Austin Kleon: Steal like an artist

This little book was recommended to me by Kate, a fellow OCA student, and I in turn now recommend it to others. A light-hearted self-help book for creatives of any kind, it contains plenty of helpful advice – all of which Kleon advises the reader to take or leave as they see fit. For me personally the best tip was to think of other people’s work as a resource to build on. “Nothing is original,” Kleon points out. “All creative work builds on what came before. […] 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.” This single insight has shifted my understanding of research for OCA assignments from being a chore to being source material for my own ideas. Not only had I previously seen research as a kind of box-ticking exercise designed to prove that I understood the context of my own work, but I’d actually been reluctant to look at other people’s work before coming up with my own ideas for an assignment because I felt obliged not to copy their ideas so felt it would be better not to know about them rather than find myself restricted. Understanding that the opposite is true has been really empowering and I’m grateful to both Austin Kleon and Kate for putting me on the right track.

References and resources

Kleon, A. (2012) Steal Like an Artist. New York: Workman Publishing Inc.