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Show Your Work! Paperback – March 6, 2014
All Books, All the Time
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Forget the lone genius myth, says Kleon, author of the best-seller, Steal like an Artist (2012). His 10-step journey in this beginner’s guide to self-promotion emphasizes audience building and explains the how and why of such approaches as thinking about process rather than product, sharing something each day, teaching what you know, learning to take a punch, and developing staying power. Kleon’s use of artists’ quotes, photographs, and organizational diagrams enhances the text as he reminds readers of how interested people are in the creative process. Become a documentarian . . . start a journal . . . keep a scrapbook . . . see the work you’re doing more clearly and feel . . . progress. When you’re ready to share, you’ll have a surplus of material. Put work out there and let people take their best shot. Then make even more work and keep sharing it until you learn that criticism can’t hurt and may help you. And stick with it. Kleon’s powerful advice makes this small-format book not-at-all little. --Whitney Scott
"[Show Your Work is] timeless; readers can return to it repeatedly throughout life and still glean useful ideas and tips... Anyone starting out (or starting over)...will find upbeat encouragement here."
“Some people are natural self-promoters. For others, it’s painfully difficult to put their work out there. In this creatively designed pocket-sized book, Kleon offers the latter group effective strategies that allow them to share their work without leaving their comfort zone…. Kleon’s advice is sassy and spot-on.”
“[The] subtitle could just as easily be, ‘How to Self-promote Without Being a Jerkface.’ It’s an incredibly useful and compulsively readable short book.”
“Kleon addresses with equal parts humility, honesty, and humor one of the quintessential questions of the creative life: How do you get ‘discovered’? In some ways, the book is the mirror-image of Kleon’s debut ― rather than encouraging you to ‘steal’ from others… it offers a blueprint to making your work influential enough to be theft-worthy.”
“A must-read for anyone involved in the creative process.”
“Kleon’s powerful advice makes this small-format book not-at-all little.”
“In this motivating book, packed with smart approaches, ideas and quotes, Kleon teaches you how best to navigate through creative work in the present day. . . . A certain and deserved bestseller.”
“It’s not often that I find myself reviewing a book that I can say has already changed my life. . . . At a crucial turn in this fabulous little wallop of a book comes the simple directive, ‘Share something small every day.’ That ‘something’ oughtn’t be your Instagrammed latte or a selfie, but something ‘useful or interesting’ about your work. Put enough somethings out there, and a lone artist or entrepreneur can soon be a productive part of a creative community.”
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- Put your work out there, share it with others regularly
- Meet up with people in real life, not just on the Internet
- Don't be afraid to make money off your creative work
- Keep going
- Maintain an e-mail list
- Give proper credit when you refer to other people's work
I won't spoil the rest--if you do read the book, you'll see that I'm not simplifying anything in that list. He goes into zero detail about *how* you should do any of those things, which leads me to believe that he considers the suggestions themselves as worthy of paid publication. Even as free blog posts, most of these chapters would leave me asking, "And...?" This is a catchy write-up of the most banal common knowledge on the topic.
I loved Steal Like An Artist (and still do), but this book was not worth the money or the time I spent on it. Big disappointment. I will probably still buy his next book, but I hope I won't have to return it like this one.
Kleon's two books can be of incalculable value to those who need help with creating content (whatever its nature and extent may be) and then help with attracting the interest and support of those on whom the success of the offering depends. It could be a product, a service, or both. Its target market could be singles, seniors, the unemployed or under-employed, new parents, do-it-yourselfers, beginners at whatever...you get the idea.
So, how to become findable? First, Kleon explains the need for developing a new mindset, one that will enable the reluctant self-promoter to think differently so that she or he can then operate differently. Here's his key point: "Almost all of the people I look up to and try to steal from today, regardless of their profession, have built [begin italics] sharing [end italics] into their routine. Next, he urges his reader to find what the musician Brian Eno characterizes as a "scenius": a group of creative individuals who make up an ecology of talent. "What I love about the idea of scenius is that it makes room in the story of creativity for the rest of us: the people who don't consider ourselves geniuses."
Then Kleon suggests ten specific observations and initiatives, devoting a separate chapter to each. The purpose of the first, "You don't have to be a genius," is an important reassurance that David and Tom Kelley also provide in their recently published book, Creative Confidence: Believing that only geniuses are creative "is a myth that far too many people share. This book is about the opposite of that myth. It is about what we call 'creative confidence.' And at its foundation is the belief that we are [begin italics] all [end italics] creative...Creative confidence is a way of seeing that potential and your place in the world more clearly, unclouded by anxiety and doubt. We hope you'll join us on our quest to embrace creative confidence in our lives. Together, we can all make the world a better place."
The other nine call for initiatives that almost anyone can take. Kleon suggests the most important do's and don'ts to keep in mind. Two key elements are repeatedly emphasized. First, share generously and continuously with those who comprise an appropriate (key word) ecology of talent: people who share common interest and goals, yes, but also common questions and concerns. Share what will be of greatest interest and value to them. Also, be yourself. Why? I like Oscar Wilde's response best: "Everyone else is taken." Each person is a unique work-in-progress. That's hardly an original insight but well-worth repeating.
Let's allow Austin Kleon the final observations: "Human beings are interested in other human beings and what other human beings do. Audiences today not only want to stumble across great work, they, too, long to be part of the creative process. By showing people your 'behind-the-scenes footage" [i.e. portions of incomplete and imperfect work], they can see the person behind the products, and they can better form a relationship with you and your work." So show it...and your authentic self in process.
This book offers a motivational push to get off your butt and get your work out in front of an audience. Whether you are an artist, musician, writer or a speaker, you have to get your stuff seen, heard and experienced by others to know if it is any good. And it might not be and that's okay. It's validation and it helps you get one step closer to the work that will be loved by your audience, your team or your customer.
This book inspired me to change up some of my content for some of the speaking gigs I've been doing. It's been rough and a little uncomfortable (okay, a lot uncomfortable) but when I heard an audience member make a comment about how much they enjoyed a particular point that I had made (in my new content) it made it all worth it. Getting those new ideas out of my head (and out of my growing notebook of notes), dusting them off and giving them a little life has opened up a whole new channel of thinking for me. It would not have happened if I had not shown my work. Thanks Austin for the encouragement and the push to do it.
This book has black text, mostly. Sometimes it has black pages with white text, in which case an absence of ink forms a sequence of letters forming words. There are lots of pages all in a row with text on them.
You can read these pages in order, or you can skip around. You can buy this book and never read it. Sometimes I do that too.
The tips in this book require you to keep daily habits. If you can't do that, you're probably not going to be a very good art person but maybe you will if you put this book in the toaster and it looks awesome. Don't put this book in the toaster though. You might burn your Mom's house down and she would probably make you buy her a new toaster.