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Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

Have you ever felt stifled in your creativity? Or felt like you just weren’t ready yet to share what you’re working on – maybe it’s something you’ve written, or artwork you created, or maybe even stain-glass, like my spouse creates…

This is one of those little books that will give you that shot in the arm of confidence, newfound creativity, inspiration, and more.

I remember when I first started writing my blog 17 years ago, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. And to make matters worse, I was scared of promoting it because of my fear of not being good enough.

One of the premises in Kleon’s book is – “Do Good Work & Share It With People.”

This book really helped me get out of my own way. I finally realized I was a writer and needed to keep writing, publishing, and totally sharing my ideas.  There are some inspiring ideas to help you unlock your own creativity.

Let me share more specifics with you below…

A Book Summary to Inspire You To Read It!

Quick Summary

This is a short, accessible, and inspiring book that’s only a 6×6 trim size. Terrific to carry around and throw in your bag. Plus, it not only has practical advice and inspiring examples for an aspiring creative. It has very cool graphics and artwork throughout to share his concepts. It really brings the book to life. It will help you to embrace their individuality, embrace the work of others, explore their own passions and interests, and build a supportive community of like-minded individuals. Kleon wrote this book to help you tap into your own creativity, find your voice, and bring your ideas to life. 

Who Ought to Read this Book and Why: 

If you’re a writer, an artist, or don’t even think you’re creative, you must pick up this book. There’s something for everyone in this book. I guarantee it. Kleon’s belief is that creativity is not an innate talent that only a few people possess but rather a skill that can be developed through practice and experimentation. He shares how to overcome the obstacles that hold you back from unleashing your full creative potential. 

He gives you 10 ideas that actually gave me permission to be more creative and embrace my writing and photography skills. For every student, entrepreneur, or anyone who wants to create anything, this is a must-read book. 

Things You Will Discover:

Here are the 10 Core ideas Austin Kleon lists in Steal Like an Artist:

  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.

Some deeper concepts: 

Nothing is original: Every idea that you could possibly have has been thought of or done before. It’s up to you to put your unique spin on things and make them feel fresh.

Embrace influence: Instead of trying to avoid being influenced by others, embrace it. Learn from those who came before you and use their work as a jumping-off point for your own.

Practice productive procrastination: It’s okay to take a break from your work every once in a while, but use that time to consume something new or work on another project. This can help spark new ideas and inspiration.

Use your hands: Whether it’s drawing, writing by hand, or building something, using your hands can help you tap into your creativity and get out of your head.

Creativity is a daily practice: Just like anything else, creativity takes practice. Make it a daily habit to create something, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Keep taking risks: Don’t be afraid to try new things and take risks in your creative endeavors. Failure is just a part of the process; every mistake is an opportunity to learn and grow.


It’s Not About Knocking On Doors:
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light, and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent.”

What Will You Pay for a Customer?
“Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy, you will find yourself.”

They Need to Find You First:
“Step 1: Wonder at something. Step 2: invite others to wonder with you.”

You Can Pick Them:
“You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your teachers, and you can pick your friends, and you can pick the music you listen to, and you can pick the books you read, and you can pick the movies you see. You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life.”

Relieve That Huge Pressure:
“It’s not the work you do that’s going to kill you. It’s the pressure you put on yourself to do it perfectly.”

You Gotta DO Something:
“Step one, ‘do something.’ Anything. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’s a start.”

Only Study What You Can Steal:
“The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.”

Procrastination Is Good:
Practice productive procrastination. Get out of your head and do something physical, like chopping wood.”

Learn From Anyone Dead or Alive:
“The great thing about dead or remote masters is that they can’t refuse you as an apprentice. You can learn whatever you want from them.”

Your Hands Are Magic – Use Them:
“In the digital age, don’t forget to use your digits! Draw something every day. Make a mark and see where it takes you.”

This Is the ONLY Way to Be An Artist:
“You are, in fact, allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously.”

This Is Your Manifesto:
“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.”

About the Author – Austin Kleon:

Austin Kleon is the New York Times bestselling author of a trilogy of illustrated books about creativity in the digital age: Steal Like An Artist, Show Your Work!, and Keep Going. He’s also the author of Newspaper Blackout, a collection of poems made by redacting the newspaper with a permanent marker. His books have been translated into dozens of languages and have sold over a million copies worldwide. He’s been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, PBS Newshour, and in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. New York Magazine called his work “brilliant,” The Atlantic called him “positively one of the most interesting people on the Internet,” and The New Yorker said his poems “resurrect the newspaper when everybody else is declaring it dead.” He speaks for organizations such as Pixar, Google, SXSW, TEDx, and The Economist. In previous lives, he worked as a librarian, a web designer, and an advertising copywriter. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and sons. Visit him online. 

Where I Would Recommend Getting Your Copy:
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon 

Other Books by Kleon
Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

Other Books I’d Recommend: 

“Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert 

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Put Your Heart Where Your Ass Wants to Be by Steven Pressfield

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use it for Life by Twyla Thorp

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron 

Soulfully Yours,

Shannon McCaffery

Shannon McCaffery

Strategic Marketing Coach & Consultant

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Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon


Hey there, I'm Shannon! Being a voracious reader and passionate about learning, I started this site in the hopes of sharing my thoughts and my love of inspiring nonfiction books that can help you. It's kind of like Buddha meets business. I truly hope you enjoy!

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