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Show Your Work!
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on March 13, 2014
Kleon has an engaging writing style. His illustrations are cute. He is an able curator of interesting quotations. But this book is mostly devoid of meaningful or useful content. Here is some of the advice you'll receive:

- 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.
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As Austin Kleon explains, his previous book, Steal Like an Artist, "was about stealing influence from other people" whereas "this book is about how to influence others by letting them steal from [begin italics] you [end italics]." I agree with him that "all you have to do is to show your work" but only if (HUGE "if") it's worth stealing and you know how to do that in terms of what, when, and where. Actually, he wrote this book "for people who hate the very idea of self-promotion." It's not enough to be very good. "In order to be found, you have to [begin italics] be findable [end italics]. I think there's an easy way of putting your work out there and making it discoverable [begin italics] while [end italics] you're focused on getting really good at what you do."

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.
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on February 18, 2015
This is a refreshing kick in the butt about believing in yourself as a creative person and jumping in with both feet. The basic idea is to put yourself out there even if you (or your work) is a work in progress. This book borrows heavily from the late Paul Arden's "It's Not Who You Are, It's Who You Want To Be." In fact, the author quotes Mr. Arden at one point in the book, but in the page of acknowledgments, he makes no mention of Arden's wonderful book (get it). That's why I dinged this book a star. I do recommend this book if you are at all insecure about your place in the (creative) world, but I also highly recommend Mr. Arden's book, which is a classic and essential (and a shorter read than this).
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This author has written, "How to Steal Like an Artist" as well. Both great books in my opinion. Not too long - and easy reads. Very pleasant and fun books. Author has great sense of humor. I bought it for my sister as well. She has everything, and I know she has trouble with motivating herself. This is for people who are creative, who do create, and who want to share what they create, paint, write, invent.

Highly Highly Recommended. I am collecting digital images to copy color schemes in what would be considered original art, digitally painted with the idea to use the art as inspiration, and yet paint my own stuff. There is a difference between stealing art and using art as inspiration; though the author says it differently. This particular book takes you to the next step where your work will get seen. For me it is just for fun. I do not sell. But we can all use a compliment or two, right? A captive audience. Some day maybe an offer to have me do commissioned work....errr maybe.
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on March 21, 2018
I was required to read this for a college course with a detailed quiz after so I had to read it more than once. I liked the overall general concepts of the book. But they were pretty basic marketing that most people know after a first time google search (have a website, reach out on social media, remind people you exist). Also the cute artsy format worked most of the time (more on that below).

Here's what I didn't like:
The constant single sentence celebrity name dropping as examples of success being constantly used. I know Kleon's most famous work is "Steal Like an Artist" but I think he could have done without constantly using other peoples words to make a point where his own would have been fine. Even if it was limited to just once per page instead of 2-3 times it would have been less grating. 

Also the "art" pages would have fit better if they weren't placed in the middle of a sentence so often.
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on August 19, 2014
This book is small and yellow and well designed. If you put two pop-tarts side by side, that is about how big this book is. But don't put this book in the toaster, unless you are a toaster artist and you want to.

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.
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on December 13, 2017
Very fun, fast read. Full of logic and wisdom: not much we don't already instinctively "know" but the information organized in a fun, easy to understand way which makes us think about how we manage our creativity and our lives. I found myself agreeing with most everything the author said. My son who is into marketing and has taken lots of courses loved the book. I think the information really applies to all of life and would be a good read for nearly everyone who is trying to break out of the box and free themselves from self-imposed limitations. This is a "self-help" book you can keep in your library and read over and over.
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on June 1, 2016
I LOVE this book. The book is a quick read but so full of useful ideas. It is also very humorous. I found myself laughing so hard, I had tears in my eyes. I'm an emerging artist and my marketing self-confidence is "wobbly." Before I even finished this book I was feeling much more confident about promoting my work. Everything Austin says about showing your work is absolutely true. There are two other artists in my family and their work is far superior to my work. However, they have trouble selling their work because they are withdrawn personalities and they do not "share their work". Even though I am just beginning and learning, I show others my work just because I am so amazed I can even do art, and because I enjoy interacting with others. Hence, much to my surprise, people have offered to buy my work. Amazing!! I first read "Steal Like an Artist" and I loved that book as well, so I had to have "Show Your Work". Highly recommended!!
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One thing I've always strived to improve has been my transparency. It's also one of the things I've always struggled most with. It's just not instinctual to me. I literally have to pour my time and energy into showing pieces of myself and my work to the world. And it's not even just my work--I don't even update my personal Facebook on a regular basis.

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.
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on December 1, 2017
A follow up to his previous work, Steal Like an Artist, Show Your Work discusses and explores between creativity and publicity.

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.
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