Steal Like an Artist – By Austin Kleon

ISBN: 9780761169253
Date Finished: 02/07/2023
Recommendation: 10/10

Visit the Amazon page for more details.

One of my favorite books on creativity ever. This book is a guide for using the influences in your life and molding them into your own thoughts. Most, if not all, ideas are copied from someone else. Somewhere between the input and output, an artist applies their perspective to the idea. Then out comes your own idea. Stealing is different from plagiarizing. Austin shows you ideas how to get this done.

My Notes

“When people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past.”

Writing is a form of talking to yourself in the past. This could be one year, two years, or ten years. It’s giving advice to your past self.

People don’t realize that anything artistic is up for the taking. Take it and apply your own experiences. When you take something you love and apply your life to it, you have our own twist. You used your influences and created something of your own.

This is exactly what art is.

That’s all it’s ever been.

You, the child of God, is a mixture of your ancestors before you. Your DNA stole like an artist.

The hard part is being influenced only by what you love. The trick is to collect only good ideas. Curate your Twitter feeds, your newsletters, and everything else you consume.

After you find someone’s writing you truly love, start digging deeper. Start asking questions of who their influences were, then who were those influencers? What did they read? Google is a powerful tool. Use it to your advantage for everything.

“Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.”

– Jim Jarmusch

“Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started”

Action is the foundation of mastery. You will never know who you are or what you can do until you get started.

Imposter syndrome is an easy excuse for never reaching your dreams. Most people have no idea who they are, who they want to be, or what they want to be when starting out.

The key is you have to pretend to be someone, in order to find yourself. If you find someone who deeply influences you, use them at your North Star. When venturing to that North Star, you will find yourself.

Your influences will play a big part of who you are, but ultimately, your experiences shape who you become. But those experiences can’t come unless you start.

“In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our heroes. We learn by copying.”

Write about the topics you want to write about. This doesn’t mean they have to be the topics you know about. Part of the fun is the learning process.

Build things you want to use. If you want to consume them, there’s a good chance other people will too.

“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use- do the work you want to see done.”

Sitting at the computer is killing your creativity.

The best ideas come from moving and going through the motions. Some of my best ideas come from the shower or walking. It’s really wherever my phone isn’t. That’s when I get into a deep-thinking sprint.

Try to create more ideas in an “analog” environment, and then merge them into the digital world.

“Practice productive procrastination.”

Most people’s side projects are the one’s that take off. If you are doing something in your spare time, it means you really enjoy it. Your spare time away from work, away from your family, deserves importance.

While building your side projects, most people think you should focus only on one. It’s okay to have a few that you tennis volley back and forth with. This keeps you creative and keeps you always learning. More than likely these are two different topics.

Your work is authentic. It’s created by you, and only by you. That’s what makes it special.

“One day, you’ll look back and it will all make sense.”

People think everyone is always watching and judging everything they say. When in reality, they are hooked to their phones.

Use this to your advantage. Work in the shadows and build cool stuff without someone knowing who you are.

Share your dots without connecting them.”

The best thing about the internet is how it allows people to connect with other like-minded people from all over the world. Before the internet, you had to find someone in your hometown who had the same interests as you.

I bet this felt lonely at times.

The only way to build your own world is to become uncomfortable.

The internet is an easy place for people to take their anger from their day out on you. If they do, ignore it.

Spread love and be nice.

Curate your internet consumption to only show you the best, smartest people.

Tell these people you appreciate them without expecting anything in return. You may get new inspiration and work out of it.

Being boring as a creator keeps you grounded.

This means you can’t run off on some yacht party in the Aegean Sea and sip martinis all day. We are pushing for longevity here. Live below your means and be boring.

The trick is to find a day job that you can tolerate and doesn’t drain you of your creativity after you clock out. That job will help you learn and meet new people.

Meeting new people and learning new things allows you to steal like an artist.

Another trick to be boring is marrying well and finding someone who accepts you for the creator you are. Sometimes your partner’s side job is to keep you grounded and make sure your perspective is focused.

“It seems contradictory, but when it comes to creative work, limitations mean freedom.

Life is more about subtraction than it is addition. Look at life closely, you will find that addition actually comes from subtraction.

This goes for creativity as well.

The internet causes information overload. It’s important to get away from the overload for creativity.

“In the end, creativity isn’t just the things we choose to put in, it’s the things we choose to leave out.”

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