Steal like an Artist PDF Summary - Austin Kleon


Originally published at:

10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

When it comes to art, stealing is legal... as long as it's done in an elegant and creative way.

The world doesn’t need a new Einstein but sure does require individualism because the population has lost its uniqueness. The collective opinion prevails in every country.

Steal Like an Artist is one of a kind book supported by clear and concise book summary from GetNugget. So what’s the message from Austin Kleon? – Creativity is not a talent; it is like breathing; it suits everyone.

A platform for the digital time, masterminds of today declare that technology can endanger those creative jobs alluding to artists, writers, painters, etc. Are we robots? – If not, find your inner artistic side and become one with it!

Let’s take one step further into analyzing the word “stealing.” Stealing doesn’t always refer to money or items. Instead, the author clarifies the theory of exceptional artists; how they managed to influence others and how they cope with it.

This book summary will also give you a hint on how to handle different types of situation – individually. Awake that inner beast in you, don’t become a dependent person!

“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.” (Salvador Dali)

So what's Austin Kleon ’s perspective on creativity theft?

Starting exactly from the same premise as Salvador Dali’s, the American writer and artist Austin Kleon succeeds in delivering another brilliant book. And this one is straightforwardly entitled Steal Like an Artist.

It's a New York Times bestselling manifesto of creativity in the digital age, most probably due to Austin Kleon's signature honest writing style.


Artists aren't magicians.

"Steal Like an Artist Summary"

Austin Kleon shares his personal experience and his strategy of achieving self-contentment towards his professional career.

The key concept of Steal Like an Artist is ingeniously revealed by the title itself.

Austin Kleon preaches an intelligent way of imitating art, but still delivering something new.

As the Bible says, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Kleon expresses his belief that everything has already been done with respect to art.

New art is just a reinterpretation, a reconfiguration, of previous artistic manifestations.

Kleon structured his book in 10 mini-chapters which give every aspiring artist an extremely powerful and useful plan of action.

He decided to unravel "The 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative" within the contents of his book.

In the first chapter, “Steal Like an Artist”, we are introduced to the concept of imitation in art. As disturbing as it may be for artists to hear this, Kleon strongly affirms that:

“Nothing is original... embrace influence instead of running away from it.”

He also hints at what he actually means by “stealing like an artist”. He encourages us to get inspired by the people we admire and to imitate them in a personal way. How can we do this? By bringing our own “feel” into it:

“You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.”

This chapter also exposes Kleon's “genealogy of ideas”, which states that “every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas”.

You’ll also find out how important is to be permanently curious and hungry for information as an artist: “You have to be curious about the world in which you live... Google everything”.

Steal like an Artist PDF

In the second step of his plan of action, Kleon emphasizes the idea of beginning to actually make stuff until we discover our inner self: “It’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are”. Being involved in the working process and exploring as much as possible will ultimately lead to finding our own voice: “Nobody is born with a style or voice.”

The key concept of the third chapter, “Write the Book You Want to Read”, is revealed as the basic rule Kleon applies to his own life: “do the work you want to see done”. Putting all your energy into making the things you love and you feel most attracted to is a great philosophy to follow.

In this increasingly digitized world, Austin Kleon gives his readers advice on how to go back to the roots and “use their hands”, which “are the original digital devices”.

Consequently, the fourth chapter of Steal Like an Artist contains a firm decree for aspiring artists to disconnect from their computers and gadgets and start creating things with their hands: “computers are alienating because they put a sheet of glass between you and whatever is happening”.

Kleon also stresses the significance of getting your body involved in the creative process that you pursue: “You need to find a way to bring your body into your work.”

Steal like an Artist Summary

In the fifth chapter of his book, Kleon shares one very relevant aspect he has learned in his life so far: “It’s the side projects that really take off.”

He offers a very simple, yet meaningful, piece of advice: “Practice productive procrastination”. And he encourages all artists to “take time to be bored”, because “Creative people need time to just sit around and do nothing”.

Kleon also talks about the importance of hobbies, and insists that we should keep all the passions in our life:

Don’t throw any of yourself away.

The sixth step of Kleon’s clever guide focuses on one specific aspect that is outrageously significant whilst developing an artistic career: creating good work and getting it in front of the people.

In the author’s view, the process of sharing your work is indispensable to achieving success: “When you open up your process and invite people in, you learn.”

Where we choose to live still has a huge impact on the work we do... It helps to live around interesting people” – this is the essence of the seventh chapter. In order to enhance our creativity, we are given one simple solution: traveling and getting disconnected from our daily routine:

Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable.

A devoted promoter of the fact that you must permanently “nourish” and pursue a generous behavior, Kleon simply asks us to be nice in order to enjoy an abundant and prosperous professional career.

Thus, the eighth chapter exposes the importance of having a kind attitude when interacting with others.

