Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wild Contradictions

Has anyone read the book Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon? If you haven't yet, give it a try. It is  one of those books that gives you permission to be just who you are as an artist. And that involves "stealing" from other artists. Not in a plagiaristic, copy-cat, I don't have any ideas of my own kind of way. Rather in an I'm influenced by many things, many artists, and genres all thrown in a blender sort of way. I love the concept of embracing our wild contradictions as people and artists. It is what makes us interesting as humans, though we often fight our divergences and contradictions as flaws.

After obsessing over Wes Anderson this week (after watching Moonrise kingdom twice, and re-watching The Royal Tenenbaums at the Boulder Outdoor Cinema (outdoor flicks are a deep love of mine), I can see how well he exemplifies this principle. His influences are wide and varied, familiar and obscure, intellectual yet nostalgic. We don't often see them coming even when they are pretty straightforward. All this input goes through some sort of Wes filter and comes out utterly unique to his vision. That was my big takeaway from Steal Like an Artist. That it's okay to have influences and to emulate, because whatever we do with authenticity is utterly marked by ourselves. Liberating isn't it? What if we tried embracing every flaw, contradiction, inspiration within us and worked really hard, imagine what we could create?

Needless to say, there are several other huge, eye opening ideas in Steal Like an Artist. I think I could read this book every week just to absorb it deeply enough to live it. If you are interested in some Wes Anderson influences, take a look here. Feel free to comment on this post, let me know who's out there!


  1. hello Jessie i will buy this book seems very inspiring. i have by my bedtime the artist's way by julia cameron and yes i must have read it .....well like a thousand times and done a lot of the exercises she deeply suggested us to do so we can grow as artist and explore our contradictions. love it. thank you for sharing xo

  2. Hi Alex! It is a good book. Short and simple, but with very good reminders. I also have The Artist's Way, but have never read it! I've had it for years, but just haven't committed yet. I know it's supposed to be great, I will have to make some time for it!