Monday, November 20, 2017

Steal Like An Artist - Austin Kleon

I love this book. Truly love this book.

It is Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. It's an adorable format: 6-inch x 6-inch size with lots of doodles and drawings and tips. There are 10 chapters based on 10 tips to 'unlock your creativity'. My absolute favourite chapter is #4: Use Your Hands.

Kleon has two desks in his office. One is analog and one is digital. The analog desk is not allowed to have anything electronic on it. Instead, it is filled with markers, paper, newspaper, index cards. The digital desk has his electronics.

He says that "The computer brings out the uptight perfectionist in us -- we start editing ideas before we have them" and suggests that we create first, and then bring our pieces to the computer for editing and finishing.

This idea really resonates with me. Not to mention that once I get on the computer, I seem to get sucked into facebook and every thought of mine that needs to instantly be researched. Not terribly productive.

At the end of the book, he has a "What Now?" section where he suggests that you give a copy of his book away. I can't do it. This is the third time I've read it (it's a pretty quick read - 140 half pages, many of which are lists or drawings) and I get something out of it each time.

I recently listened to his TEDx Talk KC about this topic and gleaned a few more nuggets from that.

He believes that nothing is original. "Every new idea is just a remix or a mashup of 1 or 2 previous ideas." Takes the pressure off of having to come up with something nobody has done or seen before, doesn't it? He goes on to list some of the sources of ideas: friends, books, music, movies, cities you visit. On and on.


You cannot, however, rehash previous ideas without first paying attention to them and collecting them. Kleon suggests carrying around a notebook (digital or paper) to record everything that appeals to you: phrases, photos, lyrics, thoughts, conversations, doodles, whatever. Only by compiling a library of potential tidbits, can you bring those thoughts together in new ways and into new art.

"It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you're doing." Steve Jobs

And finally, he suggests when stealing from other artists, "take something from them but bring it back to your desk, take it back to where you do your work, combine it with your own ideas and your thoughts, transfer and form it into something completely new and then put it out into the world, so we can steal from you."

As Kleon suggests on his webpage, this blurb is copied and pasted from his website:

Austin Kleon is the New York Times bestselling author of three illustrated books: Steal Like An ArtistNewspaper Blackout, and Show Your Work! His latest release is The Steal Like An Artist Journal: A Notebook For Creative Kleptomaniacs. His work has been translated into over twenty languages and featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, PBS Newshour, and in The New York Times and The Wall Street JournalNew York Magazine called his work “brilliant,” The Atlantic called him “positively one of the most interesting people on the Internet,” and The New Yorkersaid his poems “resurrect the newspaper when everybody else is declaring it dead.” He speaks about creativity in the digital age for organizations such as Pixar, Google, SXSW, TEDx, and The Economist. He grew up in the cornfields of Ohio, but now he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and sons. Visit him online at

Monday, November 13, 2017

Starting Again - How to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

I haven't been writing. At all. I can't even seem to make myself do morning pages. When I looked at my journal this morning, I had written the date and nothing more for the last three entries. And none of those dates were consecutive.

Nothing in the well.

I've read about artist's dates and purposely doing outside activities to replenish the source of creativity, but somehow, nothing is working.

Iv'e noticed something else though, when my writing seriously dried up, I had also stopped painting and playing in my studio. No art journalling, no art classes, nothing. Coincidence? I'm thinking not.

So, here's the plan. Every day for the next 30 days, I am going to wake up and paint something or draw something, and then I'm going to write. My thought is that by feeding my artist's spirit with the gift of creativity prior to writing, well, the muse will be pleased and she will help the words come forth.

In addition to this new practice, I plan on sharing some creativity resources with you, once a week, on Mondays. There are so many tips and philosophies on how to be more creative, I think we could all benefit from examining them more closely.

Are you having difficulties with your creative expression? Does this sound interesting? I would love it if you would join me. Tomorrow morning, I'll post the art on Facebook and then follow-up with the writing the following morning. Please feel free to post your art or writing pics on the Facebook page as you make it through.

Friday, July 15, 2016

You're Going To Die

You're going to die.

Let that settle for a second. I'll wait.

You are going to die one day. We all are. Obviously. So why am I sharing that piece of not-so-new news with you? Because I actually heard that (I mean really heard it) a few months ago. I heard it, in a place where it resonated. I am going to die and what will I have done? What will I have to show for it? What will I be proud of having done? What will I regret doing or not doing?

I am going to die.

I'm not sure why now, but this was a bit of a kick in the pants for me. I have been about to become a writer, about to become an artist, about to get in shape, about to commit to my ethics, about to spend more time with my family and friends,...about to do a lot of things, for some time now. But I haven't actually done those things.

Until now.

Until I accepted into my heart and my soul and my mind, that I am going to die. And it scared me.

So where do you think I started? If you look at that list of things that I have been about to do at any moment, where do you think I started?


Ha ha. That surprised you, didn't it? It surprised me a bit too, but I was looking for something exciting, interesting, something to make me feel more alive because man oh man, I was feeling bogged down with adulty life things. I really needed to let loose a bit and try something new, something that scared me. And it was boxing.

And I'm so glad that I did. I love, love, love it.

The first three weeks, I was unable to lift my arms over my head which made life much more difficult. But slowly (excruciatingly slowly) with massage, chiropractor, and physiotherapy appointments (I am so not kidding), I was able to work through the debilitating pain and get stronger. Stronger. Yay.

I am still the weakest person in the class to be sure, but at 48 years old, I'm okay with that. I won't be competing or fighting or becoming involved in a bar brawl, but I have done this uncomfortable thing. This thing where I am the oldest person in the room, the most out of shape person in the room, the most uncoordinated (I could go on),...I did a really hard thing and I'm so proud of myself.

And I feel like this is the start of a bunch of hard, uncomfortable things that I am set to do now. So maybe, just maybe, when I do come to the end, I will be proud and satisfied, content with the choices I made, the accomplishments I garnered. Sigh. Just maybe.

What about you? Is this something that is a struggle for you also?