Stealing the right way – By @LeonoreLeitner

By Leonore Leitner


Stealing the right way

I’ve finally been reading ‘Steal like an artist’ by Austin Kleon. A lot of the things he says in there are tips some of our mentors already gave us in the past couple of months. But even if some of them are not new for us anymore, still it was very refreshing to be reminded of them. So I thought I’d use this SCAB to share a quick summary of all the great advice Kleon gave in his book.

For myself, fellow students, future students.

Steal like an artist

All creative work builds on what came before, so nothing is completely original. New ideas are a mashup of one or more previous ideas.
Which leads to the artist as a collector. He is a collector though, not a hoarder. Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artist collect selectively. And you’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with. So collect good ideas.

Start copying – nobody is born with a style or a voice. We learn by copying. So start copying what you love, your heroes. But don’t just imitate, emulate! And examine where you fall short.

School yourself. Be curious about the world you live in and google everything. Always be reading a book and carry a notebook and a pen with you wherever you go.

Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.

In the act of making things and doing our work we figure out who we are. You might be scared to start, but that’s natural. It’s called the infamous ‘imposter syndrome’.
And if you feel like you don’t have any idea what you’re doing, according to Kleon nobody in the creative field knows where the good stuff comes from. Everyone’s just showing up and doing their thing. How reassuring.

Use your hands & step away from the screen

The computer is really good for editing ideas, and for getting them ready to be published to the world. But it’s not good for generating ideas. So hands first! Then computer, then hands, then computer, in an analog-to-digital loop.

Try to find a way to bring your body into your work. Work while you’re standing, moving, using your hands. Because bodies can tell our brains as much as our brains tell our bodies.

Practice productive procrastination.

The work you do when you’re procrastinating is probably the best one. It’s good to have a lot of projects going on at once, so you can bounce between them. Instead of scrolling through social media when you procrastinate, use your procrastination wisely.

And keep all of the passions in your life. Don’t stop doing them and never only do one thing in life. Let your passions talk to each other.

Do good work and share it with people

There are no shortcuts for good work, you have to make stuff every day, fail and get better. But once you’ve done some, make sure you share it. Put your stuff on the internet!

Also share your passions. The more open you are about sharing your passions, the closer people will feel to your work.

Build your own world

If you’re not happy with the world you live in, build your own world around you. Surround yourself with books and objects that you love. And people that you admire. You’re only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with. Also in the digital space, so follow the best people online – people that are smarter and better than you are.

A quote I really love says ‘If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room’.

Leave home

At least at one point in your life you have to leave home. Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surrounding. You have to get uncomfortable, spending time in another land with people who do things differently than you do, to make your brain work harder.

Get yourself a calendar

Get a calendar that shows the whole year, then break your work into daily junks. Each day when you’re finished with your work, make a x in the day’s box. Small steps to reach your goal.

Creativity is subtraction

Choose what to leave out, because the right constraints can lead to your very best work.

A great example is Dr. Seuss. He had a bet with his editor, who said he couldn’t write a book with only 50 different words. But Dr. Seuss could. And his book Green Eggs and Ham was one of the best selling children’s books of all time.

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