The quotes for this book need curating

We’d love for you to do it. If you’re not yet registered as a curator, you’ll first need to do so.

What does curating involve?   |   Benefits    |    Register

About the book

In his New York Times bestseller Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon showed readers how to unlock their creativity by “stealing” from the community of other movers and shakers. Now, in an even more forward-thinking and necessary book, he shows how to take that critical next step on a creative journey—getting known.

Show Your Work! is about why generosity trumps genius. It’s about getting findable, about using the network instead of wasting time “networking.” It’s not self-promotion, it’s self-discovery—let others into your process, then let them steal from you. Filled with illustrations, quotes, stories, and examples, Show Your Work! offers ten transformative rules for being open, generous, brave, productive.

In chapters such as “You Don’t Have to Be a Genius”; “Share Something Small Every Day”; and “Stick Around”, Kleon creates a user’s manual for embracing the communal nature of creativity— what he calls the “ecology of talent.” From broader life lessons about work (you can’t find your voice if you don’t use it) to the etiquette of sharing—and the dangers of oversharing—to the practicalities of Internet life (build a good domain name; give credit when credit is due), it’s an inspiring manifesto for succeeding as any kind of artist or entrepreneur in the digital age.

Buy book: Amazon

Year published: 2014


Quotes from the book

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered (Austin Kleon)

