Book Recommendation: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

A book that inspired me to create more

I rarely read books, but when I do, I always recommend them to others if they are helpful. Austin Kleon's book “Steal Like an Artist” appeared on practically every reading list for artists. This book piqued my interest because of its intriguing title. If you work in or wish to work in a creative field, I recommend you read this. You’re probably already doing what the book suggests, but it’s always good to be reminded.

The book is a quick read, and I finished it in a few hours. It is a self-help book that’s meant to inspire you to create something. It’s filled with clever illustrations and great quotes from other authors; I've highlighted a few that I found particularly inspiring.

My thoughts on some of the book’s ideas:

  1. Copy art

I have always shamed myself for copying a photograph or a painting. However, after reading this book I realized that copying art is how one learns to think like an artist and, as a result, develops one’s own style.

“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”

- Salvador Dali

I began my painting career by imitating paintings, and I continue to do so today, attempting to apply the technique or style in my own unique way. The book goes into great length on imitation. Copying should not simply be monotonous; it should be a replica of the artist's thinking.

“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”

- Andre Gide

  1. Its okay to not know

I suffer from imposter syndrome. I feel like a fraud and a fake artist. I often have internal questions like, “Am I really a psychologist?”, “Am I an artist or just someone who knows how to use paints?” I sometimes wonder how I came this far. This book made me realise that no one really knows what they are doing and it is okay. Even professionals have no idea what they are up to. Of course, reading a book is not going to help me get rid of these thoughts, it will just help me evaluate better.

“You start out as a phony and become real.”

- Glenn O’Brien

  1. Travel more

Once this pandemic settles, I want to travel and and live somewhere else for a few months. I have wanted this since a long time, and the book gives me one more reason. Being at home means you are in the same environment and to find inspiration we need a change. We can always come back home, but with each travel story, we are a little different.

  1. Look up stuff

I always use the internet to look up everything. I like plants so I reverse search images when I want to know everything about the plant. It is important to have this “want” to know. Be curious. I liked reading this part since I already do this.

  1. Make a collection of ideas

This is very specific to my field, I save pictures and paintings that inspire me. These all will have something in common. Save anything that speaks to you.

  1. Do something other than painting

I wrote this tweet before reading this book, and yes, having other hobbies is important. Writing this article is also something I like to do and does not necessarily fall into any category of what I do.

“If you have two or three real passions, don’t feel like you have to pick and choose between them. Don’t discard. Keep all your passions in your life.”

- Austin Kleone

  1. Write public fan letters

A blog post to admire Austin Kleon’s work.

Happy Creating.


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