From Amateur to Pro: Highlights of “Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon

In “Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon, the author emphasizes the importance of sharing one’s creative journey and process with others. He encourages artists, creators, and entrepreneurs to embrace the concept of “showing your work” as a means to engage and connect with an audience, build a community, and achieve success in this digital age. Kleon, a renowned artist, author, and speaker, has attracted a wide audience with his thought-provoking books, including “Steal Like an Artist” and “Keep Going.” Through his unique blend of practical advice and personal anecdotes, Kleon provides valuable insights and actionable steps for individuals seeking to make their creative work more visible and discoverable.

Share Something Small Every Day

Kleon argues that sharing something small every day is essential because it helps creators build an audience, gain feedback, and hold themselves accountable for their progress. He advises against the commonly held belief of keeping one’s work under wraps until it is fully polished, as this can hinder growth and networking opportunities. Instead, Kleon encourages creators to open up their process, sharing snippets, sketches, and unfinished projects.

The author suggests various platforms for sharing, including social media, personal websites, or blogs, and highlights the importance of adapting to current platforms and technological trends. Furthermore, Kleon emphasizes the need for authenticity, urging creators not to “self-promote,” but rather engage in genuine conversations with like-minded individuals. By initiating dialogues, creators can form connections, exchange ideas, and find inspiration within their communities.

Kleon acknowledges the vulnerability that comes with sharing one’s work openly, but he emphasizes that it is a necessary step towards developing a consistent practice. The feedback received from sharing can have a profound impact on improving one’s skills and refining their creative process.

You Don’t Have to Be a Genius

In this chapter, Kleon provokes the idea that one doesn’t need to possess extraordinary skills or genius to share their work and contribute to the creative community.

Kleon encourages readers to be generous with their process, allowing others to witness their creative journey. He emphasizes the significance of documenting and sharing the steps, struggles, and smaller projects along the way, as they provide valuable insights for other aspiring artists or creators. By revealing the process, individuals can demystify their work and inspire others to find their own creative paths.

Furthermore, Kleon highlights the importance of embracing vulnerability and being comfortable with imperfections. He argues that it is often the flaws and failures that can attract people to our work, as they make it relatable and authentic. He urges creators to share their mistakes and experiments, as they can serve as valuable learning experiences for both the creator and their audience.

Additionally, the chapter emphasizes the benefits of building a creative network and learning from others. Kleon encourages readers to engage with their community, both online and offline, by sharing their work, providing feedback, and collaborating with other artists. By being open and supportive within the creative sphere, individuals can foster a sense of camaraderie and create opportunities for growth and collaboration.

It encourages individuals to showcase their imperfect and unfinished work to inspire others and create connections that foster personal and collective growth.

Think Process, Not Product

Kleon argues that by sharing their work in progress, creators can gain valuable feedback and insights from peers, leading to growth and improvement. He emphasizes that the process is just as valuable as the end result, as it reveals the thought and effort that goes into creating a piece of work. By sharing this process with others, creators allow for a deeper connection and understanding of the work.

The author further emphasizes that showcasing one’s process can also inspire and motivate others. Instead of presenting a masterpiece and leaving others feeling overwhelmed or inadequate, sharing the steps and struggles involved in the creative journey showcases the reality of the process. This transparency fosters a supportive and inclusive community, encouraging others to embark on their own creative endeavors.

Kleon believes that sharing your process can also lead to collaborations and potential opportunities. By making your creative journey public, you invite others to participate and contribute, opening doors to new perspectives and collaborations that you may have never anticipated.

Share Your Influences

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Kleon emphasizes the importance of being transparent about one’s influences and sharing them with others to foster creativity and build connections within a community.

According to Kleon, every artist, writer, or creator is influenced by someone or something. By openly acknowledging these influences, individuals can step out of the shadows of their idols and establish their unique voice. Sharing influences can also help others discover new ideas and perspectives that have impacted an artist’s work.

Kleon argues that sharing influences is not about copying or plagiarizing, but rather about sincere appreciation and gratitude. By recognizing the people and works that have influenced them, individuals provide a richer context for their creations, enabling others to engage deeply with their art and learn from their journey.

Furthermore, sharing influences cultivates a sense of community among creators. It creates opportunities for collaboration, support, and exchange of ideas. By showing vulnerability and expressing admiration for others, individuals can attract like-minded individuals who resonate with their work and are eager to contribute to their creative pursuits.

It encourages artists to be transparent about their sources of inspiration, allowing them to create meaningful connections within their community, and fostering new opportunities for creativity and collaboration.

Open up Your Cabinet of Curiosities

The chapter begins by introducing the concept of a “cabinet of curiosities,” which refers to a collection of objects that reflect a person’s interests and passions. Kleon suggests that by curating and sharing their own cabinet of curiosities, individuals can gain attention and connect with others who share similar interests.

Kleon emphasizes the importance of showcasing the process rather than just the final product. He encourages readers to document and share their work in progress, as well as the inspirations and ideas behind it. By doing so, individuals can invite others into their creative process, spark conversations, and receive feedback.

Additionally, Kleon stresses the value of being generous with knowledge and ideas. He advocates for sharing resources, citing examples of successful artists, writers, and musicians who have built their careers by openly giving away their work and helping others. Through this generosity, creators can build a network and gain recognition for their expertise.

By embracing their unique interests, sharing their work, and being generous with their knowledge, individuals can create meaningful connections and contribute to the larger creative community.

