[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.

The Perfect Fit for your Creative Talent

In my quest to find the perfect fit for the next career as I move to Dallas, I’ve been asking myself, what does a creative designer need in a company to be successful? A lot of people suggest to do freelance work, or start my own business, but I’m just not ready for that yet. More than that, I want to be a part of a creative movement that nurtures innovative design.

An ideal company is one that is the best at what they do. THE competition in the industry. A company that appreciates a relaxed atmosphere and creates a co-working space that lends to productivity. A company that values a FUN and memoffice-room-723x396orable experience for their employees every day. I want to work in flexible setting, where everyone is treated equal and as adults. Most importantly, I want the opportunity for growth and self-development. A company with a stable foundation and has plans for its future. One that hires only exceptional people, people who are smarter than them, disciplined and responsible people. They hire people who are enthusiastic about their products and future of the company. Those with self-starter minds that live a healthy and active lifestyle and take care of themselves, those that view their bodies and minds as their biggest investment. Lastly I want to work in a company with a culture and vision that EXCITES me and ignites my passion as a creative leader.

Finding the right place to take my talent has been tiresome, yet rewarding and refreshing. I’ve compiled 12 factors that should be considered before accepting a new job offer, just remember it isn’t ALL about the money. Finding pleasure in your job, puts perfection in your work.

12 Factors to Consider Before Accepting Your Next Job

1. It makes a positive difference. Choose a job that adds value to our world, that leaves it better than you found it, and genuinely helps other people.

2. You enjoy your co-workers. Given the fact that you will spend a large percentage of your day at work, be sure you enjoy the people around you. It is comforting to know that they support you, cheer for you, and work together as a team.

3. You feel appreciated and valued. A paycheck is nice, but that goes straight to the bank. On the other hand, appreciation is something you carry in your soul every day. This appreciation can be communicated through respect, unexpected gifts, or just an old-fashioned “thank-you.”

4. You are trusted. It’s nice to know that somebody isn’t always looking over your shoulder. And when you are given a task, you are given the freedom to complete it. If you’re in a leadership role, make sure your boss trusts you to make the best decisions and values your input.

5. It is something you love to do.  Make sure this job keeps you motivated by its very nature.

6. It fits your personality. Anyone who has ever taken a personality test knows we all have unique personalities that thrive in certain environments. Some enjoy working with people, others enjoy completing tasks. Some like making the decisions, others don’t. Find a job that fits your sweet spot.

7. It challenges you to grow. Look for a job that will make you better, as a matter of fact, the BEST at what you do. Whether through challenging assignments, educational opportunities, demanding excellence, or informal mentors, a job that forces you to grow beyond your current skill set will make you a better person and it, a better company.

8. The company’s values align with yours. At the end of the day, your integrity is what matters most. Don’t compromise it every time you walk into the workplace. If you are at a job that requires you to suspend your personal convictions, you don’t need to be—nor should you be.

9. A flexible, results-oriented culture. A culture of flexibility suggests a results-driven focus—one that is more interested in you successfully completing your job with excellence than clocking in a set amount of work hours during a specified time of the day.

10. It values family. You value your family. Your job should too.

11. It brings balance to life. Work is not so bad when you love it. But if you are not allowed to explore other endeavors (play/hobbies/family) because of its demands, it is not healthy for your soul, life, or body. Find a job that allows you to enjoy your life outside of work too.

12. It brings you satisfaction. The ability to look back at your day, your year, or your life with satisfaction is more valuable than any number of digits in the bank. Love your work and company and what it stands for.

The Vintage Revival

The Vintage Revival stemmed from a series of themed events that was promoted with vintage design elements. The month of events ranged from retreats to fitness to barbecues. It was important that the events were obviously a part of the same effort, but also catered to the individuality of the events.

Why has vintage design become so popular? What elements should be considered when designing for a vintage theme? How difficult is it to make something vintage, but feel modern as well?  What vintage trends should I consider including? These were questions I took into account before putting the designs together.

Based on my research, this is what I found:

Badges and Circles

The badge concept lies at the very heart of most vintage designs. Designers typically shoot for a nice, simple shape that can be stamped anywhere and on anything. Circles are by far the most popular shape for these badges, but you’ll also find plenty of hexagons, shields and diamonds.

Handrawn Vibes

The hipster movement embraces all things handmade, therefore vintage designs have a sketchy or hand drawn look that fits really well into this aesthetic. The artistic talent in this category is really impressive. Though vintage collections tend to be quite masculine in appearance, so it’s nice to see designs that push back just a bit on this trend and add complex floral arrangements and beautiful, muted colors.


As we look back at early to mid 20th century design, we see simple designs without gradients, feathered shadows, or three-dimensional  renders, but they still make bold visual statements. The main icons that are used are hammers, axes, wrenches, and factories. Our tech savvy generation is drawn to visuals that remind us of the industrial revolution.

Featuring Nature

A lot of vintage design treatments feature animals like deer, moose, elk, etc. If it has antlers, it’s in. This lends to the overall outdoorsy trend in vintage designs (featuring mountains, trees, tents, etc.). Also, nautical themes are extremely popular, such as anchors, fish, and ropes.

A PhotoLogo

When we look back at how vintage logos were displayed ten years ago, we would typically see a solid background or maybe a gradient. The bright, colorful and complex Internet logos of the time looked too busy for anything else. In today’s age of design, our monotone, hipster logos are very simple. But look fantastic when simply overlaid on top of a great photograph.

Simple Line Art

Design trends change how we create vintage graphics. Now that flat design is trending, vintage design often feature thin lines and simplified illustrations.

With all of this in mind, I developed a series of promotional fliers that consistently represented the theme, while appealing to the modern eye. Vintage design trends are continuously developing. Take inspiration from different designs, color choices and create something beautiful.


A little prayer…


This pretty much sums things up right about now. I have recited this prayer every morning and every night for the past 28 days. Some days my father seems to be doing better, some days take a turn for the worst. What an emotional roller coaster.I can’t imagine my life without this man. He has been my teacher, my protector, and my inspiration. I’ve learned to pray a little harder each day.

Although this is in no way design-realted, it is my life right now. I sleep and dream about my father becoming well. He has double pneumonia and has been on a ventilator since January 3. My heart sinks to my stomach when I see him suffering. Sometimes I  wonder what he is thinking, how he is feeling and if he will make it through this. I didn’t realize how serious it was until the doctors told me to call in family members to come see him because he might die. Those piercing words I will never forget.

People – cherish your loved ones! Cherish the memories and make use of the time you have to make them.