"Stealing" can be a dirty word in the art world, but it's really something that all artists do every day. We just don't usually think about it as stealing. In the book Steal Like an Artist, the author Austin Kleon takes a different view, exploring many different ways to expand your creativity through various forms of "stealing." Here's what I learned from reading his book...
1. Collect Good Ideas
All artists are collectors of great ideas and masters at remixing them together in new and exciting ways. You can pull inspiration from anything—your friends, movies, books, Pinterest, Instagram, nature, etc. Collect these ideas somewhere you can access them. They will directly or inadvertently find their way into your work, combining to create something new, unique and meaningful.
2. Have a Play Space and a Polishing Space
My play space is drawing by hand, and my polishing space is designing on the computer. Sometimes I feel like sketching ideas makes work slower, so I often skip it when I'm really slammed and working against the clock. But when I do include time to sketch during the initial creative phases of a project, my ideas are always fresher and more customized.
3. Embrace Boredom
We all know that daydreaming and being bored is good for our creativity and for our brains. So be bored on purpose. Go for a walk, take a bath or sit and do nothing. One way that works well for me is to go for a drive without the radio on. Or while you're ironing your clothes, doing the dishes or cooking, just let your mind wander wherever it might go. Don't try to steer it too much, just let it percolate. Often this is when your best and most creative ideas will come out. Make sure you write them down!
4. Start Copying
Think about someone you admire. When you run into a problem you can't solve, or just need some unique inspiration, channel that person and do what you think they would do in that situation. You're not stealing what they actually do, you're stealing their way of thinking, which allows you to think about your work in a totally different way. The idea is to emulate, not imitate exactly.
5. Improve Your Hero's Work
Look at someone's work you admire and try to find a way to make it better or different. Then go do that. Everyone's work can be improved in some way! Transforming your hero's work into something of your own is a great way to show them how important they are to you. For one example, check out my friend Angie's molecular paintings inspired by Vincent van Gogh.
6. Procrastinate Productively
I do this alllllll the time. When I get stuck on a project, I switch gears and do something else for while. To stay productive, I'll work on another project, write a social media post, take photos, read, listen to a podcast, daydream, browse my inspiration sites, etc. Kleon says that your mind will keep the other project churning in the background, so that when you go back to it, a solution will often appear as if from nowhere!
Sometimes this even happens to me with sleep...I'll work late on a project I can't solve, then finally go to bed. When I wake up in the morning, I'll look at it and immediately know the answer. Try it, it works!
I'd love to hear what you think about this topic! Email me.