Steal Like An Artist is one the best books about creativity I’ve ever read. It’s brilliant and inspiring. Only with 10 principles and 100 something pages, Austin Kleon releases some key points to achieve the creative life. It’s been written consciously, so every page is there with a purpose.
The artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there’s a difference: Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artists collect selectively. They only collect things that they really love.
You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.
Your job is to collect ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by.
Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away. Nothing is more important than an unread library.
Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started: You’re ready. Start making stuff.
The writer Wilson Mizner said if you copy from one author, it’s plagiarism, but if you copy from many, it’s research. Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style.
Go make that stuff: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use—do the work you want to see done.
“We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we do know is that we do not get them from our laptops.” —John Cleese.
You don’t have to share everything. Show just a little bit of what you’re working on. Think about what you have to share that could be of some value to people. If you’re worried about giving your secrets away, you can share your dots without connecting them.
Leave home: “Distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.” —Jonah Lehrer.
At some point you have to leave home. You can always come back, but you have to leave at least once. Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend some time in another land, among people that do things differently than you. Travel makes the world look new, and when the world looks new, our brains work harder.
Once you put your work into the world, you have no control over the way people will react to it. Not everybody will get it. People will misinterpret you and what you do. They might even call you names. So get comfortable with being misunderstood, disparaged, or ignored—the trick is to be too busy doing your work to care.
When it comes to creative work, limitations mean freedom. Make things with the time, space, and materials you have, right now.