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Reading notes from Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon


In a world that often focuses on originality to the point of creating anxiety, Austin Kleon's "Steal Like An Artist" explores the concept of creativity. Here's the short summary of those concepts.

The Ten Principles that Redefine Creativity

  1. "Nothing is Original" - the book opens with a powerful assertion that everything is built on what came before. This realization should not be discouraging but liberating. It invites us to explore the details of the work of those we admire and to let their influence fuel our own creations.

  2. "Collect Good Ideas" - The book emphasizes the importance of surrounding ourselves with inspiring work and ideas. The author encourages keeping a "swipe file," a collection of art, quotes, thoughts, and anything that sparks creativity, to be used as fodder for new projects.

  3. "Write the Book You Want to Read" - This principle encourages creators to produce work that they themselves would enjoy. It's a call to fill the gaps in the creative landscape with our own contributions.

  4. "Use Your Hands" - In an increasingly digital age, the book highlights the importance of manual work. Engaging physically with materials can lead to unexpected discoveries and deepen the creative process.

  5. "Side Projects and Hobbies are Important" - Often, our best work comes from what we do in the margins. The author suggests that side projects can invigorate our main work by providing a creative outlet free from pressure.

  6. "The Secret: Do Good Work and Share it with People" - It's a simple yet profound advice. Creativity thrives on feedback and interaction. Sharing our work exposes it to critique and engagement, pushing us to grow.

  7. "Geography is No Longer Our Master" - With the internet, we have the world at our fingertips. We can collaborate, learn, and be inspired by creators from across the globe, breaking down the barriers that once limited creative influence.

  8. "Be Nice. (The World is a Small Town.)" - the author advocates for kindness and generosity in the creative community. Building a network of support and respect can open doors and opportunities.

  9. "Be Boring. (It's the Only Way to Get Work Done.)" - A reminder that creativity isn't just about wild inspiration but also about discipline and routine. Sometimes, we need to embrace monotony to kickstart the creativity flow.

  10. "Creativity is Subtraction" - This principle teaches us that constraints can be beneficial. By limiting our options, we can channel our creativity more effectively, focusing on what truly matters.

The Impact of "Steal Like An Artist"

The book teaches that creativity is not about pulling something out of thin air, but about remixing the world around us into something new and personal.

By highlighting these principles, "Steal Like An Artist" invites us to let go of our fears of not being original enough and to start creating with the vast palette of inspiration the world has to offer. It's a book that remains relevant and inspirational, pushing us to explore, to take, and indeed, to steal like an artist.