If someone asks me what books impacted my art career the most, Austin Kleon’s books would be on the list. He speaks at big design conferences and I never really got the chance to see him despite always wanting to. And this is where our hero comes in... thanks to public libraries I got to see Austin Kleon speak for FREE! So a big shout out to River Falls Public Library in Wisconsin for bringing in an absolute inspiration of mine!
I absolutely devoured Austin’s first two books so I was excited to hear he had a new book out. The presentation was part of a 25 city book tour he was doing to support his new book “Keep Going.” The presentation was basically a recap of all the major topics he covers in the new book.
He started out explaining his newspaper blackout poetry and how that project landed him his first book deal and led him down the path of becoming an in demand speaker and author. He also made a joke about the series looking a lot like the Mueller report and I cracked up.
One of the points he really hit home was about how not everything you create for the love of creating has to be a new side hustle. He talked about how society has been trained to compliment someone’s talents with marketing terminology by suggesting they monetize the skill in some way. But the truth is you don’t have to monetize everything. It could just be a hobby. I thought that was a wonderful insight about the side hustle. I know so many artists and so many women doing MLMs and honestly I feel like that chase for a side hustle should be re-examined. Do you really want to do it? Would you be happy not monetizing what you love?
He also had a very valid point about the creative process being cyclical and how no one really talks about that. He explained how we often have to start over everyday and what you did yesterday often doesn’t have any impact on today and that monotonous cycle can be hard on people who are creative. I found this insight was something I had never really thought about before and I appreciated him giving me something new to think about along with a humorous slide to illustrate the point.
One of my other favorite takeaways was his view on accumulators and archivers. He believes artists are natural curators of things and with shows like “Hoarders,” and “Storage Wars,” and the national love for Marie Kondo, we as a society are now stigmatizing this practice.
He also thinks we need to separate the making from the online posting. Don’t make to post. I thought that was an interesting insight because I tend to post ‘in progress’ so people can see how I do what I do.
He also talked about how books are really an author’s way of working through their problems and how he could not write “Steal Like an Artist” today because he is not the same person he was then. I loved that insight. It makes me think of books as a time capsule into someone’s mind and that makes them feel even more valuable for some reason to me. Maybe it is just knowing this one book could only be written by that one person at that one time. Something about that seems more miraculous than the idea of authors being able to write one of their books at any time of their life.
Oh, and he also practiced a ton to have that cool handwriting! I loved getting my books signed and all personalized with fun sketches and even a date stamp in them. I nerded out just a teeny tiny bit!