Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon

Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon

Steal like an artist is a book published in 2012, written by Austin Kleon. In this read, you will get a summary of Steal like an artist book.

Looking at the name of the book, you might be considering it would be for an artist who crafts or paints or build something. It’s not true. The author is referring to all individuals as each one of us is creative

If you are doing anything or taking any actions (doesn’t matter how small or big), you are using your creativity to perform tasks in your daily routine. In nutshell, you are a creative person and an artist to your life.


Mock book image created for blog.

The actual book cover is different.

Ideas are not purely invented. They already exist. It just someone who finds it and implement, we call them a creative person or inventor.

I mean, just think about it. We all know Galileo invented binoculars by studying and researching how lenses work. It’s not Galileo who defined principles of lenses. It was already set and fixed by nature. By knowing these principles better, Galileo identified how it can be used to see objects closer than they appear.

Point here I’m trying to establish is, ideas won’t come directly to us. We steal ideas from our observations and surroundings.

What is art?

Whether you are making an animated character on the computer or welding two metal plates or writing or reading something whatever you are doing that is resulting in something is an art.

Who is the artist?

A person who creates something to help others or creates something that makes a difference in other’s life is an Artist. It could be a businessman, a chef, a driver, an office guy. Those become a successful artist, whose arts makes bigger impacts.

Jake is a software engineer and can make awesome software. We use art created by Bill Gates and it is Microsoft products .Here Bill and Jake both are an Artist, both have stolen art of coding from someone.


Art is theft – Pablo Picasso

You will be surprised to know that many of the successful people we know have created their art by stealing it from someone or something.

Apple’s founder Steve Jobs, Basketball player Kobe Bryant, world’s most influential band The Beatles, American rapper Eminem all have one thing in common. They have stolen ideas from others and implemented it in such a way that the world thinks that it’s 100% original work.

In this read, I will be covering points that I’ve learned from the book “Steal like an artist” which will make you understand how you can connect ideas concepts and principles like successful people to create something unique. The art of building unique products.

Nothing is 100% original

Everything that we see or experience around us which is created by humans is not 100% original. It was invented according to human needs by someone by taking references to something.

If we’re free from the burden of trying to be completely original, we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running away from it. – Austin Kleon

This read is not even the original idea. You will find book summaries on other sites too but you will observe that it’s written in different styles, images, context. Eventually, you will follow the one you like the most. 


I’m stealing core of the content and trying to put it in simple words and visuals for you from this book.

Does that mean that book is an original idea from the author?

No, it not. He just decided to list words together beautifully by taking references from his life, peoples and events.

If you go deeper in it, you will realize that nothing is 100% original and derived from some of the other sources. This is what, we are referring to as “an art of stealing” in this read.

Good artists copy, Great artists steal – Pablo Picasso

Steve Jobs also follows this statement by Picasso.

What does this statement tell us? Normal people just try to imitate others but a great artist studies the same thing in detail. They focus on transformation by adding their views and mixing ideas before showcasing their product or actions.

Creativity is not a mystery

Some people think that creativity is an inborn trait. They think that a creative person gets ideas automatically without doing anything but it’s not true.


Whoever the person would be, ideas won’t come by themselves to the person. An individual steals ideas from something or from someone and the only person knows the source of it.

Mick Pearce is a Zimbabwean architect. He designed and build Eastgate Centre. It’s the building which keeps inside cool automatically (natural ventilation) without air conditioning. How did he do that? He had stolen that idea from termite mound.

In 1989, Japanese people had a complaint about the bullet train. Due to tunnel pressure waves, the train was making an annoying sound. Team of engineers solved this problem by stealing an idea from bird kingfisher.

The beak of the bird kingfisher can go into the water without splashing it.

They changed the front boggy design of the train and made it narrower so that air can flow with less resistance. 

Start stealing from your inspirations

Once you know your inspiration and area of expertise to grow, you should start learning from your heroes. You should read books written by them or written on them, watch videos or can check all information available on the internet to know how they work and how they achieved it.

You never know you might get a lead to something and come across a formula which will help you grow.

The great thing about dead or remote masters is that they can’t refuse you as an apprentice. You can learn whatever you want from them. They left their lesson plans in their work. – Austin Kleon

I’m not saying to copy or mimic them. I’m suggesting you steal an idea or a concept by knowing them which you can further convert to your own progress by adding your identity into it.

Gravity was already there. The statement “Newton invented of defined gravity” is false. “Newton researched the law of gravity.” is true. Space scientist building spaceship needs to build an engine that defies the law of gravity. To get help in achieving their goal, they can steal the idea that newton defined gravity as they want to work opposite to gravity.


