I am a thief. Well, not in the traditional sense – I don’t go around breaking into houses, and I haven’t stolen candy from the grocery store since I was 5 years old. But, I am doing the things Austin Kleon suggests I should be doing to unlock my creativity and produce some good stuff – I’m stealing like an artist.
In Steal Like an Artist, Austin’s definition of stealing is not unethical, illegal,or plagiarism. It’s about finding ideas out there that are good and stealing them, or “embracing the influence”. It’s the way art is done.
According to Austin, what to copy is tricky. He says,
Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes. The reason to copy your heroes and their style is so that you might somehow get a glimpse into their minds.
That’s what you really want – to internalize their way of looking at the world. If you just mimic the surface of somebody’s work without understanding where they are coming from, your work will never be anything more than a knockoff.
I love this book because I suck at art, yet I am still an artist. Aren’t we all artists? The writer, blogger, dancer, chef, painter, mother, student, gardner, speaker, teacher, preacher, singer, photographer. This book is for all of us.
Whatever you love to do, do it! Appreciate the creative work of the masters or the rest who have mad talent and can serve as your muse. It takes commitment, drive, and persistence of practice to find your own unique artistic voice. Just don’t give up. Instead let’s get busy stealing, and in turn we will find our voice in the process.