Books: Steal Like an Artist

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

Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist is a must-read for any aspiring creative, whether in writing, music, visual arts or game design. It contains a brief but profound manifesto:


Each of these statements contains a wealth of sensible advice for cultivating your own creativity. We live in a society which still regards creativity as some kind of divine inspiration available only by chance to the chosen few. The truth is much more mundane and practical. Most creativity is, as the title of the book suggests, merely theft. As it is said, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.“. But stealing is selective, as Kleon explains:

“The artist is a collector. Not a hoarder mind you, there’s a difference: Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artists collect selectively. They only collect things they really love.”

Everything is remix. There is nothing new under the sun. But the artist can create something new by taking all the things she loves and mashing them together in a way that expresses her personal voice.

If I may make a personal aside, it worries me sometimes that our games programs at colleges and universities are too narrow, to tightly focused on games and only games. I was excited recently to hear Tim Schafer explain how Brütal Legend and Psychonauts were inspired by side courses he took at University in anthropology and the psychology of dreams. Had he been a CS student at my university he might have been recommended to chose more ‘relevant’ and ‘career directed’ courses instead, and the world would have been poorer for it. Why are we training students to make games if all they know is other games?

I have only touched here on one of the points that Kleon makes in this friendly little book. You can find more at his website. I thoroughly recommend the book to anyone who wants to be inspired. Take its wisdom, make it your own and share it with the world.

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Published in: on July 20, 2012 at 6:09 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I totally want to steal this book!


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