Steal Like an Artist Summary

Steal Like an Artist Summary
  • Book Name: Steal Like an Artist
  • Author Name: Austin Kleon
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
  • Published Date: February 28, 2012
  • ISBN: 978-0761169253
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 160
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Creativity, Self-help, Personal Development
  • Subjects: Artistic Inspiration, Creative Process, Originality, Artistic Influence

Book Summary: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Steal Like an Artist Summary: What if creativity is not about inventing something entirely new, but rather about embracing the art of borrowing and remixing? In ‘Steal Like an Artist’ by Austin Kleon, we embark on a journey that challenges conventional notions of creativity, encouraging us to tap into our influences, embrace inspiration from others, and uncover our unique creative voice.

In this insightful and practical guide, Austin Kleon explores the concept of creativity and offers valuable advice for aspiring artists and creators. He encourages readers to embrace the idea of stealing ideas from various sources, remixing them, and making them their own. Kleon emphasizes the importance of curiosity, continuous learning, and sharing one’s work to foster creative growth and find one’s artistic voice.

The central idea of the book revolves around the concept of “stealing” ideas, not in a negative or unethical sense, but by drawing inspiration from others and incorporating it into our own work. Kleon emphasizes the significance of building a network of creative influences, recognizing that no art is created in isolation. He also highlights the importance of embracing constraints, nurturing productive habits, and maintaining a healthy balance between consuming and creating.

“Steal Like an Artist” explores themes such as creativity, originality, inspiration, and artistic growth. Kleon challenges the notion of originality as something entirely new and encourages readers to embrace their influences and build upon existing ideas. He advocates for embracing imperfection, embracing the process of iteration and improvement, and finding one’s own unique creative voice.

Austin Kleon’s writing style is accessible, engaging, and filled with practical insights. He combines personal anecdotes, visual elements, and concise advice to convey his ideas effectively. Kleon’s tone is encouraging and supportive, empowering readers to embrace their creativity and overcome the fear of imitation.

“As you turn the final pages of ‘Steal Like an Artist,’ you’ll be equipped with a fresh perspective on creativity—one that celebrates the power of influence, remixing, and embracing inspiration from others. Austin Kleon’s practical advice and thought-provoking insights will ignite your creative spark and encourage you to fearlessly explore your artistic journey. Get ready to unlock your creative potential, steal like an artist, and make your unique mark on the world.”

Main Characters

In “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon, there are no specific main characters in a traditional sense. The book is a guidebook for creative individuals, providing advice and insights on fostering creativity and embracing inspiration. However, the author himself serves as a guiding presence throughout the book, sharing his experiences and wisdom.

Austin Kleon’s Key Ideas and Perspectives:

  • Embrace Influence: Kleon encourages artists and creatives to embrace their influences openly. He emphasizes that nothing is completely original and that all creative work builds upon what came before. He advises artists to study and learn from the work of others, using it as a springboard for their own ideas.
  • Creativity and Everyday Life: Kleon highlights the importance of incorporating creativity into everyday life. He encourages individuals to find inspiration in mundane activities, engage in side projects, and make time for creative pursuits outside of their professional work.
  • Sharing and Collaboration: The author emphasizes the value of sharing work and ideas with others. Kleon suggests that sharing not only helps build an audience but also fosters connections, feedback, and growth. He encourages artists to embrace collaboration and actively engage in communities of like-minded individuals.

Relationships and Conflicts:

While there are no specific characters or conflicts in the book, “Steal Like an Artist” explores the relationships and dynamics that exist within the creative process:

Artist-Source Relationships: The book emphasizes the relationship between artists and the sources that inspire them. Kleon encourages artists to actively seek out influences, learn from them, and integrate their ideas into their own work.

Artist-Audience Relationships: Kleon highlights the importance of sharing creative work with an audience. He suggests that artists should embrace the process of connecting with their audience, receiving feedback, and using it as a means of growth and improvement.

Collaboration and Community: The book emphasizes the value of collaboration and being part of creative communities. Kleon encourages artists to seek out and engage with others who share similar interests, fostering a supportive network of peers who can provide inspiration, feedback, and encouragement.

