ICE Book Review – Steal like an Artist

By Rob Cooney (@EMEducation)

Steal Like and Artist
By Austin Kleon

I was catching up on my favorite non-medical podcast, The Accidental Creative (, and came across an interview with the bestselling author, Austin Kleon discussing the 10 year anniversary of his first book ( ), Steal Like an Artist. I realized that I hadn’t yet reviewed it here.

“Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn.” – T.S. Eliot

So opens the book, Steal Like an Artist. I forgot how much I enjoyed this book.

Instead of just reviewing it, I also want to mention Keep Going, Austin’s most recent book. Both are quick reads that also draw you in, as Austin is also an artist who puts his work into the pages. The design of both books is similar, with 10 insightful lessons (about being creative for Steal Like an Artist and perseverance in creativity for Keep Going). While the books lessons are easily understood through an artistic lens, I believe there are many parallels to being creative as an educator. For example, Rule 10 in Steal Like an Artist is “creativity is subtraction.” What can you remove from your most recent lecture or small group to make it easier for the learners to apply? Or perhaps Rule 3 in Keep Going-Forget the noun, do the verb. If we let go of “being the teacher” and focus on “doing the teaching,” how would your work experience change? There are 18 other useful rules to consider, and they all have applicability to us as educators.

As mentioned, Austin’s art peppers the books as well. From blackout poetry to amusing illustrations, to the use of white writing on a black background, it’s exciting to turn the pages and see what will appear next. It almost feels like comics for professions.

Both books are relatively short and can be read in a sitting (if desired). I highly recommend not only picking them up but also returning to them for reminders and inspiration. And if you really enjoy his work, he publishes a weekly newsletter ( )as well. Happy reading!

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