Show Your Work: My thoughts on this book

I read a book this weekend called Show Your Work! 10 Ways To Share Your Creativity And Get Discovered by Austin Kleon. He is the same person who wrote Steal Like An Artist. I really found some of the information in the book insightful. It also gave me a lot to think about in regards to what I am doing with my own work.

The book has 10 chapters:

  1. You don’t have to be a genius.
  2. Think Progress. Not product.
  3. Share something small everyday.
  4. Open up your cabinet of curiosities.
  5. Tell good stories.
  6. Teach what you know.
  7. Don’t turn into human spam.
  8. Learn to take a punch.
  9. Sell out.
  10. Stick around.

I found interesting info in each chapter. I pulled some quotes and wrote some thoughts I found to stick out the most to me. I recommend this book to people. It is an easy and quick read. Kleon doesn’t use anything that is hard to understand, which for me was super great. You can read more about his book here, and there are links at the bottom of that webpage to where you can purchase the book. If nothing else take a look at some of the thought provoking questions I pulled. They can give you a place to start.

(Most of the quotes below are from Austin Kleon, unless otherwise stated.)


“… Good work isn’t created in a vacuum, and that creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds.”

Questions for a new tool…
1. What was it made for?
2. How are others using it?
3. What use can I find for it?

“The best way to get started on the path to sharing you work is to 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. Don’t worry, for now, about how you’ll make money or a career off it. Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism (your heart, your love) on your sleeve. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.”

“You have to turn the invisible into something other people can see.”

“Put yourself, and your work, out there every day, and you’ll start meeting some amazing people.” Bobby Solomon


What are you working on? 
“Share where you are in a project – no matter what stage you’re in, what your thoughts or inspirations are, or what you did that day. Sharing just a little bit every day keeps you moving forward. Don’t worry about it being perfect. Just remember that you don’t have to share everything. There’s a balance. Over-sharing can be bad.
“Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got. It really does need a little social chemistry to make it show itself to you sometimes.”
– Wayne White

More questions:

Where do you get your inspiration?
What sorts of things do you fill your head with?
What do you read?
Do you subscribe to anything?
What sites do you visit on the internet?
What music do you listen to?
What movies do you see?
Do you look at art?
What do you collect?
What’s inside your scrapbook?
What do you pin to the corkboard above your desk?
What do you stick on your refrigerator?
Who’s done work that you admire?
Who do you steal ideas from?
Do you have any heroes?
Who do you follow online?
Who are the practitioners you look up to in your field?

“Put a virtual tip jar or DONATE NOW button on your website.”
Your fans will want to help you make more stuff.

“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.”

“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 affects how they value it.”

“Your work doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Whether you realize it or not, you’re already telling a story about your work. Every email you send, every text, every conversation, every blog comment, every tweet, every photo, every video – they’re all bits and pieces of a multimedia narrative you’re constantly constructing. If you want to be more effective when sharing yourself and your work, you need to become a better Storyteller. You need to know what a good story is and how to tell one.”

“You should be able to explain your work to a kindergartener, a senior citizen, and everyone in between.”

“Think about what you can share from your process that would inform the people you’re trying to reach. Have you learned a craft? What are your techniques? Are you skilled at using certain tools and materials? What kinds of knowledge come along with your job?”

Blake Butler says, “Be an open node.” You have to be part of the community if you want the community to accept you. You can’t just go in and blast yourself out there and not pay attention to anyone else. You need to be a receiver not just a broadcaster.

“The worst troll is the one that lives in your head. It’s the voice that tells you you’re not good enough, that you suck, and that you’ll never amount to anything.”
You have to have a wall set up to block out the negative voices, and to protect yourself. If you listen to the voices you won’t get to where you want to be. You’ll be stuck.

“Don’t be afraid to charge for your work, but out a price on it that you think is fair.”

“Be ambitious. Keep yourself busy. Think bigger. Expand your audience. Don’t hobble yourself in the name of “keeping it real,” or “not selling out.” 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 to do, say No.”

“Instead of taking a break in between projects, waiting for feedback, and worrying about what’s next, use he end of one project to light up the next one. Just do the work that’s in front of you, and when it’s finished, ask yourself what you missed, what you could’ve done better, or what you couldn’t get to, and jump right into the next project.” 


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