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

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

Learn 10 lessons on how to get out of creative inertia and leverage your dream projects!

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Do you know when you have a great idea but can't develop it? Or when we are so worried about the reaction of others that we don't even carry out our own project? Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation of complete stagnation of our own plans and we don't know what to do to solve that problem.

Getting away from the idea that to create something new you have to start from scratch is a good kick-off to start your career.

The truth is that we are under the constant influence of the people around us, the artists we like and the leaders that we admire, and that we must learn from them to create something authentic and of our own.

In today's summary, we'll learn 10 essential tips from author Austin Kleon to "steal" good ideas, unlock our creative process and leverage our dream projects.

About the book "Steal Like an Artist"

This is a book that presents 10 tips to help you overcome creative inertia and do a good job through the art of "stealing".

Opportunely, we point out that the meaning of the word "steal", used in the book and in this article, is far from the true technical meaning, related to crime. In fact, the aim here is to mention the act of absorbing some foreign idea and incorporating it into one's own project.

The book is part of the trilogy of success of the author Austin Kleon. Launched in 2012, it has an easy to read format and several illustrations.

About the author Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon is an artist, writer and poet, besides being the author of the successful illustrated trilogy "Steal Like an Artist", "Show Your Work!" and "Keep Going".

His books have been translated into more than twenty languages, and have been featured on renowned newspaper platforms such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Kleon was born in the United States in the state of Ohio. Before working as a writer, he worked as a librarian, web designer and copywriter.

To whom is this book indicated?

This book is a great recommendation for people who fit at least one of the following requirements:

  • People who are having trouble finding inspiration;
  • Artists who need tips to start their career.

Main ideas of the book "Steal Like an Artist"

  • An artist's creativity comes from other people, places, and elements;
  • Self-knowledge comes from creative action;
  • In a creative blockade, work with what keeps you most entertained;
  • How to develop your creativity physically;
  • Hobbies and parallel projects are important;
  • When doing a good job, share it with people;
  • Activate your creativity by leaving your comfort zone;
  • Be cool, because the world is too small now with the internet;
  • The importance of a routine to contribute to your project;
  • Put some restrictions on your creative process to focus on brilliant ideas.

So let's get down to business!

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[Book Summary] Steal Like an Artist - Austin Kleon

Overview: 1. Steal like an artist

First, Austin Kleon distinguishes a new way of looking at the world. Everybody's probably heard the famous phrase "Nothing is created, everything is copied", right? Why not consider things stealable or not stealable?

It all depends on what you think is worth stealing. When you start from that perception, you let go of the burden that we must build everything from scratch. And when you think something's not worth stealing now, you might find it stealable later.

Austin Kleon says every good artist understands that nothing comes out of nowhere. We are a "mashup" of what we choose to let into our lives, of the things that are around us: the music we listen to; the movies we love to watch; the people we like to admire and/or keep around.

These influences define our artistic identity and are very useful for us to seek inspiration. As Austin says in the book,

"Your job is to collect good ideas."

Kleon recommends choosing an influencer who inspires you deeply and start studying about. Scale the "genealogy of ideas" and try to study who influenced this person as well.

Did you find anything interesting to steal? Keep it in a notebook. It can be a mobile phone, a camera to record what your eyes wanted to see, or simply a pen and notepad.

But always carry with you an "archive of thefts", a place where you put ideas that you steal from other artists and things around the world.

Overview: 2. Don't wait to know who you are to start

Give up the idea that you need to do a self-awareness journey before you start acting in your creative work. The act of creating our work is what defines who we are.

The book "Steal Like an Artist" says that good ideas come with dedication and they help you find out who you are. Constantly. Sometimes, we think we're just existing without having a clue of what we're doing, but the truth is that no one does.

A tip given in the book is to pretend we're something until we actually are. Start by copying what you love, the people you admire, the work that inspires you.

But most importantly: don't try to absorb only the content of the work, understand the thought behind it.

When you steal a style and understand the concept behind that, you are able to create your own interpretation and transform that authentic idea. And that's when you know you're connecting with the essence of creativity.

"It's our failure to become what we perceive as the ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique."

Overview: 3. Write the book you want to read

One of the features of our minds, when we ask ourselves "What should I do about it?" is to send us the standard answer: "Do what you know." The author, Austin Kleon, proposes a better idea: do what you like.

Write about what you like, what moves you, what makes you smile. Do what you would like for other people to read, what you would like to see more and more.

Creative blocking is a highly exhausting process if you worry too much about the idea of your work. If that happens, why not steal an idea of something that entertains you? It doesn't have to be very deep or intense, it just has to amuse you.

"Do the work you want to see done."

Overview: 4. Use your hands

Let's get out of the way of the computer screen. The author says that technology makes us lose the feeling that we are, in fact, doing something. To feel the whole experience of creation, we must move our bodies.

Create a space where you can explore your body senses. Where you can escape when you're stagnant in the digital world. When we start moving, our brain stimulates us to think.

Look for real sensations, draw a sketch. Draw the movement your hands want to make. Run after real inspirations: watch a leader in a lecture; a painter; a musician.

Spread your ideas and then rearrange them. When you are ready, go back to your computer and perform your function. When you stagnate again, you already know where you can come back to reactivate your inspiration.

