Show Your Work! - Austin Kleon

Show Your Work! - Austin Kleon

Discover 10 tips for reaching a truly interested audience in your production by sharing your processes, ideas, and routine.

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Have you spent more effort than you would like on strategies to increase the visibility of your product and not achieved the expected results? What does it take to get audiences these days?

In “Show your work!” Austin Kleon tells us what we must do to be the people other people “steal” references from.

It’s frustrating to spend so much time perfecting your production and not being able to sell it.

The book “Show Your Work!”

The book “Show your work!” was published in 2017. The work has 224 pages and is divided into 10 chapters.

In this book, the author presents new ways to spread artistic/creative work without looking like a “human spam” and through generosity to build an audience that really cares about what you do.

This is the second book published by Kleon that is part of the successful trilogy in which he teaches how to work with art and creativity at this time, betting on the power of the internet.

Who is Austin Kleon?

Austin Kleon is a writer who draws, according to himself. A creativity enthusiast born in the city of Circleville, Ohio in the United States.

Kleon is a bestselling author according to The New York Times for 3 of his publications:

For his research on creativity in the digital age, he was invited to speak at companies such as Pixar and Google, in addition to presenting a TEDx on the subject.

Why should I read “Show Your Work!”?

This book is primarily intended for people who are looking to improve their work performance, but also for anyone who needs audience engagement to develop their activity.

What can I learn from “Show Your Work!”?

  • There is no “lonely genius”. Sharing ideas and finding partners is always better than trying to do everything yourself;
  • Think more about your way than the end product, avoid anxiety;
  • Share your curiosities, people also like to know what are the motivations behind your work;
  • When asked about your work, be honest, don’t say you’re a rock star unless you’re a rock star;
  • Listen to your peers if you are an actor, go to the theater, if you are an artist, visit art exhibitions, if you are a writer, read books;
  • In addition to sharing your own ideas, also listen to those who are interested in what you do;
  • Get away from the “vampires”, things that only tire you and contribute nothing, those “friends”, that place or even that work.

In this book summary, we will explain Austin Kleon’s 10 tips so you can get the perfect audience for your work just by sharing it. Let’s go?

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[Book Summary] Show Your Work! - Austin Kleon

You don’t have to be a genius

The book “Show Your Work!” begins by denying the existence of the “lone genius”. So, to pursue a career in the creative industry, according to the author, you need to share your ideas.

Having said that he bets on generosity between artists and creative people, the concept Brian Eno described as “scenes”, groups of people who share the same inspirations and ideas, is presented.

Austin Kleon recommends that artists look for this “scene”. It is in this set of artists thinking about the same thing that masterpieces emerge.

Pay attention to the internet, it may be a good place for you to find your “scene”.

Sharing a not-so-good idea is better than not sharing. By sharing ideas, you have a chance to know your audience’s reaction to the things you want to work on, and get feedback.

In addition to feedback, this moment of sharing ideas is ideal for possibly finding your scene, or at least finding others interested in the same thing as you.

Think process, not product

While the public usually has access only to the final product, the artist has to worry about the process of creation, the stoning of his work.

During your process, it is also interesting to record the steps as you are most comfortable, either with the camera phone or written record.

Use the records to make your projects public. Social networks make it possible to spread your work almost at no cost.

“Become a documentary filmmaker of what you do.”

Share a little every day

Keep in mind that no career consolidates overnight. Perseverance is important, but don’t despair producing and hoping for success, focus on the days.

Focusing your production on a daily routine, by the end of each day you will have made some breakthrough and have something interesting to share, perhaps an unexpected idea from some mistake.

How you will share is up to you to decide. The author suggests sharing via Blogs, Email, Twitter or YouTube but makes it clear that there is no required format.

Not everything that is shared needs to be perfect, don’t just share what you think is flawless. Remember that public opinion may differ, and you may be surprised.

But always take the “so what?” Test, ask yourself if what you are sharing has a real purpose.

As spokeswoman Lauren Cerand says:

“Post as if everyone you read had the power to fire you.”

Open your curiosity cabinet

Everyone has unusual hobbies and interests, show yours! Your interests make you the only person you are, be generous and let other people know what you like.

Even if a few people are interested in your tastes, be true to them, it’s okay to change your mind, but it’s not good to change just to please the public.

Sincerely answer questions like “What movies do you see? Do you attend art exhibitions? What do you collect?” Or even, “from whom do you ‘steal’ your ideas?” (Referring to the book Steal like an Artist by the same author).

Give the credits accordingly. According to Kleon, it is important to develop the exercise of crediting the jobs you share if they are not yours. It is a good idea to share something with someone else only when you can credit it.

