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

Steal Like an Artist pdfSteal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon pdf

Nothing is original

The writer Jonathan Lethem has said that when people call something “original,” nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references or the original sources involved.
What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.

It’s right there in the Bible: “There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
Some people find this idea depressing, but it fills me with hope. As the French writer Andre Gide put it, “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”

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.


• Steal Like an Artist
• Don’t Wait Until You Know Who You Are to Get Started
• Write the Book You Want to Read
• Use Your Hands
• Side Projects and Hobbies Are Important
• The Secret: Do Good Work and Share It with People
• Geography Is No Longer Our Master
• Be Nice (The World Is a Small Town.)
• Be Boring (It’s the Only Way to Get Work Done.)
• Creativity Is Subtraction

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn.”
—T. S. Eliot


‘What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.’
—William Ralph Inge

 All advice is autobiographical

It’s one of my theories that when people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past.
This book is me talking to a previous version of myself.
These are things I’ve learned over almost a decade of trying to figure out how to make art, but a funny thing happened when I started sharing them with others—I realized that they aren’t just for artists. They’re for everyone.

These ideas apply to anyone who’s trying to inject some creativity into their life and their work. (That should describe all of us.)
In other words: This book is for you.
Whoever you are, whatever you make.
Let’s get started….