Overview: 5. Parallel projects and hobbies are important

Don't give up on something you love to focus on something else. Austin says it's good to have several projects walking simultaneously, so that when you are tired of one, you can apply the "productive procrastination" to another work.

In addition, it is important to maintain hobbies, to rest the mind and regenerate the body, as well as invigorate our ideas for the projects we want to publish.

Then get some time to do nothing. That's right. Take an hour to distract yourself, do what makes you happy. Practice a sport, walk your animal, play an instrument. It may not look like it, but it does awaken our imagination for other projects.

Overview: 6. The secret: Do a good job and share it with people

And when you're ready, share it with people.

Austin Kleon says that the secret of sharing on the Internet requires two stages:

  1. Pay attention to something;
  2. Invite others to pay attention to you.

Notice things that aren't on the rise at the moment, and then be surprised. Expose your ideas and invite people to follow you. In this way, you learn both from the process of your creation, as well as from external ideas that can add to it.

You can advertise your work on a website, social network, and share content that would be valuable to the people you want to surprise, such as a book, an article, among others.

Overview: 7. Geography no longer rules us

And if you're exhausted from the real world, you can create your own world. Fill your space with things that fill you inside. You can think of music, books, paintings or any other object you love.

Enjoy solitude, an internal moment, celebrate your own company. But remember, you also need to get out of the box.

When you get very used to the place where you live, your brain settles down. It's necessary to leave the comfort zone, go to other environments, meet people who think and act differently from you.

This makes your brain awaken new ideas, with more foundation, more experience, and more effort.

You decide where to go or what to do for inspiration. That depends on your taste. Anyway, look for a place that feeds you in every way creatively, socially, spiritually and literally.

Overview: 8. Be cool

Tip: Pay attention to the way you act on the Internet. If you destroy someone online, you may believe that other people will know in a few moments. "The world is a small town" and the best way for you to deal with enemies is to ignore them. Just pretend they don't exist.

Instead of taking your energy out on negative things, try to make friends. Say good things about them, stay close to people with whom you can learn something.

Another tip from Austin Kleon is not to care about other people's approval. If you love what you do, you shouldn't look for validation. You have no control over how people will react to your work.

But you have control over the way you receive these reactions. Staying committed to the jobs you love to do is one way. Also, do not call for malicious comments, delete them immediately.

Give value to the kindness of the Internet, maintain a space where you can keep good reactions from people. This space is important for you to seek encouragement for future work. When you wake up frustrated, use them to remember your value, but be careful not to define yourself by "past glories".

Overview: 9. Be boring

Every artist, sooner or later, will look for ways to sabotage himself. Your energy is precious, so try to apply it to your art, not to self-destruction.

You need to be hard about your own care. Have a regulated power supply. Do push-ups. Meditate. Sleep well. Invest in projects that keep you alive. Be near people who keep you on the ground and inspire you.

Taking care of yourself also means to take care of your finances. Learning how to deal with money is to be free of financial stress. And to be free from financial stress is to have freedom for your art.

If, at the moment, you can't support yourself from what you love, look for a job and keep in mind that it will take a while to get where you want to go. You might think the job is gonna keep you from achieving your goals, and it turns out that it partially is.

But a steady job will give you a routine in which you will develop a discipline of study about the business you want to manage. In addition to keeping your mental health deprived of financial problems (reinforcing: learn to control your money as soon as possible).

To make your creative routine more productive, you can plan your functions daily. Adopt a calendar, where you can control the entire process of your work. Record your achievements in a logbook to remember where you left off and write down small ideas.

Dedicate yourself to what you like every day and then you won't even know you're working.

"Be constant and methodical in your life, so that you can be violent and original in your work."

Overview: 10. Creativity is subtraction

Austin Kleon says that for creative work, limitation is freedom. Relying on the idea that we have all the time of the world to do everything is crucial for creativity.

To think like this leads us to work with infinite possibilities. And the consequence of that? Bewilderment, overload and total creative blockage. Take care to not cover so many elements in your business, to get lost within your purpose.

"The right restraint can take you to your best work."

The book "Steal Like an Artist" tells to set aside the unnecessary and carry with you the most ambitious ideas. Work with the things you have now. And finally, give importance to the following verb: begin. Get started now.

What do other authors say about it?

In the book "The Bullet Journal Method", Ryder Carroll shows that, according to studies, about 70, 000 thoughts pass through our minds every day. That would be enough for us to write a book every day. That's a lot!

The author of the book "Focus", Daniel Goleman, argues that practice only brings you closer to perfection if it is done intelligently, that is, if the person who is practicing uses that time to make adjustments and improvements. Attention is crucial during practice.

About the importance of the Internet for marketing, Seth Godin, author of the book "This Is Marketing", explains that the internet has changed the rules of the game. It's the most massive means of communication ever created, as it connects billions of people.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

These tips are of great value and can be applied in everyday situations to stimulate the creative process, such as:

  • Get out of your comfort zone: explore places you've never been before and look for new experiences. This will expand your creative capacity;
  • Start a logbook: it is important to take note of your ideas and the progress of your process right now;
  • Go to places that inspires you to give you that reinvigorated;
  • Get close to people who support you;
  • Taking time off just for yourself is also necessary. Learn to enjoy your own company;
  • Continuously improve: we can always be a better version of what we are now.

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Book 'Steal Like an Artist'