This is a summary of Austin Kleon’s book Steal Like an Artist.
The Main Message
Be creative by putting in the work to connect ideas from multiple sources.
In Five Bullets or Less: Steal Like an Artist
- Get started NOW, create the art you want to see, work with your hands, have a hobby, share your stuff, go beyond your current geography, be kind, embrace boredom, and know what to eliminate.
Highlights of Steal Like an Artist
When people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past.
Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas.
Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artists collect selectively.
The writer Wilson Mizner said if you copy from one author, it’s plagiarism, but if you copy from many, it’s research.
The best advice is not to write what you know, it’s to write what you like. Write the kind of story you like best—write the story you want to read.
While I love my computer, I think computers have robbed us of the feeling that we’re actually making things. Instead, we’re just typing keys and clicking mouse buttons.
“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.” —Jessica Hische
you want attention only after you’re doing really good work. There’s no pressure when you’re unknown. You can do what you want.
You should wonder at the things nobody else is wondering about. If everybody’s wondering about apples, go wonder about oranges.
The more open you are about sharing your passions, the closer people will feel to your work.
People love it when you give your secrets away, and sometimes, if you’re smart about it, they’ll reward you by buying the things you’re selling.
You’re only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with. In the digital space, that means following the best people online—the people who are way smarter and better than you, the people who are doing the really interesting work. Pay attention to what they’re talking about, what they’re doing, what they’re linking to.
If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.
Instead of keeping a rejection file, keep a praise file. Use it sparingly—don’t get lost in past glory—but keep it around for when you need the lift.
It takes a lot of energy to be creative. You don’t have that energy if you waste it on other stuff.
Each day, when you’re finished with your work, make a big fat X in the day’s box. Every day, instead of just getting work done, your goal is to just fill a box. “After a few days you’ll have a chain,” Seinfeld says. “Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
The way to get over creative block is to simply place some constraints on yourself.
It’s often what an artist chooses to leave out that makes the art interesting.