Book Review: Steal Like An Artist

71yg3jyya9l“Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative” by Austin Kleon

2017 Reading Challenge — Book 23: A book recommended by a friend

This is a pretty tiny book (the cup of coffee I poured when I started reading was still warm when I finished), but may end up being my favorite of everything I read this year. It’ll almost certainly be one of the few that I’ll come back to over and over.

Austin Kleon is an artist from Austin, TX, and in Steal Like An Artist he asserts that what good artists do—that is, “stealing” as much as possible from as many influences as possible to shape one’s own unique style—is a concept that can carry over into virtually any line of work. And while there are a number of people out there who have made the case that we are all a product of our influences, few have communicated this truth so compelling and creatively as Kleon.

The reality is that someone can “know” that’s true, yet still feel bound by a desire to be “original” than can have a debilitating effect on creativity. I know, because I’m that guy. And that’s why I’m so thankful to have been told to read this book, because it’s definitely a game changer for me!

Kleon’s 10 short chapters each present a different principle for developing creativity, and though it’s a numbered list, it manages not to come across as a “how to” manual. Rather, it’s a testimonial borne from experience, and an encouragement that these timeless principles (e.g., “Be Nice”) really do work in the real world, and they really are things that don’t apply only to artists. It’s a book which manages to be both artistic and pragmatic… not an easy combination!

Anyway, I’ve already written a review that will take you half as long to read as the book itself, so stop reading this and go get the book!

If we’re free from the burden of trying to be completely original, we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and embrace influence instead of running away from it.” ~ Austin Kleon

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