Around the end of last year, I purchased an interactive journal, Steal Like An Artist: A Notebook for Creative Kleptomaniacs by Austin Kleon from Exclusive Books! And I absolutely love it because it is a great, fun and creative way to do anything. For months, I had been searching for an interactive journal, but I could not find one that I liked. The activities they required felt flat and time-consuming in a way that disinterested me. Until…
One day, I was at Menlyn Park Shopping Centre with some friends, and obviously, I dragged them into the bookstore when I realised it was still open at 8pm. As we roamed the aisles, I stumbled upon this book. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, so I judged it by its title, and this one made me smile. Steal like an artist, what’s not to like? After a few minutes of trying to convince myself not to get it, I walked out with my second book of the day. I had bought F*ck! I’m in my Twenties that morning – but that’s a story for another time.
Soon, I was determined to end the year on a high and start the next one on an even better foot. With this journal as my guide, I would be fearless. But alas, it is not that simple – but again that’s another story. It requires commitment, curiosity, and open-mindedness in a way.
The rules of the book are simple:
- Carry it with you everywhere you go (so doesn’t always work for forgetful people like me).
- Do at least one exercise everyday (and if you don’t like the task – change it!)
- And a third one that I can’t remember but those two are the important ones
I recommend a book like this for anyone who’s feeling creatively stifled and even those who aren’t. Personally, school consumes a large portion of my time, if not all, and sometimes, it becomes difficult to see clearly. The workload is overbearing and you simply need a release before you start contemplating suicide. This book helps. It made me laugh, it made me think in a way I don’t usually – creatively. Writing in it gave me the strength to pursue ideas I would have given up, like this blog.
Honestly, you don’t need an interactive journal -or even a regular one- to keep you going, but I believe it is important to have an outlet, an expression. So write, draw, paint, sing, dance, LIVE. Document things that matter to you in any way you know how. ‘Cause most of us have crap memories, this way we can keep them safe and maybe draw inspiration from them later. Apparently, all good artists steal anyway, so store the things worth stealing e.g. a receipt from a fun day out, I stole that from the book too.
Once you have had fun creating, subtracting and destroying (yes, you get to cut up stuff!). You can share them with the world. I know it can be quite a daunting task to give something to the world and obviously, your work tends to be personal. But if you do decide to “upload” your pieces, share the things you love, the things you were proud of, and you will be glad regardless what people might make of it. Plus, the feedback will help you improve and sharpen your craft, so it’s win-win. Mr. Kleon has a hashtag going on twitter that people can use, check it out #StealLikeAnArtist.
Here’s a poem I made using the titles of some of the books in my library. I spent a morning piling the books up, trying to make sense of it. Eventually, I added a few words to help it.
Now, that I’ve written all this, I feel compelled to read the actual book, you know, Steal Like an Artist: 10 things nobody told you about being creative.