“Steal Like an Artist” encourages readers to embrace creativity, learn from others, and actively participate in the creative process. It emphasizes the relationships between artists, their influences, and their audience, encouraging collaboration and the sharing of ideas.

Plot Summary

Chronological Overview of Major Events:

  • Introduction:
    • The book introduces the concept of creativity and emphasizes that everyone has the capacity to create and be an artist.
    • Kleon encourages readers to embrace their influences and develop their unique creative voice.
  • Embracing Influence:
    • Kleon emphasizes the importance of being open to inspiration from various sources and encourages readers to study the work of others.
    • He suggests that stealing ideas and techniques from others is a natural part of the creative process and helps in developing one’s own style.
  • Finding Your Voice:
    • The author explores the idea of authenticity and encourages readers to create work that reflects their own experiences and interests.
    • Kleon provides practical advice on discovering one’s unique perspective and using it to create meaningful art.
  • Combining Ideas:
    • Kleon discusses the concept of “remixing” and encourages readers to take existing ideas and combine them in new and innovative ways.
    • He highlights the power of collaboration and the benefits of connecting with other creatives.
  • Developing a Creative Practice:
    • The author stresses the importance of consistent effort and the value of establishing a routine for creative work.
    • Kleon provides tips on managing time, dealing with creative blocks, and nurturing creativity in everyday life.
  • Sharing Your Work:
    • Kleon emphasizes the significance of sharing one’s creations with the world, regardless of the fear of criticism or rejection.
    • He offers guidance on building an audience, using digital platforms effectively, and navigating the challenges of self-promotion.
  • Dealing with Failure and Success:
    • The author discusses the ups and downs of the creative journey and provides insights on coping with failure, overcoming setbacks, and maintaining resilience.
    • Kleon also explores the challenges that come with success and encourages readers to stay true to themselves amidst external expectations.
  • Conclusion:
    • The book concludes with a reminder that creativity is a lifelong pursuit and that the journey itself is as important as the final outcome.
    • Kleon encourages readers to continue stealing from their influences, nurturing their creativity, and embracing the process of artistic growth.

Key Plot Points:

  • Major Conflict: The conflict revolves around the challenge of finding one’s unique creative voice while navigating the influence of others and societal expectations.
  • Turning Points:
    • The introduction of the idea of embracing influence and stealing ideas as part of the creative process challenges traditional notions of originality and encourages readers to explore their influences.
    • The shift towards finding one’s voice highlights the importance of authenticity and encourages readers to express their unique perspectives.
    • The emphasis on sharing one’s work and dealing with failure and success represents turning points where readers are encouraged to overcome fears and take risks in their creative endeavors.
  • Climax: The climax occurs when the author emphasizes that creativity is a lifelong pursuit and that the process of creating and growing as an artist is more significant than any specific achievement or outcome.

Subplots/Secondary Storylines:

  • Throughout the book, Kleon shares personal anecdotes and insights from his own creative journey, providing relatable examples and experiences.
  • The exploration of the challenges and joys of creative practice, including managing time, dealing with creative blocks, and establishing routines, serves as a secondary storyline that provides practical guidance to readers.
  • The book also addresses the impact of the digital age on creativity, discussing the opportunities and challenges of sharing and promoting one’s work in the online realm.

Themes and Messages

The main themes or messages explored in the book “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon are:

  • Embracing Creativity: The book encourages readers to embrace their creativity and engage in the creative process without fear or self-doubt.
  • Inspiration and Influence: Kleon emphasizes the importance of seeking inspiration from a variety of sources and understanding that all artists are influenced by others.
  • Collaboration and Community: The book highlights the value of collaboration and building connections with fellow creatives to foster growth and mutual support.
  • Authenticity and Personal Expression: Kleon emphasizes the importance of staying true to one’s unique voice and personal experiences in the creative process.