Steal Like an Artist You’ll find out useful information about how you should behave on the Internet towards other people, and how you should express your admiration for others' work: “If you truly love somebody’s work, you shouldn’t need a response from them”.

Steal like an Artist PDF

Kleon purposefully begins his ninth chapter with a quote from Gustave Flaubert:

Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.

He goes on to explain the necessity of establishing a routine in our everyday life, in order to increase our creative performance: “Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time.

He also discusses some other significant aspects, such as taking care of your own body, keeping your day job, or marrying well.

The final chapter of Steal Like an Artist revolves around the idea that “Creativity is Subtraction”. Time for another great lesson, this time on how to “choose what to leave out” when it comes to your art: “It’s often what an artist chooses to leave out that makes the art interesting.”

Even though art and constraints may seem like antithetic concepts, Austin Kleon brings them together into his innovative and unique perception: When it comes to creative work, limitations mean freedom”.

You may not be the next Salvador Dalí, but you have the right to aspire to greatness. There is no such thing as lack of inspiration. It’s all about looking at the right thing, and not being afraid to allow yourself to be free and inspired.

So, steal! Steal smartly, steal bravely, and steal creatively. And in the end, you may just be amazed by your own work.

Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

"Steal Like an Artist Quotes"

[bctt tweet="If you ever find that you're the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room." username="get12min"]

[bctt tweet=“You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life.” username=“get12min”]

[bctt tweet=“Creative people need time to just sit around and do nothing.” username=“get12min”]

[bctt tweet=“You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.” username=“get12min”]

[bctt tweet=“Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find your self.” username=“get12min”]

New / Extended | Steal Like an Artist PDF Summary

You Do Not Need To Have Original Ideas

What is the first question you would ask your favorite artist if you were face to face with him? I do not know about you, but many people want to know where artists get their ideas from. That is one of the most frequently asked questions. If every artist were honest, there would be only one correct answer to that question: "I steal ideas."

Artists have a peculiar way of observing the world around them. Instead of judging what’s right or wrong, they judge whether these things are valuable enough to be copied. All artists understand that no work is original.

Each art is constructed of a preexisting art. The sooner you realize this, the more chances you have of improving your art and your creative process. Although this idea is depressing for some people, it can give hope to others.

Get rid of the mentality that you need to have original ideas. Stop running from influences and allow yourself to be influenced by other people’s ideas.

Each “new” idea is a combination of preexisting ideas. What you are today is a mixture of your interactions with life. No one will ever reinvent the wheel. There is nothing new under the sun. The only reason people will call anything original is that they are not familiar with the original. Stop fighting by trying to create unique ideas for your work.

An artist is a collector, but not all ideas are worth collecting. Despite being successful thieves, artists are demanding. Do not borrow any ideas that appear in front of you. Some ideas are valuable; others are not worth your time.

GIGO (Garbage in - Garbage out) is a computer concept. It means that whatever data you put on your computer is what you will get back. Our brains work similarly. We end up becoming what is around us. Your main task as an artist is to choose the ideas that you want to influence you and ignore the others.

The best way to improve your art is by choosing a mentor in the industry. Study it carefully. When you are sure that you have mastered what makes you a unique artist and what makes your art impressive, you are ready to go.Then find three people your artist loved and study everything about them as well. Then repeat this process. Make this a routine.

Once you feel you have gone far enough, you are ready to begin your work. Using the process described above will make you feel part of a team.Just because you left school does not mean you should stop learning. Education is everywhere, and if you want to be the best at what you do, every day should be learning days.

To be better than all, advance more than them. Use Google to search for things you do not know. Buy books to build your library. Read books that inspire you. Visit the library and stay immersed. Whatever you do, do not stop learning.

Thoughts and ideas can reach us at the most inappropriate times and places. Carry a pen and a book to jot down your ideas. Record observations you make in a park, on the subway or in conversations.

Have a file where you keep all the little notes that you “steal.” Open your file whenever you need inspiration. You’ll be surprised how a note that looks worthless can help you a lot!

Do Not Wait To Start Working On Your Art

Nothing kills creativity as much as procrastination. Start doing things while you wait to find out. Do not be an artist who hopes to learn who you are before you start working on your art. If you expect to find out who you are, you will end up waiting a long time.

We can only discover ourselves when we are immersed in our creative work. Being afraid to delve into art is natural. It’s okay to doubt yourself. This fear affects all artists. It even has a clinical name - the impostor syndrome, described as the ‘inability to internalize achievements.’

The impostor syndrome makes you feel like you do not understand what you are doing. Do not let it overthrow you. Every great artist suffers from the impostor syndrome. The key is not to let it get in your way.

At first, it may be that no one notices your work and knows what you are doing. But do not let this stop you. Act like you’re the best artist of the genre. Act as if you were working on something great.