Popular basketball player Kobe Bryant has admitted that all moves and tactics that he used are copied from various players from the same field. People thought that these are original moves of Kobe but it was a combination of all moves and tactics that he learned (steal) from others.

If you steal from one person it’s plagiarism, if you steal from many it’s research. 

World’s most influential band The Beatles was initially a cover band but they learned music core by taking inspirations from other musicians and started producing their own music.

We learn by copying

Most of the things in our lives, we learn by copying. When a newborns walk or talk, they are trying to mimic their parents and surrounding. In school and colleges, we copy from our friends. In offices, we observe our bosses, co-worker and try to copy them. The human brain is programmed to steal information from the surroundings.

The main factor that we need to focus here on what we are copying or the source. Whatever you copy and once it’s fed into your subconscious mind, it going to be your personality and habits. Thus, you must copy or steal from great characters for new ideas.


Artist carefully selects a source from where then need to copy and what need to copy. Whenever you are going to copy something, make sure you are referring to a credible and reliable source.

If you have multiple sources to follow then focus on specific work or style of each source. Try to understand thinking, ethics or way of handling things if it’s a person. If it’s a thing then try to take inspirations. Combine it all and you will generate your art.

Eminem copies words, rhythms from other composers or situations and then he adds his flavour to prepare a rap composition out of it.

Warren Buffet was influenced by investor Benjamin Graham and followed him to learn investment techniques. He copied that information from Benjamin and applied into practices by his way of defining profits. 

Don't be duplicate

This happens mostly when we are trying to copy a person. If you are copying that person 100% then you will look like a duplicate.

Our brain decides to copy a person because we are only considering the good sides of the individuals and getting inspired by it. There are more chances for us to fail if we mimic a person.

If you have learned something genuinely, you will have your original style.

You will find such duplicates around you often and trust me it’s not worth following other’s dreams completely. 


Live for your dream, work on your thoughts but steal smartly from others.

Selection of rejection is important

Creativity is not what you select rather creativity is what you reject. Anything in the world can be created by two methods only.

  1. By adding materials
  2. By removing materials

We will require lost of bricks to build a house however we need to remove some bricks to make space for window and doors. You should gain knowledge of what can be avoided or rejected. This will help you to get what you want.

The computer is really good for editing your ideas, and it’s really good for getting your ideas ready for publishing out into the world, but it’s not really good for generating ideas. There are too many opportunities to hit the delete key. – Austin Kleon

If I’m willing to live a debt-free life, I need to reject all offers that banks are making to me like a personal loan or credit card.

If I have a debt and want to be debt-free, then I need to reject my unnecessary desires to repay the debt as soon as possible.


You believe it or not, you are a mash-up version of your influencers so I’m. We can know easily what they are selecting or what they like or how they act.

However, it is very difficult to know what they are rejecting or what they aren’t following or what they don’t like. Thus, you can easily copy a selection method from your influencers but you have to study more to understand what to reject on your own.

We all know Warren Buffet, he is a successful investor. Many of us have studied him to understand how he makes his investments and that information is easily available too. But the most crucial thing that is difficult to find or to steal from Warren is how he is rejecting some opportunities. To understand this, one needs to study him and other required knowledge about investing.


  • You should be collecting great ideas from your surroundings and making your blend of creativity from those ideas.
  • If you find anything that may give a boost to your imagination and inspiration, don’t wait to steal it and lock it in your brain for further processing.
  • Your task is not to be creative, your brain is already creative. Your task is to collect a wide variety of appropriate information.
  • Everybody was inspired by somebody.
  • Remember, you are an artist and your life is your art.

This read covers a summary of the book “Steal like an artist” according to my reading experience and learning. If you would like to find out more depth understanding of the same, I recommend you to get a copy of it for yourself or someone you would like to gift.

If you wish to purchase this awesome book from Amazon, click here to order it.

I would love to know what you would like to steal for yourself and the source of it. Be it a person or non-living thing or any species. Please share your experiences on “Steal like an artist” in comments and make sure to share this blog in your social media circle for someone who can make a benefit out of it.

Until next time, never stop reading…

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. dublaj

    Good post. I am experiencing some of these issues as well.. Mariana Cobby Kokaras

  2. full hd izle

    Im thankful for the blog article. Thanks Again. Great. Brandi Fonz Wilkinson

  3. filmi izle

    Thanks to my father who shared with me regarding this webpage, this website is genuinely amazing. Alexandra Carlos Piggy

  4. online

    Incredible points. Sound arguments. Keep up the great work. Michel Levi Nathanael

  5. watch

    I dugg some of you post as I cogitated they were handy very helpful Dale Gib Morgana

  6. dizi

    My favourite school subject is sport because i love to do exercises and play handball or football. Judy Philbert Sathrum

Leave a Reply