Steal Like an Artist

10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

by Austin Kleon

132 pages, ★★★☆☆
Finished on 23rd of October, buy here.

🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. Everything has been done before, don't be afraid to copy other people's work. It’s how we learn. Recombine, reverse-engineer, learn, and thus develop your own thing.
  2. "Be the change you would like to see in the world." – Write the book you want to read, make the movie you want to see, build the company you want to exist.
  3. Embrace your hobbies, embrace the people around you, embrace life, and be nice to everyone.

🎨 Impressions

Optimistic and feel-good reading. Rather shallow, though. The headlines are basically all the content, and they are already given away on the backside of the book. Short and motivating still.

🍀 How the Book Changed Me

  • It grew my tendency to try and change our family surroundings again by stressing the upsides of doing so.
  • Basically, all of the strong statements were already existing within me anyway, but reading the book put an emphasis on them again and made me feel more certain about it all.

✍️ My Top 3 Quotes

  1. "The trick is to find a day job that pays decently, doesn’t make you want to vomit, and leaves you with enough energy to make things in your spare time."
  2. "If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room."
  3. "Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend some time in another land, among people that do things differently than you."

📔 Summary & Notes

1 Steal Like an Artist

  • Find a rolemodel / thinker you really love, study everything you know about them. Then find three people that person loved, find out everything about them and repeat.
  • It’s your own job to get yourself an education.

2 Don't Wait Until You Know Who You Are

  • Copying your heroes is how you form your own identity. All the music, the sports moves, the whatever has already been done, it's about being inspired by the greats now and remixing / emulating them in order to find yourself.
  • Don't be afraid to imitate, it's how everyone started out.
  • "All the world’s a stage." – Creative work is the theater, the stage is your desk, your studio, workstation.
  • Copying is about reverse-engineering. Taking it apart in order to see how it works.
  • Don't steal the style, think about what's behind the style. You don't want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.

3 Write the Book You Want to Read

  • Write the story you would like to read, not just what you know.
  • Start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, do the work you want to see done.

4 Use Your Hands

  • We need to move to feel like we're making something with our bodies, not just our heads.

5 Side Projects and Hobbies Are Important

  • Take time to be bored.
  • When you are busy, you get stupid.
  • A hobby is something creative just for you. You don't do it to become famous, you do it because you enjoy it. It makes you happy. A hobby is something that gives but doesn't take.

6 The Secret: Do Good Work and Share it With People

  • Keeping it all to yourself helps no one.

7 Geography is no Longer Our Master

  • You can find inspiration in solitude and captivity, which you can also both find in the wild.
  • Change your surroundings, make yourself uncomfortable. Spend time in another land among different people. Travel makes the world look new and our brains work harder.

8 Be Nice. (The World is a Small Town.)

  • Stand next to the Talent. Follow the best people, who are smarter than you and do the interesting work.
  • If you're the most talented person in the room, leave the room and find another one.
  • Write nice things about people you admire.
  • Put the compliments you receive into a special file.

9 Be Boring (It's the Only Way to Get Work Done.)

  • Take care of yourself. It takes energy to be creative, don't waste that on other stuff.
  • Learn about money, stay out of debt. Make yourself a budget.
  • Freedom from financial stress gives you freedom in your art: If you don't take money, they can't tell you what to do.
  • Keep your day job and the routine. Have a decent job that doesn't make you want to vomit.
  • Accumulate efforts over time, don't stop. Writing a page isn't much, but writing a page every day for a year gets you somewhere.
  • Keep a logbook, write down what you've done. Ask "What's the best thing that happened today?"
  • Merry well. Find the right partners in business, in friendships.

10 Creativity is Subtraction

  • The idea that you can do anything is absolutely terrifying.
  • Don't make excuses for not working – make things with the time, space, and materials you have, right now.
  • 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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