261 of 278 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2012
I am not a creative person. I want to be. I think like most people I want to create something. I want to write something. Create something. While searching for something new in the books section of Amazon.com I hit on this title. I knew nothing about Austin Kleon. I am not a poetry fan so I did not know about the Newspaper Blackout book. I actually judged this book by it's cover (and the description to be honest). I read it in an hour (you can too - it is a short book). Then I read it again much more slowly and with a highlighter. Most of what he writes about may be trite to those "in the know" but for me this book said I could go into the world, find something I love and tweak it bit to make it mine. And in doing that I could show the creator that his work inspired me to create something. This book also told me that I already possessed the tools to be creative. Since I know that I like Kleon suggest that I study why I like it. Find out what makes it work for me and then use that as a jumping off point. But even these words do not convey accurately enough how inspired I was - I read it again - I added his blog and tumblr feeds to my daily readings - I follow him on twitter and bought some books he recommended. Finally - rather than sending him an email telling him how wonderful this book is - I am following his advice and putting those same thoughts in a review. A small book awakened a bit of passion for being creative. Not a small feat. A small book but a big heart. Hope all these words add up to this - I love this book.
270 of 296 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2012
If you've been paying attention to certain parts of the Web recently, you may be familiar with a rising chorus of voices talking about creativity as "remixing." The broad thesis is that creativity isn't a mystical flash of insight in the mind of a lone genius, but rather a combinatorial, collaborative process in which artists and designers consciously and gradually combine existing ideas into novel forms. Books like "The Gift", by Lewis Hyde, and video series like "Everything is a Remix", by Kirby Ferguson, champion this burgeoning idea (and are name-checked by Kleon at the end of "Artist"). But if Hyde and Ferguson are the theorists charting the contours of these new ideas, Kleon is the practitioner, the man-of-artistic-action, bringing the means and the message to the people.
"Steal Like An Artist" began as a lecture given by Kleon at Broome Community College that later emerged as a viral blog post. Kleon makes no effort to hide the fact that the blog post forms the skeleton of "Artist". But even if you've memorized the post, Kleon layers enough muscle and flesh on it that you feel like you're encountering his core ideas all over again. The same rush of discovery and energy awaits.
Kleon describes himself as "a writer that draws," and "Artist" is proof of that. He designed the book himself and his voice and style shine through. "Artist" feels unified, innovative, balanced, and, above all, intimate. The book is small, like a big cocktail napkin. It's full of illustrations by Kleon and little flourishes that keep things brisk as you read. The small size makes the book feel approachable, ready to provide a quick inspiration burst if need be. Kleon describes ten basic principles to boost your creativity. He lists them on the back cover of the book (a choice that Kindle purchasers will miss) so that they're easily referenced. It's a small touch, but emblematic of the book's careful construction.
Most importantly, "Artist" is focused on practicality. Kleon has absorbed the lessons of Hyde and Ferguson, but he wants to do more than evangelize; he wants to transform. "Artist" is stuffed with practical tips that you can adopt. In fact, there's a section at the very end of the book titled "What Now?", in which Kleon gives you a long, itemized list of things you can do *right now* to prime your creative pump.
One recent book that Kleon doesn't reference is "Where Good Ideas Come From", by Steve Johnson. "Good Ideas" is one of the best new books about spurring creativity, but it's primarily focused on principles of creativity and their historical origins. "Artist" is a perfect companion to "Good Ideas". Once you've read Johnson's book and your head is full of theory, Kleon's book comes along and gives you a good, firm (and lighthearted) kick in the pants to send you on your way. You certainly don't need to read "Good Ideas" or any other book to receive the full benefit of "Artist". It's a short, heady blast of exuberance that's guaranteed to kick-start your imagination.
92 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2013
After reading Dr. Andy's book Creativity, 63 short exercises to a Happier Life (a great book with good exercises by the way), I decided I wanted to get into the topic of creativity to a deeper level. So I picked up this book and I am glad I did.
What Kleon does in this book is take a lot of the mystique out of creativity and show how you can use the idea of mixing what others have done to come up with great ides that take the concepts to a new level not before envisioned.
The book is full of information about how to work with your own creative instincts and bring forward excellent new ideas even if your skills have been dormant for a long time or you have been caught in in a dead end job that does not seem to give an outlet for your finer instincts.
This book is well on the way to becoming a classic in the field, and with good reason, I highly recommend it!
