Published in 2014, Show Your Work! 10 Ways To Share Your Creativity And Get Discovered is the second book in author Austin Kleon’s 5×5 book trilogy of wise words, quotes, and drawings that discuss why and how creative people should show their work to the world.
Clearly the term “show your work” has multiple meanings. Show how you got your result/came to your conclusion and literally show people what you’ve been working on.
I like the reminder that everyone starts out as an amateur and that they got where they are now by “having the guts to put themselves out there.”
Most of what Kleon’s writes about I agree with and/or find interesting. One aspect I disagree with is when he says that people shouldn’t post about or photos of babies, sunsets, dogs, or lunches. He believes that posting about your work is what’s important. I don’t agree because our baby and dogs are part of my life’s work.
I appreciate that the author points out the difference between creators and curators – he wants to be clear that if you share the work of others those people need to be credited for their work. Agreed – otherwise it’s plagiarism and no one has time for that nonsense. While the word creator is defined as “a person or thing that brings something into existence,” a curator is defined as “one who has the care and superintendence of something.” Kleon is both and so am I – we create our own work but also look to others for inspiration.
In section five, Kleon includes my business mantra: “Words matter” Yes! The saying goes that “a picture is worth a thousand words” but telling people’s stories using both words and visuals is the best. He adds, “The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work affects how they value it.” No truer words.
Top Ten Quotes From Kleon:
“If Steal Like an Artist was a book about stealing influence from other people, this book is about how to influence others by letting them steal from you.”
“Good work isn’t created in a vacuum, and that creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds.”
“Raw enthusiasm is contagious.”
“You can’t find your voice if you don’t use it.”
“Our tastes influence our work.”
“All it takes to uncover hidden gems is a clear eye, an open mind, and a willingness to search for inspiration in places people aren’t willing or able to go.”
“As every writer knows, if you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader first.” So accurate.
“Having your work hated by certain people is a badge of honor.”
“Be ambitious. Keep yourself busy. Think bigger. Expand your audience.”
“Extol your teachers, your mentors, your heroes, your influences, your peers, and your fans.”
I’m constantly reminding my students that writing is hard and everyone is allowed to be a beginner. A few more reminders from Kleon:
“Whether you’re telling a finished or unfinished story, always keep your audience in mind.”
“You’re never ‘keeping it real’ with your lack of proofreading and punctuation, you’re keeping it unintelligible.” Amen!
“Everybody loves a good story, but good storytelling doesn’t come easy to everybody…your stories will get better the more you tell them.”
Quotes From Others:
“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” -Steve Martin
“By putting things out there, consistently, you can form a relationship with your customers. It allows them to see the person behind the products.” -Dan Provost and Tom Gerhardt
“If you can build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency.” -William Burroughs
“Then trick is not caring what EVERYBODY thinks of you and just caring about what the RIGHT people think of you.” -Brian Michael Bendis
“Recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck – and with luck comes obligation…You owe a debt to the unlucky.” -Michael Lewis
Five Things I Learned (or was reminded of):
1) Decide what you want to learn and have the guts to learn it in front of others. Doing so takes bravery but it’s worth it.
2) Keep in mind the importance of understanding the process versus the product and how the “behind the music” parts can be the most interesting.
3) There is so much value in knowing how to tell a good story.
4) Innovative artists are always looking for people to collaborate with because they want to create more.
5) Remember that every point of contact –emails, Instagram posts, texts, blogs, tweets, etc. – becomes part of our continuous multimedia narrative.
Up next is book three of the Kleon trilogy: Keep Going: 10 Ways To Stay Creative In Good Times And Bad