  • First, be useful. Then necessary.
  • Become a documentarian of what you do.
  • The worst troll is the one that lives in your head.
  • Don’t show your lunch or your latte, show your work.
  • The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something.
  • it’s not enough to be good. In order to be found, you have to be findable.
  • Walt Disney: We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.
  • Go back to your documentation and find one little piece of process that you can share.
  • You can’t be content with mastery; you have to push yourself to become a student again.
  • If you want people to know about what you do and the things you care about, you have to share.
  • Steve Albini says, being good at things is the only thing that earns you clout or connections.
  • George Orwell wrote: Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful.
  • It sounds a little extreme, but in this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.
  • The people who get what they’re after are very often the ones who just stick around long enough.
  • This story shows what happens when a musician interacts with his fans on the level of a fan himself.
  • Don’t talk to people you don’t want to talk to, and don’t talk about stuff you don’t want to talk about.
  • Be open, share imperfect and unfinished work that you want feedback on, but don’t share absolutely everything.
  • Alain de Botton wrote, Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.
  • Being open and honest honest about what you like is the best way to connect with people who like those things, too
  • Cartoonist Natalie Dee says: There’s never a space under paintings in a gallery where someone writes their opinion.
  • ask yourself ‘is it helpful? is it entertaining? is it something i’d be comfortable with my boss or my mother seeing?’
  • Show your work, and when the right people show up, pay close attention to them, because they’ll have a lot to show you.
  • Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you’ll attract people who love that kind of stuff. It’s that simple.
  • Part of the art of creating is in discovering your own kind. They are everywhere. But don’t look for them in the wrong places”
  • Colin Marshall says: If you spend your life avoiding vulnerability, you and your work will never truly connect with other people.
  • Don’t try to be hip or cool. Being open and honest about what you like is the best way to connect with people who like those things, too.
  • Your influences are all worth sharing because they clue people in to who you are and what you do – sometimes even more than your own work
  • Once a day, after you’ve done your day’s work, go back to your documentation and find one little piece of your process that you can share.
  • Online, everyone – the artist and the curator, the master and the apprentice, the expert and the amateur – has the ability to contribute something.
  • The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, (…) affects how they value it.
  • Want to pick up a great book or two this season? Check out our recommendations of hot books selected by your fellow readers, bestselling authors, and more!
  • But now I realize that the only way to find your voice is to use it. It’s hardwired, built into you. Talk about the things you love. Your voice will follow.
  • The trouble with imaginative people is that we’re good at picturing the worst that could happen to us. Fear is often just the imagination taking a wrong turn.
  • iI sounds a little extreme, but in this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist. (…) if you want people to know about you, you have to share.
  • Isak Dinesen wrote, You can’t count on success; you can only leave open the possibility for it, and be ready to jump on and take the ride when it comes for you.
  • You have to remember that your work is something you do, not who you are. This is especially hard for artists to accept, as so much of what they do is personal.
  • You should be able to explain your work to a kindergartner, a senior citizen, and everybody in between. of course, you always need to keep your audience in mind.
  • Once a good knuckleball is thrown, it’s equally unpredictable to the batter, the catcher, and the pitcher who threw it. (Sounds a lot like the creative process, huh?)
  • A successful or failed project is no guarantee of another success or failure. Whether you’ve just won big or lost big, you still have to face the question What’s next?
  • To all viewers but yourself, what matters is the product: the finished artwork. To you, and you alone, what matters is the process: the experience of shaping the artwork.
  • But whatever the nature of your work, there is an art to what you do, and there are people who would be interested in that art, if only you presented it to them in the right way.
  • When you find things you genuinely enjoy, don’t let anyone else make you feel bad about it. Don’t feel guilty about the pleasure you take in the things you enjoy. Celebrate them.
  • Artist Ben Shan says: An amateur is an artist who supports himself with outside jobs which enable him to paint. A professional is someone whose wife works to enable him to paint.
  • Social media sites are the perfect place to share daily updates. Don’t worry about being on every platform; pick and choose based on what you do and the people you’re trying to reach.
  • to be interest-ing is to be curious and attentive, and to practice the continual projection of interest. To put it more simply: If you want to be interesting, you have to be interested.
  • Colin Marshall says: Compulsive avoidance of embarrassment is a form of suicide. If you spend your life avoiding vulnerability, you and your work will never truly connect with other people.
  • Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck — and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky. Michael Lewis
  • The world is changing at such a rapid rate that it’s turning us all into amateurs. Even for professionals, the best way to flourish is to retain an amateur’s spirit and embrace uncertainty and the unknown.
  • The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes. —Annie Dillard
  • Don’t think of your website as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self-invention machine. online, you can become the person you really want to be. fill your website with your work and your ideas and the stuff you care about.
  • Try new things. If an opportunity comes along that will allow you to do more of the kind of work you want to do, say Yes. If an opportunity comes along that would mean more money, but less of the kind of work you want o do, say No.
  • The best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others. (…) share what you love, and people who love the same things will find you.
  • Everybody loves a good story, but good storytelling doesn’t come easy to everybody. It’s a skill that takes a lifetime to master. So study the great stories and then go find some of your own. Your stories will get better the more you tell them.
  • Teaching people doesn’t subtract value from what you do, it actually adds to it. When you teach someone how to do your work, you are, in effect, generating more interest in your work. People feel closer to your work because you’re letting them in on what you know.
  • By taking advantage of the internet and social media, an artist can share whatever she wants, whenever she wants, at almost no cost. (…) she can share her sketches and work-in-progress, post pictures of her studio, or blog about her influences, inspiration, and tools.
  • We all love things that other people think are garbage. You have to have the courage to keep loving your garbage, because what makes us unique is the diversity and breadth of our influences, the unique ways in which we mix up the parts of culture others have deemed high and the low.
  • Stock and flow is an economic concept that writer Robin Sloan has adapted into a metaphor for media: Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people you exist. Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today.
  • In their book, Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson encourage businesses to emulate chefs by outteaching their competition. What do you do? What are your ‘recipes’? What’s your ‘cookbook’? What can you tell the world about how you operate that’s informative, educational, and promotional? They encourage businesses to figure out the equivalent of their own cooking show.
  • Think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others. Find a scenius, pay attention to what others are sharing, and then start taking note of what they’re not sharing. Be on the lookout for voids that you can fill with your own efforts, no matter how bad they are at first. . . . Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.
  • Artists love to trot out the tired line, My work speaks for itself, but the truth is, our work doesn’t speak for itself. Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work effects how they value it.
  • Writer David Foster Wallace said that he thought good nonfiction was a chance to watch somebody reasonably bright but also reasonably average pay far closer attention and think at far more length about all sorts of different stuff than most of us have a chance to in our daily lives. Amateurs fit the same bill: They’re just regular people who get obsessed by something and spend a ton of time thinking out loud about it.
  • Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. —Steve Jobs
  • As you put yourself and your work out there, you will run into your fellow knuckleballers. These are your real peers-the people who share your obsessions, the people who share a similar mission to your own, the people with whom you share a mutual respect. There will only be a handful or so of them, but they’re so, so important. Do what you can to nurture your relationships with these people. Show them work before you show anybody else. Keep them as close as you can.
  • Author John Gardner said the basic plot of nearly all stories is this: A character wants something, goes after it despite opposition (perhaps including his own doubts), and so arrives at a win, lose, or draw. I like Gardner’s plot formula because it’s also the shape of most creative work: You get a great idea, you go through the hard work of executing the idea, and then you release the idea out into the world, coming to a win, lose, or draw. Sometimes the idea succeeds, sometimes it fails, and more often than not, it does nothing at all.
  • Every client presentation, every personal essay, every cover letter, every fund-raising request – they’re all pitches. They’re stories with the endings chopped off. A good pitch is set up in three acts: The first act is the past, the second act is the present, and the third is the future. The first act is where you’ve been – what you want, how you came to want it, and what you’ve done so far to get it. The second act is where you are now in your work and how you’ve worked hard and used up most of your resources. The third act is where you’re going, and how exactly the person you’re pitching can help you get there. Like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, this story shape effectively turns your listener into the hero who gets to decide how it ends.
  • If you believe in the lone genius myth, creativity is an antisocial act, performed by only a few great figures — mostly dead men with names like Mozart, Einstein, or Picasso. The rest of us are left to stand around and gawk in awe at their achievements. Under the “scenius” model, great ideas are often birthed by a group of creative individuals — artists, curators, thinkers, theorists, and other tastemakers — who make up an ecology of talent. Being a valuable part of a scenius is not necessarily about how smart or talented you are, but about what you have to contribute—the ideas you share, the quality of the connections you make, and the conversations you start. If we forget about genius and think more about how we can nurture and contribute to a scenius, we can adjust our own expectations and the expectations of the worlds we want to accept us. We can stop asking what others can do for us, and start asking what we can do for others.