A colleague at work told me about the book: “Steal Like An Artist” by Austin Kleon. I read it a few weeks ago. It is such a great book. It reads a bit like a Hugh MacLeod book (see gapingvoid.com). There are so many inspiring ideas in this quick read. You can easily read it in an afternoon.
Ever since I read it, the idea of “Steal Like An Artist” has come up often in the last few weeks. Leveraging ideas that have already been put forth, but altering or updating for a specific audience. For example, infographics are all over the Internet. Many companies and individuals use the “infographic” idea and repurpose them for the needs of their audience. Infographics are a compelling way to break down a story and show a visual image of the data and details in a consumable way. Does that mean that we are plagiarizing or stealing the idea? No, it means that a good idea can be transferred, altered, and made better with each use.
An example Kleon shares is with art and painting. When we are young and are taught how to paint, we look at the great painters, Pollock, Klee, Picasso, etc. We look at their form, color, and technique. We make our own paintings by trying out what these famous painters did. We find our own technique and skill. We might not have ever learned to paint without stealing from these artists. Kleon goes on to clarify that there is a difference between taking a poem word for word, which is plagiarizing, and using a poem to inspire one of your own.
Above is one of my recent paintings. I cannot decide if I am done with it or not. I have loved learning from artists that have come before me. “Steal Like An Artist” is a definite must read!