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Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon [A Book Summary]

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon [A Book Summary]

Creativity isn't a rare magical spark. Even those without natural talent can learn it. It's important in any industry, not just art and design. Creativity takes time and effort but pays off. Austin Kleon (author of several books) shows how to be creative by borrowing ideas. This book is for anyone, artist or not.


86 reads

You don't need to be a genius to have good ideas.

This book emphasises that you don't need to be a genius or expert to be creative and that creativity isn't just making something new. Picasso stole other artists' work, and Steve Jobs copied Sony's Walkman to create the iPod.

He says you have plenty of good ideas, but you need to find them. Once found, make minor changes to existing ones, he says.


61 reads

You can't be unique, always. So, Personalize your work.

Originality is overrated. Every great artist and writer has been influenced by others. Which takes longer: creating an original idea or building on existing ones?

Never be afraid to be inspired by others' work. You can only copy those who encourage you. Instead of "stealing" their ideas, use them to inspire your own. Great art starts with someone else doing something extraordinary, then adding something new through practice and experimentation to give it its voice (your voice!).


51 reads

Creative work is play.

Creativity is silly. Artists must remember that creativity is play. It's not a serious business. Artists should be creative and enjoy themselves. You should approach every project with the mindset of having fun and enjoying yourself. If something isn't working out or your audience isn't responding, don't get discouraged. Keep trying new things until you find something that works.


48 reads

Start before you know yourself.

Don't wait until you know yourself to start being successful. Without action and new experiences, you won't know your purpose. You don't need a plan to create art, but you must begin.

Austin Kleon says, "Waiting for inspiration is like waiting for raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens." Instead of waiting for everything to be perfect before starting important work, just do it.


37 reads

Write a book you'd enjoy. (Or make a movie, song, etc.)

Stop waiting for others to create what you want to do yourself. Write a book you'd enjoy. Make your own movie. Make a song that moves you or play an online game until it becomes part of your life (and then share it with others). Humans are prone to complacency and habituation. Still, let's be open-minded about our interests and self-explore. In that case, we can see how unique art can be when created by people who care about making something remarkable, like an app or painting.


34 reads

The secret: Do good work and share it with people.

The second part is more important. To create something meaningful, you must share it. Sharing doesn't just mean posting on your blog or Twitter feed; it means listening to feedback and making changes, finding your voice by learning from others and finding the right audience for your work (or somewhere in between).

Our creations live in a world full of other creators, who can influence us in many ways.


22 reads

Geography is no longer our master.

We work, learn, live, and communicate differently because of the Internet. We're rethinking. Digital culture and technological progress have boosted creativity.


35 reads

Be nice (The world is a small town.)

Being nice can help you get ahead in life. People fail because they're not friendly, not because they're not talented or smart. Being kind will help you make a name for yourself as an artist much faster than being a jerk.

Kindness has many benefits:

Being nice helps you make friends with other artists and creators who will promote your work because they like working with good people (and don't want their idea stolen).

Being nice helps coworkers, friends, and family.


19 reads

Creativity is subtraction.

Every artist knows that creativity is removing the unnecessary and that great art comes from the ability to make judgments. It’s essential to discern what is good and what isn’t, what works and what doesn’t — and then throw out everything in between. This process is called editing (or “subtraction,” as Austin Kleon puts it). It can be challenging, but if you take a moment to think about it, it’s fun too!


20 reads

Steal ideas from others, but only if you add your spin to them!

In the end, you want to take a look at your work and ask yourself: “Is this original?” If you have only copied another artist, it’s not original. But if you’ve taken ideas and added your spin to them, then it is.


17 reads


I hope you’ve found this helpful book. Remember that the Internet is a tool, not a magic wand. It can help you find inspiration and feedback, but you still have to do the work yourself — and the best part about that is that it’s enjoyable! So get started now. You don’t need permission or an audience; pick something that excites you and run with it. If enough people follow suit, we might be able to take down Big Art together…


11 reads



Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon is a book that speaks about creativity and art. It's a must-read for every artist, writer or person involved with or passionate about the creative process.

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