I discovered a wonderful little book that you absolutely have to read. When I say little, I mean little. Your library has it if you don’t like to buy books. If you do like to buy books, it’s one that your collection yearns for.
That’s right, yearns.
The book is Austin Kleon’s “Steal Like an Artist” and it will both motivate and free you. He opens by telling us that in his opinion, anytime someone offers you advice, they are really saying what they would do now, in your position. There’s a bit of obvious but undiscovered truth there and it sets the tone for the rest of the book.
The book itself is pocket sized and doesn’t feel any pressure to fill the pages with words. What is there is good. What isn’t there wasn’t needed. Illustrations, charts, and balloon quotes all get their own pages.
It isn’t because he doesn’t have much to say or needs filler. It’s to control your pace as you read. It’s the printed version of my mother-in-law’s apple pie. You take a bite and just let it sit there for a minute making your mouth happy.
Essentially what Kleon does is articulate, artfully, the difference between inspiration and plagiarism. His arguments may not stand up in court but they will give you permission to enjoy your creative passions more fully.
And that is the goal of the book – to encourage you to make art that you like. He breaks convention and says, “Don’t write what you know, write what you want to read.”
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