Steal Like An Artist

Book Summary + Notes - 10 things nobody told you about being creative.

Steal Like An Artist
Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

It is a book written by Austin Kleon on 28th February 2012.

It's been 10 years since the book has been published and I first heard the book Show your work by the same author last year in lockdown from Ali Abdaal's channel. I was looking about him online and then found out that he has a 3 part book on being creative. That is why I purchased this book first. I was waiting to read the book for a year (It took a year because I was not reading a lot and was always pushing back the books to read). Finally, last month I ordered the book and read it. That is only after listening to the Audio trilogy of Steal Like An Artist first. I loved the book so much, that I ordered it to be read in paperback because Austin Kleon, is a writer who draws and the paperback has some of his work printed and I wanted to have those to refer to in the future.

How did Austin get the inspiration for the book?

I would say read the blog post for the 10th anniversary of the book, where he writes how he got started in writing the book and how a speech at a university turned into a book within months.

The book that changed my life
Looking back at 10 years of Steal Like an Artist

What is the Book about?  

This book is about how to be creative and have something in your life that gives you happiness.

This book will show you how to be stealing ideas from others in a noble way and adding your ideas.

If you ever thought of starting something be it as a hobby. Read this book before starting to have a proper way to have sustaining hobbies.

The ideas shared in the book apply to anyone who is trying to have some creative aspect added to their personal and professional life.

Book Notes and Summaries:

The book starts with these lines -

For Boom — whenever Boom gets here

This can mean many things, but author was talking about his first born son.

  1. Steal Like An Artist:

    All creative work builds on something that has been made before. Nothing in the world is completely original. Good artists understand that nothing comes from nowhere. They practice every day taking inspiration from things they are fond of or from work they appreciate and build upon those things.

    Every new idea is a mashup of one or more previous ideas. Always remember that 1 +1 = 3 in the creative world.
    I broke it down as 1 for the other idea, 2 for your ideas, and three for people who might understand the new thing differently (we can call it 'unknown').

    Save your thefts for later - You need to have lots of little pieces of work from others that you can share. This comes in handy when you want to make a point or when you feel uninspired to look up and re-write them in your way.

  2. Don't Wait Until You Know Who You Are To Get Started:

    Fake it 'til you make it - this phrase can be read in two ways:

    Pretend to be something you are not until you are; or

    Pretend to be making something until you make something.

    This reminds me of the saying -
    Be a warrior in a garden not the gardener in a war.

  3. Write The Book You Want To Read:

    The rule is simple - Write about things you want to read, do the art you want to see, build products you want to use, and finally, do the work you want to see done.

  4. Use Your Hands:

    You need to find a way to bring your body to move. Take a walk, start moving, get your hands dirty with paint, and have two desks to be as far from screens as possible when you don't feel like doing it.

    The computer is really good for editing and typing faster but it also has the option to hit the delete key whenever you make a mistake. Let the mistakes happen, you will observe yourselves change and make it right the next time.

    Use your hands.

  5. Side Projects And Hobbies Are Important:

    Practice productive procrastination - meaning doing things that you can pick up as a hobby to procrastinate.

    Intentionally take time to be bored. Some of the best work comes from being bored.

  6. The Secret:

    Do Good Work And Share It With People -

    You have to enjoy your obscurity. Once you start gaining people's attention, you can't experiment a lot. There may be a few downsides. So, enjoy the obscurity people are generally too busy and they don't care about your work unless it's good.

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

  7. Geography Is No Longer Our Master:

    If you feel you are not in the world you live in, you can build your world where you are. Surround yourself with books and music you love. Build cool things that you like, tape them up on a wall, and make your paradise.

    Surround yourself with interesting people from all fields of work. You will realize how connected everything is. You can share your identified points with the world. You need to find a place that feeds you  — creatively, socially, spiritually, and literally.

  8. Be Nice:  

    The World Is A Small Town -

    You need to be nice to people around you. If you like their work, be appreciative and show your support however small the effort might seem. Don't feed on the negative things. The most important thing is you show appreciation without any expectation in return. It may be online or offline.

    Write fan letters. It may not be an email, but it can be Dm's on Instagram or Twitter. Write a blog about the things you learned from them and link to them. Make a video solving a problem they have and maybe they will see but the important thing is to make them.

    Lastly, get comfortable with being misunderstood or ignored. The cheeky little trick is to be too busy doing your work to care.

  9. Be Boring:

    It's The Only Way To Get Work Done.

    Take care of yourself. The whole image of leaving the job to pursue the life you want is being played out for too long and I see a little change where people are investing a lot more time in taking care of themselves. Building better relationships with health, money, and people.

    Stay out of debt. Learn about money as soon as you can. Live within your means. Save as much as you can. Keep your day job until you have made enough to live off things you do what you truly love. A job can offer connection with people and a monthly stable money flow to run your family. Spend quality time with your family.

  10. Creativity Is Subtraction:

    Choose what 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. Don't make excuses instead you can build something with what you have. Limitations can bring in better innovations you may have never thought about.

Creativity is Subtraction - Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon | Summary By Melvin Raj
Creativity is Subtraction - Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon | Summary By Melvin Raj
Creativity is not the things that we choose to put in, it's the things we choose to leave out.  

Where Can you Buy the Book?

This book has a paperback version - here

This book is also available in the audio version as a trilogy with other books from Austin Kleon. Check it out - here

You can find more of the work from Austin Kleon here. I highly recommend checking out his work. He has a newsletter where every Friday since 2013🤯🤯🤯, he has been sending out 10 things worth sharing with his subscribers and I love the collection he must be having. I read more about his work online from anywhere possible and you must as well.  This summary is one of my attempts to let you know about this amazing book and its writer.  

Austin Kleon is a writer who draws.
New York Times bestselling author and keynote speaker about creativity in the digital age.

Speaking of newsletters, every week I write about creativity, productivity, art, and writing inn this blog. You can sign up to stay updated. Subscribe from the link below.

Thank you for reading.