8 life lessons from Steal Like An Artist Trilogy

There are many lessons that can be inculcated into our lives from the trilogy but here are 8 lessons that I took from the Steal Like An Artist Trilogy by Austin Kleon.

8 life lessons from Steal Like An Artist Trilogy
Steal Like An Artist Trilogy | Melvin Raj

Hey friends!

Over the past 3 months, I have read the Steal Like An Artist trilogy which has opened me up to think about my hobbies differently. I was forcing myself to do a lot to be seen as something or sometimes expected people to see me as a noun before even doing the verb. I was scared to share some of my writings online as it was personal or not good. But honestly, it was just a part of learning.

Over the past 2 years, I have always felt a little bit of discomfort stealing ideas and using them to build upon them. There was always a little hindrance before mentioning the person to credit. After reading this, I  am confident about using ideas from others, sharing my work online, and how to keep going.  

I have read all three books from the Steal Like An Artist Trilogy. There are some timeless lessons writer Austin Kleon shares in these books. These lessons are not only important for artists but also for everyone.  I definitely recommend reading all three books to take the lessons that will be helpful for you. Here, I share the 8 lessons that made me realize and reflect on my own process.

So, here are 8 powerful lessons I took from the Steal Like An Artist Trilogy:

  • Take care of yourself.
  • Creativity is subtraction
  • Do Good Work And Share It With People
  • You Don’t Have To Be A Genius
  • Live below your means
  • Stick Around
  • The Ordinary + Extra Attention = The Extraordinary
  • You are allowed to change your mind

Take care of yourself -

The trend nowadays is that we must always be working. We must work on side hustles, work on vacations, build a constant relationship with our audience, and a lot more. This was making us feel guilty if we are not working all the time.

It led us to get attached to our screens and not worry about our health. We are consuming content online. We are ignoring it like our bodies are fine.


I am one to talk because I am not taking care of my health. My work has rotating shifts that make it harder for me to have a sleep routine. That leads to me not exercising and looking like a potato.


Yet, doing whatever we can with the time and opportunity available is the way to move forward. So, I am trying my best to get exercise and get proper sleep.

Creativity is subtraction -

Creativity is not the thing we choose to put in. It's the things we choose to leave out.

Figuring out what to leave out will get you way ahead. Placing constraints can bring you back into the creative zone. When it comes to creative work, limitations mean freedom.

Do good work and share it with people -

You have to enjoy your obscurity. Once you start gaining attention, you can't experiment a lot. There may be a few downsides.


People are generally too busy and they don't care about your work unless it's good. It will take time for you to get good. So, try experimenting and testing out different things when at the start.


You will get there, but in the meantime, try out different things, experiment, start many projects and stick to what works.

You don't have to be a genius -

The whole idea about people who are genius can only share something or contribute something to others is gone. If you think that, what do I have to share; you are not alone.
You can start by learning one new thing and capturing that idea, and then add your ideas as a thought experiment.
There is this old saying that you can learn from an amateur than from a master.
Austin explains that a beginner doing things will make some discoveries.
Talk about things you love. Your voice will follow.

Live below your means -

If you want maximum artistic freedom, keep your overhead low. A free creative life is not about living within your means, it’s about living below your means.

Low overhead is living below your means. It means keeping a low bar on what you want to spend on and what you want to save. I know this is a simple lesson but as creatives, we always run behind the latest technology, the newest update, and not to forget that wishful thinking that with the right product you will reach your goal.

This just makes us spend more. However the simple formula of Do what you love + low overhead = a good life is an excellent way to live as a creative.

Stick Around -

If you want a happy ending, it depends on where you stop your story.

Keep your curiosities open, and don’t be afraid to learn other things.
Look for something new to learn, and when you find it, learn it. Document your progress and share as you go so that others can learn along with you.
Show your work, and when the right people come along they will have a lot to show you as well.
Stick around for a step longer, if you don’t feel like it. If you are not enjoying the topic you are learning for a month; stick around for a week before you stop learning it.

The Ordinary + Extra Attention = The Extraordinary -

It is easy to assume that if only you could trade your ordinary life for a new one, all the problems will be solved. It is wishful thinking, says Austin Kleon.
You do not need to have an extraordinary life to make extraordinary work. You can make extraordinary art from things found in your everyday life.
Your attention is one of the most valuable things. Everybody wants it. Protecting and pointing it in the right direction brings out extraordinary work.

You Are Allowed To Change Your Mind -

If you have never changed your mind about something, pinch yourself; you may be dead.

If you think about how can I change my course of action when I said I am going to do it. You can change your mind. It is only after you try a couple of things you will find what you want to do.
Thinking requires an environment in which you can try out all sorts of ideas and not be judged for them. To change your mind, you need a good place to have some bad ideas.

You are allowed to change your mind.


These were the lessons that I feel were important for me. However, I would recommend you to read all three books in the Steal Like An Artist series and decide which bits of advice to take.

As Austin Kleon shared in this book, Your Mileage May Vary. Feel free to take what's important and leave the rest.

You can check out the work of Austin Kleon here -

Austin Kleon is a writer who draws.
Website of the New York Times bestselling author of STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST and other books.

You can purchase the books here:

  1. Show You Work (Paperback) - Amazon
  2. Show Your Work And Keep Going (Paperback) - Amazon
  3. Steal Like An Artist (Paperback) - Amazon
  4. Audiobook Trilogy - One month Free Audible Subscription with this link

Further Readings:

If you are interested, check out my book summaries and notes I have written for these three books:

  1. Steal Like An Artist
  2. Show Your Work
  3. Keep Going

Thank you for reading.

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