Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon, 3/5
This is a helpful little book for anyone who struggles with the culture of self-obsession and inauthenticity that the Instagram era seems to encourage. Social networking can be a great tool for creating opportunities and growing business, but for some people, their internet persona easily takes on a faux life of its own that stifles real, personal growth.
Kleon addresses this issue in part by shifting the focus from product (ultimately, your ideal version of self) to process (your life experiences). Instead of just showing your artwork, you show your art work (33): the real-life, behind-the-scenes depiction of what you learn about what you love, in the spirit of true sharing not self-aggrandisement. His approach is genuine, carefree, messy, organic and much more likely to stimulate personal and professional growth, as well as lasting and meaningful connections with others, than any contrived attempt to impress could achieve.
While the book’s organization is a bit all over the place, it loosely expands on the following 10 rules:
- You don’t have to be a genius.
- Think process, not product.
- Share something small every day.
- Open up your cabinet of curiosities.
- Tell good stories.
- Teach what you know.
- Don’t turn into human spam.
- Learn to take a punch.
- Sell out.
- Stick around.
Why I read it: My library was discarding it and I remembered liking Kleon’s previous book.
Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon, 5/5
The 10 points about creativity that form the backbone of this little book are deceptively simple (even unimpressive) at first glance. Happily, my first impression was wrong–the author uses this list merely as a starting point for an encouraging and inspiring discussion about artistic creativity. Reading this book first normalised, then challenged, many of the negative feelings that have caused me in the past to describe myself as an uncreative person.
- Steal like an artist.
It’s refreshing to hear someone creative admit that “every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas” (9).
- Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.
- Write the book you want to read.
This is so much more inspiring than the advice to “write what you know.”
- Use your hands.
- Side projects and hobbies are important.
Having a wide variety of interests can be difficult and it’s sometimes tempting to feel like a loser for not focusing on just one. Kleon doesn’t make a particularly convincing case for his advice of “don’t throw any of yourself away” (68), but I do like the idea that “what unifies your work is the fact that you made it” (72).
- The secret: Do good work and share it with people.
- Geography is no longer our master.
- Be nice. (The world is a small town.)
- Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)
It may not be living the dream, but having a boring day job can give you the financial freedom to pursue creative endeavors. Kleon points out that, contrary to instinct, “establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time” when it comes to being creative (124).
- Creativity is subtraction.
Why I read it: Imgur user morganic mentioned this book in a comment on a photography post.