“Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon

Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.
Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

I’m a sucker for inspirational quotes, books, cups, t-shirts, shoes, hats, anything. If it has words of encouragement, I want to buy it. If it’s meant to cheer you up and get started on creating something, I want to get it. If it’s to help build your creative confidence, I want to read it. So it should be no surprise that I bought and read Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon. I think I first read of this book in one of the many posts on Maria Popova’s website, Brain Pickings (I love that website! It’s a source of inspiration for creativity). After looking up the book on Amazon, I decided that I must get it.

The first thing I love about this book is the presentation. I don’t know what the cover is made of but it’s that smooth but thick, jacket-like cover that I find on most YA novels. I like the texture so I keep touching it. I also like that it’s made to look like a blackboard with the writings in chalk. There are doodles by the author throughout its pages to give it a fun appeal, which is certain to tickle the creative spot.

The book is like an outline. Those 10 things that apparently no one has told you about being creative are listed in the table of contents and are broken down in its respective chapters. The chapters aren’t long. Kleon is pretty succinct with his explanations. He also draws on the knowledge of some of the great creators in history, whom he quotes throughout the book. Overall, Steal Like an Artist is a quick, fun read that will leave you motivated to get started on your next project. It’s a book that everyone should read.

Here are some quotes that jumped out at me. I also list the 10 chapters:

1.Steal like an artist.

“…chew on one thinker—writer, artist, activist, role model—you really love. Study everything there is to know about that thinker. Then find three people that thinker loved, and find out everything about them. Repeat this as many times as you can.”

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

“…it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.”

“Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style…you want to see like your heroes.”

“Our failure to copy our heroes is where we discover where our own thing lives. That is how we evolve.”

3. Write the book you want to read.

4. Use your hands.

“…find a way to bring your body into your work…motion kickstarts our brain into thinking.”

5. Side projects and hobbies are important.

“Practice productive procrastination.”

“Take time to be bored.”

6. The secret: Do good work and share it with people.

“When you open up your process and invite people in, you learn.”

7. Geography is no longer our master.

“Surround yourself with books and objects that you love.”

“Create your own world.”

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

“…show your appreciation without expecting anything in return…”

9. Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)

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

“…stick to your routine. Do the work every day, no matter what.”

10. Creativity is subtraction.

“…embrace your limitations and keep moving.”


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