Removing Creative Roadblocks

Have you ever stared at an empty white canvas or blank paper, having no idea where to start? Every artist, creative or maker has felt this feeling at one time or another. We can all agree, it doesn’t feel good. It makes us doubt our abilities as a creative people. We think that maybe the thing we created before was just a fluke.

These doubts can stop any person in their tracks and can be the very reason we refuse to sit at our desks or enter a studio space. 

I just finished reading Austin Kleon’s book “Steal Like An Artist – 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative.” Seriously, such a great read!

If you ever find yourself standing behind any kind of creative block, this is the book for you to get you motivated and creating again. It is a book every creative person needs on their shelf so that when the time hits, they can go back and refer to his advise. 

Here’s the advise and quotes I love most from this book that I wanted to highlight for you… (These are Kleon’s words, not mine. He has a way of saying things in such a succinct way that is so memorable and clear. There is no point in paraphrasing.)

  • “What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.” – William Ralph Inge
  • Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas… You are the sum of your influences…Your job [as an artist] is to collect good ideas.
  • It’s the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.
  • Nobody is born with a style or a voice.
  • Plagiarism is trying to pass someone else’s work off as your own. Copying is about reverse-engineering.
  • The human hand is incapable of making a perfect copy… The reason to copy your heroes and their style is so that you might somehow get a glimpse into their mind.
  • Imitation is about copying. Emulation is when imitation goes one step further, breaking through into your own thing.
  • The best advise is not to write what you know but it’s to write what you like.
  • Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.
  • Don’t worry about unity – what unifies your work is the fact that you made it.
  • There’s no pressure when you’re unknown. You can do [create] what you want.
  • “Do good work”, is incredibly hard. There are no shortcuts.
  • You don’t put yourself online only because you have something to say – you can put yourself online to find something to say.
  • Having a container can inspire us to fill it.
  • If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.
  • “Modern art = I could do that + yeah, but you didn’t.” – Craig Damrauer
  • Get comfortable with being misunderstood, disparaged, or ignored – the trick is to be too busy doing your work to care.
  • Amassing a body of work or building a career is a lot about the slow accumulation of little bits of effort over time.
  • Nothing is more paralyzing than the idea of limitless possibilities.

This list just scratches the surface. These are just the ideas that resonated with me. There is 140 pages of gold nuggets and tidbits, which may inspire you differently. This author is brilliant!

To find out what I thought of Kleon’s book  “Show Your Work”, click here.