I snagged this during a trip to the DIA back in March. I was in the mood to buy something, and what better gift buy for yourself than a new book with an intriguing title?
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
In this nifty little guide, Austin-based author and writer Austin Kleon draws on his experiences and those of artists he admires to provide tips for tapping into and enhancing your creative process. What was creepy yet awesome for me while reading was that, I realized that I'm already doing a lot of the things he suggests. I've been doing them for years just out of habit, not contemplating the reason why or even thinking that they benefited me creatively in any significant way. I'm already living like an artist and I didn't even know it!
One important lesson that I took from this book is that we should respond to what we think is wrong or stupid not by trying to correct it, but by making something. Rather than wasting our energy trying to argue with people, we should channel that anger and frustration into our creative work.
Another lesson Kleon shares is to not shy away from people. You need some measure of solitude and seclusion in order to create, but you also grow by working with people and sharing your ideas with others. Take advantage of opportunities to get close to and learn from others, especially your "heroes" (people who inspire you and are doing the kinds of work you'd like to do).
And finally, one of the most interesting nuggets of knowledge he shared was this: don't be in a rush to get discovered. The more obscure you are, the more freedom you have to create without people telling you what to do.
This is a small, 150-page read, but it's packed with a lot of unexpected and thoughtful advice that you'll want to revisit over and over again. I know I will. When you're easily distracted like I can be, sometimes you need reminding. I bought this at a museum, but you should be able to find Steal Like an Artist wherever books are sold. Give it a good flip-through!
"There's no pressure when you're unknown. You can do what you want. Experiment. Do things just for the fun of it. When you're unknown, there's nothing to distract you from getting better... You'll never get that freedom back again once people start paying you attention, and especially not once they start paying you money." (p. 78)
"If you ever find that you're the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room." (p.104)