Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Artist is a Collector

If I could have written a book about creativity, I wish I would have written this one:

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

It takes only an hour or so to read.

Unless, like me, you have to stop to really think about the messages that he delivers so simplistically.

The book is full of insight, historical reference, brief vignettes, and starts with this quote from Pablo Picasso:

 "All art is theft."

Nothing is original.  All creative work builds on what came before.

As artists we are collectors...and we are shaped and fashioned by what we love and what we surround ourselves with.

Kleon says:
“Some people find this idea depressing, but it fills me with hope…If we’re free from the burden of trying to be completely original, we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running away from it.”
And by stealing, he's not implying plagiarism where you try to pass someone else's work as your, not that. But instead, borrowing ideas that speak to our souls and transforming them into our own personal creative expression.  It's about Transformation not Imitation.
“Copy your heroes. Examine where you fall short. What’s in there that makes you different? That’s what you should amplify and transform into your own work.”
And yet we do imitate when we're learning.  We take classes, we reproduce and follow patterns created by other designers, we copy their work processes...all to learn.  And, as Kleon says:
"It's in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are".  
Yes.  That's it, exactly.

In fact, after reading each of Kleon's 10 things, I felt like jumping up and shouting "Yes!!" to each one. I saw myself in and on every page.

Some more faves:
Side projects and hobbies are important.  Mess around. Wander. Get lost.  Don't throw any of yourself away.  Keep all your passions in your life. 
Don't worry about unity.  What unifies your work is the fact that you made it. 
Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time.  Work gets done in the time available. 
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  Build the products you want to use.

And the list goes on and on.  It's better if you just read it yourself.  And if you do, I'd love to know what you think of it.

If you're interested, here's a TED talk by the author on Steal Like an Artist here.  And he has a blog here.  Have a great day!


Shirlee Fassell said...

I AM JUMPING UP AND DOWN!! YES YES YES. Thank you for blogging this book.

Rachel said...

Absolutely. Play, ponder, and then do it all again. I shall go looking for this book!

FlowerLady said...

This sounds like a book I would really enjoy reading. Thanks for your snippets and thoughts on this book.

Hugs ~ FlowerLady

Roberta said...

I agree. it is a great read. Lots of food for thought!

Sweetpea said...

Thank you for the reminder, Susan..I've had this on my list but now I'm going to bump it up to the top. Seems a perfect time of year for this read, when outside work winds down and lots of time opens up for stitch & beads. Really like the quotes you chose to highlight here...

Createology said...

We humans always think we are so unique and original...Not So. Someone somewhere has already done whatever we are doing. It merely gets tweaked and altered a bit here and there. This is a wonderful post and I shall look for this book. I just watched his TED video. Thank you Susan for sharing this.

Allison Aller said...

What if you renounce being an "artist" entirely? Now that is a kind of freedom I like....
Thank you as always for your thoughtful posts... xoxo

Jillayne said...

I love the idea of this book and am definitely going to read it. Embracing and acknowledging the inspiration we see is the best way to honour what others have done. I feel like it's a springboard, and will set me off on my own journey, flying free but having had a good boost.
Your blog posts are always inspiring Susan!

Anonymous said...

Soooo true. Its nice to hear it said out loud. The beauty of this is when we don't have to keep re-inventing the wheel, we end up with a car instead of a lot of wheels.

Starr White said...

Wasn't it Shakespeare who said "There is nothing new under the sun" ? Well, somebody said it, and boy is it true. I am thankful for artists like you Susan who share their knowledge with those of us who are trying to learn how to find our own way to express ourselves. You're a wonderful teacher. Thank you for sharing :)

Sandra Henderson said...

Oh wow!~ I have ordered this book and can not wait to read it. THANK YOU!~ Will report! I NEEDED a book like this...

Catherine said...

Thanks or sharing! I will have to put this on my wish list!

JennyPennyPoppy said...

Thanks for recommending this neat sounding book! Our library has it and I just put a hold on it. Thanks for the TED and blog links as well :)

elmsley rose said...

Getting it on Interlibrary loan....thanks

Dawn said...

I was lucky enough to see him interviewed here in Seattle a few weeks ago. Very inspiring and yes, a great book. Can't wait for his next one!

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