In my industry, you go to a fair amount of conferences. Conferences that espouse to be truly amazing and value for money when in actual fact, they’re far from it. If I haven’t already read it in an industry article, then I may have already seen the speaker before – it’s a bleak world.
But what I do take away from these events are always the book recommendations from speakers I truly admire, and don’t get me wrong, there have been some real gems in the past that inspired me to do what I do today – personally and professionally.
One of these books that had been recommended was Austin Kleon’s ‘Steal Like An Artist’. I had definitely heard of him before, in fact, he came up once or twice in my Amazon recommends but I always thought it was one of these ‘destined to end up in a budget bin/charity shop’ books. How wrong was I!?
This book was a little bit of a revelation for me. It convinced me that what I’d been doing for years, creatively, was absolutely right – it made me feel like I belonged in a ‘creative’ mindset that I always felt a certain barrier to. I’ve found as you grow up and begin to define your career, it often feels like it’s all spreadsheet and analytics, a little less of the ‘fun stuff’.
However, reading this book felt like reading a manifesto I’d lived by or sought to live by my entire life. So, I fully encourage anyone who likes an easy but inspirational read to give it a go, and if you’re not yet convinced, then have a look at some of my favourite parts…
– Go to whatever lengths necessary to ensure you always have some paper on you for ideas, you never know when they may strike. Artist David Hockney had all the inside of his suit jackets tailored to fit a sketch pad.
– Keep a swipe file. It’s exactly what it sounds like – a file to keep track of all the things you’ve swiped from others. It can be digital or analog as long as it works. Newspaper reporters call this a Morgue file. Your morgue file is where you keep dead things that you’ll reanimate in your work.
“It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.” – Mark Twain
– Creative people need time to just sit around and be bored. Take time to mess around. Get lost. Wander. You never know where it’s going to leave you.
Artist Maira Kalman said “Avoiding work is the way to focus the mind.”
– Do good work and share it with people. There are no shortcuts to good work, fail, then get better. Then share it. But make the most of when you’re unknown. It’s easier to experiment. Do what you want and for the fun of it. You’ll never get that freedom back again once you’re known. Enjoy your obscurity while it lasts. Use it.
– Originality is depth and breadth of sources. Then you find your own mutations – misheard and imperfect. It’s best to always read. A book is a lens through which we see the world.
– All art is collaboration. Make things for people you want to meet. Make things for people you love. Influence is active, not passive.
– Steal from yourself – dreams and memories. There’s always inspiration to be found both in the past and in the unconscious.
Other books I’d recommend so far:
Do / Story by Bobette Buster
Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
Have you read it or any of these recommendations? Is there anything you’d advise me or others to read that’s in the same vein?