“When people give you advice,

they’re really just talking to themselves

in the past.”

- Austin Kleon

The following was something stolen from the author Austin Kleon out of his incredible and simple book, "Steal Like An Artist". This is a collection of what I found to be important for myself. I hope that you find simplicity in the ten suggestions like I did. Live on purpose.

My notes on the highlights:

Steal Like An Artist - Austin Kleon

1. Steal Like An Artist

“The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from”

- David Bowie

Embrace influences instead of running from them.

You are a mashup of what you choose to let into your life.

Get to know one thinker that you really love, inside and out. Then find three people that that thinker loved; get to know them inside and out. Repeat and climb this tree as much and for as far as you can.

Be curious about the world in which you live. Have wonder.

Chase every reference, go deeper and deeper.

That is the key to getting ahead.

Google everything! You’ll either find your answer or come up with a better question.

Always be reading and remember that it isn’t about the book that you start with, it’s the book that that book leads you to.

Carry a notebook or journal wherever you go to jot down ANY thoughts and observations.

Keep a digital folder (a "swipe file") where you keep a collection of things worth stealing. Look into this journal or folder to find any inspiration when needed.

2. Don’t Wait To Know Who You Are To Get Started

It’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.

IMPOSTER SYNDROME - a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.

The world is a stage, you are simply playing your part…regardless.

The stage is your studio, the world, your desk, or workstation.

The costume is your outfit.

The props are your materials, tools or medium.

The script is time.

You become the thing you “pretend” to be.

Practice is copying; it is how we learn.

Try reverse engineering.

First copy your heroes (plural), then decide what to steal from them.

Copying from one artist = plagiarism. Copying from many = research.

Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind it.

Don’t aim to look and sound like them, learn to hear and see like them.

Emulate not imitate.

3. Write The Book You Want To Read

Gather the branches of your influence tree, mix + match, make what those combinations or groups would make.

Don’t write what you know, write what you like.

Whenever you’re at a loss for what to do next, simply ask yourself “what would make a better story?”

Make what you think your favorite artist would make?

Your favorite artwork, heroes, or influences:

what did they miss?

What didn’t they make?

What could’ve been made better?

If they were still alive, what would they be doing today?

If all of your favorite makers got together and collaborated, what would they make with you leading the crew?


Do the work you want to see done

4. Use Your Hands

Work with your instruments.

Put your body into it.

Involve more of your senses with your work.

The computer is really good for editing and getting your ideas ready for publishing. It isn’t good for generating ideas because we’ll start editing them before the ideas have fully formed.

Create with your hands first, then the computer, then go back to using your hands, then finally computer (hands = nothing electronic is allowed).

Once you get your ideas, then you can move over to your digital station to help you execute and publish them, when you start to lose steam head back to analog.

5. Side Projects And Hobbies Are Important

The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.

Practice productive procrastination - when you get sick of one project, move to another, when you're sick of that one, move back.

Take time to get bored, mess around, get lost, and wander.

Spend time with the things you like, let them all talk to each other.

Have a hobby; something for you and/or your friends, alongside your work.

Don't worry about unifying qualities to your work and actions. One day you'll look back and it will all make sense.

6. The Secret: Do Good Work And Share It With People

Don't worry about the lack of attention now, use this time to do what you want, experiment, do things "just for fun", and to get better.

Step 1

Make stuff every day, suck at it, fail, get better.

Step 2

Put this stuff online.

Wonder at something publicly and invite others to wonder at it with you. Wonder about what no one else seems to be wondering about. Be very open about this online.

There is no penalty for revealing your secrets. Give your secrets away! People love it. If you're smart about it, people might buy what you're selling.

The internet can be an incubator for ideas that aren't fully formed; a place to develop.

Look at your blog/website and ask "what else can this container be filled with?"

Connect with people who like the same things. Share things with them.

What can be valuable to people? A handy tip? An interesting article? A book you are reading?

Share those "small moments".

7. Geography Is No Longer Our Master

Twitter buddies, google readers, Instagram followers, Facebook groups, etc.

Surround yourself with books and objects that you love.

Sit and listen. Don't listen, just wait. Don't wait, be still and alone.

Find and enjoy solitude and temporary captivity.

Leave home, get uncomfortable, explore new lands and people.

Feed yourself creatively, socially, spiritually, and literally.

8. Be Nice (The World Is A Small Town)

Make friends and say nice things about them and your heroes.

Ignore enemies. Pay no mind or attention

Follow the people who are way smarter and better than you and those who are doing really interesting work.

Pay attention.

You will need: curiosity, kindness, stamina, and a willingness to look stupid.

If you find something that angers you, channel it into being creative, not in "constructive" criticism.

Keep your mouth shut and do your work.

Write fan letters in blog form about an other's work that you admire. Link it to them and/or their website. Answer a question they have, solve a problem for them, improve their work, show appreciation without expecting anything in return.

After you put your work into the world, you have no control over the way people will react to it. Ironically, really good work often appears effortless. People will ask the engaging question to themselves "why didn't I think of that?!"

Get comfortable being misinterpreted, misunderstood, disparaged, or ignored. The goal is to be too busy doing your work to notice or care.

Put every nice email, comment, mention, etc. into a folder to look at and read through when you are discouraged but only use this content when you need to.

Delete and ignore mean content immediately.

9. Be Boring (It's The Only Way To Get Work Done)

It takes a lot of energy to be creative, you don't have that energy if you waste it on other stuff.

Burn slowly and constantly.

Stay out of debt, learn about money.

Don't upgrade if your current thing works fine.

Keep your day job. It gives you $ and a connection to the world and a routine. Learn to steal from it.

Find a job that pays decently, doesn't make you want to vomit, and leaves you with enough energy to make things in your spare time. Not easy to find, but they are out there. Keep looking.

Freedom from financial stress = freedom in your art.

Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time.

Parkinson's law = work gets done in the time available.

Get a calendar, fill the boxes, don't break the chain.

Keep a logbook, journal, or diary where you list the things that you do every day. What project you worked on, where you went to lunch, what movie you saw.

Small details help you remember the big ones.

Ask "what is the best thing that happened today?" as a gratitude practice that helps you keep track of your life with positivity.

Marry well. That is with a life partner, who you do business with, your friends, and who you choose to be around.

10. Creativity Is Subtraction

Choose what you leave out. Creativity, with limitations, equal freedom.

Make things with the time, space, and materials that you have NOW.

What makes us interesting isn't just what we've experienced but also what we haven't.

Embrace and surrender then keep moving.

What now?

Take a walk

Start a swipe file

Go to the library

Buy a notebook AND use it

Get yourself a calendar

Start your logbook

Take a nap

Start a blog


Send a link to this blog to someone who might need to read it, and go out to your nearest book store and purchase "Steal Like An Artist" now. If you like what you have discovered on this blog, subscribe to the updates now by scrolling to the bottom of this page so that you can get notified as soon as the next post is released. If you would like to leave a comment or make a suggestion on what I should discover and take note of next, you can contact me here.

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Thank you,

Jace Anderson


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