Steal Like An Artist​

“Go deeper than anybody else–that’s how you’ll get ahead. Creative people need time to just sit around and do nothing. The artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there’s a difference: Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artists collect selectively.”

-Austin Kleon

"Steal Like An Artist"

The first thing I want to write about is one of the most impactful concepts that has inspired me in my artistic endeavors. First, an introduction: Austin Kleon is a writer who draws. A New York Bestselling author, he has written multiple books including Newspaper Blackout, a collection of blackout poetry. He’s an inspiration to me as not only has he carved his path as a successful artist, but he also gives practical advice to the aspiring artist. One of the works that has helped and inspired me significantly is his work, Steal Like an Artist. Let’s get into it.
These are the ten concepts Kleon goes over in his book.
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.
I would highly recommend reading his book (I will link his website) to fully understand all of these concepts, but I want to delve into his first point.

Part of my reasoning of wanting to share of what the masters have to say about art and artistry is that, by learning and gaining inspiration. So, to steal like an artist, we’re going to have to be familiar with other artists. I think part of this “Rebelution” that I want to instill, is that we, as artists, are not in competition with other artists. Okay, maybe a little bit, but at the end of the day the enemy of our artistic paths aren’t the artists around us, but the critic within us. So we need to bring each other up. Learn from each other. Find things that we like about other artists and make it our own.

I would like to clarify that this doesn’t mean plagiarizing. This means that we take inspiration from others and turn it into something new. Along with sharing the work of other artists who are in the same boat as me, I want to share where I am also getting my inspiration from. I will be sharing interesting books and films that have sparked my interest and have got me thinking. I will share music that has inspired my short stories and even Pinterest writing made me want to create something.

I sincerely love this idea of “stealing like an artist,” because it brings out two points that perhaps isn’t spoken about in the art community.
1. The first being that as artists, we need to consume. Being an artist isn’t just about producing. To create, we need to also consume.
2. Making bad art is okay. Actually, it’s more than okay, it’s phenomenal! Try new things! And if it turns out bad, who cares? The beauty in being an artist isn’t that you produce “good” art. It’s in the beauty that that there is a one in a trillion chance that you were born, and you’re here. It’s in the beauty that despite those odds, you were able to think of something and then you did it. It doesn’t matter if it’s bad. What matters is that you produced something that wouldn’t exist if you weren’t here. So, make bad art.

That’s the shpeel for today. I hope you check out Kleon’s work and work on your own art! I’ll see you soon! Until then…be a menace and steal like the artist you are.

Link to Austin Kleon’s website:

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