One of my favorite books is Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. Not only it taught me how to develop creative ideas but also life lessons. Find out below the five lessons I have learned and “stolen” from his book and how it can relate to life.
1. School yourself
“Whether I went to school or not, I would always study.” – RZA. This quote from his book says a lot. The school is not the first and last place to learn–we are a student of life. Whether you are enrolled in the academe, a professional, an intern, or unemployed, it’s your own responsibility to learn and develop your skills. Even a professional worker cannot rely solely to his/her boss for his/her improvement. Today, there are a lot of ways available to educate yourself–some for free and some are paid. You can watch tutorials from YouTube, read books, join online groups or communities, attend seminars and conferences, enroll online classes, and you can also get a mentor. Do not be afraid of asking what you do not know. The real great artists and experts will be glad to help and share ideas.
2. Use your hands
The ideas you have in mind is useless until you see it materialized. Sometimes it’s hard to get things done. Especially if there are a lot of things boggling your mind. Whatever tasks you have in mind, just start putting it into action. I don’t know about you but the feeling of getting started and seeing a glimpse of what I want to accomplish brings a spark and motivation for me to keep going and finish a project. Delaying things just keep you anxious about not getting it done. Here, time is not the only commodity that is being wasted but also your ideas that might benefit others.
3. Side projects and hobbies are important
Another quote mentioned by Kleon, as Maira Kalman says, “Avoiding work is the way to focus my mind.” is true to me. Giving yourself a break and reward is important and gives you inspiration when you get back to your work or project. You can get burn out working on artworks or any projects but having time for your hobbies relieves stress and relaxes your brain. Your hobbies can also serve as a side project. Having fun and earning money at the same time? Brilliant!
4. Stay out of debt
Who would have thought you would hear this from an artist? I used to have debts on my credit cards because I was unable to manage my spending habits before. To solve my debt problem, I started to read personal finance blogs, avoid buying stuff that will only be a clutter in the future, and save for the rainy days. If you are currently in debt, eliminate them gradually until you are debt free. One of the benefits of being debt free is peace of mind, therefore it helps you focus on the projects that need more of your time and energy.
5. Be nice
Yes, I know sometimes it’s hard. But you need to be nice… and humble especially if you are starting out. Being nice goes a long way–saying thank you, giving credit and respect to whom it due. It open doors of opportunities, meeting new people and building friendships and connections that can result to your fame and fortune.
Whether you are an artist or not, Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist is for you. Creativity is not just for the artists, it is for everyone who wants to expand horizon in their chosen field and those who want to discover their gifts and make use of it. This book helped me see my work and my life in a different perspective. Heart heart!