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I first knew Austin Kleon through his blackout poetry tumblr. Blackout poetry is basically you take a piece of text then you black out most of the words and what is left is your poetry.


He then proceeded to write the book Steal Like An Artist. The book is refreshing; there is no pretentious claims of prodigious talent, just encouragement to let the works of art you like influence you as you grow. It tells you to honor and transform the works that influence you, not plagiarize and rip off. One of the advice he gave, however, was this:

6. The secret: do good work and share it with people.

Which brings us to his second book, Show Your Work!

And boy is it a good book. It begins with the statement that the best artists today do not hoard their work; they share pieces of their work, taking advantage of the easy networking enabled by the internet to get fellowship, feedback, or even patronage. That is why sharing your work is important. It is not attention for attention’s sake, but also to make your work better.

The advice he dispensed in the book range from the somewhat obvious (share something small every day,* think process, not product, build a good domain name) to the obscure (read obituaries, because remembering your mortality put some things into perspective).

show your work list

It is the perfect book for people like me, who find big projects daunting, who feel like our work is crap,** who needs feedback but unsure how to get it. It is so good, it gets a place on Brainpickings’ Best Art, Design, and Photography Books of 2014.

This is a really short post, but I really don’t know how to explain it better than Brainpickings did. Anyway, 100% would recommend, and do tell if any of you want to borrow it. It is a very graphic and beautifully-designed book; to read it in e-book form does not do it justice.

This book checks “a nonfiction book” off my 2015 Reading Challenge list.

* Because I am taking this book’s advice, I shall now share something small about my work: I have a short story WIP that I should post here in a week or so.

** Sturgeon’s Law: Ninety percent of everything is crap. Which means yes, most of the time our work is crap, but that doesn’t mean we should stop doing our work because ten percent of the time we actually create something decent.