My thoughts on 'Steal Like An Artist' by Austin Kleon
I remember when I first started taking my art career seriously. As a new, emerging artist I felt lost and alone. People like me, mid 20's, a new parent with very little art experience and who's creative network involved exclusively Peppa Pig and my own reflection at 3am weren't and aren't really catered for in the art community. We're supposed to have figured it all out by that point... or given up... and I hadn't. I was still clinging on to my art dreams...
So I ended up taking a lot of guidance from a very important person in my life... myself.
There wasn't any plan or strategy. I literally just got up in the morning and made the art that I wanted to make, shared that art in places where I thought people might enjoy it and invited anyone and everyone into my life to learn from me and see what I could do... and what they could do. It was a good time. I worked every day despite having two children under 5! Much to my amazement, people wanted to buy my work. People wanted to commission me and exhibit with them. It was FUN!
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So how does this book Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon come into all this?
Well. Austin Kleon has some how managed to distil every single good habit I'd established when I first started art making that had nurtured and promoted my artwork so well in the first place, and put it into this little black book of GENIUS.
Reading this book was akin to finding a lost piece of my soul. I read the whole book in an hour and felt giddy with excitement.
'I remember!' I thought.
I remembered that giddy buzz we get from our art and what draws us to art making in the first place. He has some how translated all the brain feelings I had into words and tips and tricks and them published it in this concise Bible of creativity and then shared it with the world.
The book, separated into 10 chapters covers everything from style, to routine, to inspiration.
It applies to all types of creative disciplines and honestly, you can read it in a day. Here's the back of the book which gives you a list of the chapters and main tips:
Highlights from the book, for me, include:
1) Steal like an artist. Kleon explains how nothing in the world is original and how examining what our favourite artists do is essential to developing our own style. I have a heaving swipe file now which is full of artists and ideas that inspire me and that I want to learn from.
2) Write the book you want to read. I was SO glad to hear I wasn't the only one who yawns at the prospect of only creating from first hand experience. Sure my real life influences are important but my art is about escapism and secret selves and magic and power... not Sainsbury's receipts or how I stopped the neighbours cat from pooing in the flower bed.
3) Geography is no longer our master. This was very important for me to hear when I read this book. Self employment is HARD. Self employment is lonely. Kleon gave me permission to embrace the internet and to just focus on finding team mates and other artists NOW, regardless if they live in America or down the road. Maybe it's a death knell for art groups like the Bloomsbury set but maybe that's not a bad thing?
I wish, that I'd found this book 8-10 years ago. If you are an emerging artist, or someone who has been working for a while in a creative field but is feeling lost of disengaged... have a look at Steal Like An Artist. I was so impressed I immediately picked up a copy of Kleon's next book 'Show Your Work' which I'll review separately.
I am so convinced you'll love this book I'm also giving it away too, so look out for a giveaway coming soon!
If you can't wait until then click below to purchase the book straight away or have a look at my other book reviews for artist's: