Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

by Austin Kleon

Creativity is everywhere and for everyone—you don’t have to be a superhuman genius to be an artist; you just have to be you. That’s the message of Steal Like an Artist, a book about how to steal inspiration from the world around you and discover the artist within you.

Summary Notes

Steal Like An Artist, Don’t Wait Until You Know Who You Are To Get Started

“First, you figure out what’s worth stealing, then you move on to the next thing.”

Nothing is original - all creative work is built on something that came before. The key to making good art is not to try and create original pieces, but rather, to embrace influence and pick and choose certain aspects to create art. 

Good artists are always collecting good ideas, and they use their vast collections to influence their work. Another important thing to remember is that few artists actually “know” what they’re doing, they’re just faking it until they make it. Practice is essential; simply show up every day and do your thing and sooner rather than later, you’ll create art you’re proud of.

Actions to take

Write The Book You Want To Read

“Whenever you’re at a loss for what move to make next, just ask yourself, ‘What would make a better story?’”

When you write about what you know, you create art that has nothing new in it. Write about and explore the things you enjoy, so you can learn a little more in the process and use it to influence your art. Fanfiction, for example, is a great way for writers to practice their writing, plus, they get to write about the stuff they enjoy!

Focus on creating the art you want to see in the world - if everyone did that, the world would be a much better place.

Actions to take

The Secret: Do Good Work And Share It With People

“You don’t put yourself online only because you have something to say - you can put yourself online to find something to say.”

Obscurity is actually good for beginner artists - it’s better for people to know you for good, skilled work, rather than the pieces you made while still in your trial and error phase. Plus, there’s a lot less pressure when you’re unknown - no public image to manage, no agents to reply to, etc. You can focus on experimenting with your art and finding your niche. 

Once you’re ready to share your art with the world, you can move on to creating blogs and social media accounts to post pictures of your art with others who are interested in the same things as you!

Actions to take

Geography Is No Longer Our Master

“Build your own world.”

With the internet, you no longer have to physically be somewhere to connect with the world you want to be in. There are plenty of communities for people with the same interests as you online! Physically speaking, all you need is a computer, a quiet room, a comfy chair and some solitude so you can get to work. 

Actions to take

Be Boring

“Take care of yourself.”

It’s better to live a long, happy, healthy life than a short and hectic one. To truly be a successful artist, all your needs must be met so that you have the capacity to be creative. This means that you will need enough sleep, exercise, food, time to destress and so on.

It’s also important to organize your time. While writing a book in a day might seem impossible, writing a page a day will land you a completed novel within a year. Allocate time for tasks and mark them off when you’re done - this makes sure you actually get things done and gives you a motivational boost when you see that row of Xs.

Actions to take

Don’t just read. Act.
Read comprehensive summaries and discover carefully compiled action lists for active learning
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