Examples or evidence from the book to support each theme or message:

  • Embracing Creativity:
    • Kleon encourages readers to create freely, emphasizing that everyone has the capacity to be creative.
    • He provides practical advice on overcoming creative blocks, developing routines, and nurturing creativity in daily life.
  • Inspiration and Influence:
    • Kleon suggests that artists should actively seek inspiration from various sources, such as books, music, art, and nature.
    • He emphasizes the idea that all artists build upon existing ideas, remixing and reinterpreting them in their own unique ways.
  • Collaboration and Community:
    • The book encourages readers to connect with other creatives, attend events, and share their work with a supportive community.
    • Kleon emphasizes the benefits of collaboration and the power of sharing ideas and feedback with others.
  • Authenticity and Personal Expression:
    • Kleon emphasizes the importance of being true to oneself and embracing personal experiences and perspectives in the creative process.
    • He encourages readers to find their own voice and style, rather than copying or imitating others.

The significance or relevance of these themes in the context of the book:

“Steal Like an Artist” is a guidebook that empowers individuals to tap into their creativity and navigate the challenges of the creative process. The themes explored in the book are highly relevant in today’s fast-paced, interconnected world.

By encouraging readers to embrace their creativity, the book fosters a mindset of exploration and experimentation. It liberates individuals from the fear of failure and allows them to express themselves authentically.

The emphasis on seeking inspiration and understanding the influence of others helps readers understand that creativity is not about creating something entirely original but rather building upon existing ideas and making them their own. This message empowers individuals to find their unique creative voice.

The focus on collaboration and community recognizes the value of connecting with other creatives. In a world where sharing and networking have become increasingly important, the book encourages readers to leverage the power of collaboration to learn from others and grow together.

Overall, “Steal Like an Artist” promotes a positive and practical approach to creativity, inspiring readers to embrace their creative potential, seek inspiration, collaborate, and express themselves authentically. It provides guidance and encouragement to anyone looking to unleash their creativity and make their mark in the world of art and innovation.

Writing Style & Tone

Austin Kleon’s writing style in “Steal Like an Artist” can be described as conversational, engaging, and accessible. Kleon presents his ideas and advice in a direct and friendly manner, making the book approachable for readers of all backgrounds. His writing is characterized by its brevity and clarity, delivering concise nuggets of wisdom and inspiration. Kleon’s style is infused with a sense of enthusiasm and creativity, which encourages readers to embrace their own artistic pursuits and think outside the box.

The tone of “Steal Like an Artist” is upbeat, encouraging, and empowering. Kleon aims to inspire readers to tap into their creative potential and embrace their unique voice. He advocates for curiosity, experimentation, and embracing influences from various sources. The book’s tone is light-hearted and positive, creating an atmosphere that fosters creativity, self-expression, and personal growth. While the subject matter is serious, Kleon’s tone is approachable and relatable, allowing readers to feel motivated and excited about their creative endeavors.

One notable narrative technique used by Austin Kleon in “Steal Like an Artist” is the incorporation of visual elements. The book features illustrations, images, and hand-lettered quotes, which complement and enhance the text. Kleon’s use of visual elements adds an extra layer of engagement and creativity to the reading experience, making the book visually appealing and stimulating. These visual elements also serve as reminders and prompts for readers to think visually and embrace different forms of artistic expression. Additionally, Kleon utilizes a non-linear structure, organizing the book into short chapters and bite-sized sections that can be read in any order. This allows readers to navigate the book freely and explore the topics that resonate with them the most, fostering a sense of personal exploration and discovery.


What is “Steal Like an Artist” about?

“Steal Like an Artist” is a creative guidebook that encourages readers to embrace their creativity, seek inspiration from others, and develop their unique artistic voice. Austin Kleon emphasizes the importance of stealing ideas from various sources, transforming them, and combining them with one’s own experiences to create original work.

Does “Steal Like an Artist” promote plagiarism?

No, “Steal Like an Artist” does not promote plagiarism. Austin Kleon’s concept of “stealing” refers to the act of being inspired by the work of others, learning from it, and incorporating those influences into one’s own creative process. It is about finding inspiration and building upon existing ideas, rather than directly copying or imitating without credit.

Who is the target audience for “Steal Like an Artist”?

“Steal Like an Artist” is intended for aspiring creatives, artists, writers, musicians, and anyone seeking inspiration and guidance in their creative pursuits. The book appeals to individuals looking to cultivate their creativity, overcome creative blocks, and develop their own artistic style.

What are some key takeaways from “Steal Like an Artist”?

