Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

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

You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch w...

Title:Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
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Edition Language:English

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

  • Carmen Sisson

    I'm undecided on this book. While I appreciate the premise — draw inspiration from people you admire and surround yourself with good role models — I'm uneasy with the "steal" concept.

    The title grabs attention, but I think it overshadows the actual point, which is not to become a replica of someone else but to create more authentic work by creating work you love.

    It's a bit overly simplistic, and definitely a short, fast read. For those who stand on the precipice, afraid to answer the call of crea

    I'm undecided on this book. While I appreciate the premise — draw inspiration from people you admire and surround yourself with good role models — I'm uneasy with the "steal" concept.

    The title grabs attention, but I think it overshadows the actual point, which is not to become a replica of someone else but to create more authentic work by creating work you love.

    It's a bit overly simplistic, and definitely a short, fast read. For those who stand on the precipice, afraid to answer the call of creative spirit, it will serve as a "soft entry" to better books, like Anne Lammott's "Bird by Bird," Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Down the Bones," and Julia Cameron's "The Sound of Paper."

    For tired, disillusioned creatives, it may also reinvigorate. Those in the thick of creating will probably want something meatier.

    Reading Kleon's book, I can see some of his influences, particularly a heavy nod toward bloggers-cum-authors like Seth Godin and Hugh MacLeod.

    I also drink the Kool-Aid offered by Godin, MacLeod, Johnny B. Truant, Brian Clark of Copyblogger, Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity, and others. I like them all and find inspiration often in their words. But if you're young and impressionable, if you are on the edge of your art and not fully-formed, it's easy to miss the deeper points they make. It's easy to miss the parts where they say it's hard and often sucks and sometimes seems pointless and sometimes is a colossal failure.

    Their passion for what they do is so charismatic that it's easy to get swept away, missing the part where they learned — through trial, error, mentors or schooling — how to market themselves effectively, how to manage money, how to lose the "romance" of being an artist and still find pleasure when the passion grows cool.

    It's not enough to love what you do. Perhaps that sounds harsh, perhaps it's a cynical, jaded worldview. It's tempered by experience.

    Loving your craft is fine if you want it to be a hobby. But if you want to keep a roof over your head with the work you produce, if you want to make a living at it until the end of your days, love will not keep you alive.

    I worry for the writers, journalists and photographers who load up on humanities courses in college, the ones who believe suffering for your craft is noble — or eventually successful.

    Please, please, creative types ... take a few business classes. Maintain a broad skill set. Don't tangle your identity up in your art or your profession, because if anything takes those away, you will be left rootless, drifting, and the road to recovery will be very, very hard.

    I know I sound jaded and bitter. I'm not at all. I'm still passionate about what I do. But that passion is tempered by the pesky "reality thing" I always preferred to ignore. I never wanted to be bothered by the "boring" things like money, accounting, contracts, marketing. But these are the things that provide the income to keep DOING your art.

    If you're going to steal like an artist, steal the business sense they bring to the table as well. I promise, you will never regret the time you spend learning the mechanics behind the career. With any luck, it will enable you until the end of your days to create wonderful things only you can bring to the world.

    Starving artists living in garrets can produce great work. But smart artists will find the road so much easier and equally as fulfilling.

  • Kathryn Patterson

    I find it difficult to review "Steal Like an Artist" because the book is an amalgamation of advice, anecdotes, and uncommon sense. Austin Kleon writes in an easy-to-follow style, instructing readers about how to be creative without talking down to anyone. In fact while I read the book, I felt like I was part of some secret creators club, with this book as the secret club manual.

    The book focuses on 10 rules for people to follow in order to be creative. Rule number one is "Steal like an artist."

    I find it difficult to review "Steal Like an Artist" because the book is an amalgamation of advice, anecdotes, and uncommon sense. Austin Kleon writes in an easy-to-follow style, instructing readers about how to be creative without talking down to anyone. In fact while I read the book, I felt like I was part of some secret creators club, with this book as the secret club manual.

    The book focuses on 10 rules for people to follow in order to be creative. Rule number one is "Steal like an artist." The other nine are printed on the back of the book, but simply knowing the rules does not give you an edge in creativity. You need the explanations, the stories, the logic behind the rules that Mr. Kleon provides to get that tingly feeling (figuratively speaking, of course).

