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Show Your Work! Paperback – March 6, 2014
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Pre-order today
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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.
When I realized what Austin Kleon's newest book was about, I knew I had to have it. The theme is Show Your Work. How apropos. Once I had it in my hands, there was so much for me to learn. Here are a few of my favorite lessons from each chapter:
1. You don't have to be a genius.
Anyone can share their art. There are no limits here.
"You can't find your voice if you don't use it."
"Raw enthusiasm is contagious."
2. Think process, not product.
It's not about the final product; it's about the journey.
"We're not all artists or astronauts. A lot of us go about our work and feel like we have nothing to show for it at the end of the day. But whatever the nature of your work, there is an art to what you do, and there are people who would be interested in that art, if only you presented it to them in the right way."
3. Share something small every day.
You don't have to post something big. Share small things on a regular basis and you'll keep up your momentum.
"Put yourself, and your work, out there every day and you'll start meeting some amazing people." - Bobby Solomon
You should be continually asking yourself this question: "What are you working on?"
Whatever you do, do not overshare.
4. Open up your cabinet of curiosities.
If someone shares something and you like it, share it, too.
"Your influences are all worth sharing because they clue people in to who you are and what you do--sometimes more than your own work."
5. Tell good stories.
If someone asks you about yourself, tell the truth and tell it with dignity and self-respect. You have to own who and what you are.
Ultimately, humans just want to connect.
6. Teach what you know.
Pass it on. By teaching, you may learn something yourself.
"The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to others."
7. Don't turn into human spam.
Just because you have the power to share does not mean you should overshare.
"Make the stuff you love and talk about the stuff you love and you'll attract people who love that kind of stuff."
8. Learn to take a punch.
Learning to take constructive criticism is one of the most important skills you can learn. You need to be able to put yourself out there and take a hit once in a while.
"Compulsive avoidance of embarrassment is a form of suicide." - Colin Marshall
"Your work is something you do, not who you are."
9. Sell out.
Sellout is a dirty word. You have to make your money somewhere.
"You just have to be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done."
10. Stick around.
Don't give up. You might have to keep working at it for a long while before you get where you want to be. The trick is to never stop trying.
"Don't quit your show. Life is very hard without a show, kids." - Dave Chappelle
Never stop. Done with one project? Move onto the next immediately. Never lose momentum.
Every time I crack open a book by Austin Kleon, I take a piece of advice with me. It doesn't matter if I've never read it before or if I've cracked that spine open a thousand times before. There is always something new to learn. I highly suggest you invest in your future by getting a copy of Show Your Work now. While you're at it, grab a copy of Steal Like An Artist if you haven't already. It's worth it.
Kleon encourages you not only to create, but to constantly share your work with others.
The reasons for this are many: you gain followers, you build a portfolio of sorts, you find like-minded artists, and you establish a presence.
Anyone can write, but Kleon argues that, by putting your work out into the world, you take the first steps in becoming the writer that you envision for yourself.
Just like Steal like and Artist, Show Your Work contains many graphics that help convey the concepts that Kleon is discussing. It’s almost a little too hard to classify this work as a book, but there are enough words here to satisfy any reader.
Even if you aren’t planning on becoming a writer, there is enough good advice in here to help any sort of career — musicians, content creators, photographers, journalists, all, I believe, will find something helpful in these pages.
There is no doubt that many artists today are practicing the techniques that Kleon describes in this book. You have nothing to lose but, possibly, everything to gain with this short work.
Plus, it’s fun read too.