Producing a “product” is often the sole focus of most artists, but Austin Kleon presents a better way: give more room to the process and make it part of your product. Of course, such a move risks giving away “trade secrets” and increases vulnerability. What many people don’t realize is that giving away “trade secrets” forces you to dig deeper, discover new secrets, and master new skills Furthermore, vulnerability brings you closer to your audience, which will ultimately increase your influence.
Now, that last sentence sounds manipulative, but let’s be honest: we create art to say something, to influence thoughts, opinions, even actions. If we truly believe that we have something to say of value, let’s take the steps we need to bring our truest selves to our audience.
Austin writes with honesty, clarity, and humor. He has no problem including quotes to support or expand his ideas, which I find refreshing. It’s nice to see an intellectual thread running through the decades on particular issues. Each chapter is comprised of about a handful of sections that flow together and are united by the chapter’s overall theme. These sections are tightly written, which makes the easy to digest.
The only issue I had with the book—and I want to emphasize how much I enjoyed and learned from it—is that it’s brevity leaves a lot of counterpoints without being fully explored. Now, this isn’t a book written to argue or prove a point of view, but it does present a new approach to creativity. To that end, I’d like to have seen a bit more written to defuse fears and arguments against Kleon’s point of view.
I read Kleon’s previous book Steal Like an Artist, and I found it very helpful. The same goes for Show Your Work. In fact, some of the ideas presented in this book have prompted me to plan a few new endeavors that might be fairly radical and outside of my comfort zone.
And that’s exactly the kind of thought-provoking action we can achieve with a bit of process-transparency and vulnerability.
– Readability (5.0)
– Breadth/Depth of Content (4.0)
– Helpfulness (5.0)
Recommended? – If you want to improve your creative output and develop your process, definitely.
Show Your Work! is by Austin Kleon
You can buy it wherever square-shaped books are sold and at Amazon.
A copy of this book was provided for review purposes by my local library.