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

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  33,092 ratings  ·  1,608 reviews
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 w...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Workman Publishing Company (first published January 1st 2012)
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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. CoveyThe Jetstream of Success by Julian PencilliahSteal Like an Artist by Austin KleonThe $100 Startup by Chris GuillebeauOutliers by Malcolm Gladwell
The People's Library for Success
3rd out of 160 books — 228 voters
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Best Books on Creative Life
10th out of 227 books — 308 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Peter Derk
These kind of books are like candy. They make me feel better in the moment, but ultimately don't do much towards building a full picture of happiness.

The inherent problem in any book that's a how-to for something artistic, whether it be writing or painting or making music or the artistry in tailoring a custom Voltron costume, the problem with the how-to book is that when you're reading the how-to book you're not doing the actual thing you're being taught to do. In other words, a book ABOUT writi...more
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

This eye-catching little book was wedged into the corner of one of the couches in the student lounge where I work. I was there for a cup of coffee, and since it was a rather slow day, I decided to pick up the book and read.

There’s a lot of common sense stuff in here for all types of creative people. You don’t have to be an artist or writer to benefit from these inspirational bits. They can help those who want to be more creative at work, or find room in one’s life for a...more
(This review is longer than the book itself.)

Here are the Top Ten Points that the author makes in this teeny book:

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. 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

It's all very good advi...more

Reading this book might be the fastest thing my bosses ever asked me to do.

This is a wonderful little book with advice on creativity that makes you think. I'm pretty sure i didn't grasp the whole thing right now. I think i'll take a few things out of it. And in a few months I might read it again (really only takes like 30 minutes) and take a few more things out of it.
It's nicely written, it's got some nice napkin-sketches in there so it stays a light read. And it also makes me very curious about...more
Kathryn Patterson
I find it difficult to review "Steal Like an Artist" because the book is an amalgamation of advice, anecdotes, and uncommon sense. Austin Kleon writes in an easy-to-follow style, instructing readers about how to be creative without talking down to anyone. In fact while I read the book, I felt like I was part of some secret creators club, with this book as the secret club manual.

The book focuses on 10 rules for people to follow in order to be creative. Rule number one is "Steal like an artist."...more
Carmen Sisson
I'm undecided on this book. While I appreciate the premise — draw inspiration from people you admire and surround yourself with good role models — I'm uneasy with the "steal" concept.

The title grabs attention, but I think it overshadows the actual point, which is not to become a replica of someone else but to create more authentic work by creating work you love.

It's a bit overly simplistic, and definitely a short, fast read. For those who stand on the precipice, afraid to answer the call of crea...more
Erin Bowman
About a year ago, I was at the day job (web design), when a link to a blog post made it’s way around the office via AIM.

The post was basically one man’s manifesto when it came to creativity. He listed out ten things he wished he knew when he was starting out as a writer and artist. I remember the simplicity of his statements — practical, to the point — but also incredibly insightful. Small things we often forget when we are knee-deep in The Creating or overwhelmed by The Doubts.

I remember noddin...more
Oh fooey. Wrote something, then accidentally clicked and lost it. Let's get this over with:

-Loved it. Was awesome. Will reread, often.
-Too much quoting. Isn't the whole point, reappropriate, don't rip off? Excessive quoting seems to go against that.
-Figures=awesome and funny. Add anything? Sadly, I don't think so.
-Good direct voice.
-Moves well, but chunks are so small that they feel slight. It is a manifesto that outlines main points, rather than a substantive work that discusses things.

Still, a...more
This is a quick, funny how-to book that offers artists (the kind who paint, writers, filmmakers, etc.) tips on "stealing" other artists' art. Author Austin Kleon points out that no artist's work is ever completely original, and that trying to be completely original will daunt an artist and eventually smother her/his creativity. He suggests artists embrace the inevitability of influence, celebrate living outside of a vacuum, relax, and have fun with their art. Beyond that, he offers tips on how t...more
In "Steal Like an Artist", Kleon steals quotes from other creative types and recycles them into a cheap little book you'll likely find sitting by the cash register as a generic gift idea. In fact, you'll probably be able to read it in the time it takes the bookstore clerk to ring up and bag your purchase (of more insightful books on creativity). It's short, desperately low on content but high on playful, contrasty graphics.

