Posted on: May 6, 2021 Posted by: Stuti Shiva Comments: 0
photo of a woman sitting beside statue

Sharing is caring!

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

The essence of this book is in it’s quotes !

“Modern art = I could do that + Yeah, but you didn’t.”

—Craig Damrauer”

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn.”

—T. S. Eliot

“Art is theft.”

—Pablo Picasso”

“The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.”

—David Bowie”

“What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.”

—William Ralph Inge”

“Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.”

—Jim Jarmusch”

“Whether I went to school or not, I would always study.”


“It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.”

—Mark Twain

“You start out as a phony and become real.”

—Glenn O’Brien”

“Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find your self.”

—Yohji Yamamoto”

“We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we do know is that we do not get them from our laptops.”

—John Cleese”

“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”

—Jessica Hische”

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards.”

—Steve Jobs”

“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

—Howard Aiken”

“There’s only one rule I know of: You’ve got to be kind.”

—Kurt Vonnegut”

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

—Gustave Flaubert”

“Telling yourself you have all the time in the world, all the money in the world, all the colors in the palette, anything you want—that just kills creativity.”

—Jack White

a writing on the wall
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

What’s it about?

Steal like an artist: (2012) is a tongue in cheek book about how to not get bogged down by the fact that all art you create has to be original. Everything is up for grabs. It’s more a process, like a sum total of one or more previous ideas. The author uses the analogy he calls “The Genealogy of Ideas” :

“A good example is genetics. You have a mother and you have a father. You possess features from both of them, but the sum of you is bigger than their parts. You’re a remix of your mom and dad and all of your ancestors.”

No artist creates their work in vacuum : all art is influenced by the art that came before it.

“Every artist gets asked the question,
“Where do you get your ideas?”

The honest artist answers,
“I steal them.”

person sitting facing laptop computer with sketch pad
Photo by OVAN on

Key Ideas

10 things nobody told you about being creative.

  • There’s no such thing as completely original art. Everything is up for grabs. If you don’t find something worth stealing today, you might find it worth stealing tomorrow or a month or a year from now”
  • Start by imitating your heroes, and finish by emulating them. it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are. Nobody is born with a style or a voice. We learn by copying.Musicians learn to play by practicing scales. Painters learn to paint by reproducing masterpieces.
Excerpt From: Steal Like an Artist. “Austin Kleon”
  • Write the Book you want to read, draw the art you want to see; start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear~ Excerpt From: Steal Like an Artist.

Learn to use your hand. “In the digital age, don’t forget to use your digits!” Your hands are the original digital devices. Use them.”

  • Don’t abandon your hobbies and side projects when you refocus your life on art. If you have two or three real passions, don’t feel like you have to pick and choose between them. Don’t discard. Keep all your passions.

  • Share your work with others to become well~known, but also enjoy the benefits of obscurity first.There is no secret formula for success : Just do good work and there are no shortcuts.
  • Change is the only thing constant. At some point, when you can do it, you have to leave home. You can always come back, but you have to leave at least once. Complacency is the killer of creativity. Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable.
  • Make friends and ignore enemies. Surround yourself with good people—the people who are way smarter and better than you, the people who are doing the really interesting work. Don’t let social media get you all fuelled up! Channel that anger towards something creative. Instead of wasting your anger on complaining or lashing out at people, try to channel it into your writing and drawing.

And the best of all advice in this book is the romantic notion of a creative genius, which is overrated !

Doing drugs and running around and sleeping with everyone is played out. It’s for the superhuman and the people who want to die young. The thing is: It takes a lot of energy to be creative. You don’t have that energy if you waste it on other stuff.” Excerpt From: Steal Like an Artist.

What Now?

The author has some sane advice for all of us ~

Talk a walk
Start your swipe file
Go to the library
Buy a notebook and use it
Get yourself a calendar
Start your logbook
Give a copy of this book away
Start a blog
Take a nap

So what are you waiting for: Get going~ chop, chop !

About the Author

Image courtesy CEO Library

Austin Kleon is an artist, writer and port. His work has been featured in Wall Street Journal and Morning Edition, and he recently published Show your Work!, Keep Going and a book of poetry titled Newspaper Blackout.

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered (Austin Kleon)

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad (Austin Kleon)

My Personal Planner: A beautiful poppy field on a sunny day personal planner. A must have to plan your day, jot down things on the go; from recipes to … for your friend, mom, sister and daughter

Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.

Leave a Comment