Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Nook - Steal Like an Artist

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon:

Oh my gosh, I love this book.  Love, love, love it.  Please excuse the profuse praise that is about to follow.

This is a tiny little book all about creativity.  Little things you can do to fuel your creativity and your passions.  As someone who would very much like to be a "creative type" I positively ate this book up.  And then had seconds.

One of the things author Austin Kleon recommends is "stealing" from artists/musicians/writers/etc. that you admire; hence the catchy title.  But it's not about plagiarizing these great thinkers, but rather taking something that they did, making your own contribution to the idea and turning it into something all your own.  I'm big into quotes, and there are lots of quotes in this section from very famous artists on stealing - Pablo Picasso, T.S. Eliot, Salvador Dali.  The goal is to get inside the head of the original creator so that you can learn their thought process - and then build your own style from there. 

There are also short chapters on how to share your work on the internet and why it's a good idea; some great ideas about the "boring" part of creative work - your desk space, creating a calendar, etc; make sure to use your hands to make something & step slowly away from that brain-drain called the computer.  These are but a few of the ideas presented in the book.

One great thing about this book is that it's tiny.  You can read it in one sitting, easy.  I think the author really understands creative types here, because a big, fat instructional book about creativity is something that most creative types wouldn't bother with.  This book reads like you're sitting down for coffee with the author and he's come up with some really great ideas on things to spark your creativity.  Oh, but now he's got to run because he's got to be at this [insert really cool, creative-type activity here].  It's short, sweet, to the point and doesn't linger.  Which is a good thing, because otherwise, he'd have lost us.

I could probably gush about every page of this tiny treasure, but I will show some restraint and just talk about a few pages/ideas that really struck me:
  • "What to copy is a little bit trickier.  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."  -page 36
  • "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." -page 94
(I've always been a big proponent of self-guided travel - or any travel, for that matter- for this very reason.  I keep telling DH that I want to travel with the Bachsters, to give them a different kind of education.  Fortunately, I'm preaching to the choir)
  • Get yourself a calendar (page 127) and keep a logbook (page 129) - these are great ideas.
  • Favorite quote from the book (and there are so many to choose from): "The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life." - Jessica Hische (page 64)
Austin Kleon, let's have coffee again soon, ok?


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