78 of 93 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2012
"Steal Like an Artist" provides practical advice, in a succinct and often witty style, to people who create things in this modern world (as Kleon points out, "that should describe all of us"). The tone isn't presumptuous or arrogant; it's written like he's talking to a friend. His insights are surrounded by quotes, illustrations, and several poems in the style of his newspaper cutouts, making the read all the more pleasant. "Steal Like an Artist" isn't a long book, and that's awesome. You can easily pick it up and read through a few chapters for a quick injection of inspriation.
Also: I would highly recommend buying the print version; having this little square book in your hands, easily flippable and reachable on your desk, is worth spending an extra 44¢. You won't regret buying this handy little guide.
42 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2012
A colleague gifted this book to me quite unexpectedly one morning. Perhaps he thought I needed a reminder that my creativity was lagging lately, who knows. I leafed through the pages and found a comment by Jessica Hische "The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life"...wow moment.
Many of his comments and advice I had learned along my journey as an artist before some professors "knifed my muse" [metaphorically speaking] in college and the corporate world finished it off.
While I didn't find Kleon's words new, he is correct, no one tells you the little bits of wisdom contained within, you learn it for yourself the hard way.
Basically, harken back to your time as a child, when your creative juices were flowing and there was no limit to your imagination; embrace your inner child, go forth and CREATE! Create something everyday, be it a doodle while talking on the phone, making a journal a work of outsider art, or grabbing some clay, paint, or what have you and create. Just do it!
Like he says, there's nothing new under the sun. The book gives you license to steal what is worth stealing "artistically" and then placing your own spin on it to make it something more.
So, go forth and Steal Like an Artist.
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2013
I was disappointed in this book. It is very short and not much more than a collection of simple T-shirt or bumper sticker slogans with little real value. I finished reading the book in less than an hour and do not think it is worth the $9 price I paid for it. The author takes his own advice and offers nothing new of his own making. Each of his slogans is fleshed out with nothing more than a quote or two from others and an occasional less than inspiring anecdote about his own successes and failures. It is illustrated with very poorly drawn cartoonish pictures that add no value to the content of the book. I would not recommend this book to any of my artistic friends.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2014
I read Austin' original post a couple of years a go that went viral and finally bought the book. While some of the basic ideas in it are useful and the book is well presented there simply isn't a lot of real practical advice. It's not a lot of content. Big type and big pictures, it's really just a blog post printed out and bound.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2015
Based on the reviews of others, I expected this to be an inspirational master piece. Not what I expected in terms of guidance and depth of content... more of a "coffee table" type book that you'd glance at for visuals/graphics and "cutesy" advice. As an artist, I did not really get much out of it. Had I thumbed through this at a book store, I would not have purchased it.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I bought Austin Kleon's "Steal Like An Artist" on a whim after reading about it in Shelf Awareness, a daily email subscription I get about books and the industry. Being an author myself, a poet, and dabbling in painting and crafts, I like to think of myself as an artist. And like all artists, I'm frequently at a loss as to how to get the creative juices flowing and the muse talking.
Kleon's book was the boost I needed on how to do just that. At just 140 pages, it's a quick read and is filled with insightful quotes, fun drawings, and inspirational photographs. I read it on my Kindle and found myself highlighting something on practically every page. After finishing it, I immediately bought 4 hard copies - 1 for myself and 3 to share with my creative friends who I know will benefit from it as well.
Kleon focuses on the fact that it's okay to "steal" from those artists, musicians, actors, painters, writers, singers, etc. who are our heroes. We imitate them as children and want to be like them when we "grow up." So why now steal from them? Kleon stresses that he's not talking about plagiarism; that's just copying. He's talking about taking from the elements of those people that inspire us in the first place. It's the perfect way to learn and to eventually develop your own style.
I'd like to think we can apply Kleon's advice to any part of our lives really, so those who aren't so creative might enjoy the book as well. I especially liked his "log book" idea because while I enjoy blogging, it seems I can never squeeze in time to write out long and insightful blog posts. His quick check list log book entries is a perfect way to take notes and remember the things that are important each day.
A must-have for the artistic ones in your life, of if you yourself just need some inspiration. I know I will be suggesting this one to my friends and colleagues for a long time!
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2013
Maybe I'm thirty years too old--hope springs eternal in the larcenous heart--but I feel Mr. Kleon has stolen my money. Well played, sir.