Do you want a road map for success as an artist?
In his latest book, “Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative,” Austin Kleon lays one out.
Kleon, the author of previous bestseller “Newspaper Blackout,” has created a manifesto based on the advice he has amassed and employed through his personal journeys and experiences as a young artist. Growing from 10 essential lessons that every aspiring artist should know, Kleon outlines basic steps to success.
The book centers on the concept that originality is dead (and has been for a long time) and what to do after making that realization.
Don’t let that discourage you. Be encouraged by the access you have to every piece of artwork, book and design that motivates you: there is no limit to inspiration, no limit to what you can draw from and remix.
This is the meaning of the title of the book and its main concept: steal like an artist. It isn’t about stealing the work of others and reframing it slightly. As Kleon points out, if you do that then all you will ever be is a cheap imitation.
“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.” When you reach beyond the words, phrases and concepts that you are inspired by — and interpret them with your own personal beliefs — then you will begin to create something new, and you will find your own identity.
His advice ranges from the more work-oriented (stepping away from that computer screen and creating a workspace where you use only analog tools and your own hands) to the more personal (take care of yourself because that concept of drug-addled creative geniuses is played out and you create good work when you get some sleep).
And once you create that good work, get it out there. Don’t let it sit around on your desk or remain hidden in some computer file. “When you open up your process and invite people in, you learn.” College is a time when professors are paid to care about your work and your classmates pay for that same privilege, but that won’t last forever. You should take advantage of critiques in the classroom or online.
But the best advice Kleon gives is this: “Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.”
While Kleon never shies away from admitting that being an artist, any kind of artist, is hard work and can be frustrating and exhausting, he manages to inspire and encourage with his book. He publishes practical solutions, ones that he has tested and found successful. There is no haughtiness — a trap that many authors who write books full of advice tend to fall into.
The book is so simple. The sentences are short and to the point, more like directives. He has cut out all the extraneous fluff and left only the important words. It is basically composed of illustrations, examples, famous quotes and short bits of text. It is incredibly engaging and an easy, enjoyable read.
His voice and style shine through on every page and through every diagram. It feels unified, balanced and approachable.
Kleon has created a book that represents his personal artistic style, a book that is concise and poignant and delivers a quick kick in the pants to any artists who find themselves in a slump.Contact Amy Desselle.