Kleon Austin: Show your work!

Along with couple of other books, I had Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Kleon Austin on my Goodreads wishlist for quite some time. When I started using Kindle, things changed. Suddenly, buying books has become easy for me. I would say too easy. Just one click! Too often, I am on a comfortable shopping spree in my bed. This time it was no different. Click! And Kleon’s amazing book arrived to my Kindle library. It is full of funny visuals and illustrations. However, I would have preferred to see them in color not in fifty shades of Kindle grey 😉

While I was taking notes of my favorite passages for this post, I have realized I am starting to copy the whole book. So I prioritized my top 3 thoughts and here they are:

1. Work doesn’t speak for itself

Imagine two identical pieces of art that you immediately fall in love with. You don’t know anything about these paintings. When someone tells you, that painting A was painted by a Dutch master from 17th century and painting B is a forgery. It was copied by a student in local art college. Which canvas looks better now?

I have noticed this truth in many of my friends’ Instagram posts. While social media is designed to convey messages instantly (the faster the better), I am often drawn to images with interesting story behind captured in captions below. If these captions are missing, the story seems usually empty to me. Of course I do not read each and every Instagram caption in my feed. I already know which friends have natural gift of story telling. So I read mostly posts based on my (un-)conscious bias. But you can learn storytelling too. Just observe and practice, Kleon advises.

2. No guilty pleasures

“I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you f—ing like something, like it.” Dave Grahl

That’s the motto of this whole chapter, that our likes and dislikes connects us and we should not be afraid to share them. Your Spotify playlist may inspire your friend even though it’s a garbage. And you should have a courage to like your garbage. Because, as Kleon writes, finding the treasure in other people’s trash, sifting through the debris of our culture, paying attention to the stuff that everyone is ignoring and taking inspiration from the stuff that people have tossed aside for whatever reason is one of the jobs of artist, “dumpster diving”.

3. Share something small everyday and use the So what?! test

Become your own documentarian and share the process of your work and your progress as an artist. People are interested to see your evolution. Here comes to my mind, before and after pictures you may see on internet of people who lost weight. Aren’t they fascinating? When I discover an artist, I like to stalk him to the beginning of his feed to see where she started. To find something relatable. If you are scared of oversharing (posting to often to scare your audience away) use Kleon’s So what?! test. If you are not sure, whether your post is meaningful enough, ask yourself this powerful question. So what? If you are still not sure, save your post for later. There is nothing wrong with having some patience.

This book has many other artist’s secrets to offer. I leave the author to spill those out to you when you read the book yourself 😉


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