Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

You are currently viewing Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Intellectual Humiliation

Confront your own ignorance.

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered

A New Way of Operating

The artist doesn’t network, it used the network to show his work. He’s sharing his ideas and process in way that is interesting for people and will eventually make him a network. He’s out there, writing, blogging or recording it via photograph in a way that others may find useful. He’s sharing his unfinished work in other to find the work he so clearly wants. 

1. You Don’t Have to be a Genius

The myth of the lone genius is one of the most shared ideas of creativity out there. It steams from the idea that there’s an individual out there with superhuman talents that appears out of nowhere to knock other people’s socks off in a way that has never been done before. This myth concentrates on the idea that creativity is an antisocial act, something that can only happen when that person is by himself. 

The “scenius” idea, coined by musician Brian Eno, refers to great ideas coming from a group of creative individuals, who make up an “ecology of talent” who steal, transform, reuse, innovate ideas that the group has as a whole. 

“Scenius” changes the idea that you can only be valued as a creative person form the sole idea you come up with. Instead, it focuses on the contribution to the group. The ideas you share, the quality of the connections you make , and the conversation you start. 

Dare to be an amateur. Someone who loves their work so much they can’t help but want to show it to the world around them. They take chances, experiment, and follow their whims. They’re not afraid to make mistakes or look ridiculous in public. They’re people who become obsessed with something and spend a lot of time thinking out loud about it. 

The best way to get start on the path to sharing your working is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others. Stop worrying about being an expert or a professional. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you. 

Share you your thoughts with others. Talk about the things you love. Be communicative with the world. 

2. Think Process Not Product

“A lot foe people are so used to just seeing the outcome of work. They never see the side of the works you go through to produce the outcome.” – Michael Jackson.

As in all kinds of work, there is a distinction between the painter’s process, and the products of her process. 

Your audience is just as interested in knowing the process of your work as you are about the finished product of your work. It allows the artist to not only share a very vulnerable piece of themselves, but allows the audience to connect with the artist watching them struggle in a way that is not shown in the final product. 

“Become a documentarian of what you do. Start a work journal: write your thoughts down in a notebook, or speak them into an audio recorder. Keep a scrapbook. Take a lot of photographs of your work at different stages in your process. Shoot video of your working. This isn’t about making art, its about simply keeping track of whats going on around you. Take advantage of all the cheap, easy tools at your disposal – these days, most of us carry a full functional multimedia studio around in our smartphone.” 

3. Share Something Small Everyday

Overnight success is a myth. Every success comes with years of hard work baggage. No exceptions. But thinking in terms of years as a way to get your hard work rewarded is complicated, so instead focus on days. 

The daily dispatch is based on sharing the progress, no matter how little, of what you did that day. It can be anything you want: emails, blog post, tweets, video, or any other form of media. But this shouldn’t distract your from actually doing your work. Remember, its about sharing a piece of the process but not allowing it to become the product. 

Ask yourself: “Is this helpful?” “Is this entertaining?” “Is this something I’d be comfortable my boss or my mother seeing?”

Invest in your own domain name. Use it as a way to show your work. Fill it with your work and ideas and the stuff you care about. Stick with it, maintain it, and let it change with you over time. 

4. Open Your Cabinet Of Curiosities

We all have our own treasured collection of things we love. It can be either a museum of our hobbies or a cabinet of things we’ve collected over the years. Things that could accurately describe our own tastes. 

Your influences are worth sharing because they clue people in to who you are and what you do. Share with people: what inspires you, what you can fill your head with, what you read, what do you subscribe to, whats inside your scrapbook, who’s work do you admire, etc. these are all clues into who you are more than your own work.

 Don’t allow people to make you feel guilty for the things you enjoy. Own your tastes as if you would own your work. Being open and honest about what you like is the best way to connect with people who like those things too. 

5. Tell Good Stories

“Human beings want to know where things come from, how they were made, and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your wok, and how people feel  and what they understand about your work affects how the value it.”

“If you wat to be more effective when sharing yourself and your work, you need to become a better storyteller. You need to know what a good story is and how to tell one.”

All the work in the world are pitches. They’re stories with the endings chopped off, and therefore should be though of in three parts: the beginning, the middle and the end. The past is the beginning: what you want, how you came to want it, and what you’ve don’t so far to get it. Where you are now is the middle act: the work you are doing and how you;ve worked hard and used up most of your resources. The future is the end: where you are going and how exactly the person you’re pitching can help you get there. 

6. Teach What You Know

The moment you learn something, turn around and teach it to others. Share your reading list. Point to the ways you mastered your craft. Create a tutorial series online and sell it. It’s a good wat to generate more value to your work. It’s also a good way to generate more interest in your wok. 

7. Don’t Turn Into Human Spam

If you want fans, you have to be a fan first. If you want tot be accepted by a community, you have to first be a good citizen of that community. You can’t just point to your stuff online, you have to be a connector. 

Stop thinking of fans a qualitative measure and start thinking about them in a quantitative measure. It’s not about the amount of people who follow you online, it’s about the quality of those people. If you want to be followed, create something worth following. 

Life is all about who you know. But who you know is largely dependent on who you are and what you do, and the people you know can’t do anything for you if you’re not doing good work. 

“Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you’ll attract people who love that kind of stuff. It’s that simple.”

8. Learn How to Take a Punch

Learn how to take criticism like a champ. It ain’t easy, but I’ll be one of the best lesson you’ll learn as someone who put themselves out there. 

There are techniques to learn how to take criticism:

Relax and breathe. Don’t clap back. Don’t respond. Understand that there are different tastes in this world and that not everyone is going to like your work and be very vocal about it. 

Strengthen your neck. In order not to crumble for a punch is to get hit a lot. Put your work out there and take the criticism as way to strengthen your future work. Don’t stop just because someone doesn’t like it.

Roll with the punches. Every piece of criticism is an opportunity for new work. You can’t control what critics say, but you can control how you react. 

Protect your vulnerable areas. If you’re too sensitive about a piece of work, the keep it to yourself. Don’t put it out there for other people to put dirt on it. 

Keep your balance. Remember that your work is something you do, not who you are. 

9. Sell Out

Every artist has to eat. Every idea has to have some form of capitalization. There’s nothing wrong with asking people for some money when they enjoy your work. There’s nothing wrong with doing something other that your art if it means it keeps you in the business of doing your art while you can capitalize it. Don’t be sold on the idea of “information wants to be free”.

Whether you’re asking for donations, crowdfund, or are selling your product, make sure that you’re only selling the work you’re confident is truly worth something. 

Make sure you keep a mailing list. Collect the personal information of the people who come across your work and want to keep in touch. It’s the best way to keep in touch with people who are actually interested in your work. 

10. Stick Around

Whatever you do, don’t quite. Hand on with your teeth if necessary. You never know where success is coming from. 

Know that careers, like life, have their ups and downs, and if you quit prematurely, you wont have a chance at your big break. 

In order to keep the moment in your career don’t take breaks in between projects, use the end of one project to light up the next one. Even if it’s different mediums. Even if they’re not related to one another. Even if its art altering. 

When you feel you’ve learned everything there is to learn in the craft you master, start again in a different form. Find something you are complete amateur and start for step one. Re-learn a craft again. That will give you some inspiration. The thing is, you don’t toss out the work that has come before, it only inspires you and teaches you how to navigate your next phase again. 

My rating:

This book in 3 key points

  1. Shared your ideas.
  2. Find your niche.
  3. Be consistent. 

Leave a Reply