Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Friday, September 28, 2012

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
Austin Kleon
Workman. 2012
ISBN: 9780761169253
Grades 9 and up (including adults)
I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Feeling sluggish? Uncreative? Do you lack enthusiasm when performing simple tasks? Do you find yourself rushing through tasks so you can spend more time checking your Facebook or Twitter accounts than talking to someone face-to-face? If this sounds like you, let me suggest a cure. Take 30 mins. and read Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. It is a must read for everyone over the age of 16 who needs to have their artistic juices recharged. This illustrated manifesto is a real powerhouse for encouraging creativity in the digital age. The 29-year-old author presents ten principles that will encourage you to shut off those electronic devices (TV’s, too) so that you have more time to discover your artistic side and build – or for some to get back to – a more creative life.  The ten topics are:

  1.         Steal Like an Artist
  2.        Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started
  3.         Write the book you want to read.
  4.        Use your hands.
  5.        Side projects and hobbies are important.
  6.        The Secret: do good work and share it with people.
  7.        Geography is no longer our master.
  8.        Be Nice (The world is a small town)
  9. Be Boring (it’s the only way to get work done).
  10. Creativity is subtraction 

The ideology is nothing new. It’s just that Kleon presents it so cleverly. The book’s design resembles the PowerPoint presentation Kleon did for a college talk. His simple black & white line drawings are presented throughout and offer the visual perspective to his words. (Go here)

At the beginning of each chapter, and liberally placed within the text, are quotes from famous people that reflect the chapter’s topic. In #8 Be Nice (the world is a small town) Kleon is reminding us that in our hyperconnected world of Twitter, Facebook, et al, there is a golden rule we should all follow. “An important lesson to learn: If you talk about someone on the Internet, they will find out. Everybody has a Google alert on their name.” A quote from Kurt Vonnegut, reminds us that “There’s only one rule I know of: You’ve got to be kind.”

At every page you will find something that validates your creative spirit and inspires you to keep pushing forward in all your creative endeavors, even during those times when you feel uninspired. Everything you do, even the daydreaming – which my parents said was a waste of time – is extremely important and very necessary in helping to sort out problems or work on the next step of an idea.  

Are there times when you feel dejected? Unloved? Keep a praise file. “Life is a lonely business, often filled with discouragement and rejection.” Everytime someone sends you an email congratulating you or complementing you on a program well-done, place it in your “praise file.” Perusing that file can help us feel better when we “have dark days” and we want to quit.

So, keep your day job, stay out of debt, be nice to everyone, think before you respond to something that has made you angry, (especially if it is online) keep a diary for your ideas, and above all…well, you’ll have to read Steal Like and Artist to find out. You can also listen to Austin's abbreviated version. 

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