The first part of the book discusses the validity of sampling and re-ima...more
Gail Klanchesser
This book is amazing! It's not condoning plagiarism, it suggests sharing of ideas and the process behind the product created by other artists. While you can easily sit and read it completely, I think it is best to read in small sections and think about what you've read and how it applies to your own form of art.
In an age where even in art there seems to be a focus on the final product or end result, Kleon's manifesto on creativity is refreshing. At a slim 100-something pages, it is a fast engaging read, filled with doodles and quotes and functioning the way zines your internet friend would send you. I say this because it is the equivalent of a whole body approach to creativity as opposed to the spot treatment of fixing one specific area of your art, whatever your medium may be; to put it simply, it's s...more
The book is a one-sitting read, a simple flip 'n browse through scribbles, notes, lists, drawings and quotes. As my daughter scrambled around her Duplo sets, I read "Steal Like An Artist" and took my own notes in another notebook-- and there were some awesome ideas and takeways.

Here's one: In your office, keep 2 different desks: one for analog work, one for digital work. Computers are great for editing and publishing, but not for having new ideas. Do you real thinking work at your analog desk,...more
A Nelson
This book could have been a pamphlet. But, despite its brief insights--it is thought provoking.

• Nothing is original
•Learn the history of your craft: one artist at a time. This is your creative lineage.
• School yourself--be curious
"School is one thing. Education is another. The two don't always overlap."
• Keep a "swipe" file. Things you like for later inspiration.
• Get started--perfect your craft along the way.
• "The human hand is incapable of making a perfect copy." Your "copy" will never be t...more
Alex Ristea
Some neat concepts which I agree with whole-heartedly, but it treads a lot of familiar ground.

Here are the 10 things nobody told you about being creative:

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)...more
Funny. No shocking revelations in here, but the author does a good job of outlining some tips and tricks for old and new creative types without being either mean or condescending (a rarity in books on creative writing.) I also appreciate Mr. Kleon mentioning that one of his key rules is "Be Boring." Because it's the only way to be effective. The tortured artist, strung out on mescaline or heroin or methamphetamine is an unrealistic and unappealing non-ideal that died about fifty years ago. I lea...more
The sub-title of this book is '10 things nobody told you about being creative'. Yeah, probably because they thought you already knew them.

This book is packed to the brim with platitudes such as: try to do good work, there are lots of different things to consider when choosing a place to live, it's important to be careful who you marry, money is really important, try to find a day job that you like and, my favorite, take $10 to the stationers and buy some stuff - then you can write your ideas dow...more
Cheryl Gatling
I don't usually pay much attention to lists of helpful hints for writers (and other creative people). I have read many of them, and they get repetitious. But this book was just so darn cute. It's little, it's square, it has funky blackboard-like diagrams. So I read it. And I liked it. The first thing that makes this book different is that it is firmly in the digital age. With advice like, if you see something that interests you, make a note of it, or... take a picture of it with your phone. Goog...more
Straight-forward, accessible, cool, inspiring. The key word, I think, is accessible -- in a way that is inclusive but does not cheapen, mock, or patronize the craft of the artist. However, it is not expansive, not a manifesto, not an in-depth discussion, but a jump-off point. This book ENCOURAGES you to start branching out, searching, reading widely and often, studying your idols. It is so quick to read that you can read it over and over when in doubt and you need some inspiration.

If I had to te...more
Taymara Jagmohan
Blissful read.

Sometimes, in the lifetime of yourself, you need to know what you are doing isn't just a flavour of "I am wasting time."

Previously, I was feeling such an impostor syndrome (psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments), but now it's a little different.

To be quite frank, I have been feeling like that all my life.

It will be a little difficult to move from such a detriment, but it will never be impossible; for it is part of my thoughts now.

Paul Signorelli
Although Austin Kleon's playfully engaging new book jolts us all a bit with his use of "steal" in the title, his intent clearly is to help us understand that 'stealing like an artist' suggests a level of interaction with our sources of inspiration that leaves no room or encouragement for outright acts of plagiarism. "Steal" begins with David Bowie's admission that "The only art I'll ever study is stuff that I can steal from'; gathers steam with Yohji Yamamoto's advice to "Start copying what you...more
Farhan Khalid
All advice is autobiographical

Andre Gide: Everything that needs to be said has already been said

But since no one was listening, everything must be said again

1 + 1 = 3 [in genetics]

Your job is to collect good ideas

The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced

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, stre...more
Elizabeth Ditty
I purchased this book thinking it'd be mostly a novelty item with some inspirational sayings & sketches. It's that, but it's also got a lot of excellent, practical, concrete advice for creatives. After five minutes, I closed the book & bought two more copies to give to friends, and I imagine it will continue to be a go-to gift for the creative people in my life. Highly recommended, whether you're a working creative or even just thinking about introducing more creativity into your life.
I picked this up at the school library today while in between parent-teacher conferences. At first, I said to myself, "self, this is too obvious (just like this joke)." But forty pages in, when I'd written down 5 quotes and drawn a few diagrams, I realized that sometimes the obvious is exactly what we need. This may not be new ground, but Kleon offers his advice in an entertaining manner, with a liberal dosing of quotes from famous people doled out along the way (my favorite, via Questlove: "The...more
Bernie Gourley
Kleon's work began as a series of index cards and expanded into a short book. As the subtitle implies, the book is built around ten pieces of advice on creativity, each of which has short sub-chapters.

