The Steal Like An Artist Trilogy

Posted on November 20, 2021

Author: Austin Kleon
My Rating: ~4.5/5

I was on the lookout for something to read that was inspiring. The last couple of books I read I thought might be it – but they ended up not. So I was still searching.

I had been following Austin Kleon for a couple of years. This year I had been trying, fairly successfully, to keep an Austin Kleon style logbook. Recently, I started to really pay more attention to his work and listened to a few podcasts he was on and decided that possibly his books might be just what I was looking for.

I read them in order – first Steal Like An Artist. This one, I’ll admit, was a little disappointing to me. It was good, but not great. It was a little too short – there wasn’t much to it. All of the advise was good, but not inspiring.

When I picked up Show Your Work I assumed it would be more of the same. However, Show Your Work happened to be exactly what I was looking for. It was inspirational, it was practical, there was more to it – it was a longer and better read than Steal Like An Artist.

“On the spectrum of creative work, the difference between the mediocre and the good is vast. Mediocrity is, however on the spectrum… The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something.”

Austin Kleon quotes Clay Shirky in Show Your Work

I really enjoyed Show Your Work and it let me know that what I have started with my YouTube channel, I should continue and put more effort into it. Also, put more effort into this web-site by posting about things that I like and care about.

Don’t think of your web-site as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self invention machine.

Show Your Work I rated a 5 out of 5.

The final book of the trilogy is Keep Going. This one, although still good, did not have the same punch as Show Your Work for me. I thought it was better than Steal Like an Artist – it had some meat to it, and it was good – but again, not great. However, the very last chapter, ‘Plant Your Garden’ did hit home with me.

Every day is a potential seed that we can grow into something beautiful. There’s no time for despair… None of us know how many days we’ll have, so it’d be a shame to waste the ones we get.

I will re-read these books. Either end-to-end like I did the first time, because they are short enough to read in one or two sittings – or I might pick them up and read pieces of them from time-to-time like I’ve read that other people do.