There was not any new idea in the book, there was not any new invention that the author found, and there was not any new theory that he developed, yet, this book, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon, is one of the best books I read recently. I cannot think of anyone who might not find this book so interesting.
Initially, I thought Stealing and Creativity don’t mix. However, when we look at creativity as a chain of triggers that we get from the different great people that inspire us, we will realize that we all steal in a way or another. More importantly is to remember that “you don’t just steal from one of your heroes, you steal from all of them. The writer Wilson Mizner said if you copy from one author, it’s plagiarism, but if you copy from many, it’s research”.
The 10 things that nobody told you about being creative are:
- Steal Like an Artist: nothing is original anyways.
- Don’t Wait Until You Know Who You Are to Get Started: fake it until you make it.
- Write the Book You Want to Read: write what you like.
- Use Your Hands: your hands are the original digital devices.
- Side Projects and Hobbies Are Important: sometime this is so true: “The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.” —Jessica Hische
- The Secret: Do Good Work and Share It with People: share your dots but don’t connect them.
- Geography Is No Longer Our Master: work anywhere and anytime.
- Be Nice (The World Is a Small Town): always practice an extra dose of kindness.
- Be Boring. (It’s the Only Way to Get Work Done.): always remember, your time is limited.
- Creativity Is Subtraction: It’s often what an artist chooses to leave out that makes the art interesting.
Some of the best takeaways from the book are:
- “Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.”—Jim Jarmusch”.
- “The manifesto is this: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use—do the work you want to see done.”
- “Neil Young sang, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” I say it’s better to burn slow and see your grandkids.”
- “When you look at the world this way, you stop worrying about what’s “good” and what’s “bad”—there’s only stuff worth stealing, and stuff that’s not worth stealing”.
- “I have two desks in my office—one is “analog” and one is “digital.” The analog desk has nothing but markers, pens, pencils, paper, index cards, and newspaper. Nothing electronic is allowed on that desk. This is where most of my work is born, and all over the desk are physical traces, scraps, and residue from my process. (Unlike a hard drive, paper doesn’t crash.) The digital desk has my laptop, my monitor, my scanner, and my drawing tablet. This is where I edit and publish my work.”