[book review] Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

In an effort to keep my creative mind fueled, I always read books that challenge my creative processes and imagination. 

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-12-36-41-pmSteal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon, a young, hungry artist and writer based out of Texas, is by far the best read I’ve experienced on creativity and pushing yourself to step outside of our norm.

Austin Kleon was asked to speak on creativity to college students in New York. He shaped his speech around the ten things he wished someone had told him when he was starting out. The talk went viral, and the author dug deeper into his ideas and created this book. Along with his writings, “Show Your Work” and the “Steal Like An Artist Journal”, his perspective on the creative world and how we pour into it, is insightful to say the least.

His book was not only a quick and stimulating read, but is filled with humor, dynamic illustrations, fun exercises and examples that helps you think and explore your creativity. He explains the art of sharing ideas and the process behind the product created by other artists.

I wondered HOW I would pass along this immense amount advice into a single blog post. The purpose of sharing this with the world is to provoke thought among my creative peers.

Alike my newly found creative hero, Kleon, I’m sharing my sketched notes I jotted down along the way. ENJOY!


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

“Write the book you want to read. Make the movie you would watch. Create the art you want to admire.”

Find 3 creative héros, research them, learn about them, study their work and copy their work.

Manifesto: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, build the products you want to use and do the work you want to see done.

“We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we DO know is, that we do not get them from our laptops.”

Computers have robbed us of the feeling that we’re actually making things. Putting our hands on our work helps us to feel connected. Sketch more.

The computer is GREAT for editing ideas, and its really good for getting your ideas/work ready for publishing. But it brings out the uptight perfectionist in us. We start editing ideas before we even have them fully thought out. The delete button is RIGHT there. We have such easy access to it and hit it far too often.

“The work you do while you’re procrastinating, is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”

Take the time to mess around. Get lost. Wander. You never know where its going to take you.

Geography is no longer our master. Find a place that feeds you — creatively, socially, spiritually and literally, with good food.

The greater the distance you are from the well-known (home), the greater the insight.

“If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to leave the room.”

Be boring, its the only way to get stuff done. “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you can be violent and original in your work.”

Take care of yourself. The romantic image of the creative genius doing drugs and sleeping around is played out. Its for the superhuman and people that want to die young.

Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time.

The trick is, find a day job that pays decently, doesn’t make you want to vomit, and leaves you with enough energy to make things on your own, spare time.

Get a calendar! It helps you plan work, gives your concrete goals and keeps you on track.

Marry well. A good partner keeps you grounded. It takes a lot for a person to be married to someone with a creative pursuit.

Creativity is subtraction. Choosing what to leave out and keeping what is important in art is the real challenge.

It seems contradictory, but when it comes to creative work, limitations means freedom.

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