Want to Steal Like An Artist?

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Make Art Not Money - Steal Like An Artist

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“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole feeling which is unique, utterly different from that which it is torn.”

– T.S. Eliot

If you have ever felt the pressure to come up with something “new”, “creative”, and “original”, this book is for you.

Let. That. Shit. Go.

The death of any sort of creative spirit is believing that what you put out into the world should never ever before have been seen or never before have existed. That’s not useful at all to think. All good artists steal.

Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative reads like a long blog post dedicated to people who create things.

It’s a good one. But certainly not like a “book book” in the sense of being complicated, dense, and difficult to read.

It’s an easy read filled with incredibly useful, actionable, and valuable information. The drawings in the book add to that uncomplicated feeling and make it a book I can recommend to people who don’t like reading.

I enjoyed it. And clearly, a number of other people did too since it’s a New York Times Bestseller. Go Austin!

Learning to Steal Like An Artist

Kleon promised 10 things and he delivered. The 10 things are:

  1. Steal Like An Artist.
  2. Don’t Wait Until You Know Who You Are To Get Started.
  3. Write The Book You Want To Read.
  4. Use Your Hands
  5. Side Projects and Hobbies Are Important.
  6. The Secret: Do Good Work and Share It with People.
  7. Geography Is No Longer Our Master.
  8. Be Nice (The World Is A Small Town.)
  9. Be Boring. (It’s the Only Way To Get Work Done.)
  10. Creativity is Subtraction.

The overwhelming premise of the book is that NOTHING IS COMPLETELY ORIGINAL. We take inspiration from everywhere. We learn from everyone. We are fascinated by all. And everything that can be said has already been said.

If you let go of the need to be “original”, you can appreciate that what you have to say will be unique because you will be saying it to an audience that has never before heard it said by you. That is the immense value you add to the world. 

There will be connections you make to information that may not have been said before. And you may have insights to things that you need to share with the world. But you need to let go of the need to be both original and perfect in order to do anything of value.

For those who fear that the things they like aren’t easily connected and maybe they should put that part of themselves away, Kleon says:

“Don’t worry about unity – what unifies your work is the fact that you made it.”

After all, if you steal from one source, that’s plagiarism. If you steal from many, that’s research!

“What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.”

– William Ralph Inge

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2 thoughts on “Want to Steal Like An Artist?

  1. Great! Read, and I shall buy that book! 🙂 I’m obsessed with lists, so the minute I see one I know it’ll be a great read.

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