

Austin Kleon cites the quote by David Bowie: “The only art I’ll ever study is stuff I can steal from.”

Every new idea is the mishmash, a mixture of the previous ideas. And our task is to collect and inherit those good ideas. The more great ideas we gather, the heavier the luggage of our knowledge and experience will be. This will definitely help us in our future endeavors.

2. DON’T WAIT TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE TO GET STARTED

We, people, understand our inner world only when we are actually doing something. Our hard work sometimes leads us to fear, eventually. This real feeling sometimes even evolves into something that is called “impostor syndrome” — a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. But, all people go through this. All people who have devoted their lives to creativity, sincerely say that they do not know the origin of their ideas AT ALL!

’Cause they (ideas, I mean) have been born amidst the creativity process.

3. WRITE THE BOOK YOU WANT TO READ

Books, books, books. People who want to write their first book always are stumbled upon this simple question: “What exactly should I write about?” And the answer is so simple. You don’t have to write about things you know. You’d better write about things you’d like to know. Write the story you’ll like, because only in this case the writing process will submerge you. Draw pictures you want to see, compose music you’ll love to listen to within each and every second of your life.

4. USE YOUR HANDS

Austin Kleon’s favorite cartoonist, Lynda Barry, says: “In the digital age, don’t forget to use your digits!” And that’s so true! Isn’t it a miracle to see how every letter of your future poem is being drawn on that blank piece of paper, or that future book outline is being drafted (for sure, with tons of paper gone into the trash before the actual outline)?

5. SIDE PROJECTS AND HOBBIES ARE IMPORTANT

The next step is so simple: just find your hobby. Be it embroidery, sketching, music, whatever! This “something” should be your uniqueness, your inner world, your everything. It will definitely lead you to the creativity path you’ve always wanted to tread.

6. THE SECRET: DO GOOD WORK AND SHARE IT WITH PEOPLE

Yeah, you haven’t misread it. Do not be afraid of posting the results of your work online. This process has two stages.

The first step is the hardest one, because you have to actually create something. And it might take months, or even years. You might fall one hundred times, but eventually you’ll get up and win. After you’ve achieved the long-awaited results, just share those with the like-minded people. But, first — take these baby steps.

The second step is not that difficult, ’cause today we have the Internet and technology around that evolves at the unprecedented rate.

7. GEOGRAPHY IS NO LONGER OUR MASTER

At some point of our lives we leave our homes…Sure, there are always reasons (and no reasons as well) to come back. However, this first time to leave does happen. We are not accustomed to actually leaving our comfort zones, but we need to do it from time to time. Be it road tripping, new job to start, or a new city to move in. Our emotions palette starts to shine brighter, and our brain works way much smarter.

8. BE NICE (THE WORLD IS A SMALL TOWN)

Austin Kleon cites Harold Ramis, the actor and director, who once explained his rule for success: “Find the most talented person in the room, and if it’s not you, go stand next to him. Hang out with him. Try to be helpful.” If you are the most talented person in this room, maybe you’ll have to find another room?

9. BE BORING (IT’S THE ONLY WAY TO GET WORK DONE)

Here, author introduces a perfect saying by Gustave Flaubert: “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” And that’s true.

Creative work requires a lot of passion, dedication, and strength. Plan your budget and activities, and note everything into your logbook. And, the most important, find your person, that person who will always support you.

10. CREATIVITY IS SUBTRACTION

We live in the era of the extensive amount of data, and only those people win, who are capable of filtering that information, concentrating their attention on the most important aspects. That’s why we should always work on ourselves, pay our attention only to the most vital things.

Creativity is something that we all aspire for. It does not matter what field you are in, what interests and objectives you have. All people want to be creative. All people draw their inspiration from art. If you’d like to spark creativity in you, I truly recommend reading this masterpiece, and then go on the artist date (from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”) :)

Wishing you inspiration, and don’t steal (like, plagiarism), steal, but like an artist.

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Oksana Pervenonok

Oksana Pervenonok

I am a seasoned content expert with solid background in TechComm and MarComm areas. Passionate about visual storytelling, sketchnoting, and illustrations.