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Posts tagged "steal like an artist"

Feb 22, 2014

If I remember correctly, my editor and I were on the phone talking about format ideas and trim sizes for Steal Like An Artist, and the problem was that my slides for the original talk were landscape format but books are usually portrait format. So I think Bruce suggested meeting in the middle and making it square.

So I went hunting for square books, and it turned out that James Kochalka’s The Cute Manifesto, one of my favorite little square books, is in the exact trim size we were talking about using, 6x6. So I drew up a cover, printed it out, and wrapped it around my copy to make a dummy book:

dummy book

I took that up to Workman and left it with them, and the story goes that they mocked up a bunch of other covers and laid them all out, but the late Peter Workman pointed to my dummy book and said, “That one.” (I regret so much that we never got to meet.)

It’s very, very rare that an author gets to do the covers for his books, but much to the credit of the Workman design team, they’ve let me in on every part of the process. I think part of what made that cover work is that it’s too stupidly simple—I’m not sure any real book cover designer would dare suggest something so simple.

Anyways, when it came time for Show Your Work!, I really conceived of both books as a kind of “Robin Hood” box set — you steal, and then you share — so it made sense to make them the same trim size. (We’ll see about the box set…)

Jan 14, 2014
When I’m reading, I’m looking for something to steal. Readers ask me all the time the traditional question ‘Where do you get your ideas from?” I reply: ‘We are all having ideas all the time. But I’m on the lookout for them. You’re not.’

Dec 07, 2013

Nov 28, 2013
‘The true artist,’ Wilde wrote, ‘is known by what he annexes, and he annexes everything.’ One of the most naturally gifted intellects of the 19th century, Wilde nevertheless had the modesty to know that without a commitment to literature his genius would always be an adolescent. If Melville depended upon the Western epics to augment his adventure and provide the language-stimulus for his own literature, Wilde, like Emily Dickinson, seems to have needed no adventure at all, only reading. Many novice old-timers get ensnared in that fallacy, confusing their having had a full life with their ability to write a fully functional novel, while whippersnappers of every ilk spend a summer in the Orient because they believe that being in an interesting place will make them interesting people. Think of all those dippy authors’ bios which proudly declare that X has held dozens of jobs, from the esoteric (circus clown and train conductor) to the painfully quotidian (bartender and construction worker), as if having worked at peculiar and menial labor — or, worse, as if simply living in Brooklyn — ipso facto deems him a skilled writer. It does not.
— William Giraldi, “The Writer As Reader” (via)

Nov 04, 2013


Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon is a small 150 page book of illustrated manifestos.

Sometimes it’s scribbles, or brainstormed charts. It’s a cool thing to have at your table when you need a kick of creativity. 

I keep thinking for the next book I should just send advance copies to good photographers and let them post pictures of their favorite pages…my Pinterest board is full of photos better than anything I could take.

(Source: )

Oct 21, 2013

How Wes Anderson transforms stolen shots

An excellent point from Matt Zoller Seitz’s videos on Wes Anderson: often, when he’s stealing a shot from one of his favorite directors, he’ll flip or reverse the shot, so it’s a little harder to recognize. Reminds me of this quote:

Steal! to be sure they may; and, egad, serve your best thoughts as gypsies do stolen children,—disfigure them to make ’em pass for their own.

Bill Murray has talked about this, too.

Filed under: steal like an artist

Sep 15, 2013
That’s my book, bitch!

That’s my book, bitch!

Sep 02, 2013
I had studied Hemingway so closely and learned a lot, but I didn’t agree with his attitude about life, about himself. He took everything so seriously. Your style comes out of your attitude — what kind of a person you are, your personality, how you see things. Are you optimistic? Are you funny? Are you grim? What? This is all out of your attitude. And once I learned that then I had to find other writers to study and imitate.
Elmore Leonard on getting out from under the influence of Hemingway

Sep 01, 2013
Everybody’s taking from the best and adding a part of themselves to it, but it’s a question of the flair with which you do it – the audacity with which you steal and what you make out of the component parts…

Aug 17, 2013
Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it’s a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It’s only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I always have to feel that I’m bunking off from something.
Geoff Dyer is down with productive procrastination, something I wrote about in Steal Like An Artist
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