Some key takeaways from “Steal Like an Artist” include the importance of embracing influences, allowing oneself to be curious and explore various art forms, embracing mistakes and learning from them, and nurturing a creative routine. The book encourages readers to find their own creative voice by embracing their unique experiences and influences.

How does “Steal Like an Artist” encourage creativity?

“Steal Like an Artist” encourages creativity by emphasizing the value of curiosity, learning from others, and embracing a mindset of continuous growth. Kleon suggests that creativity is not solely the result of original ideas but is also shaped by the influences and inspirations one gathers along the way.

Does “Steal Like an Artist” provide practical advice for creativity?

Yes, “Steal Like an Artist” offers practical advice for nurturing creativity. Kleon provides tips on finding inspiration, establishing creative routines, overcoming creative blocks, and developing a sustainable creative practice. The book offers actionable steps and exercises to help readers enhance their creative process.

Q: Can “Steal Like an Artist” benefit professionals in non-artistic fields?

Absolutely! While “Steal Like an Artist” is geared towards artists and creatives, its principles can benefit professionals in non-artistic fields as well. The book’s focus on embracing influences, fostering creativity, and finding one’s unique voice can be applied to any profession that requires innovative thinking and problem-solving.

Is “Steal Like an Artist” a quick read?

Yes, “Steal Like an Artist” is a relatively short and concise book, making it a quick read. The book’s format, which includes illustrations, quotes, and short chapters, allows readers to easily digest the content and reflect on the concepts presented.

Is “Steal Like an Artist” applicable to both beginners and experienced artists?

Yes, “Steal Like an Artist” is applicable to both beginners and experienced artists. The book’s principles and insights can benefit individuals at any stage of their creative journey. Beginners can gain inspiration and guidance, while experienced artists can find new perspectives and ideas to invigorate their practice.

Book you may also like

  • “Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered” by Austin Kleon – This is another book by Austin Kleon that offers practical advice on how to share your creative work, build an audience, and connect with others in the digital age.
  • “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield – Pressfield delves into the concept of resistance and provides insights on overcoming creative blocks and embracing the creative process with discipline and perseverance.
  • “Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All” by Tom Kelley and David Kelley – The authors, both from IDEO, share stories and techniques that help individuals tap into their creative potential and develop confidence in their ability to generate ideas and innovate.
  • “Steal Like an Artist Journal: A Notebook for Creative Kleptomaniacs” by Austin Kleon – This accompanying journal provides prompts and exercises to spark creativity, inspire artistic exploration, and encourage readers to document their ideas and observations.
  • “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” by Julia Cameron – Cameron presents a 12-week program that helps individuals tap into their creativity, overcome self-doubt, and cultivate a deeper connection with their artistic abilities.
  • “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” by Mason Currey – This book offers a collection of daily routines and habits of famous artists, writers, and composers, providing insights into their creative processes and inspiring readers to develop their own productive rituals.
  • “Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity” by Hugh MacLeod – MacLeod offers unconventional advice on creativity, entrepreneurship, and following your artistic instincts, challenging conventional wisdom and encouraging readers to find their own unique creative paths


“Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon is a creative manifesto that encourages readers to embrace their artistic side and find inspiration in the world around them. The book emphasizes the idea that all artists are influenced by others and that stealing ideas, not in a literal sense but by drawing inspiration and remixing existing concepts, is a natural and necessary part of the creative process. Kleon provides practical advice, exercises, and anecdotes to help readers unlock their creativity and find their own unique artistic voice.

“Steal Like an Artist” has had a significant impact on aspiring creatives and artists. It challenges conventional notions of originality and encourages individuals to embrace the influence of others as a means to fuel their own creativity. The book empowers readers to explore their creative instincts, take risks, and break free from creative blocks. Its straightforward and relatable approach has inspired countless individuals to pursue their artistic passions with confidence and authenticity.

I highly recommend reading “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon, especially if you are interested in exploring your own creativity. The book offers valuable insights and practical guidance on navigating the creative process and finding inspiration in unexpected places. Whether you are an artist, writer, musician, or simply seeking to inject more creativity into your life, Kleon’s words will motivate you to embrace your artistic journey. If you have already read the book or have thoughts on its concepts, I encourage you to share your experiences and engage in conversations about the impact of creativity on personal growth and artistic expression.

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