It’s a good idea to use the hyperlink tool to get your audience right where you got what you’re sharing.

Tell good stories

Your work does not speak for itself, you need to have considerations to say about what you have done and shared. Explain to your audience why you are doing what you do and how you do it.

Good stories contribute to the appreciation of a work of art, there are no works that “speak for themselves”. When we think of this as a job, it is usually because they have talked a lot about it.

Think of the stories you tell about your work as a way of making it easier to understand, people are more interested in a good story than a concept that perhaps few understand.

Teach what you know

Sharing your knowledge is a great way to work on generosity. What techniques do you use? Why do you do work the way you do it?

Think about how you can pass on technical, material, or other aspects of your production to laypeople. By teaching it is possible to improve one’s technique.

In addition to improving your work by sharing technical information about your processes, “Show Your Work!” says that you also have the chance to inspire people. And so, become a reference for these people.

The public is more interested when they know the “secrets” of production.

“People feel closer because you are somehow letting them get in touch with your knowledge.”

Do not become human spam

Listen to what people have to say, don’t be arrogant to the point of believing that there is nothing to absorb in what they say to you. Be open to dialogue.

Austin Kleon says:

“If you want fans, you have to be a fan.”

Don’t worry about how many followers you have or how many people interact with your posts. Worry about the quality of these numbers, many people don’t necessarily mean a good audience.

If you want followers, be someone worthy of following

Establish an honest relationship with your audience, develop closeness, perhaps even know some people yourself, especially colleagues.

Learn to be knocked down

Receiving a review is not always easy, but be willing to receive it. Share your work. If criticism comes to your work, don’t be discouraged, share more of your work.

In this exercise of being open to criticism, you develop the ability to be less and less affected by criticism, no matter how cruel.

Learn to respond to criticism smoothly without major frustrations. If this is difficult for you, practice meditation, or some other practice that can make you more relaxed.

“You must remember that your job is something you do, not who you are.”

Avoid exposing your inner work if you are not prepared to receive possible criticism about it. If you preserve it, save it for another time, it’s never too late. Learn the right time to share something intimate with your audience.

Be aware of the trolls, do not instigate them, ignore them. Trolls are people who criticize just for criticizing, trolls don’t care about you, don’t worry about them, maybe you should block them.

Sell yourself 

If you ever want to live off your artistic or creative output, you should make it clear to your audience that you want it. Eventually sell their works, because artists do not feed on the wind.

According to Austin Kleon in his book “Show Your Work!”, the money will not corrupt your creation or production, it will stimulate you to produce more and better, and there are several ways to earn a financial return when working with the arts.

Keep a list of potential buyers and/or supporters, especially when you don’t have something ready to market. Do this via email using the MailChimp – website recommended by the author.

But never, NEVER add someone’s email to this list without their permission, you don’t want to be human spam or electronic spam in someone’s inbox.

Social networks start and end, but everyone keeps using their email.

Stick around

Ups and downs in a career are normal, this is expected to happen. Don’t give up at a bad time, eventually, things will get better, be persistent, resilient.

Be sure to produce because you are not getting the expected return, maybe now is the time to slow down your production slightly, but not abandon it.

If you need some time for yourself, take it out, but make sure you get it back to production after the end of this “sabbatical period”. It’s okay to rest!

Be willing to maybe start or try something new, you will never start from scratch since you have learned a lot from your previous attempts. According to Milton Glaser:

“Whenever Picasso learned how to do something soon after he left.

Books about creativity and performance

Daniel H. Pink, the author of A Whole New Mind says that thanks to the fusion of wealth, technology, and increased connection of people through phones and the internet, the world is transitioning into a new era beyond knowledge. It takes creativity, empathy and emotion.

In Out of Our Minds, author Ken Robinson says that everyone is born with natural talents, but few are the ones who discover what they are and how to develop them. Thus, it can be concluded that everyone has creative ability, the challenge is to develop them because it requires a lot of discipline and work.

In Made to Stick, the brothers Chip and Dan Heath explain their belief that the surprise factor is linked to a pattern break. Unexpected, new ideas often attract people’s attention.

How can I apply the ideas from “Show Your Work!”?

After contacting the tips that Austin Kleon presented in this book so that you can better spread your work, how about recapping some important points?

  • Be generous with your own work;
  • Relate to people who do something similar to what you do;
  • Focus on what you are doing, not on the scope your job may have;
  • Maintain a sharing routine;
  • Have good stories about what you are doing;
  • Don’t mind criticism so much, it happens;
  • Teach others what you know how to do, share knowledge;

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Show Your Work! - Austin Kleon