(photo credit for all photos on this page go to Austin Kleon. Find him at http://austinkleon.com.)
“Steal like an artist,” proclaims artist and writer Austin Kleon in his wonderful little book about unlocking your creativity, aptly named Steal Like An Artist.
I was reminded of the book while writing my blog yesterday. If you read yesterday’s post, you know that I realized that in the post from the day before, I’d unknowingly used the exact words Brene Brown uses in her TED talk to make the same point she made. Ultimately, I shaped the material differently, but had I recognized where I’d first heard those words, I would have credited Brene Brown in the text.
The last thing I want to do is take credit for somebody else’s words or ideas. Trying to pass off somebody else’s work as your own is plagiarism. But collecting ideas from other work that resonates with you and then remixing it to communicate from your heart, that is what Kleon suggests all creators do, whether they are artists or writers or musicians or business people.
It reminds me of when I first graduated college and was looking for a writing job in a business environment. Many people suggested looking into public relations, but since I’d studied English literature and not PR in school, I did not have a portfolio of work to show prospective employers what I could do. Also, I didn’t actually KNOW what I could do in terms of PR.
To solve the problem of having nothing to show for myself, I collected newsletters and press releases from a few organizations and created my own portfolio for an imaginary company using the best ideas I found in each piece I received in the mail from other places. I didn’t think I was doing anything special, but every employer I interviewed with expressed interest in me based on my portfolio and the original way I put it together.
Truthfully, when I was doing it, I worried that, in a way, I was stealing somebody else’s ideas. But once it was complete, the pieces in my portfolio barely resembled the pieces I used as “research.”
The stealing like an artist concept is one of ten tips Kleon gives about how to be creative in your work. The other nine and the explanations are equally illuminating.
But what makes the book particularly enjoyable to read is that Kleon’s original illustrations are interspersed with the text in a way that enhances its meaning. In fact, the design of the book is a clever illustration of the main point of the book, which is that creativity is about taking what’s old and making it new. The way he presents his material is fresh and playful and inspired. But it’s a book about creativity. Which has been done before. Probably hundreds if not thousands of times.
I hope this makes you curious enough to want to read the book. It can be purchased by clicking this link and following the directions. But, I’m also giving away my copy to one of my readers. If you would like to win my copy (loved but in good condition) of Steal Like An Artist, simply say so in the comments section below and tell me in one sentence (or a little more or a little less) why you would like the book. I’ll choose randomly from the people who voice interest and announce the winner next week.
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