Hey my dears,
These two books you can see in the picture, Steal like an Artist and Show Your Work, both by Austin Kleon, are small books that fit in nearly every handbag and that contain useful tipps and tricks. Not only for writers or those who intend to become one, but for anyone who intends to implement some more creativity into their everyday life.
So, first I will give you a little insight into Steal like an Artist.
In another post I will talk more about Show Your Work.
So, basically, in his book, Austin Kleon gives useful tipps on how to implement more creativity into your life.
The title already suggests the topic he starts with, namely that no work was original, but mostly mixed influences of the works that inspired the artist. He is not promoting plagiarism and also states that, but he suggests that we “embrace influence” (p.8) and he supports the little chapters of his book with nice quotes, like here as well, where he quotes the French writer André Gide, who said “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.” (p.8)
I really like this quote and it links with one of my texts that I’ve written on this topic (*).
Steal like an Artist is nicely written and provides some good tipps, like carrying a notebook with you so that you can catch the thoughts that enter your mind, or what I really like: splitting your workspace into a digital and an analog desk, or carrying a book with you wherever you go, so that you have something to read when you’re on the tube or waiting to be served in a salon, etc.
These are really great tipps, and I really like that both books have the perfect size to fit into a handbag, so if you’d like to start carrying a book around with you, these two already offer themselves as a perfect start.
He also draws the circle further and talks about being inspired by our heroes and of taking their works some steps further or add to it.
As I don’t want to spoil too much of the book, I’ll just give you some examples of what you can find in the book.
“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.” (p.48)
“Step away from the screen.”(p.53)
I think in these modern times, that is one of the advices that we should think about a little bit more. We all know it, let’s be honest, and still sometimes we end up being glued to our computer screens, the screens of our smartphones, our tablets, our portable electronic gadgets. But here again, this links with his tipp to create a digital and an analog work space and I think it is really a good advice to “bring your body into your work” (p.54), because as much as the body responses to the brain, as much the body influences the brain, plus it gives you more of a feeling of having done something, created something, that you have been productive.
“Keep all your passions in your life.” (p.68)
I found that one really inspiring, because if you have many hobbies, or better to say passions, sometimes you end up having the feeling that you’d have to cut some away or reduce it to the “important” ones, that you’d need to focus. But somehow all of them add up to each other and feed each other, so I think it is a really good advice to keep all the things you’re passionate about in your life. And I truly love his words when he says “Don’t worry about unity – what unifies your work is the fact that you made it.” (p.72)
And I think he truly speaks to those creative people who are hesitant to show their work or who want to wait until everything is finished or even perfect before showing it to someone when he encourages the reader to show a little bit of what you’re working on.
When I analysed myself as a recipient according to that, I had to admit that I like seeing work in progress, so when people share what they are working on, and therefore, not necessarily what is already finished, or even showing step by step introductions into their work, I linger there for a while or when it’s not finished yet, I’d come back to see the progress, to see it develop bit by bit. It includes and involves you as a recipient more than just the display of finished work, I think.
As we can’t all step out of the surroundings we’re living in, and as much as travelling is fuel to inspiration and as much as I love him saying “Your brain gets to comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable.” (p.94), I like that he gives an alternative by saying that we have the option to create our own world by shaping our rooms the way we want to, by surrounding ourselves with things that we love, be it taping things to the wall or collecting books, etc.
I do totally agree with the comfortable vs. uncomfortable aspect, but I also believe that when you manage to create a space of your own, your world, that this is important to find shelter somewhere that you can not only call, but also feel as ‘home’. And the nice thing is, you can rearrange it from time to time if you need some new influences or if you have the feeling that your surroundings don’t fit you anymore, and this doesn’t necessarily cost a lot of money. But you’ll have to invest something other precious: Time.
As much as surrounding yourself with things you love and that inspire you, as much I like the advice to surround yourself with people that inspire you.
I love the quote from Harold Ramis “Find the most talented person in the room, […], go stand next to him.” which Kleon builds up on by saying “If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.” (p.104)
Both contributes to progress and development. It makes you grow.
There are several things in this book that I can link and relate to.
“Once you put your work into the world, you have no control over the way people will react to it.” (p.112)
I think that is exactly the fear everyone feels when you show your work, be it on a physical level or by hitting the ‘publish’ button, but entering the dialogue with the audience is not only nice and helpful, but it contributes to your development as well.
So often we think we can do it alone, we want to do it alone, but I came to the point when I realised that my work gets more vivid and authentic when I actually invite people to tell me their opinion about it.
“Inspiration through communication.” is what I started saying as a kind of creed, when I realised that communication doesn’t steal something from the project you’re working on, but actually has the potential to feed it and add to it. (I say potential because of course it depends on whom you’re talking with and who is giving you feedback and whether it is constructive and helps you or not)
There are many more aspects that he includes, like hands on advice, for example staying out of dept and keeping your day job to create security in order to give you the freedom to be creative.
I really recommend this book, it is not only a nice read that you can carry around with you in your pocket or handbag, but it gives good advices. And as I said it is not just for artists and those who want to become one, but I think it is for everybody. Especially when you have the feeling that you don’t know how to fit all the things you’d like to do in your life into the small amount of time. When being a creative person, he talks about topics one can relate to, the fear or uncertain feeling about sharing your work or your work in progress, security and freedom, whom and what to surround yourself with, hands on tipps and tricks on how to implement some more creativity into your everyday life.
If you’re going to read this book now or if you already have read it, I’d be curious to hear your opinion. 🙂
Thank you Austin for these two great books. 🙂