LIZZIE BOOK REVIEW 12: Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Welcome to the Lizzie Book Review for Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon

All Lizzie Book Reviews are a 3 minute read, and in this format:

  1. Why I Chose This Book.
  2. The Review (under 300 words)
  3. My scores for Creativity, Insight and Precision.
1. Why I Chose This Book.

I first came across this book at the Welcome Collection in London. The title got the better of my curiosity and I was immediately drawn in. An easy to hold book, this is something you can have in your bag or place on a book shelf at home.

QUOTE:  “If I’d waited to know who I was or what I was about before I started “being creative”, well, I’d still be sitting around figuring myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are” p27

2. The Review.

For someone who thought that you constantly needed to apply a new approach to things, this book opened my eyes. Perhaps you know all this and I am just naive and have such a tight integrity I wouldn’t want others to think I was taking their work. But now I know that is crazy. It is a combination of our knowledge, experience and how we digest it that makes us who we are. This book has minimal words but gets the point across succinctly and with tips you can use immediately.

I really like how the book uses everyday language to head up the chapters and no nonsense approaches that make accessing and more importantly practical for everyone. Ok so you may know most of what is in the book. But I bet you havent applied it in this way.

I’m a traditional non creative type (although I’m learning that creativity is what I love to do) and having these tips to find a new avenue in what I do is great. It seems that every page has a little gem on it. The layout of the book is art itself and from that learning how that can impact my own work. Its a book I’ll definitely will be dipping into now and again to nudge myself to keep going or try a different approach.

QUOTE: “We’re talking about practice here not plagiarism-plagiarism is trying to pass someone else’s work off as your own. Copying is about reverse – engineering. It’s like a mechanic taking apart a car to see how it works.” p33

3. My Scores for Creativity, Insight and Precision.

CREATIVITY – How interesting and innovative was it?
Creativity came in the form of its lay out and the approach to communicating some well founded ideas. The writing connects to all readers and its easily transferable. Have I heard all the ideas before? Probably. But its the innovative and creative approach that makes it engaging.


INSIGHT – What will it teach you?
There are lots of different things that you learn from this book. Tips that will get you moving. It means that the strategies you have been trying to align like ducks before you start can be pushed aside as you follow some tips like collecting ideas from those you like, practicing and then by the end of it you will have found your style. Find your way through starting not organising beforehand. Its about stealing the thinking behind the style not copying your heros’. its also about bringing ideas together from many heros not just one and transforming it.


PRECISION – How exactly can you apply what it teaches?

When and where you apply the tips, insights and patterns of thought you get from the book will be unique to you. Figure out what will work for you, what you are drawn to and what you admire. Be driven by your own curiosity and through that create your own focused education. Strategising, talking and committing to doing something doesn’t make things happen. The key thing is that you can start right now. Transforming your ideas from listening, practicing what others do and forming your own style.



QUOTE “It’s often what artists choose to leave out that makes the art interesting. What isn’t shown versus what is. It’s the same for people: What makes us interesting isn’t what we’ve experienced, but also what we haven’t experienced. the same is true when you do your work. You must embrace your limitations and keep moving. In the end, creativity isnt just the things we choose to put in, it’s the things we choose to leave out.” p140

Should I buy the book?

If you would like a book that gives you a brief background and shows you how:


If you would like a book with stories and long hand examples that you could twist a little to fit your context:


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