Refactoring Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist

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  • Nothing is original.
    • Original is usually what you call things when you don’t know what preceded it
    • Screw imposter syndrome. Fake it til you make it.
    • All the world’s a stage

Creativity Loop

  • Collect ideas
    • Thoroughly study the thinkers and artists that inspire you. Branch to their inspiration
    • “Build your own family tree”. “See yourself as part of a creative lineage”. Hang pictures of them in your studio. You are not alone.
    • Surround yourself by people more talented than you. You are the average of the 5 people you are closest with. “If you are the most talented person in a room, you need to find another room”.
  • Remix
    • We learn by copying. When copying you are seeking a glimpse into your hero’s mind.
    • In failing to faithfully copy you will find your own voice. That unique part is what you amplify.
    • Your remixed ideas will be blended in a unique way
    • This is a reason to not discard periphery interests. You cannot predict the interactions of your interests. “Don’t worry about unity”
  • Produce what you want to see exist
    • Don’t write what you know. Write what you like.
  • Share
    • Be grateful for obscurity when you have it. It’s a safe space to take risks. Use it.
    • There’s no penalty for revealing your secrets. You are not a magician.
    • The internet is not just a destination for your work but a place to iterate and develop your work.
    • Share your dots but don’t connect them.
    • Don’t look for validation. You can’t control how your work is received. Plus people may not come around to your work while you still care about it (or until you’re dead)

Tips for the journey

  • Bring your body into your work.
    • Move. Your nerves are not a one-way street.
    • Analog tools engage your senses.
    • The computer is great for editing but not creating. It edits ideas before they can blossom. Cartoonist Tom Gauld, “things are on an inevitable path to being finished. In my sketchbook, the possibilities are endless.”
    • 2 workstations if possible: a digital one and a purely analog one
    • Take time to be bored and let your mind wander
  • Routine
    • Day jobs that leave you time to work on your projects give you structure. They also surround you with people to learn from.
    • Work gets done in the time available. No holidays, no excuses. Don’t stop.
    • “Inertia is the death of creativity You have to stay in the groove”
    • “Get a calendar. Fill the boxes. Don’t break the chain”
  • Embrace constraint
    • Jack White advice — don’t wait until you have all the equipment or time
    • “Nothing is more paralyzing than the idea of limitless possibilities”
    • Green Eggs and Ham was the result of a bet that Seuss couldn’t write a book with under 50 words
    • Creativity is about what we choose to leave out as much as what we choose to include

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