13 Great Quotes from Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences. The German writer Goethe said, “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”


Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. – Jim Jarmusch


Marcel Duchamp said, “I don’t believe in art. I believe in artists.” This is actually a pretty good method for studying – if you try to devour the history of your discipline all at once, you‘ll choke.

Instead, chew on one thinker – writer, artist, activist, role model – you really love. Study everything there is to know about that thinker. Then find three people that thinker loved, and find out everything about them. Repeat this as many times as you can. Climb up the tree as far as you can go. Once you build your tree, it’s time to start your own branch. 

Seeing yourself as part of a creative lineage will help you feel less alone as you start making your own stuff.


School Yourself. School is one thing. Education is another. The two don’t always overlap. Whether you’re in school or not, it’s always your job to get yourself an education.


Always be reading. Go to the library. There’s magic in being surrounded by books. Get lost in the stacks. Read bibliographies. It’s not the book you start with, it’s the book that book leads you to.


Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away. Nothing is more important than an unread library.


It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected. – Mark Twain


It’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.


If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.


That whole romantic image of the creative genius doing drugs and running around and sleeping with everyone is played out. It’s for the superhuman and the people who want to die young. The thing is: It takes a lot of energy to be creative. You don’t have that energy if you waste it on other stuff.


Stay Out of Debt. Most people I know hate to think about money. Do yourself a favor: Learn about money as soon as you can.


Get a calendar. Fill the boxes. Don’t break the chain.

(Don’t break the chain! We’ve covered this habit tracking device previously on this blog. It’s always a thrill to see a reference to it out in the wild.)


Mary Well. Who you marry is the most important decision you’ll ever make. And “marry well” doesn’t just mean your life partner – it also means who you do business with, who you befriend, who you choose to be around.



This is a great book that can be read in one or two sittings. 

It’s big on personality but has awful binding. The book now sits in a plastic bag so the pages don’t go all over the place. I had hoped that this would be limited to just my copy, but, unfortunately, a quick scan of the reviews would indicate it’s a wider issue.

Binding aside, I still wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to anyone with the caveat that it probably won’t stay bound. There’s plenty of sage advice from someone who’s been there and done that. It was a treat going back over my highlights to put this post together and I’m confident I’ll be returning to them again in the not-so-distant future.

Until next time,


Related Posts:

Jump Start Your Productivity with 10 Quotes from Atomic Habits by James Clear.

The Best Quotes from Grit By Angela Duckworth.

On Writing Well: Theme Summaries and Review.

Leave a Comment