Cindy Novotny

Steal Like an Artist


A few weeks ago in my Monday Mentor Moment, I talked about authenticity and the importance of being the “real deal” – not a copycat. Last Week at #engage17 in Grand Cayman, we actually learned an exception to that rule from Austin Kleon.   He wrote a book called Steal Like an Artist. In the book, he discusses the proper way to “steal” from your competition and use their research to build off of because nothing is original. 

In his book, he says you don't need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That is the difference – it is very difficult to ‘steal’ an idea, one that you have no experience in and try to make it your own.  There is creativity everywhere, and creativity is for everyone. He says, “The writer Jonathan Lethem has said that when people call something “original,” nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references or the original sources involved. What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. He mentions that nothing is completely original. It’s right there in the Bible: There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).” 

So here are my thoughts on “stealing like an artist”

  1. Give credit where credit is due ALWAYS – don’t just copy someone without telling everyone where you got it or learned it
  2. Use the “so what” test and the chart below
  3. When you take someone’s idea, do it with honor
Creativity is not a talent, it’s a way of operating.
— John Cleese

So, do you want to learn how to be the real deal and steal like an artist? Buy his book!