Keep working and believing you until you see the light at the end of the tunnel. The world is like a big stage, and we are the actors. Turn your workplace into a theater. What you wear while working is your costume. Your tools are your work materials, and time is the script. Start acting!

One of the best ways to be creative is to use reverse engineering in the works of the artists who inspire you. Note that there is a big difference between plagiarism and copying. Plagiarism is trying to pass on the work of another person as if it were yours.

The copy, in turn, has more to do with reverse engineering. It’s like trying to dismantle a cell phone to find out how it works. Most of the things we learn, we learn by copying, as in kindergarten, where you needed to learn to write by copying numbers and letters of the alphabet.

A systematic approach to reproduction will develop your creativity: choose who you want to copy and what / how you will copy, and you will be well on your way to mastering your art.

It happens that, at some point, every artist needs to stop copying his hero. Your creative work will begin to emulate their work. Emulation is built from imitation. It starts with the realization that we can not be like our heroes and that our work will be different from theirs.

Fortunately, this difference is not a defect. We’re just ourselves. The enlargement of your thoughts is a true emulation, from which creativity arises.

Write About Things You Like

Have you sat for hours wondering how to write, paint or compose? You are not alone. Many young artists, especially writers, suffer from the so-called "lack of ideas."

Unfortunately, there is lousy advice for artists who are asking what to write: "Write about what you know! "Do not write about what you know. Write about what you like. Write the story you would like to read.

It may seem strange, but is not that the reason to create a fiction? To distance ourselves from the grotesque realities of our world?

Think about your favorite movie, if it had a sequel, how would it be? Think about your creative heroes, if they were to create yet another masterpiece, how would it be? If all the creative people who inspired you were to collaborate on a project, what would it look like? You should be writing about it.

Forget The Computer And Work With A Notebook

Take time out of your laptop. Write notes by hand in a notebook. Use your hands to create something. It is very easy to get immersed and spend time in front of the computer. However, you need to remember that your laptop does not produce ideas.

While we certainly can not live without them anymore, there is a danger in relying on computers to provide us with everything. They steal our authentic feeling of being creators.

They alienate us and push us away from our creative process. Sitting in front of your computer is not only choking your creativity, but also your health. You need to get back to basics: building things with your hands and your head.

No magic reaction happens when you use your hands to create. If you start drawing a line in a notebook, your brain starts moving instantly. You start thinking about how to make this drawing better, which rarely happens when you do the same thing on a computer.

If you have enough space in your workshop, install analog and digital work platforms. Fill your analog workstation with work tools like pens, markers, paper clips, and notebooks. When you get bored of working on the computer, work on your analog post.

Sketch out your ideas, attach things to the wall, do things that do not involve electronics. You will be amazed at the influence this has on your creativity. If you feel you are starting to lose energy, go back to your digital workstation.

Rest Your Brain, Take Brakes

It is very difficult to overcome procrastination. At times, you find yourself doing several other things different from what you should be doing. Instead of blaming yourself for this, try to make your hobbies more productive.

According to the author, her experience as an artist and book writer has taught him that having a few different projects happening at the same time is a good thing.

He states that when he feels tired of focusing on one project, he changes to another, and sometimes needs time off from all projects. Every creative person needs to rest their brains and not think of anything. Sometimes avoiding work is the best way to reorient your mind.

Share Your Work With Others

One of the greatest fears of artists is the fear of remaining unknown, obscure. There is no magic pill that will make everyone become a fan of your work. People will not notice you at first because they are too busy to pay attention to you.

Although this fear is a genuine concern, you should not worry about it, at least not at first. You will want to start appearing in the media once you have mastered your art and when you are producing an extraordinary job.

To remain unknown can be liberating. It gives you the freedom to make mistakes, to experiment and create different jobs. This freedom is lost the moment you become a known artist.

There will be critics waiting to scrutinize everything you do and stakeholders who push you to produce better jobs. You will also have fans flooding your emails. Seize the unknown while you still can.

There is a straightforward formula. Produce great works and share. You can not skip any of these steps: 1. Create great things, and 2. Share with people. Creating great works requires a lot of practice and persistence.

You will not become a Beethoven after only a few attempts to compose songs. You will not become a Da Vinci overnight. Practice and be persistent.

Sharing your work is very easy these days. You just need to put it on the internet and promote it. Obviously, you need to be open to sharing your work with others and learning the magic behind online marketing. Learn how to create a website and how to promote it using social networking and other internet tools.

When you show your work to others, you end up learning a lot in the process. The internet becomes more than just an ad place. It becomes an incubator of ideas. You will benefit by sharing your art.

However, if you are not comfortable sharing the details of your work, you do not have to do this. You can share many other things. A link to an interesting article, a funny meme, can show your fans a glimpse of your work.

Just make sure you are visible and sharing. Sharing helps you connect with people who have interests similar to yours.

