Review – Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative | Austin Kleon


  • Title: Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
  • Author: Austin Kleon
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
  • Release Date: February 28th 2012
  • Pages: 160


You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.

I can genuinely say that this book came to me at a time I needed it the most. The past few weeks have been an adventure of sorts – of me reconnecting with interests of mine I have sidelined for a very long time – drawing, colouring and painting. I realised this one day when I came across Bob Ross’ videos on Netflix. I was glued for hours – no surprises there. I have been so busy with work, books, movies and writing that I forgot about a childhood love I once truly enjoyed.

Steal Like an Artist has given me all the good advice I need to know, and more, to get things rolling. For starters, all creative work needs to start somewhere and it is impossible to have it perfect the first time around. The process of finding your style and voice is important, and can be done simply when we observe and learn from the works of others. Take in positive influences, and you would be surprised by the good they bring in shaping your artistic journey.

As the French writer Andre Gide put it, “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.

Austin Kleon stresses that the key here is to keep your brain working. Observe and absorb as much from your surroundings. Every single conversation, situation, movie, and even book could provide you with ideas, packs of energy boosts to your creativity capacity. In this book, Austin too provides practical advice we can use daily – carry a notebook. Doodle. Write ideas.

Artist David Hockney had all the inside pockets of his suit jackets tailored to fit a sketchbook. The musician Arthur Russell liked to wear shirts with two front pockets so he could fill them with scraps of score sheets.

Another advice I feel strongly for is – don’t wait till you know who you are to get started. I found this surprisingly relatable. We tend to procrastinate a lot when it comes to embarking on new things. It’s either we are afraid on taking the big step or we doubt ourselves till the point of no progress. Either way, we lose. The recipe here is to really –  just do it. Experiment and explore your passions. Do not leave any of them out because each is important to keep you feeling alive. Take them towards directions which are fresh and real. The possibilities are endless when it comes to pursuing what makes you, you.

The manifesto is this: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.

All in all, creative work needs to be done regularly, no matter how small. Get a planner, plan your time around it and ensure that it does not get lost in you maintaining your day job and life, in general.

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” – Gustave Flaubert

Steal Like an Artist is a quick read, but packed with the little things you need in conquering the huge mountain of doubt hindering your creative pursuit. Well then, time to get my creative hat on and get to work! So should you.


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