Book:  Steal Like an Artist

Author:  Austin Kleon

Purchase:  PrinteBook

Citation:  Kleon, A. (2012). Steal like an artist : 10 things nobody told you about being creative. New York: Workman Publishing Company.

Big Takeaways:​ & Key Ideas:

  • Always be reading. Go to the library. There's magic in being surrounded by books. Get lost in the stacks. Read bibliographies. It's not the book you start with, it's the book that book leads you to. Collect books, even if you don't plan on reading them right away. Nothing is more important than an unread library. Don't worry about doing research. Just search. (pg. 20)

  • Go to whatever lengths necessary to make sure you always have paper on you. Keep a swipe file - the stuff you've swiped from others. It can be digital or analog, as long as it works. See something worth stealing? Put it in the swipe file. Newspaper reporters call this a "morgue file" - I like that name even better. Your morgue file is where you keep the dead things that you'll later reanimate in your work. (pg. 22)

  • If I'd waited to know who I was or what I was about before I started "being creative," I'd still be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it's the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are. You might be scared to start. That's natural. There's this very real thing that runs rampant in educated people. It's called "impostor syndrome." It means that you feel like a phony, like you're just winging it, that you really don't have any idea what you're doing. Guess what: None of us do. Ask anybody about doing truly creative work, and they'll tell you the truth: They don't know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up and do their thing. Every day. (pg. 27)

  • If you copy from one author, it's plagiarism, but if you copy from many, it's research. If you have one person you're influenced by, everyone will say you're the next whoever. But if you rip off a hundred people, everyone will say you're so original! (pg. 36)

  • Life is a lonely business, often filled with discouragement and rejection. It's a tremendous boost when people say nice things about our work. I put every really nice email I get in a special folder (nasty emails get deleted immediately). When those dark days roll around and I need a boost, I open that folder and read through a couple emails. Then I get back to work. Try it: Instead of keeping a rejection file, keep a praise file. Use it sparingly - don't get lost in past glory - but keep it around when you need a lift. (pg. 113)

  • The worst thing a day job does is take time away from you, but it makes up for that by giving you a daily routine in which you can schedule a regular time for your creative pursuits. Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time. Inertia is the death of creativity. You have to stay in the groove. When you get out of the groove, you start to dread the work, because it's going to suck until you get back into the flow. The solution is really simple: Figure out what time you can carve out, what time you can steal, and stick to your routine. Do the work every day, no matter what. No holidays, no sick days. Don't stop. What you'll probably find is that work gets done in the time available. (pg. 124)

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