    I recommend this book for anyone over the age of 10, anyone who loves to create but feels stifled in today's world, anyone who loves to think, and anyone doing anything at all creative.

  • Peter Derk

    These kind of books are like candy. They make me feel better in the moment, but ultimately don't do much towards building a full picture of happiness.

    The inherent problem in any book that's a how-to for something artistic, whether it be writing or painting or making music or the artistry in tailoring a custom Voltron costume, the problem with the how-to book is that when you're reading the how-to book you're not doing the actual thing you're being taught to do. In other words, a book ABOUT writi

    These kind of books are like candy. They make me feel better in the moment, but ultimately don't do much towards building a full picture of happiness.

    The inherent problem in any book that's a how-to for something artistic, whether it be writing or painting or making music or the artistry in tailoring a custom Voltron costume, the problem with the how-to book is that when you're reading the how-to book you're not doing the actual thing you're being taught to do. In other words, a book ABOUT writing is probably less helpful to a writer than a book that's just plain good. A how-to book about painting is probably of less use than a book of paintings you enjoy.

    I'm not saying there's no place for these types of books, and this one is smart because it's a quick read and it sticks pretty well to the motivational side of things as opposed to the nuts and bolts. It's good to read motivational stuff, especially because creating art can be a pretty lonely process. It's just hard to pack away the awareness that while you're reading about creating art, you could spend that time creating art.

  • El

    (This review is longer than the book itself.)

    Here are the Top Ten Points that the author makes in this teeny book:

    1. Steal like an artist

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

    3. Write the book you want to read

    4. Use your hands

    5. Side projects and hobbies are important

    6. Do good work and share it with people

    7. Geography is no longer our master

    8. Be nice (the world is a small town)

    9. Be boring (it's the only way to get work done)

    10. Creativity is subtraction

    It's all very good advi

    (This review is longer than the book itself.)

    Here are the Top Ten Points that the author makes in this teeny book:

    1. Steal like an artist

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

    3. Write the book you want to read

    4. Use your hands

    5. Side projects and hobbies are important

    6. Do good work and share it with people

    7. Geography is no longer our master

    8. Be nice (the world is a small town)

    9. Be boring (it's the only way to get work done)

    10. Creativity is subtraction

    It's all very good advice. It's all great reminders.

    But that's what these are - reminders.

    The beef I have with self-help or how-to books is that the information inside the covers is stuff you already know. You just haven't thought about it before. This isn't to say that these books aren't helpful for many - but for people who are too busy (or, in extreme cases, too lazy) to think for themselves. They can read the books and their third eye can open and they can think they've just broke new ground... and then they don't go off to do what it is they were learning how-to do.

    What is good about Kleon's book is that he acknowledges almost immediately that there is no such thing as originality. Had he not written that very early on I'd be calling him a hypocrite right now for trying to pass any of this off as original. But that wasn't his intention - he saw a market for his advice and he went with it, so I give him props for that. It's just that I'm such a cynical person anyway, I'm wary of these sorts of "guides". I'd much rather a person just muddle through on their own based on their own experiences, learning from all the good and the bad that happens, and creating something out of all of that. This is a Hot Topic sort of creativity - mass marketed, polished, packaged.

    So why did I read it? Great question, because this is not at all my thing. I was curious, primarily. I came across his name because I came across someone's blog where the author was writing about her journal, which led to her discussion of Kleon's log books, and I was curious to see what he could possibly say about creativity. That's One. Two: I'm fascinated by the creative process. What works for me and my creativity is going to be completely different from my boyfriend's creative process, or my best friend's creative process, or the stranger down the street. I like reading about the daily process that my favorite writers/musicians/artists/people to get into their creative groove because it's fascinating, not because I want to copy them (though Kleon recommends a lot of copying; and this isn't to say there's anything wrong with it, per se, but it's not my motivation).

    The information here isn't

    necessary for the stuff people generally consider "creative" - some of stuff is helpful just in your daily life. People think a 9-to-5 job is energy-sapping and you can't be creative in your boring white-collar job, and those people sit back and do... well, very little of anything... and judge the rest of us who have to work for what we want and say we're not creative. I am creative in my job as much as possible and on paper it's not a very creative position. I have to be creative to find ways of being creative. And when it works, it works well, and it comes up in my annual reviews regularly, so I'm occasionally doing something right. This book is a good reminder for people in those positions too, who think they aren't in any position to be creative. Don't get all stuck on what you or are not doing, don't compare yourself to other people. (That's not even a part of Kleon's advice. That one comes from me. And a bunch of other people.)

