Book Summary: Steal Like An Artist

April 21st, 2020

I just finished the book Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon the other day. It is a relatively short read, coming in at about 140 small pages with lots of fun pictures. But it is jam packed with good insight into how to be a better, happier, and more productive creative. Although written from the perspective of an author, the advice applies to just about any creative field.

This is a book that is well worth having in physical form because it is just so pleasant to look at! I plan to keep it around and in sight for when I just need something to flip through and get a little bit of inspiration or motivation.

It is broken down into 10 key ideas, each of which is a recommendation on how to live or work. I won't go too in depth into each one here, I mostly want to give an overview of what is in the book, and capture a very brief summary of my favorite points.

1. Steal Like An Artist: Seek out lots of good inputs and ideas in your life and steal the best ones. Every artist steals, so don't be scared to do the same, just be sure to do it well, and do so in a way that respects the original work.

2. Don't Wait Until You Know Who You Are To Get Started: Do the work to find your voice. Emulate all of your favorite people, and keep emulating until you find yourself in the work.

3. Write The Book You Want To Read: When creating, don't just think about what you already know, or what you are most comfortable creating, instead think about what you would want to see in the world. If your favorite creators came together to make something, what would you want it to be? Make that thing.

4. Use Your Hands: Get out from behind the computer every now and then. Give yourself a space to create and manipulate ideas physically before bringing them back into digital space.

5. Side Projects And Hobbies Are Important: Give yourself things to productively procrastinate on. Take time to mess around and explore a variety of interests, you never know what will connect together in useful ways.

6. The Secret: Do Good Work And Share It With People: Take advantage of early obscurity to figure out the work you want to do. Get good at that work, create things, and put them on the internet. Allow your audience to hold you accountable as you actively improve and develop your ideas.

7. Geography Is No Longer Our Master: Build a community online, find people to support you and guide you. Live somewhere that gives you the life you want. Leave every now and then, discomfort is important.

8. Be Nice. (The World Is A Small Town): Don't be mean, be nice instead. Try to be a good member of the internet community, spend time around people that will make you smarter, and give back. Avoid over-indexing on the thoughts of others; don't demand responses or validation, don't get in fights, just channel everything into doing more work.

9. Be Boring. (It's The Only Way To Get Work Done): Take care of yourself. Stay healthy, financially secure, socially stable, and organized in order to have the energy, clarity, and support to be creative and make good things.

10. Creativity Is Subtraction: Limitations are freeing for creative work. Put restrictions on yourself to get past paralysis of choice and get to work. Over time your voice will appear not just in what you include, but what you leave out.

If you want to read my raw notes from this book, you can find them at

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