Something you may not know about me is that I love to read. I find that books really inspire me. I have a growing collection of books about art and I’ve been wanting to write about some of my favorites that I would recommend to fellow artists. The first book I’m going to write about is actually perfect for any creative type, whether they are are a musician, writer, visual artist, etc. The book is called “Steal Like an Artist” and it was written and illustrated by Austin Kleon.
A little background first: I don’t remember how, but I stumbled upon the work of Austin Kleon online one day. He has a series of work called Newspaper Blackout where he would take sections of newspapers and black out all the words except for a few in order to create his own short poem. It’s a seemingly simple process, but the results were pretty clever. The idea took off and now people all over the world are doing it and sharing it on the Newspaper Blackout Tumblr.
On the site where I saw his art, I also saw that he had just written a book. I was able to preview it online and immediately I was hooked. I pre-ordered it on Amazon (it was only about $6) and it’s definitely one of my favorite books now.
I love so many things about this book. First of all, it’s small and super easy to read (like you could probably read it in an hour). Since there isn’t a ton of content, it’s easy to get the message and everything seems pretty fresh in your mind at the end. More importantly, though, the message is a really good one.
I would especially recommend this book to high schoolers or anyone who is just starting out. The author is realistic, but encouraging. He encourages the reader to take responsibility of their own education, work hard, and live a “boring” life if that’s what it takes to produce a large volume of work. After all, making a lot of work is the only way to get better and figure out who you are as an artist.
In case you can’t read it, that last quote says, “Modern art = I could do that + Yeah, but you didn’t.” (Craig Damrauer). That sort of sums of the perspective of this book, I think.
I recently bought Austin’s second book, “Show Your Work!” but I’ve yet to read it. When I do, I will definitely share my thoughts on here :] Thanks for reading!
Austin Kleon’s Website
TEDx Talk: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Think Process, Not Product