Steal Like an Artist Summary – May 2022

Author: Austin Kleon

Short Summary
Steal Like an Artist (2012) by Austin Kleon debates the fact that no art is original. Everything that we create is an imitation of what already exists. A good artist understands that art does not come from anywhere. It has its roots in preexisting art forms but some ways can enhance the creative process.
steal like an artist summary

Detailed Summary

Steal Like an Artist discusses a very poignant issue faced by artists of all sorts all around the world. It discusses how all art that is created in this world is relevant. Whether it is a movie, a play, a novel, or a painting it is always relevant or similar to something that has been already created in the past. Does that mean that everything you and I are creating is plagiarized or copied? According to our author Austin Kleon, No. He thinks that no idea is original. It always stems from the ideas that have been already there. We take inspiration from everything around us from living to non-living things and then work around those ideas. This also supports the great Philosophers Aristotle’s claim that everything is an initiation of something else. A good artist always understands that nothing comes from nowhere. You try to copy something from a person you are influenced by and in doing so you will fail multiple times. This process will however open a door toward many ideas for you. Austin Kleon also presents solid steps that can be taken by artists so that they can enhance their creativity.

Steal Like an Artist Summary Key Points

Good Theft vs Bad Theft

Now that we have established that getting inspiration or copying is not bad let us discuss precisely what makes theft good and what makes it worse. While you can take ideas from anyone like your parents or great philosophers and from anything from books to movies you must learn to honor the person or the work. It is unethical to take an idea and then call it bad. If you don’t like something, drop it. Don’t go around discrediting and bad-mouthing other person’s ideas or work. Always study and research thoroughly, do not just skim. If you do not research your material you may end up at an entirely wrong or different perspective from the original artist. Also, credit the artist. Do not claim the work to be entirely yours. Try to look at the original idea from a different angle rather than taking it and copying it into your work as it. You can approach the same work from a different angle.  Take inspiration from a variety of people and sources. In this way, your work will be encompassing the ideas of many people who are valued thus increasing the quality of your work.

Let Go of Technology and Do Things the Old Way

As you might already know, technology hampers the functioning of our brain cells that are responsible for creativity. This is why the author advises you to do things off-screen that involve using your hands. He wants you to feel the process and get immersed in it. Sure, you can type faster on your laptop, erase and rewrite with a click but you will feel more satisfied when you have the product in your hands, the product that resulted from many torn pages thrown aside and canceling everything and writing over and over again. When you do things manually you engage all the areas of the brain that would not be stimulated otherwise. So now and then close Canva and Microsoft word. Paint and write with your hands. Or as Franz Kafka would put it: ‘Sit at your desk and Listen.’

If You Have More than One Passions, Keep Them All

Very often you must have been advised to pursue only one hobby or talent. So that you stay focused. Kleon here thinks otherwise. He advises his readers to make multiple hobbies a part of their lives. When you are procrastinating from work, you are putting your mind towards another direction so might as well be productive while procrastinating. Do not just pick hobbies that align with what you do with your life. For example, as a writer, you might push yourself to take on reading as a hobby, because it will enhance your writing skills. That is okay but if you want to paint or go skating you can do that too. Do not try to fit your hobbies into a box like you do with everything else in your life.

Make and Respect Your Audience

When you have begun to create art, do not hold it back. Publish that novel, display that painting. The worst that can happen is that you will receive some criticism. Take the criticism too with open arms and use it as motivation. As an artist, you will have a very little audience when you will start to publish your work. This is the time when you respect the people who are paying time and attention to your art. Respect what they have to say. You will find fresher perspectives and new ideas when you interact with people who have the same mind or tastes as you. So do not shy away from publishing your work.

Steal Like an Artist Quotes

“Surround yourself with books and objects that you love. Tape things up on the wall. Create your own world.” –Austin Kleon

“Nobody is born with a style or a voice. We don’t out of the womb knowing who we are. In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our heroes. We learn by copying.” –Austin Kleon

Steal Like an Artist Summary Review

Steal Like an Artist summary contains some of the excellent advice that you can come across on writing and painting or creating art in general. The author Austin Kleon is a writer who draws as well. Being relevant to both the art fields he excellently conveys the feelings of real artists who might be going through a creative block. He also helps his reader in transforming their ideas into the art of high value and credibility. Totally a fun and informative read. If you’re someone who wants to create art but struggles to find ideas, this book is bound to help you.

To Whom I Would Recommend Steal like an Artist Summary

  • To artists and writers suffering from creative block.
  • The fifteen-year-old self-learned girl who wants to paint but cannot find any inspiration to begin with.
  • To everyone who works in any creative field but struggles to find the fine line between imitation and plagiarism.