You have surely noticed there are people who come to your life unexpectedly to leave a mark and give you a lesson. I like to think that many (and maybe all) of them don't arrive by mere chance. We may have searched for them unconsciously. It's probably you don't know these people in person or you don't have direct contact with them, but you still feel this special connection through their work, publications and engagement. These kind of connections are really rare and that's why they are even more special. Many of them influence your life in a positive way and teach you a lesson time after time. For me, one of those many cases is Austin Kleon: "A writer who draws," just as he describes himself.
The way I discovered him was an usual one. I was just looking around in an online bookstore for some inspiration and trying to find a book that described how I was (creatively) feeling at that moment. Then I introduced the term "creativity" into the search bar expecting to become an immediate answer. Of course, it didn't happened! Instead appeared an endless list, like always and the expected answer wasn't there. Only one second and I was invaded by a rain of covers and titles. I have to admit I experimented a little bit of frustration, none the less I was willing to find what I was looking for. One disadvantage of the digital world is that you can't always look inside each book and when you can, you usually have access to only some pages (usually the ones with uninteresting content) and you have to settle for reading the review and criticism from some previous customers. While I was sliding the sidebar, appeared a title in white letters with a black background that turned the inspiration I was looking for into curiosity. On the cover, you could read: "Steal like an artist". I thought that guy was insane! He was just accepting, he steals ideas! Seconds later I found myself ordering the book along with the second one ("Show your Work") and as if it were Christmas, I waited with emotion and eagerness for the delivery...
"Steal like an artist" is one of the New York Times Best Sellers who does what he promises in the little words under his title: "Ten Things No One Has Told You About Being Creative". There are ten principles accompanied by illustrations, diagrams and fun stories that captivate from the beginning to end. A highly efficient book, easy and quick to read. So addictive for those who are constantly looking for inspiration that you'll surely appreciate the second publication. Definitely, one more reason to get both books together!
I do not even have to think twice about the part I like the most of the book. It stays just at the beginning and it's a warning: "This book is me talking to a previous version of myself". The previous page is even funnier! On it, you'll find a picture of Austin Kleon at the age of nineteen. It may be just a sentence, but at the moment I read it, it seemed to be written in imperative and I couldn't avoid thinking of me at that age, trying to put some words together in my mind and imagining what would I say to that version of me.
I continued reading it and my curiosity was growing and growing. It was just in the middle of the book when that curiosity was no longer just about the content but about the author (I have to mention that at that point I hadn't discovered there is a picture of Austin at the end of the book, so he was still an old man in my mind!) My new assignment was to look for a little more information about this guy. I have to admit I was shocked when I discovered these three and interesting points, one of them a disturbing one. Point number one: I was taking advice from someone of my generation! (When did that happen? Total Shock!). Point number two: Austin is a great artist and when you look at his work, you understand why he is "a writer who draws". These words are a perfect description of him. (Ok, this point is not disturbing, just interesting!). Point number three: The guy already had a book: "Newspaper Blackout", in which he cancels a bunch of words in newspaper articles and retains some of them composing poems. Something like recycling words. (You should better take a look at it by yourself here!).
If you know someone who needs to learn how to steal, he or she should definitely learn from Austin Kleon. Many creativity and creative people paradigms will break! It'll show you the "politically correct" way to make yours what inspires you and will take the guilt feeling away. It's definitely a "must have" if you are constantly looking for inspiration.
If you have already read Austin Kleon's books or are about to do so, do not hesitate to share your opinion! I would love to read your opinion!
Links and recommended bibliography: