I have just read THE MOST BRLLIANT book! “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon (www.austinkleon.com) is a sort of motivational ‘how to’ book, but at the same time it’s not!
Kleon’s style of writing is straightforward and to the point, he makes some interesting points about being an artist (or indeed a creative of any kind) such as the question about getting yourself ‘known’ as an artist,there is no magic formula as Kleon says “It’s a two-step process. “Step one – do good work is incredibly hard. There are no shortcuts. Make stuff everyday. Know you are going to suck for a while. Fail. Get better. Step two, share it with people…….. put it on the internet.”
“Enjoy your obscurity for a while, use it”
in this small but useful tome (approximately 150 pages, so easily readable in your lunch break) Kleon makes what are really blindingly obvious observations about the creative process, but which most of us creative people somehow manage to either forget or block out from our mindset. Statements like ‘Nothing is Original’ are supported by a biblical reference (“There is nothing new under the sun” Ecclesiastes 1:9) – which I guess must mean that it is true – as well as quotations on the point from people such as the german writer Goethe, the French writer Andre Gide and the Victorian writer and Dean of St Paul’s William Ralph Inge. Each chapter is superbly illustrated by a piece of Kleon’s text-based artwork and each point he raises is supported by quotes and good old-fashioned common sense.
As someone who has been struggling with my own artistic identity for some while, and especially after graduating from my Fine Art degree which I genuinely feel dismantled all my ideas and previously held beliefs about art, and then failed to reassemble me in a working format, leaving me full of doubt and no confidence in my work and ideas. Reading this small but useful book has made the scales fall from my eyes, I don’t need ‘permission’ to make my work and whatever I make is valid, some people will like it and others will not. One of the biggest ‘issues’ for me has been the idea that was planted in my head that everything had to have a deep (and to most people) unintelligible meaning. This nifty little cartoon made me smile and put things into perspective…
It’s all about communication really, art should ‘speak’ to you in some way, but we are all different.
The ‘Life of a Project’ timeline made me laugh out loud, everyone creative or otherwise must have experienced this at sometime…
I have been treading water somewhere between ‘this sucks and its boring’ and ‘the dark night of the soul’ sections for some time; after reading this book I am ready to accept that maybe my next project isn’t ‘the best idea EVER’, but its my idea and I’m going with it!
One of the visiting lecturers at university used to talk about creating your own little Creative Family. By that he meant that you pick two or three artists that you admire, and find out more about them and who inspired them, these people (living or dead) then become sort of aunts, uncles and cousins in your Creative Extended Family, and like in any family there are inevitably fallings out or losing touch with one another – this gives you the opportunity to reassess who is ‘in’ and who is not, and also to welcome new ‘family’ members you may have just discovered. Kleon also makes this same point in his book. Sound advice.
Little gems like keeping a ‘praise file’ emails, letters, press clippings whatever as long as it is good things about your work is a great confidence booster. Getting ‘out there’ into the online community helps you to share your ideas just as much as the more conventional exhibition. But for me, the best piece of advice is on the image below –
I don’t need permission to make my work, for some strange reason I just thought I did!
If ‘artist block’ or a lack of confidence in making your work is troubling you, get this book. It is full of great drawings, sound advice (and yes, you can choose to take it or leave it, it is only advice after all) all written in a chatty and engaging manner – the BEST!