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How To Become a Creative Thief — Learn By Copying Others

In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our heroes.

By Ionutz KazakuPublished 9 months ago 3 min read
Steal Like An Artist - Austin Kleon

Have you ever blamed yourself for copying others?

It is almost impossible to create something, especially in today’s world, without getting inspired by other people. That’s why you are always researching before a project. You need to steal some ideas.

Congratulations, you are a creative thief.

“Art is theft.” — Pablo Picasso

Here is a secret:

Every artist steals.

Good artists know nothing is original. All creative work builds on what came before. In order to stay relevant and produce quality content, you have to collect good ideas.

If you want your work to be authentic, you have to steal ideas which speak to your heart, the ones that matter to you.

Because every artist is a collector.

That was the 1st lesson I learned from Austin Kleon’s book Steal Like An Artist.

Here are the 4 more lessons you must know as a creative artist —

#2: Figure Out Who You Are On The Way

Creativity is born in the process.

Nobody is born with a style. It takes lots of time and works in order to find out who you really are.

In the beginning, we learn by copying our heroes. — Austin Kleon

Everyone has idols.

Put on their costume and become them.

“If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many it’s research.“ — Wilson Mizner

When I first started designing websites, I was copy-pasting everything by myself from creatives I found inspiring. That helped me improve my own skills of designing, but also, develop my own style, taking elements from theirs.

After imitating lots of heroes, you will have the courage and skills to do it yourself.

#3: Work Consistently & Share It

If you are at the start of the journey, you are so lucky.

You will never get your freedom back.

Cherish these moments and experiment as much as you can. Start posting the stuff you find interesting and motivate you to keep going. After you will get a following and start earning, the pressure will be significant.

In order to become known you have to:

  1. Do good work.
  2. Share the work.

When it comes to doing “good work”, you have to always give your best. Try experimenting and risking that’s the only way you will see actual improvement in your work.

Most importantly do it consistently.

Afterwards, share what you have done. Now came the point of sharing your secrets. Other artists should get inspired by your work or shall I say steal your work.

This will create a bond of trust between you and your audience.

It’s that simple, work and share.

#4: Create Your Own World

“Show me the people you follow on social media and I’ll show you your future” — Ionutz

Surround yourself with books, people or objects that inspire you.

All you need is a little space and time — a place to work, and some time to do it; a little self-imposed solitude and temporary captivity. — Austin Kleon

The problem with most creative people is not seeking discomfort. We get used to the place where we work, the people we work with and what we work at.

Change the environment around you.

Find new interests, start travelling get to know other people besides your co-workers and close ones.

Always change things up.

#5: Be Boring

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” — Gustave Flaubert

Writing 5 articles a week is not much.

Write 5 articles a week for a whole year and you will end up with 260 articles.

Again, consistency is key.

Let me take myself as an example:

I wrote articles for 10 weeks and got less than 1000 views in total. After learning a lot, changing a few things, and taking risks in my writing I was finally getting some engagement. In 1 week alone after the 10 weeks, I got 2000 views.

The secret is to sit at your desk and just start writing.

Most of the time you will create something not worthwhile, however, that’s the only way to progress.

In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our heroes. We learn by copying. — Austin Kleon

You can subscribe to my monthly newsletter where I share my reading list, podcasts, videos, tools and where I talk more openly expressing my opinions.

Thanks for reading :)

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About the Creator

Ionutz Kazaku

Writing articles, reading books, listening to podcasts — constantly learning.

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