How To Steal Like An Artist

by Laughing Stock on February 22, 2012

In his soon to be published book, Steal Like An Artist, author and artist, Austin Kleon, takes artistic truisms and delivers them with simplicity, humor & open heartedness, creating a delightful  guide to nurture and inspire our the creative mind.



He sets out his manifesto and expands the points on his blog :

First and formost:

1. Steal like an artist. 

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

The honest artist answers, “I steal them.”

Figure out what’s worth stealing. Move on to the next thing.

That’s about all there is to it.

Here’s what artists understand. It’s a three-word sentence that fills me with hope every time I read it:

Nothing is original.

It says it right there in the Bible. Ecclesiastes:

That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.

Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of previous ideas.

You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences. The German writer Goethe said, “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”

An artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there’s a difference: hoarders collect indiscriminately, the artist collects selectively. They only collect things that they really love.

I think the same thing is true of our idea incomes. You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.

Your job is to collect ideas. The best way to collect ideas is to read. Read, read, read, read, read. Read the newspaper. Read the weather. Read the signs on the road. Read the faces of strangers. The more you read, the more you can choose to be influenced by.

Steal things and save them for later. Carry around a sketchpad. Write in your books. Tear things out of magazines and collage them in your scrapbook.

Steal like an artist.

There’s much more on his blog, expanding on each point and enriching the conversation. If you like his article, he assures us we’ll love the book. I think so.


What are the (re)inventive illustrators at Laughing Stock remixing now??


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rheo May 6, 2012 at 9:55 am

Nothing is original – so true. Hence the favorite question asked Artists – Which artists inspired you? It’s all been done before so you might as well go on and do it again. This time, you can add your own spin.

Nice post.

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