Reading Insights: Are You Stealing Like an Artist?

I read “Steal Like an Artist” a while ago. And the main insight I got from it was simple; all great artists “steal” from somebody else, “take” from something else, and when they do it is called “stealing” not “copying” because they know how to do it right.

One of the great fears any kind of artist develops is not being original, unique, authentic. But if you follow your heart and give voice to your own vision, your perspective will always be unique.

It turns out, great art does not come from nothing. It comes from others, from our experiences, our surroundings and our world. And guess what, we are not the first ones here. Others had been living, surviving and thriving for years, making things and breaking things, figuring things out their way and having tons of Eureka! moments.

It turns out, the artist, the creative, is a channel, a medium, that gathers energy from these multiple sources of inspiration and allows in to go through her and take new forms.

The old is never lost, but lingers in the essence of the new that is part them, part you, and part something entirely mysterious.

Great artists do not see or understand “stealing” from others as “copying”. Copying is not creative. Copying lacks inspiration, looks only for selfish gains; fame or profit.

Stealing means taking bits and pieces, compiling and combining then in new, interesting ways, using them for different purposes.

Stealing like an artist means not being afraid to accept the greatness that has come before you.

So, from now on, don’t shy away from your new interpretation, just because someone has come up with an answer to that question before. Your answer might be the perspective someone else was waiting for and needed to finally “get it.”



3 thoughts on “Reading Insights: Are You Stealing Like an Artist?

  1. Is ‘stealing’ the right word? I think ‘creatively using’ or ‘constructive foraging’ might be more appropriate.


    1. You know what Patrick, I completely agree with you. For one thing, I think Austin Kleon (the author) chose that title to create controversy and interest, so prospective readers would do a double take and possibly buy the book, which I did. “Stealing” definitely has a negative connotation attached to it, and maybe that’s another thing the author wanted, to make us think about what it means for us as creatives and possibly, to redefine the concept. Thanks a lot for your comment!


  2. Is ‘stealing’ the right word? I think ‘creatively using’ or ‘constructive foraging’ might be more appropriate.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close