Thursday, May 3, 2012

How to ... Steal Like an Artist

Artist Austin Kleon, author of "Newspaper Blackout," made a name for himself by taking a black Sharpie to newspapers and creating works of art. (Yes, I'm jealous I didn't come up with this fanciful way to utilize the only thing I have access to freely and in abundance at work - newspapers.)

From Kleon's website, here's a how-to:

How to make a Newspaper Blackout Poem:
Grab a newspaper.
Grab a marker.
Find an article.
Cross out words, leaving behind the ones you like.
Pretty soon you’ll have a poem.

Kleon recently published a new book, "Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative" (Workman Publishing, March 2012, $10.95)

In his book Kleon promotes the following 10 rules to foster creativity he says he came up with while devising a speech for community college students:
  1. Steal like an artist.
  2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.
  3. Write the book you want to read.
  4. Use your hands.
  5. Side projects and hobbies are important.
  6. The secret: do good work and share it with people.
  7. Geography is no longer our master.
  8. Be nice. (The world is a small town.)
  9. Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)
  10. Creativity is subtraction.
He says: "Remixing isn't just for DJs - every professional should see themselves as a mashup artist."

This totally vibes with my profession. I just stole from Kleon's website to get the images you see here. But Kleon advises that the best ideas come to us offline. The computer's great for publishing ideas, but where you get them usually happens away from your desktop.

To cultivate your own creativity, Kleon says you should always have pen and paper with you and that you should read, read, read!

"When I tell people to steal like an artist, what I'm really talking about is a kind of hungry scavenger approach to life - looking at the world and everything in it as raw material to feed your work. Everything is an influence, and you digest that influence, and you turn it into something new. The most important part of the phrase, which many people overlook, is the 'like an artist' part - that's when you take the things you've scavenged and you recombine them and transform them into your own work," Kleon said in press materials for his book.

Kleon says he steals from "everybody and anybody" who crosses his path.

"I've stolen ideas from Picasso and I've stolen ideas from my mother. The key, as everyone from Woody Allen to Steve Jobs has admitted, is to be absolutely shameless about it," he said.

While you're channeling your inner artist, Kleon advises being boring.

"The trick is to find a day job that pays decently, doesn't make you want to vomit, and leaves you with enough energy to make things in your spare time," he writes.

The book is adorable. It's a smallish size, and just 140 small pages that can be read in a sitting or referred back to over time and contains lots of Kleon's doodles and cartoons and pieces of art.

Would you like to steal it from me? It'll be easy, because I'm planning to give away my review copy. Simply comment on this post with your email address. If you're selected as winner (at random, of course), I'll contact you to find out where to mail the book. If no one comments or otherwise claims the book it will be donated to the Pottstown Regional Public Library. 

Click here to see the book trailer.

About Austin Kleon (from his website):

He's writer, artist, author, and speaker obsessed with the art of communicating with pictures and words, together. He grew up in the cornfields of Ohio, but now lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Meghan, and their dog, Milo.


Fabrício Calado said...

I'd love to steal it from you, but I happen to live in Brazil.

If that wouldn't be a problem for you, please let me know via e-mail (my e-addy is

Thanks in advance!

Michelle Karas said...

Fabricio, thanks for your comment, but the book is already in someone else's hands. I'll have more giveaways coming up. I've never mailed one internationally before ... you could be the first!

Fabrício Calado said...

'tis ok - as most justice systems say, it's the intention that counts... Looking forward to steal from you!