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.
9. Be Boring.
10. Creativity is subtraction.
These are the ten rules to creativity that artist Austin Kleon introduces in his book, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative. The major premise of this book is that nothing is original. Everything there is to be said has been said before. All great creatives study one another and steal from each other. Some may find this depressing, but Kleon points out that this is actually a good thing. He says knowing this frees one from the crippling need to be original. Kleon claims that in order to be original, study several people that you admire, then study those peoples’ influences. Once you’ve studied up, take bits and pieces from these peoples’ work and mix them together into something new. Take a look around art history. This is not a new idea. A lot of people forget this.
Being a slightly burnt-out art school student, this book was a much needed breath of fresh air. All of the advice offered in this book is very different from what I had been given throughout my college career. I am used to being under pressure to come up with something “different”. I also find that we all seem to be living under the artist stereotype. Yes, I am tattooed and have blue hair, but I really don’t lead some crazy lifestyle. This is probably why rule number six, Be Boring, resonated with me. You mean I’m not supposed to be going to wild parties and getting wasted all the time? I can totally handle that! I prefer hanging out at home with my husband and dogs anyway. Read a lot? I suppose you may have to twist my arm a little…
I also really appreciate rule number four, Use your hands. My background is in fine arts. I love to paint and sculpt. I’m slowly but surely making my way into graphic design, but going from fully interacting with analog media to just sitting in front of a computer screen has been difficult for me. I need to make messes. I love to be fully immersed in my media. Weird, I know, but true. Kleon says that art that only comes from the head isn’t any good. You have to try to involve your whole self into your work. Look out world! Behold the messes I shall make!
Steal Like an Artist is a quick fun read. It is filled with a lot of great quotes along with Kleon’s illustrations which help to bring home his points. I would recommend this book to artists and designers, especially students. It also has a lot of good advice for anyone who just wants to boost their creativity. Everyone is creative. Seriously. Don’t give me that “I can’t draw a straight line” garbage. I can’t draw a straight line either. At least, not without a ruler. Creativity’s not just about drawing or painting either. You can be creative in any area of your life.
Check out more from Austin Kleon on his website: www.austinkleon.com
Title: Steal Like an Artist
Author: Austin Kleon