    The part I like the best is #5. Hobbies

    important. I always have a side project of some sort, but I have yet to figure out how to consistently have energy after my stupid 9-to-5 job (actually it's a 7-something-to-4-something job, but that's beside the point). I was hoping for some insight from Kleon on that, but it wasn't really there. He basically just said "Hey, you can do this!" which, yeah, okay, thanks, I tell myself that every day, but I'm still tired and sapped. Probably from all that creativity I do at work - coming up with ways not to kill people or worry about backstabbing takes a crapload of energy and creativity.

    So, again, great reminders here, and really great for Millennials and Gen Y and whatever generation comes after those kids (have they been named yet??). It's a fast read, hopefully inspiring, even if for just the moment. But don't get bogged down by it. Read it because it's fast and easy, feel good for a few, and then go on and do your thing. Do

    . That's all you can answer to regularly anyway.

    The other thing I fully 100-bajillion% agree with Kleon about - keep a journal. Do whatever you want in those pages, but keep

    thing. If you want to be creative in any way, that's going to be your rock. I fill mine with everything. EVERYTHING. You could flip through them, but you'd think I am a serial killer. I mean it's all very insane in these journals. (And I would have to kill you after you flipped through them, so.) But that's what works for me. Figure out what works for you and do that. You'll appreciate it later.

    A little heavy-handed with all the quotes, but again, feels more geared towards younger readers anyway, and hopefully many readers will want to know more about those quoted people which is certainly Kleon's point.

    And on that note (I can quote too!), I'll share one of my favorites from David Foster Wallace's

    :

  • Nancy

    This eye-catching little book was wedged into the corner of one of the couches in the student lounge where I work. I was there for a cup of coffee, and since it was a rather slow day, I decided to pick up the book and read.

    There’s a lot of common sense stuff in here for all types of creative people. You don’t have to be an artist or writer to benefit from these inspirational bits. They can help those who want to be more creative at work, or find room in one’s life for a

    This eye-catching little book was wedged into the corner of one of the couches in the student lounge where I work. I was there for a cup of coffee, and since it was a rather slow day, I decided to pick up the book and read.

    There’s a lot of common sense stuff in here for all types of creative people. You don’t have to be an artist or writer to benefit from these inspirational bits. They can help those who want to be more creative at work, or find room in one’s life for a hobby when time is in short supply. There are other tips for managing one’s life in order to be able to spend the time doing creative and fulfilling work.

    I really like this advice:

    It’s a short, fun book, and not a bad way to spend 30 minutes. Perfect to read in the student lounge, on the bus, or on the toilet.

  • Elyse

    Austin Kleon's "Steal Like An Artist" is a fun little book. Given that I'm not an artist -

    I wasn't seeking 'words- of -wisdom'. This book just landed in my hands - and I couldn't resist reading it.

    Austin says "every artist gets asked the question, "where do you get your ideas?"

    Austin says....'The honest artist answers', "I steal them"......

    ............as in RIPS THEM OFF? Perhaps a more 'kind' way to answer the question --- is an artist draws inspiration from others. But what do I know. I'm no

    Austin Kleon's "Steal Like An Artist" is a fun little book. Given that I'm not an artist -

    I wasn't seeking 'words- of -wisdom'. This book just landed in my hands - and I couldn't resist reading it.

    Austin says "every artist gets asked the question, "where do you get your ideas?"

    Austin says....'The honest artist answers', "I steal them"......

    ............as in RIPS THEM OFF? Perhaps a more 'kind' way to answer the question --- is an artist draws inspiration from others. But what do I know. I'm not an artist.

    This little book is filled with fun engaging anecdotes.....with a list of 10 things to do to unlock our creativity. #9 is BE BORING!!! I've got that one down!!! I'm a master of boring!!!......but creative? I have my doubts!

    He recommended 10 books we should read: I've only read 1 on his list. "Bird by Bird". By Anne Lamott. -- Proof: I AM NOT CREATIVE?/!

    But.....

