Steal Like An Artist : 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative by Austin Kleon is a quick read that gives good instructions, healthy encouragement and real advice to any budding artist (i.e. creative types) while maintaning a good balance of quirkiness and humor.
1. Steal like an artist
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
Austin argues that creative work builds on what came before, and thus nothing is completely original. He advises us to look at the things this world has as either worth stealing or not worth stealing. Steal the things that will help make you (or your business) stand out. The author adds that he does not mean ‘steal’ as in degrade, skim,imitate or rip off — but study, honor, remix, transform and credit.
You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life.
Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes. The reason to copy your heroes and their style is so that you might somehow get a glimpse into their minds. That’s what you really want — to internalize their way of looking at the world. If you just mimic the surface of somebody’s work without understanding where they are coming from, your work will never be anything more than a knockoff.
In a world that is changing every day, it is too hard to find out who we are before we start taking action. So, Austin urges us to just go with it until we actually figure it out.
You have to start doing the work you want to be doing by copying your heroes; then, go beyond imitation to emulation and finally, you will end up with your own version of the thing you want to be doing.
Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find your self.
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.
It’s important to create things that you will use instead of something for someone else. Austin claims that if you do that, even in the worst case scenario you will have one customer — yourself.
Kleon reminds us that creativity peaks when we involve all of our senses. Hence, it’s important to deviate away from the computer screen and to immerse in actual physical work to help kick-start our brains into action e.g. play guitar, cook or bake, etc.
Computers have robbed us of the feeling that we’re actually making things.
One thing I’ve learned in my brief career: It’s the side projects that really take off. By side projects I mean the stuff that you thought was just messing around. Stuff that’s just play. That’s actually the good stuff. That’s when the magic happens.
By keeping your passions alive through side projects and hobbies, you become more creative in your actual work that pays. You don’t need to make money with everything you do.
A hobby is something that gives but doesn’t take.
Sharing your work and even your thoughts about what you like help you get good feedback and more ideas.
The secret: Do good work and share it with people.
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.
Distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity.
Life’s a marathon, not a sprint. Stop fighting and competing. Channel your rage into a creative pursuit. make friends, ignore enemies. Show appreciation for the good things you see around you. Be grateful.
There’s only one rule I know of: You’ve got to be kind.
Routines (i.e being boring) are important to make sure you are using your valuable brain cells and scarce creative capacity on the tasks that matter.
Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time.
Nothing is more paralysing than the idea of limitless possibilities. The best way to get over creative block is to simply place some constraints on yourself.
In this age of information abundance and overload, those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out, so they can concentrate on what’s really important to them. A good example of substracting to create awesomeness is Dr Seuss, who wrote his bestselling book with only 50 different words. Saul Steinberg says a work of art represents a struggle against limitations.
“Creativity isn’t just the things we choose to put in, it’s the things we choose to leave out,”
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Originally published at medium.com