Have you ever heard about Austin Kleon? He is a writer and a drawer who published two magnificent books on creativity in the digital age. “Steel Like an Artist” and “Show Your Work” both became New York Times bestsellers, inspiring thousands of artists around the world to come out and show their artworks. Austin Kleon has a bunch of tips also for you, a creative SAE student. Join the broad group of people who have the courage to present whatever they do both offline and online!
Text and picture by Joanna Wróblewska
Unlock your creativity
What does it mean to be creative? In his book Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon proofs that we exchange ideas and get inspired by others continually in the digital era. Nothing is original anymore, so whatever we create is based on something, which already exists. The artist is seen as a selective collector of things that draw his attention, things that he or she loves. There is so much information available, that in the end being selective is the only way of protecting your mind from getting overwhelmed. Be picky and learn to make decisions! Sometimes you need to say “no” to something, in order to make space for new observations, experiences and ideas. Do not wait too long and start a creative journey now! Do not rush. In many cases, you will have to make a step back to move forward. Whatever you do, always remember to be a good theft. Do not imitate anybody, but learn how to transform existing concepts into something new and original.
Good theft, bad theft
I especially like the Kleon’s idea of a good and a bad theft. How do those two differ? Well, a good theft honors foreign concepts, studies them, always steals from many, credits ideas, transforms them and presents a remix that brings a new value. Sounds reasonable, right? A bad theft degrades somebody else’s ideas, skims them, often steals from one, plagiarizes, imitates and sells a cheap rip-off. There is a big difference between learning from others or using their experience and selling foreign concepts as yours. Being original is all about adding to the world something that is unique.
Do good work
Doing a good work is tough, but it is also fun! Being goal-oriented probably will not help. It can cause a lot of frustration and block your creativity. Austin Kleon advises focusing on the process of creation. It will give you pleasure and most likely help you to find out what you like. A process-oriented approach gives you time and space to experiment, fail and understand. It will make you forget about all the exaggerated expectations that cross your mind. Playing and having fun is the most important part of the creation, so do not forget about it. Making good work also means giving yourself a luxury of time and space to create. Good work is the work that you are proud of, but also that you value and appreciate, in general.
Dare to share
There is a bunch of simple tips on sharing work that Kleon describes in his second book Show Your Work. Being confident, communicative, open-minded and honest always helps. The author is even more precise about things that you should do to share whatever you create and get constructive feedback. Being a genius is not necessary to become recognizable and unique. Sometimes it is enough to share something small every day! Telling good stories and teaching what you know should be helpful as well. Are you worried that others will steal your techniques, ideas or knowledge? No worries! You are original, so people will not be able to create exactly the same things as you did. Stay calm and do what you do. It will pay-off!
In the same time, do not turn into human spam. You do not want to share with others completely everything. Again: be picky. Share only those things that express the real you. Be yourself and keep going! In the world of fast success and easy fall, patient people win everything. As an artist, you will experience ups and downs, but the self-developments is what counts the most. Do you feel like starting an incredible adventure as a creator? Get inspired by Austin Kleon, become a good theft and share your work! SAE Institute is a the best place to start.
Austin Kleon’s website