Steal Like an Artist - Book Review

I really enjoyed Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist. Nathan bought this little book and devoured it. He told me that my little women’s entrepreneur group would like it. I thought it was something I should read since Nathan doesn’t really recommend a lot to me. I enjoyed it a lot. It was a quick read, but full of insight.

It really reiterated a lot of what I had gleaned from Fire Starter Sessions and Quitter. Don’t wait until I have it all figured out to get started. Don’t quit my day job. But I liked the art slant of this book. I don’t consider what I’m doing an art (do I?), but it was nice to think about it that way.

I loved the idea of surrounding myself with quality ideas and quality people. I need to find people that I want to be like. And then try to be like them. The areas where I fall short? That’s where my art is. That’s where I have the space to create my own niche. I love that idea. Find something I love. Try to do it myself. Exaggerate the places where I am different. I thought that idea was a brilliant way to think about being an apprentice of sorts without worrying about being too close to something another person already is.

I also think that this book opened my eyes to why I’m struggling with feeling like I’m really doing any work. Kleon talks about the importance of doing something with my hands. Although technology provides convenience and connections, it rarely provides anything tangible. And I think that is why I feel like my dream is kinda stalled even though I’m consistently growing and expanding. I have nothing to touch. My communication with my clients is through email or text. I follow my client’s behaviors through excel spreadsheets or online programs. I’m getting paid through paypal. I have met with a few clients face to face, but we were previously friends so it didn’t feel like work. (Or maybe that’s it. It just doesn’t feel like work. Hmmm.) I don’t have anything to show for my work. I think I’m going to go back to making training plans in writing instead of excel. Or at minimum, start printing them out when I’m done. Just so I have something to make it real. He suggested using electronic means to edit and distribute, but not to create. And that spoke to me.

Kleon wrote a lot about creating and maintaining relationships with like-minded people, and he suggested the internet as a resource for this. I love that he encouraged me to share my work with others, to ignore enemies and bullies, to channel my frustrations into my work. He encouraged me to be self-reliant for my validation (I REALLY struggle with that) and to reduce the noise in my life so I’ll have the energy to spend on my art.

My take-aways from this short and very visually pleasing book:

  • I’m going to keep carrying my little random thoughts notebook. I have quit using it a lot because I just jot down little notes in my planner. I need to get back to doing more creating by hand, so I’m going to start utilizing this book again.
  • Routines are important. I need one. I tend to just do coaching tasks whenever I can squeeze them in. I think, as things pick up, that I need a more steady routine.
  • I need to be better at setting boundaries and asking for help. The more I clutter my time, the less I have for my art. There is always just enough time to get done what I need to get done, but that doesn’t mean I’m doing well with my time management.

Final thoughts: Very cute book. Easy read. Thought-provoking. Recommended.