Steal Like an Artist

Author: Austin Kleon

“The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.” —David Bowie

All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.

“What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.” —William Ralph Inge

The German writer Goethe said, “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”

Google everything. I mean everything. Google your dreams, Google your problems. Don’t ask a question before you Google it. You’ll either find the answer or you’ll come up with a better question.

Filmmaker John Waters has said, “Nothing is more important than an unread library.”

“It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.”

You’re ready. Start making stuff.

Fake it ’til you make it.

“You start out as a phony and become real.” —Glenn O’Brien

“Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find your self.” —Yohji Yamamoto

The writer Wilson Mizner said if you copy from one author, it’s plagiarism, but if you copy from many, it’s research.

Imitation is about copying. Emulation is when imitation goes one step further, breaking through into your own thing.

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.

“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.” —Jessica Hische

Take time to mess around. Get lost. Wander. You never know where it’s going to lead you.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards.” —Steve Jobs

It’s so important to have a hobby. A hobby is something creative that’s just for you. You don’t try to make money or get famous off it, you just do it because it makes you happy. A hobby is something that gives but doesn’t take.

“The only mofos in my circle are people that I can learn from.” —Questlove

“Find the most talented person in the room, and if it’s not you, go stand next to him. Hang out with him. Try to be helpful.”

If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.

“Complain about the way other people make software by making software.” —Andre Torrez

You can’t go looking for validation from external sources. Once you put your work into the world, you have no control over the way people will react to it.

Eat breakfast. Do some push-ups. Go for long walks. Get plenty of sleep.

The trick is to find a day job that pays decently, doesn’t make you want to vomit, and leaves you with enough energy to make things in your spare time. Good day jobs aren’t necessarily easy to find, but they’re out there.

Get a calendar. Fill the boxes. Don’t break the chain.

Who you marry is the most important decision you’ll ever make. And “marry well” doesn’t just mean your life partner—it also means who you do business with, who you befriend, who you choose to be around.

A good partner keeps you grounded.

“Telling yourself you have all the time in the world, all the money in the world, all the colors in the palette, anything you want—that just kills creativity.” —Jack White

You must embrace your limitations and keep moving.

creativity isn’t just the things we choose to put in, it’s the things we choose to leave out.

Talk a walk Start your swipe file Go to the library Buy a notebook and use it Get yourself a calendar Start your logbook Give a copy of this book away Start a blog Take a nap

Happy Reading 💚

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Steal Like An Artist

Image Credits to Lost Co

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