Books that had a lasting impact on my life (Book 3: Steal Like an Artist)

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon is written by a writer and an artist and he talks about the things he has learned about the creative process. I first read it as an article online, and now it has been turned into a book. I also bought Mr. Kleon’s other book Show Your Work, which is also very interesting. So why is Steal Like an Artist so important to me? It’s because it is where I learned two things: nothing is original and fake it till you make it.

When you’re young, you are so worried about being original. You doubt whether you can create something that’s worth sharing. Instead of doing this, Mr. Kleon encourages young artists to steal. Copying and passing someone else’s work as your own is dishonest, but if you copy from several people and then mix them, you will inevitably come up with something unique. He also describes differen’t methods for effective stealing. In the end, his advice is, don’t just copy; steal the idea, and make it your own.

It is also where I first encountered the phrase “fake it till you make it”, and this has been such an encouraging phrase for me. To illustrate the effectiveness of this mindset, Mr. Kleon mentions the book Just Kids by Patti Smith. In it was a story about two friends who aspired to be artists, so they dressed up like how artists would. A couple saw them and the wife asked her husband to take their picture because she thinks they’re artists. They pretended to be artists, and it worked.

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