In this book summary of Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon, you’ll find my notes, high-level ideas, valuable lessons, and important action steps.
Steal Like An Artist Summary
Essentially nothing in this current world is completely original. It’s just a remix of someone else’s idea off of someone else’s idea before them—and this goes back to the beginning of time.
To do more creative work, actively look for ideas worth stealing and then improve upon them.
“Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.”
If you’re feeling confused and lost about your next move in your career or personal life, take the next step that would make the best, and more interesting, story.
Creative work rarely happens in front of a computer screen since you can’t use your senses to touch and smell anything. Do your creative work with your hands (paper and notebook), and then go to your computer when it’s time for editing and publishing.
“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life. – Jessica Hische”
The two steps to get noticed are to do good work and share it with other people through the Internet.
You have to leave home at least once to experience a new place and make your brain work harder adjusting to different surroundings.
Be nice so you’re free to create more. You don’t want to be in the position where you’re wasting your breath, and time, responding to mean haters—it’s not fulfilling in the short-term or long-term.
“Do work every day, no matter what. No holidays, no sick days. Don’t stop. What you’ll probably find is that the corollary to Parkinson’s Law is usually true: Work gets done in the time available.”
Go get a calendar for both the functional ability to track your daily progress (set a goal to do one thing every day: write, lift weights, meditate, etc.) and to symbolize that great achievement amasses over a long stretch of time.
“In the end, creativity isn’t just the things we choose to put in, it’s the things we choose to leave out. Choose wisely. And have fun.”
No ideas are 100% original. Everything is spun off of something else before it. So look for ideas that are truly worth stealing, and then use that inspiration to give it your own spin and improve it in some form or function.
You’re free to create whatever you want to, so start now. Don’t wait until you feel completely ready to create art, because that day may never come. Just go for it and see what comes of it. In the beginning, you won’t have an audience so no one will know if it sucks.
Your duty to the world and yourself is to do quality work and share it with as many people as you can.
Three Favorite Quotes
“Not everybody will get it. People will misinterpret you and what you do. They might even call you names. So get comfortable with being misunderstood, disparaged, or ignored — the trick is to be too busy doing your work to care.”
“If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.”
“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.”
Action Steps For You
Start creating the kind of work that inspires you, even if you’re unsure of yourself and it’s not a masterpiece.
For example, what’s your favorite music? If music is your passion, start playing and singing and experimenting.
What’s your favorite book? If you enjoy writing, start putting together a spinoff of that book and work at it daily, then something good will come out of it.
If you enjoy acting, start practicing and hanging out with other, more talented, actors to learn from them. Maybe the acting practice you put in leads to a gig in the local town play or a major movie role. You never know unless you try.
Once you do quality work with whatever draws your attention, then create a blog, podcast, or YouTube channel to share your work with the world. Getting other people’s opinions is how you improve and get better over time.
So again, do your best work with what you have, and share it with others. That two step process will do more for you than any other career advice can.
I’m pumped to see what you create!
Order Steal Like An Artist
Or check out other book recommendations to become more successful.