Tell Good Stories

The author argues that storytelling enhances the audience’s understanding and appreciation of creative processes. By sharing the story of how an idea or project came to life, artists can connect with their audience on a deeper level. Kleon encourages artists to reveal the struggles, setbacks, and breakthroughs they encountered along the way, creating a more relatable experience for their viewers.

Kleon also highlights the benefits of sharing one’s work-in-progress. By documenting the evolution of an idea through sketches, drafts, and research materials, artists invite their audience to become part of the creative journey. Additionally, this approach allows for feedback and collaboration at various stages, leading to improved outcomes.

Furthermore, the chapter emphasizes the power of vulnerability in storytelling. By being authentic and sharing personal experiences, artists create a sense of empathy and establish a genuine connection with their audience. Kleon encourages artists to be open about their passions, inspirations, and aspirations, as this helps to humanize the creative process and engage others in meaningful ways.

By focusing on the narrative, embracing vulnerability, and involving the audience in the creative journey, artists can forge deeper connections, foster collaboration, and ultimately create more meaningful and impactful work.

Teach What You Know

Kleon urges readers to become “amateur teachers,” embracing the idea that teaching is a part of the learning process.

Kleon encourages individuals to document and share their creative journey by showcasing their work, inspiration, and process along the way. By openly sharing what they know, people can establish themselves as experts in their field and attract like-minded individuals who are interested in their work. Sharing not only builds a loyal following but also helps creators learn and refine their own skills.

The chapter emphasizes that teaching does not necessarily mean standing in front of a classroom; it can take various forms, such as blogging, vlogging, creating online tutorials, or even mentoring others in person. Kleon believes every person has something unique to offer, and by teaching what we know, we become part of a larger creative community, learning from one another and inspiring new ideas.

Furthermore, teaching what you know also offers a chance for self-reflection and self-improvement. Teaching forces individuals to break down complex concepts into understandable chunks, enhancing their own understanding of the subject matter. Additionally, teaching can serve as a motivation to continuously learn and grow in order to stay ahead and be able to provide valuable knowledge to others.

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Don’t Turn into Human Spam

The chapter emphasizes the need to build an authentic and meaningful presence when sharing work online.

Kleon begins by highlighting the common mistake of over-promoting oneself and bombarding others with excessive self-promotional content. He describes this behavior as “human spam” and warns against falling into this trap. Instead, he encourages individuals to focus on sharing their creative process and providing value to their audience.

The author emphasizes the importance of transparency and vulnerability in one’s online presence. By sharing the behind-the-scenes process, including mistakes and lessons learned, individuals can establish a genuine connection with their audience. Kleon suggests sharing the things that inspire them, their creative influences, and allowing others to witness the evolution of their work.

Another key point emphasized is the importance of contributing to the creative community. Rather than simply promoting oneself, it is crucial to engage with and support others. By collaborating, sharing insights, and offering guidance, individuals can create a supportive network and foster genuine relationships.

Kleon also advises against relying solely on social media platforms and encourages individuals to build their own websites or platforms to showcase their work. This helps maintain control over one’s content and reach a more focused audience.

By sharing the creative process, contributing to the community, and maintaining control over their platform, individuals can avoid becoming mere self-promoters and build a meaningful and engaged audience.

After Reading

In conclusion, “Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon is a dynamic guide that encourages individuals to embrace the concept of sharing their creative process with the world. Kleon emphasizes the importance of not only producing work but also actively sharing it, highlighting the benefits of connecting with others, gaining valuable feedback, and building a community. Through practical advice and inspiring anecdotes, Kleon urges readers to embrace vulnerability, embrace their voice, and to seize opportunities for collaboration and recognition. By demonstrating the power of self-promotion and showcasing the value of being open about one’s creative journey, “Show Your Work” offers an insightful roadmap for artists, creators, and anyone seeking to share their work and flourish in the digital age.

Title: Book Recommendations to Enhance Personal Growth and Professional Success

1. Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi:

Keith Ferrazzi provides valuable insights on networking and building meaningful relationships. This book offers practical advice on leveraging your connections to achieve success. Ferrazzi’s personal anecdotes and strategies will help you understand the power of relationships and how to cultivate them effectively.

2. Think Again” by Adam M. Grant:

Adam M. Grant implores readers to challenge their own beliefs and embrace the benefits of cognitive flexibility. With his research-backed approach, Grant encourages us to embrace curiosity, skepticism, and the ability to change our minds. “Think Again” explores how an open mindset can fuel personal and professional growth.

3. So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport:

Cal Newport examines the conventional wisdom of “follow your passion” and presents a more realistic approach to finding fulfilling work. Through case studies and analysis, Newport explains why skill development, career capital, and craftsmanship are the keys to true passion and success. This book will change your perspective on finding a meaningful career path.

4. Atomic Habits” by James Clear:

Building upon Austin Kleon’s “Show Your Work,” James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” delivers a comprehensive guide on how to develop powerful habits and eliminate destructive ones. Clear dives deep into the science of habit formation, providing practical strategies to create lasting changes. By implementing the principles from this book, you can enhance productivity, creativity, and personal growth.

5. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World” by David Epstein:

David Epstein examines the idea that specialization is not always the key to success. Through captivating stories and compelling research, the author argues in favor of generalists who possess a wide range of experiences and knowledge. “Range” inspires readers to embrace diverse interests and develop unique skill sets, promoting adaptability and innovation in a rapidly changing world.

These five book recommendations provide a well-rounded collection of resources, ranging from building relationships and career advancement to habit formation and embracing a broader range of skills. We hope this selection fosters personal growth, professional success, and a new perspective on pursuing your passions.

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