    Austin listed THINGS WE MUST DO:

    Take a walk --- works for me!!!

    Start your swipe file --- What the hell is a swipe file?

    Go to the library --- I DO!

    Buy a notebook and use it ----Done!

    Get yourself a Calendar ----Done!

    Start your logbook---For what?

    Give a copy of this book away-----More sales for Austin Kleon - ok - I'm willing!

    Start a blog --- You've got to be kidding: Goodreads takes enough time.

    Take a nap!!!!!!! ---- Favorite advice in the book!!!

    This is a great book to read 'while' being lazy - boring - sleepy - in your pj's -when you need something 'little & lightweight' to hold in your hands!

  • Ariel

    I read this after reading "Show Your Work!" which is the opposite order of publication, and while I definitely preferred the latter, this was also really great. Sometimes it just has to be one idea, one quote, one line, that can make a book for you. This book was solidly consistently good, but for me it was the push to start using a notebook that really made a change for me.**

    So personally I liked the other one more, but I've heard a solid chunk of people that like this one more.. certain ideas

    I read this after reading "Show Your Work!" which is the opposite order of publication, and while I definitely preferred the latter, this was also really great. Sometimes it just has to be one idea, one quote, one line, that can make a book for you. This book was solidly consistently good, but for me it was the push to start using a notebook that really made a change for me.**

    So personally I liked the other one more, but I've heard a solid chunk of people that like this one more.. certain ideas will click more with different people. I recommend reading both .. I read them very close together and they feel like one project.

    ** (I wrote a blog post about it, check it out:

    )

  • Nat

    This was such a phenomenal and much needed read for me.

    gives ideas that apply to anyone who’s trying to inject some creativity into their life and their work. It really inspired me and I can’t wait for what’s next.

    Also, can I just quote everything? Because I really need and want to:

    This was such a phenomenal and much needed read for me.

    gives ideas that apply to anyone who’s trying to inject some creativity into their life and their work. It really inspired me and I can’t wait for what’s next.

    Also, can I just quote everything? Because I really need and want to:

    (Those were some of my personal favorites.)

    And this book also included pictures within, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    It's a very quick and honest read. I highly recommend it!

    ,

  • Carlos De Eguiluz

    Bien dijo George Orwell en "1984": "Los mejores libros son los que nos dicen lo que ya sabemos".

    Fue bastante agradable comprender que no estoy solo en esto de la escritura, que todos tenemos problemas, y que al final, lo que importa es hacer las cosas bien, aunque a veces no haya inspiración o lo que más amas se torne aburrido y tedioso.

    Austin nos regala una serie de consejos que nos permiten desarrollar nuestro proceso y no morir en el intento.

    ¿Quien dijo que robar era malo? (Léan el libro para

    Bien dijo George Orwell en "1984": "Los mejores libros son los que nos dicen lo que ya sabemos".

    Fue bastante agradable comprender que no estoy solo en esto de la escritura, que todos tenemos problemas, y que al final, lo que importa es hacer las cosas bien, aunque a veces no haya inspiración o lo que más amas se torne aburrido y tedioso.

    Austin nos regala una serie de consejos que nos permiten desarrollar nuestro proceso y no morir en el intento.

    ¿Quien dijo que robar era malo? (Léan el libro para entender, por favor).

  • Wil Wheaton

    Steal Like an Artist is essential and required reading for all artists, regardless of the type of art you create.

    It's a quick read that you can finish in one sitting, but the ideas and advice it contains will stay with you long after you've put it down. Some of Austin's suggestions will validate what you're already doing, some will challenge you to fundamentally change a creative practice, others will inspire you to grab a notebook and get to work immediately.

    Because it's such a small and access

    Steal Like an Artist is essential and required reading for all artists, regardless of the type of art you create.

    It's a quick read that you can finish in one sitting, but the ideas and advice it contains will stay with you long after you've put it down. Some of Austin's suggestions will validate what you're already doing, some will challenge you to fundamentally change a creative practice, others will inspire you to grab a notebook and get to work immediately.

    Because it's such a small and accessible book, you'll want to go back to it from time to time. Just like Stephen King's

    , as you change and grow as an artist, it reveals new ideas and inspirations to you that you may have missed on a previous read.

    This is a fantastic addition to your library, and a wonderful gift for any creative person in your life.


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