Steal Like An Artist

“Achoo! Achoo! Achoo!” 

Those were my involuntary, thunderous and embarrassing sneezes.

A young lady, running towards me from the far corner of the bookstore, holding a box of tissues, said “tissue for you”, with a beautiful smile.

I was very touched, “This is very nice of you. Thank you so much.” I took one piece, she urged me to take another one, so I did.

At that moment, my left hand was holding this book “Steal Like An Artist”. There was a small bag of tissues in the little purse hanging off my left wrist. But I did not say that I am usually prepared for situations like this. I wanted to acknowledge her heart-warming kindness, by taking up her offering. 

The young lady returned to the far corner of the room, standing behind the counter. She works in the bookstore. Silly of me to not realise earlier. Who would wander around carrying a box of tissue with her randomly in a bookshop?

I stood there with an overwhelming gratitude and this book “Steal Like An Artist” still in my left hand that was picked up randomly off the shelf a couple minutes ago. 

In my mind: No stranger has run across the room to hand me tissues when I sneezed before; I am grateful to her for that; I do not care whether this book is of any good; I shall purchase it. 

Luckily, this book by Austin Kleon turns out to be a great light-weight and yet thought-provoking read. 

Here are some jewels that I steal from the book for you: 

We were kids without fathers…so we found our fathers on wax and on the streets and in history. We got to pick and choose the ancestors who would inspire the world we were going to make for ourselves. – Jay-Z

Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again. – Andre Gide 

Garbage in, garbage out….You are only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with. 

If we are free from the burden of trying to be completely original, we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running away from it. 

Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. 

Start copying what you love, copy, copy, copy, copy. At the end of the copy you will find your self. – Yohji Yamamoto

Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to hear, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done. 

The cartoonist Tom Gauld says he stays away from the computer until he has done most of the thinking for his strips, because once the computer is involved, “things are on an inevitable path to being finished. Whereas in my sketchbook the possibilities are endless.”

The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life. – Jessica Hische 

Practice productive procrastination. 

Don’t throw any of yourself away. Don’t discard. Keep all your passions in your life….Don’t worry about a grand scheme or unified vision for your work. Don’t worry about unity – what unifies your work is the fact that you made it. One day, you’ll look back and it will all make sense. 

Distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything. – Jonah Lehrer

Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work. – Gustave Glaubert 

Work gets done in the time available. 

Tell yourself you have all the time in the world, all the money in the world, all the colors in the palette, anything you want – that just kills creativity. – Jack White

What we respond to in any work of art is the artist’s struggle against his or her limitations. – Saul Steinberg

You must embrace your limitations and keep moving. In the end, creativity is not just the things we choose to put in, it is the things we choose to leave out.