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

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3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  66,149 Ratings  ·  2,595 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 September 7th 2010)
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Kate This book is available on audible as an audiobook. Try listening to it if you are unable to read.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. CoveySteal Like an Artist by Austin KleonThe 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy FerrissOutliers by Malcolm GladwellThe $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
The People's Library for Success
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Best Books on Creative Life
15th out of 298 books — 486 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
Natalie
May 05, 2016 Natalie rated it really liked it
description

This was such a phenomenal and much needed read for me. Steal Like an Artist gives ideas that apply to anyone who’s trying to inject some creativity into their life and their work. It really inspired me and I can’t wait for what’s next.

Also, can I just quote everything? Because I really need and want to:

“Always be reading. Go to the library. There’s magic in being surrounded by books. Get lost in the stacks. Read bibliographies. It’s not the book you start with, it’s the book that book leads yo
...more
Nancy
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
Ariel
May 05, 2015 Ariel rated it really liked it
I read this after reading "Show Your Work!" which is the opposite order of publication, and while I definitely preferred the latter, this was also really great. Sometimes it just has to be one idea, one quote, one line, that can make a book for you. This book was solidly consistently good, but for me it was the push to start using a notebook that really made a change for me.**

So personally I liked the other one more, but I've heard a solid chunk of people that like this one more.. certain ideas
...more
El
(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
Kathryn Patterson
Aug 30, 2012 Kathryn Patterson rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 13, 2012 Carmen Sisson rated it liked it
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
Hanne
Nov 19, 2012 Hanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, business

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
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
Greg
Nov 15, 2012 Greg rated it liked it
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
Gail Klanchesser
Jun 18, 2012 Gail Klanchesser rated it it was amazing
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.
anaïs
Mar 02, 2012 anaïs rated it it was amazing
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
Martyn
Jan 11, 2013 Martyn rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013, room101
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
Jenn
Nov 24, 2012 Jenn rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Carmel Elizabeth
Dec 28, 2014 Carmel Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2014
"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -Howard Aiken

Two hours and a few thickly inked pages later, I feel inspired enough to write a five-pound work of fiction and maybe paint a masterpiece on my bedroom walls as well.
Darren
Oct 29, 2013 Darren rated it did not like it
I don't often go the 1-star route. But this is such a blatant attempt at brand-building that I could feel the "speaker's fees" right there between every page. Read Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird" instead for a true creative boost.
A Nelson
Jul 17, 2012 A Nelson rated it really liked it
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
Sarah (Starry Night Reader)
There was nothing that inspiring or enlightening about this book, but hopefully it will give me the kick in the ass I need to finish up/ begin projects.
Hissa Reads
Nov 21, 2015 Hissa Reads rated it it was amazing
This book is so good, this book is a must read for every artist, for anyone who wants some inspiration and for every one who just wants a good book to read.
Steal like an artist makes you want to pause everything and be creative. It makes you want to sit alone and produce something beautiful. Ugh. I loved it. It's literally like eating a scoop of ice cream in a hot day.
Ali
Nov 30, 2015 Ali rated it it was amazing
What a fantastic read. I don't have anything else to add to that. Read it, get inspired and create something'new'.
Tamara
Jul 12, 2015 Tamara rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
3,5 stars
“Every artist gets asked the question,
“Where do you get your ideas?”
The honest artist answers,
“I steal them.”



A short, easy read that puts creativity into perspective. Not a rationalization to rip-off; just how creativity works. No very deep inspirational messages either; the book has some good advice but a lot of things that were mentioned are actually just common sense. I'd still want to send this book to some people I came across in the internet (You know, the people who are so quic
...more
Ananya
Recently, I read an answer given by Vint Cerf to the question “How did Robert E. Kahn and Vint Cerf create/found the Internet?” in Quora where he says that it was a cumulative effort of generations :

"Of course, our work benefited from the predecessor network: the ARPANET, and the work of many others who invented the transistor, the computer, time-sharing, packet switching, multiple programming languages, and a long list of other things. Things on the scale of the Internet ://https://en.wikipedia
...more
Schuyler
Mar 23, 2016 Schuyler rated it really liked it
When I picked up Steal Like An Artist, I was in an artistic murk of anonymity, enjoying my art itself, but detesting a lot of the side demands that art creates. I emerged with faith revitalized (or at least, faith in Austin's book, which is a step in the right direction.) I just laid on the couch and ate up all the inspiration in its pages, and laughed, and read bits to my mom, and finished it in an excited glow of inspiration and creativity. It was a breath of fresh air.

Before we go further, I
...more
Kevan
Jan 01, 2014 Kevan rated it really liked it
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
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
Po Po
May 25, 2015 Po Po rated it it was amazing
Quick and easy read. Everyone should read this.

Simple ways to actualize, optimize and fully realize your creative potential.

* * *

"Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again." --Andre Gide

"What is originality? Undetected plagiarism." --William Ralph Inge

"Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing." --Salvador Dali

"If you copy from one author it's plagiarism, but if you copy from many, it's research." --Wi
...more
Sulis Peri Hutan
Nov 16, 2015 Sulis Peri Hutan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: koleksiku, buntelan
suka banget, kelar sekali berbaring :))

"Apa orisinalitas itu? Plagiarisme tak terdeteksi."
N
Mar 25, 2013 N rated it liked it
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
SmarterLilac
May 14, 2012 SmarterLilac rated it liked it
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
adam (booksss.0k)
Jun 16, 2016 adam (booksss.0k) rated it it was amazing
Quick read for fast, worthwhile advice.
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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...

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“If you ever find that you're the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.” 196 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.” 180 likes
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