Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon is a treasure trove of creativity and inspiration that emphasizes the power of copying. This is a good and easy read. This book encourages readers to embrace the art of imitation as a means of honing their craft and finding their own unique voice. In a nutshell, you’ll discover that there is beauty and power in borrowing ideas and techniques from others. Whether you’re looking to improve your reading skills or just in need of a creative spark, this book is sure to light the way.
Plagiarism Vs Original: If you copy one time and just reproduce, it could be considered plagiarism. However, if you copy 100 times from different people and improvise on it, it is great art. Author Wilson Mizner ‘If you copy from one author it is plagiarism, if you copy from many it is research’.
According to Jonathan Lethem, when people call something original ‘nine out of ten times they don’t know the reference of original sources. Artists are very selective about who they copy from. Basketball star Kobe Bryant admitted that all of his moves on the court were stolen from watching his heroes. However, he adapted to his body and style.
Pen and Paper: The author also suggests carrying a pen and a notebook (paper) so you can jot down ideas whenever it occurs to you. Going deep about any subject you are working on goes a long way. The author recommends having a swipe file to write down the list of things you copied from others. This can be very handy. Find out who to copy from and what to copy from.
Channelize your anger: According to the author, one way to do this is by exploring the bibliographies in a book. This not only helps you dive deeper into a subject, but also provides a healthy distraction from your anger. Additionally, the author suggests writing the book you want to read. This creative outlet can be a great way to channel your anger into something positive and productive.
In addition to reading and writing, the author suggests using your body to channel your anger. Going for a walk, washing dishes, and other physical activities can help release tension and shift your focus away from the source of your anger. By embracing a variety of physical and mental activities, you can transform your anger into a driving force for positive change and growth.
Choosing passions: If you have multiple passions, you can explore and pursue them all. The author suggests alternating between your passions if you feel bored with one. This way, you can keep yourself engaged and continue to grow in different areas. By embracing multiple passions, you can tap into a wealth of creativity and fulfillment and avoid getting stuck in a rut. So, don’t be afraid to pursue multiple passions, and let your creativity take the lead!
Appreciate: If you see someone doing great, send a note of appreciation. Send them an email or write a blog about them. Even if they do not respond, it is okay. Share what you learn with others. (Practice writing a blog to share your learnings).
Geography: Austin Kleon emphasizes the importance of being intentional and selective about who and what you choose to read, regardless of geographical location. He encourages readers to curate their own personal networks and sources of inspiration, regardless of where they are physically located. By doing so, Kleon argues that one can cultivate a rich and diverse creative environment, regardless of geography.
Travel: Even if you love your home, travel helps. It helps you gain new experiences. Be kind to people. If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. Through travel and immersion in new environments, Kleon believes that artists can broaden their perspectives, gain new inspiration, and grow as creative individuals if they travel.
Be Boring & Do Mundane Things: The author suggests that embracing the ordinary and routine can actually be a powerful tool for creativity. By focusing on mundane tasks, you can create a foundation of organization and structure that frees up your mind to focus on more creative pursuits.
My Take on the Steal like an Artist
Thanks, Austin for writing this guide. One of my biggest learnings from your book was to check Bibliographies, – This helps us get to the source and also go deep. I also loved that you talked about doing a few things at the same time (following not just one, but two or three passions). Your book is a great read for someone who is looking to get further in life and also teaches them the art of copying.
If someone already is doing a lot of what you have outlined, it is still a great read because it re-emphasizes the learnings. It is easy to complete reading your book once they start. It is laid out in a simple manner. If someone is just getting started with reading, this could easily be one of the first 10 books they can read to build confidence in their reading skills.