Artist Austin Kleon wrote a fantastic post on his blog called, “How To Steal Like An Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me)”. He brings up a lot of good points and ideas that have been stewing in my brain for a long time and which I could not put into words.
Here are my notes:
1. Steal Like An Artist
I covered this in an older post and I still agree with it.
Don’t copy—steal. Nothing is original. 1 + 1 = 3. You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.
This is why I closely moderate and regularly prune my friends list, following list and blog subscriptions. Sure it’s nice to laugh at memes, .GIFs, and cat videos from time to time but if that’s all you’re exposed to, then how do you expect to produce good, quality content in your own blog?
You are who you follow.
2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to start making things.
Ever since I saw this quote in one of Emma’s post, I’ve been repeating it like a mantra.
No one really knows what they’re doing. We’re all just stumbling as we go.
This is also a big part of how I dress. Contrary to what people think, I actually don’t shop that often nor do I have that many clothes. Most of them are from thrift stores but I somehow fool people into thinking I’m very stylish, lol.
3. Write the book you want to read.
This is sort of like the first point: You are what you read.
I once saw a quote which was somewhere along the lines of, “If you want to be a good writer, be a good reader.” This is another reason I unfollow certain blogs/sites/tweople. I like to think that reading about design theory helps me become a real designer.
Write the book you want to read. Make the art you want to see. Make the designs that you want to experience.
That is how all great creations are created.
4. Use Your Hands.
Hands are forgotten tools.
Sometimes I wish I lived in the past when graphic designers did not have computers or Adobe Photoshop to do the work for them. Top designers like Alan Fletcher and Massimo Vignelli used x-acto knives and special tools to create their work.
Back then, you had to be exceptionally good and multi-talented to survive in this industry. Now it’s become much too easy.
5. Side projects and hobbies are important.
I like this one because that is what web and graphic design used to be for me: a hobby. Instead of going outside, I holed up in front of my PC as a kid, playing with pixels and learning to code.
Looking at myself now, I still cannot believe I am actually pursuing this. Reading, learning, writing and immersing myself in design is so incredibly exhilarating.
6. The secret: do good work and put it where people can see it.
Step 1: Wonder at something.
Step 2: Invite others to wonder with you.
Hey, isn’t this what I’m doing right now? Awesome!
7. Geography is no longer our master.
Amazing how I can email my pen-pal in South Korea and receive a reply 5 minutes after…
Take advantage of this. Make friends from around the world, collaborate, and share!
8. Be nice. The world is a small town.
Or as Conan O’Brien puts it, “If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
9. Be boring. It’s the only way to get work done.
This is where all the “hard work” comes in. The organization, the time management, the ability to GET THINGS DONE!
Unsurprisingly, this is the one I struggle with most. Working hard is hard work!
10. Creativity is subtraction.
Less is more. Piling lots of things into one design may seem like a good idea, but the best designers are the ones who can strip designs to their bare essentials.
Creativity isn’t just the things we chose to put in, it’s also the things we chose to leave out.