Steal Like an Artist


After this post on Brain Pickings introduced me to Austin Kleon, I immediately downloaded Show Your Work and Steal Like an Artist. Within 48 hours, I finished both books and found out that Austin was going to be speaking at a local library that weekend.

Learning about his work and attending his talk on Show Your Work was life-altering. The books were insightful, accessible, quick reads, and I plan on re-visiting them whenever I need a reminder to get back to work. 

Austin's talents with words and visuals make his books immensely entertaining to study. In addition to his perspectives on work ethic and combinatorial creativity, he frequently shares thought-provoking blackout poetry. These poems were the basis for the first of his three books, Newspaper Blackout.

Here are my top six favorite quotes from Steal Like an Artist with an emphasis on tangibility:

“The great thing about dead or remote masters is that they can’t refuse you as an apprentice. You can learn whatever you want from them. They left their lesson plans in their work.”

“That’s what’s so great about creative work: If we just start going through the motions, if we strum a guitar, or shuffle sticky notes around a conference table, or start kneading clay, the motion kickstarts our brain into thinking.”

“The Internet can be more than just a resting place to publish your finished ideas--it can also be an incubator for ideas that aren’t fully formed, a birthing center for developing work that you haven’t started yet.”

“The trick is to find a day job that pays decently, doesn’t make you want to vomit, and leaves you with enough energy to make things in your spare time.”

“Amassing a body of work or building a career is a lot about the slow accumulation of little bits of effort over time.”

“Don’t make excuses for not working--make things with the time, space, and materials you have, right now.”