Book review : Steal like an artist – and – Show your work!
written by Austin Kleon, published by Lannoo
genre nonfiction / self-help, 140 and 215 pages
Don’t ever judge the value of a book by its size! If size would have mattered, I would never have picked up either one of those fantastic books; ‘Steal like an Artist’ and ‘Show your work!’. Although I’d noticed both books at several bookshops before, I got convinced that I really needed to read them, when they were recommended twice in different books I was reading, within the same week. To me that for sure is a sign!
The story in short
Both books have been written by Austin Kleon, a writer and artist living in Austin, Texas USA. When Austin was asked to talk to students at a community college in 2011, he wrote a talk based on a list of 10 things he wished he’d heard when he was starting out as an artist. After his talk the text and slides from his presentation went viral and Austin knew he was up to something good. He expanded the talk into a book that got published within a year!
Steal like an artist – 10 things nobody told you about being creative
‘Spoiler alert’ here’s the list of the 10 tips you’ll read about in Steal like an artist. In case you wonder why I share them with you already, well .. since they’re also printed on the back of the cover I decided it’s okay. Austin added a lot of personal insights, illustrations and background stories to these tips, so don’t let this knowledge stop you from reading the book, this is only the beginning!
Here we go, 10 tips to unlock your creativity:
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.
Show Your Work! – 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered
Show Your Work! is the followup to Steal like an artist. If the forerunner was a book about stealing influence from other artists, Show your work is about letting others steal from you.
Again Austin has made a list of ten tips, the ten chapters of the book, in which he lays out ways to think about your work as a never-ending process. We learn how to build an audience by sharing our process, and how to share our work with the world:
1 You don’t have to be a genius.
2 Think process, not product.
3 Share something small every day.
4 Open up your cabinet of curiosities.
5 Tell good stories.
6 Teach what you know.
7 Don’t turn into human spam.
8 Learn to take a punch.
9 Sell out.
10 Stick around.
Why you should read these books
I guess what really works for both books is that they are so real. The writer has written them to and for himself, and like with many self-help books (if you want to call them that) they turn out to be very valuable for other people too. For me that really was the case, the tips and advise Austin shares in both books are the exact questions and concerns I happen to struggle with and I guess most (creative) people do.
If I had to chose between both books, I would probably advice to read Steal like an artist first, but if you’ve got the time and opportunity, I highly recommend to read them both. Especially since they’re both very short and easy reads (within 30 minutes you can find inspiration that lasts for weeks) and full of engaging anecdotes, helpful tips and practical advice. If you want to stop worrying, start doing and sharing your work, these are the books that you should read!
For more information about the books or about the writer, go at austinkleon.com.