I resisted purchasing this book for years… honestly, I was completely fooled by the title. A huge fan of “Art and Fear” by David Bayles and Ted Orland I was never disappointed the I picked up that book. No matter which page I opened it to at random words of wisdom, reassurance and inspiration were available. I own two hard copies and the electronic edition, so I always have sound advice at my fingertips.
By now you are asking, “why did she decide to check out Steal Like and Artist? I saw a hard-copy on my friend’s studio book shelf and while browsing for it online I decided to give this book a chance. I downloaded it (in my opinion for a price that is much too high for an electronic version…) with the intention to apply a discount code that was issued for my loyalty to the app. Well, KOBO is famous for luring you in to check out their books and apply their fabulous discount code – which seem to only work on romance novels. My life is too short to spend money and time on predictable romance novels – but I digress.
“Steal Like and Artist” is an easy and quick read. And the information is not new. However, the book pulled me in quickly with the sound information it provides. Kleon states “What a good artist understands s that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.” His theory that the artist is a collector. Some artists might consider themselves hoarders, but there is big difference between the two. “The hoarder collects indiscriminately, artists collect selectively”
Kleon encourages to study everything there is about one artist, writer, thinker… then to move on and find three contemporaries the subject matter admired and study these. There will be time that you implement what you have learned and begin to branch out on your own path. This suggested practice reminded me vividly of the way I teach in my design classes. The advanced class is encouraged to do just that: find an artist or an architect and find out everything they can about the chosen subject. In sharing their findings with one another they open up further paths to explore… and soon the information is transformed into a new body of work.
I have changed my mind about Austin Kleon’s book. His philosophy is sound and insights shared originate from his own experiences as an artist and a writer. In the chapter “School Yourself” he states “School is one thing. Education is another…You have to be curious about the world in which you live. Look things up, Chase on every reference. Go deeper than anybody else – that’s how you’ll get ahead…”
The contents of this book were not new but each chapter clearly reminded me of what I have missed the most over the past three years of constant sharing in my classes and workshops: I have not had a chance to immerse myself in new studies. I have not taken time to dig deeper an learn new things just for myself.
In conclusion I admit freely: I am glad I purchased the book. It is worth every penny and I encourage you to look for your own copy. Check used books stores to save a few dollars! And if you own a copy, pull it off the shelf and read it again… It will light a fire within and will inspire new ideas and may even lead you to a new path in your art making.
I have gone so far to download “Show Your Work” by the same author… stay tuned for a book review. It is already shaping up to be a good read!