The ten chapters / advice offerings are:

-Steal like an artist.
-Don't wait until you know who you are to get started.
-Write the book you want to read.
-Use your hands.
-Side projects and hobbies are important.
-The secret: do good work and share it with people.
-Geography is no longer our master.
-Be nic...more
I love this book! It's short and easy to read, but every page is full of amazing advice, inspiration, and ideas. My uncle sent this to me, and although I procrastinated on actually reading it, I finally did last night, and I'm so glad I opened it. I read it cover to cover. It's all about how creativity, originality, and genius don't just pop out of nowhere. Our ideas and work are based off of the people, places, and ideas that have influenced us. The book gave me a huge insight on how to see the...more
Geir Ertzgaard
Til alle litteratursnobber og filosofiske weltschmertzkonnosører der ute: Styr unna, for dette er banalt.
Jeg har nok av uleste bøker hjemme i bokhylla, men på flyplasser prøver jeg likevel å finne litteratur med så lave sidetall og så stor skrift at jeg skal klare å lese de ferdig i løpet av en to-timers reise fra Oslo til Stavanger.
Steal like an Artist passet perfekt til dette, og ga meg samtidig ti gode råd for hvordan jeg skal kunne bli mer kreativ på veien. Banalt? Ja, veldig? Nyttig, ja end...more
Indah Threez Lestari
541 - 2014

Buku ini keren. Sudah, itu saja review-ku. Sungguh, susah membuat reviewnya karena aku suka semuanya. Aku cuma bisa merekomendasikannya.

Tapi begini deh. Waktu membaca buku ini, aku langsung teringat kasus yang beberapa hari terakhir ini sedang menjadi topik hangat di komunitasku.

Untuk mereka yang seringkali "tak sengaja" meng-copas review buku orang lain, please please please bacalah buku ini sebagai acuan. Diajarin kok cara "mencuri" dengan baik-baik. Pencurian yang baik adalah ATM: A...more
Fotis Chatzinicolaou
Το διάβασα σε λιγότερο από 2 ώρες. Το βιβλίο είναι τέλεια γραμμένο, σύντομο, to the point, με ωραίες εικόνες και βαθύ νόημα.

Ουσιαστικά ο Austin μας δίνει λύσεις για το πως να είμαστε πιο παραγωγικοί και ο πρώτος πρώτος, είναι ο τίτλος του βιβλίου, ουσιαστικά να μάθουμε να "κλέβουμε" από τα άτομα που μας αρέσει η δουλειά τους. Κάνει μια πολύ ωραία συζήτηση πως το να κλέβεις από έναν μόνο είναι κακό και φως φανάρι, ενώ το να κλέβεις από αρκετούς σε βοηθά στην δημιουργικότητα, χωρίς να σε καταλαβαί...more
Diego Christian
Buku ini berhasil untuk saya. Saya suka banget baca buku-buku tentang kreativitas. Saya suka melakukan hal yang baru untuk memancing ide kreatif. Buku ini seperti penambah ilmu bagi saya.

Lewat buku ini saya belajar banyak untuk memeluk keterbatasan saya. Saya belajar untuk bersahabat dengan rutinitas pekerjaan di kantor dan hobi menulis saya.

Mau curhat sedikit, boleh? Saat hari terang, saya bekerja di kantor advertising. Dengan menjadi content dan copy writer, saya belajar untuk menjual brand...more
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Highly engaging non-fiction 2 39 Feb 09, 2014 08:28AM  
  • The Shock of the New
  • History of Art
  • An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers
  • Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
  • Drawing from Memory
  • A Technique for Producing Ideas
  • Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun
  • Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity
  • Amphigorey
  • 100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design
  • The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice
  • It Chooses You
  • Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!): How To Unleash Your Creative Potential by America's Master Communicator, George Lois
  • The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
  • Art Through the Ages
  • Seven Days in the Art World
  • 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People
  • Just My Type: A Book About Fonts
I make art with words and books with pictures. Author of Steal Like An Artist, Newspaper Blackout, and Show Your Work!
More about Austin Kleon...
Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered Newspaper Blackout Skinny Dipping

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“If you ever find that you're the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.” 113 likes
“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.” 98 likes
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