Recommended Reading: Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist & Show Your Work

austin-kleon-book-review

I recently got my hands on two inspiring books by Texas-based author Austin Kleon. The first time I stumbled upon Kleon’s work, it was in Newspaper Blackout. An author/artist hybrid, Kleon’s books are a pleasant read and inspiring for all creatives, regardless of their level of expertise. His laid-back style is refreshing and the ageless wisdom pervading the books, gathered from countless sources, is easy to reshare.

Here’s my short but honest review of Kleon’s books, from the perspective of an illustrator:

Steal Like an Artist

Steal Like An Artist

Available on Amazon

Rating: 5/5

Steal Like An Artist is a gem of a book filled with so much good advice it baffles me how I waited so long to purchase it. As soon as I was done with it, I lent it to a friend and fellow artist, passing on the gift.

Released in 2012, Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist covers in 10 chapters how artists can use most efficiently inspiration in their work. The values remixing, connecting and sharing are the core of this book. The book is a light and pleasant read, and in it Kleon uses his artistic talents to illustrate key concepts in a fun and thoughtful manner. Furthermore, all throughout the book Kleon is honest and straightforward about his practice and in his approach, which I feel creates a genuine bridge between himself and his readership.

And while I may not be a fan of the productivity tips he suggests towards the end of Steal Like An Artist, it is overall a great book which I highly recommend to all creatives, be they musicians, artists, writers or designers.

Show Your Work

Show Your Work

Available on Amazon

Rating: 3.5/5

Show Your Work is Steal Like An Artist’s logical sequel released in 2014, in which Austin Kleon covers in 10 chapters organic ways to get found as an artist. Focusing on process, meaningful interactions, finding a creative hub populated by like-minded creatives (or what he calls a scenius) and opening ourselves to sharing our story, are the heart of the small yellow book.

While it follows a similar format as Steal Like An Artist, Show Your Work is not as thought-provoking as its predecessor, I find. Some of the advice is too obvious. This book is therefore a slower read and some chapters could have been summed up in a few lines rather than a dozen of paragraphs. The stories Kleon shares are good, but their rhythm didn’t not carry me forward as painlessly and as swiftly as it could have.

Show Your Work is still a good book that features good advice, and is still a valuable read for creatives looking for a laid-back and different perspective on sharing their work.


Have you read Austin Kleon’s books? If so, did you enjoy it? Share your thoughts!

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