Thursday, May 1, 2014

Book Review (and thoughts): Show Your Work!

I made The List of all the projects I wanted to work on this week, all the online classes to catch up with and all the books I WILL read before next Wednesday. And then I crawled into bed and watched 6 episodes of Glee. Some days, just rolling over in bed is more than enough.

You've probably figured out that I am still recharging and recovering from TangleU. It was totally worth the damage to my system, but I do wish I was better at cutting myself some slack when it comes to recovery time.

Yesterday, I started on The List by reading Austin Kleon's new book, Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered.

I took the book and a green pen, for underlining, and sat as close as I could get to the ocean, while still indoors (it's raining and cold). As I read, I realized that I had been sitting in the same spot last November when I read his other book, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative. I found that book so inspiring, I wrote a long blog post on it. If you are fond of "Found Poetry" - blacking out blocks of text to create new poems - be sure to check out his other book, Newspaper Blackout.

Show Your Work! was just as reassuring, enlightening, and fist-pumping as Steal Like An Artist. Where that one covered artistic influences and developing your own style and voice, this book shows you how to put yourself OUT there and use that voice. Seems to be a theme with me this year...

I love all the quotes and bite-size ideas. And the small, square pages and minimal amount of text. I come from a children's book background and don't understand the need for so many words in craft and inspiration books.

I'll list here for you some of the things that I have underlined in green because they feel so important to me. I will have to go back and re-read this one a few times and I encourage you to grab a copy too. The book is so reasonably priced to begin with, but Amazon has it for a such a ridiculously low price, I wonder that anyone will get paid for it. And here is Austin's web page:
He's on my list of "Amazing people I'd love to meet one day, but would probably have no idea what to say, if I did meet them."

A few of the things I underlined in green:

"...think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others."

"...if your work isn't online, it doesn't exist."

"Obituaries are like near-death experiences for cowards."

"...these days, most of us carry a fully functional multimedia studio around in our smartphones."

"I like to work while the world is sleeping, and share while the world is at work."

"Small things, over time, can get big."

"Online, you can become the person you really want to be."

"...a willingness to search for inspiration in places other people aren't willing or able to go."

"Do what you do best and link to the rest." - Jeff Jarvis

"Don't share things you can't properly credit."

"...our work doesn't speak for itself."

"Teaching doesn't mean instant competition."

"When you teach someone how to do your work, you are, in effect, generating more interest in your work."

"Shut up and listen once in a while."

"Don't talk to people you don't want to talk to, and don't talk about stuff you don't want to talk about."

"The Vampire Test"

"Having your work hated by certain people is a badge of honor."

"...the worst troll is the one that lives in your head."

"Even the Renaissance had to be funded."

"There was a day when I looked up and realised that I had become someone who professionally replied to email, and who wrote as a hobby."

"...use the end of one project to light up the next one."

"...the power of the sabbatical - every seven years, he shuts down his studio and takes a year off."

... and SO much more good stuff!

This book is like a deck of tarot cards - you could just flip to a random page and get some insight into whatever is ailing you. I will read through it again and completely different messages will pop out at me.

I'd love to know what gems you discover too. :-)


  1. Totally! My goal, or personal assignment, for this year is to master drawing, speed up and clarify my writing, and master videography. After starting all this, I was one of the first in line to read "show your work." I've since produced 3 short videos, starting with wobbly, and progressing to less wobbly. As I am more accomplished in other fields, showing my work as a rank, wobbly beginner takes courage! And that has pushed me to learn this new craft at deeper levels (I've written about this a bit on my site, LetsKickScoot). Currently, I'm organizing my 4th production and I spend time nightly improving my traditional drawing, some of which stuff has also been shown. The "showing" makes all the difference in the world as reflected in the posts you made. Thanks for your summary! I'll pass it on . . .

  2. YES! Thank you so much for sharing this Sandy! TRUE! I love his books too and you are astute about bringing up his wisdom. THANKS!

  3. Yes, funding! Leonardo found Kings to fund his artistic adventures. Loved meeting you this weekend Sandy! NancyD

  4. This sounds like a book to add to my Summer reading list. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Just finished looking over his books on Amazon, and as much as I love hard-cover books, think I might add a couple of these to my kindle list, which I access through my tablet. I already have a lot of inspirational art and books on my tablet and love the portability and availability of all those references when I'm away from home. Thanks for sharing. I love your blog.

  6. Love this book. The insights are terrific for not only artists , but for anyone wanting to "break out of the mold" . I have started my second reading!, this time with a highlighter.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.


Related Posts with Thumbnails