Being online motivates you to work hard, to create more things for your fans. When you are posting your work online, you want your next project to be better than the previous one.

Change, Travel, And Have New Experiences

A few years ago, if you wanted to meet creative people like you, you would need to change your city and sometimes even your country. Fortunately, this is no longer the case.

The internet has opened the world’s geographical boundaries, and you do not have to move to connect with people you care about. It takes just a quiet place to work and a device that connects to the internet.

However, leaving the routine aside can bring you a lot of inspiration. If you can, leave your home from time to time and go somewhere different. Your brain has a strange habit of being very comfortable in familiar environments.

To keep your brain working in the best way, you will need to move from a comfortable environment to a different environment with people with a different culture. Travel revitalizes your brain.

The place of destination is a matter of personal preference and taste. However, you may find that going to a place with a horrible climate can help you a lot. Bad weather helps you spend most of your time indoors, working on your projects.

You may also want to move to a place where people are interesting and different from you. Find a place that recharges you spiritually, socially and physically.

The best thing about moving in these days is that your friends and colleagues are living in a place where you can always find them, the internet.

Be Nice And Treat Others Well

To survive and thrive, you need to be nice to your friends and master the art and science of ignoring your enemies.

Do you remember the principle “garbage in, garbage out”? It also applies to your relationships with people. If you are surrounded by people who have are not committed, you too will soon act like this. That means you need to be selective about the people with whom you connect online.

Surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you, and the sky will be the limit. Learn from these people. Be curious to see what they are saying and what they are reading.

If you find you are the most talented person on your network, find another group.

In your journey to make connections on the internet, you can cross with opinions different from yours, some of them wrong, but do not try to correct them It is not your responsibility to correct anyone on the internet.

Overcome the temptation to get into fights that are not yours. Otherwise, you will be caught in unproductive routines, of which it is difficult to detach. The only plausible way to show that someone is wrong is to create something that you think is right.

Often, when we commend one’s work, we expect to hear a response from that person, receive recognition. It happens that people are busy and can not always respond to their fans’ letters. The best way to deal with this is to not expect recognition from the people you admire.

Give public praise to the work of these people, without expecting to receive something in return. Write an article about them and post on your blog, or retweet your tweets. Noticed or not, you will have done your part.

It may take time before someone recognizes the value in what you do. Unfortunately, there is not much to do about it. Stop searching for people’s validation. Once you create your work and post it, it’s not up to you to determine how people will react to it.

Despite having spent months of sleepless nights working, this will come easy for some people. You will be very misunderstood and may even be cursed, but get used to it and move on. As long as you’re doing what you love, you do not have to worry about what people say about you.

Sometimes you’ll get your job done right. People will notice and will fill you with compliments. But in art, praises are not enduring. People will forget you. The compliments will end, and you will return to your solitary world full of doubts. In a few days, you may feel like giving up.

The best way to fight this is to keep a record of your achievements, by storing, for example, emails with compliments received during times when your work was very good. As you re-read these messages, you will feel relevant again. Try to do this, but be careful not to be stuck in the past.

Take Care Of Your Money And Be Productive

The media portrait of artists as carefree and party people is very distorted. If you try to live like the artists portrayed by the media, or will die very young, or will spend your time being very unproductive. Save your energy to be creative.

Instead of wasting all your energy on parties, do something to improve your life. Go to the gym, cook a healthy meal, sleep well to revitalize your brain, spend time with your family or take your dog for a walk.

Also, learn how to properly manage your money. You will not want to stress about your finances as this can poison your creativity. Do not let the idea of being an artist occupy your head. You need to be disciplined to live within your means.

Take care of your money and do not buy things you do not need. Learn how to keep up with the money you have and do not surrender to the consumer culture.

It may take a while for your art to give you enough money to pay your bills. Keep your job until this is possible.

A formal job not only maintains your lifestyle while you expect your art to be recognized, but it also gives you the opportunity to meet people and make connections. Learn from the people you know, steal your ideas and enrich your creativity.

The secret to balancing your formal employment with your creative work is to find a decent job with a decent salary, which gives you enough energy to work on your projects when you have free time. The worst thing a formal job can do to you is stealing your time, but that is rewarded for putting you into a routine.

You can schedule your creative work for when you are free. Having a regular schedule is much more productive than having lots of free time. Creating a timeline is quite easy. Find out what time you are free to do your creative work and stay determined to finish during that time every day.

Final Notes:

Originality is overestimated. Today, increasingly, knowing how to create your referrals and appropriating recipes that have worked for others has become an essential skill for anyone looking for success.

Understand the work of those who came before you, understand how and why it worked, and incorporate the best ideas into your day-to-day lives.

Also, sharing your ideas with others has also become a key skill. To succeed, the important thing is to be able to combine ideas from around the world without losing your identity.

Want more nuggets? Subscribe below.

[mc4wp_form id="194"]