What to Read: Show Your Work

Creativity isn’t just about the finished product.

There’s a terrible, tyrannical idea that in order to be a creative person you have to be a mad genius slaving away in a dark room until you emerge, paint-stained and masterpiece in hand. That idea has a lot of creative people isolating themselves for the sake of their art, and then giving up on their work before they reach that masterpiece.  Austin Kleon shatters this idea with his insightful, entertaining book “Show Your Work!

If you’ve ever watched a master craftsman at work, you’ll understand the hypnotic power of a thing being made. Reading Kleon’s book reminded me of a powerful video project I saw recently about hand-crafted Sheffield scissors:

Understanding the craftsmanship of a product connects people to it in a way that’s clear and undeniable.  In fact, thanks to this video, Ernest Wright and Sons cutlery has begun to do quite well.  So for anyone who feels like their work won’t attract an audience, maybe you’re right – but making your work where people can see it certainly will.  It’s a secret that street artists learned a long time ago:

Creativity is about the work in progress, Kleon says, so build a community around what’s happening now instead of a holy grail of future finished work.

Our good friend Brian recommended this book as we discussed The Spare Room Project, and it resonated with our goals:

“Show Your Work!” is a quick read, but I guarantee it will change the way you think about creativity.

Austin Kleon is “a writer who draws” – more specifically, an author, speaker, and poet based in Austin, Texas. He has made his artistic career in the chunks of space in his 9-5 workday as a web designer. He’s one of the major voices in the discussion of what it means to be a content creator in the digital age. His first book, “Newspaper Blackout,” released in 2010, inherited the popular genre of “redacted poetry.”  “Show Your Work!” is his third book, which takes the next step from pursuing creative passions to building a community around them.  For more from Austin Kleon, check out his TedX Talk called “Steal Like an Artist.”

Let us know in the comments how showing your work impacted your creativity!

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The Spare Room Project is a community of artists dedicated to helping people realize their creative potential with the resources and space they already have. Some have found their voice again as we collaborate on music and audio production. Many have benefited from honest and practical articles about how to live a more creative life. All it takes to pursue your passions is to carve out a physical space for them – a bedroom, a corner, even a card table.

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