Archive for January 15th, 2015

Reading: Steal like an artist

Kleon, A. (2012) Steal like an artist: 10 things nobody told you about being creative. New York: Workman publishing company

This book is on the reading list for my next course, Mixed Media for Textiles, so I’m getting a headstart while waiting for the course’s release. You can get a good idea of the contents from the author’s blog, http://austinkleon.com/.

The book is a fun, quick, entertaining read. There are cute little drawings and quirky hand-written headings and catchy, brisk nuggets of information. I chuckled and nodded in agreement or raised my eyebrows and thought “this one’s not for me”. It would perhaps be easy to skim through in a couple of hours and move on little changed. Or perhaps not. I can see a few changes in myself, and I think if over time I flip through the book now and then I’ll see a few more.

For example a logbook (see http://austinkleon.com/2015/01/12/six-years-of-logbooks/). I have this blog, and various record books of dye mixes, workshop notes, sketchbooks… I’ve started a logbook along Kleon’s suggested line and after 10 days’ experience feel really positive about it. It’s quick and easy, has become quite natural and – I’ll have to see how it develops but it’s already been useful when the short-term memory blanks.

The whole idea of “stealing” – that’s what we do. Keep collecting new ideas, lots of them, copy other people’s work, let them influence you. “You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes” (p. 36). Where your copies are different, where you’ve added something yourself, is where you’ll find your own work.

A new approach to time – “Creative people need time to just sit around and do nothing” (p. 67). Who’d think that being bored is valuable. But for me it pinpoints a danger with part-time college work. Rush and push and set a deadline and tick boxes … and the quality of work suffers and the joy suffers. At times I need to push, but at times I need to step away and mess around and give the back of my brain and my eyes and hands a chance to mull.

That’s three things from this round of reading the book. That’s plenty to be going on with.


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