I’ve been readingÂ a lot of books while I write mine. I have stacks of them all over my house. Most I flip through, a few I read cover to cover, some I stare with my laser eyes until they burst into flame.
One of the few I read every word of is Austin Kleon’sÂ Steal Like an Artist, and not just because it’s short. I love this book for many reasons, the most significant of which is Kleon’s treatment of creativity and creation as an utterly ordinary thing. Not as an insignificant thing! He just talks about it like he’s a normal human being talking to normal human beings. He’s about as unpretentious as you can get, and holy crap that’s refreshing. That he doesn’t romanticize, waxÂ philosophicalÂ about or in other ways aggrandize creativity is exactly what gives me the warm romancy feelings about his work. That irony makes me happy.
Another thing that makes me happy is Kleon’s suggestion that we write publicly about the people whose work we admire. So assuming his Google alert gave him a big ole AWOOOGAH about this blog post, from this point forward I want you to realize, dear reader, that I’m writing this post to him.
(I hope it’s alright if I just call you Austin.) Thanks for doing what you do. As I sit here, three-ish weeks from my deadline for my own book about creativity, I’m glad I’m writing in a world where your ideas have reached such a wide audience. Thank you for talking about creativity as if every human has some. Thanks for highlighting the value of process in addition to product. Thanks for suggesting that we tell the people we admire that we admire them. I admire you.
I just watched the video of your Creative Mornings talk from a couple of months ago (*high five* on the parenting thing). I paused the video to write down this gem that you said,
“I think we’re living in like this kind of mass fetishization of creativity.”
I think we are, too. And I think that makes lots of people very intimidated about their own creative inclinations and explorations. What a shame! My book is about making ugly things on purpose, in part to force us to focus on process for a little while. In part to make us a little more comfortable with the failures that go hand in hand with the successes. In part to take some of the pressure off. No fetishizing involved.
Thanks. Thanks for saying what you do, the way you do.