Steal Like an Artist Austin Kleon: Summary and Lessons

“In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our heroes. We learn by copying”

Dan Silvestre

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“Nobody is born with a style or a voice. We don’t come out of the womb knowing who we are. In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our heroes. We learn by copying.”

Rating: 10/10

Related: Show Your Work!, Keep Going, The War of Art, Ignore Everybody, The Practice, The Creative Habit

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Steal Like an Artist Short Summary

One of my favorites books about creativity in the digital age. In Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon argues that nothing is original and all artists steal. By embracing your influences, you’ll become a master of your craft by learning from your heroes.

1. Steal Like an Artist

“Art is theft.”-Pablo Picasso

All artists steal. First, they figure out what’s worth stealing, then they move on to the next thing.

When you look at the world this way, you stop worrying about what’s “good” or “bad”- there’s only stuff worth or not worth stealing.

You stop trying to make something out of nothing, and embrace influence instead of running away from it.

Good artists know nothing is original. All creative work builds on what came before. Every new idea is a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas.

You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with. So your job is to collect good ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by.

The artist is a selective collector of the things they love. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.

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Dan Silvestre

Performance coach helping leaders get the right things done with less effort than anything they've tried before. Join 20k+ readers: newsletter.dansilvestre.com