Why today’s creatives should steal from art history

This art year SEVEN threw out the idea of a unifying theme for our Leigh Art Trail sketchbooks. For 2019 we’d make art books and take inspiration from an artist or art movement we loved.


So far, so interesting. But isn’t that kinda stealing?

Steal like an artist

Have you ever read the Austin Kleon book Steal Like an Artist? If you’re interested in stretching your creative muscles this short book is for you. As Kleon writes:

Every artist gets asked the question:

“Where do you get your ideas from?”

The honest artist answers,”I steal them.”

But shouldn’t art be original?

Well, good luck if you think you can come up with something original in a vacuum. Kleon goes on to say:

What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.

The key is to start now

Don’t get tempted to wait for the muse to strike you with that lightning bolt of inspiration. It’s not going to happen. Stuff happens when you start doing.

As Austin Kleon shares:

“If I’d waited to know who I was or what I was about before I started “being creative,” well, I’d still be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.”

Remember the Laughing Gnome?

So discovering our own groove is a key reason to look back at the art that inspires us. Even an artistic original like David Bowie took a while to find the kind of music and performing style which suited him.

Before he became the Bowie we know and love he had some famous flops like The Laughing Gnome which was inspired by his then hero Anthony Newley (co-writer of the film score for 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). But Bowie had to do that to discover who he really was.

Keen to explore your creative roots? Austin Kleon advises looking to your own art family tree.

Find out more about Austin Kleon.

In the meantime SEVEN will see where this exploration of our own art family trees takes us…

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