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Show Your Work! summary

Austin Kleon

10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered

4.7 (274 ratings)
23 mins

Brief summary

'Show Your Work!' by Austin Kleon is a guide for creatives to promote themselves and their work in the digital age. It offers practical advice and tips on how to share the creative process and gain an audience.

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    Show Your Work!
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    Creativity is a social act.

    You’ve heard of him: the man who is suddenly struck by divine inspiration; who holes himself up day and night to mold his brilliant idea into a masterpiece; and who, at last, graciously shares his opus with the public amid much pomp and circumstance. Yes, we’re talking about the “lone genius.” He’s a towering figure in Western culture. He’s also a fabrication – one of the most destructive myths to permeate humanity’s conception of creativity.

    The problem with the lone genius myth is twofold. For starters, it paints a warped picture, in which most geniuses just so happen to be dead white men – think Einstein, Picasso, or Mozart. It also excludes the partners, collaborators, mentors, benefactors, and influences who made the work of these men possible. It depicts creativity as an antisocial activity, when, in reality, it’s almost always a result of an ecology of talent.

    The key message here is: Creativity is a social act.

    So what's an alternative to this harmful myth? Meet the “scenius.” Sceniuses acknowledge that inspired ideas usually don't emerge, fully formed, from an individual mind. They know that creativity is a communal endeavor, involving artists, thinkers, theorists, and curators. Because of this, they encourage sharing ideas, making connections, and starting conversations.

    The internet, an interconnected web of sceniuses, makes this sharing easier than ever. Online, it doesn’t matter if you’re famous or obscure, a master or just starting out. We all have the ability to contribute something.

    Actually, on the internet, it’s the amateurs who often have an edge over professionals. Amateurs are perpetual enthusiasts with little to lose and everything to gain. As such, they’re open to experimentation and go where the wind blows. They’re not afraid to make mistakes – or fools of themselves.

    And the thing is, the world is changing so quickly that it’s transforming every one of us into amateurs. We will all need to embrace the unknown, over and over, in order to flourish. 

    That might sound scary, but here’s a tip: read the obituaries every morning. Get inspired by the people who came before you. They were all amateurs at some point in their lives – and they were all courageous enough to put themselves out there, to reinvent themselves, to persevere through thick and thin.

    So adopt the mindset of an amateur. Make a point of learning in the open so others can learn from your failures and successes. Find a scenius, and talk about the things you love. That way, you’ll figure out what you’re doing and where you’re going – you’ll find your voice. 

    In other words, start sharing! The rest will follow. 

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    What is Show Your Work! about?

    Show Your Work! (2014) is your guide to becoming findable. It’s about leveraging your network instead of wasting time “networking” in the traditional sense. Filled with actionable advice, it shows how to let others into your process by being productive, open, and generous – and outlines the benefits you’ll receive in return.

    Show Your Work! Review

    Show Your Work! (2014) by Austin Kleon is an essential read for anyone looking to share their creative work and make meaningful connections. Here's why this book stands out:

    • With its emphasis on practical strategies and actionable advice, it provides valuable insights for artists, writers, and professionals in any field.
    • Featuring real-life examples and personal anecdotes, the book showcases how sharing and collaborating can lead to opportunities and growth.
    • The book's engaging storytelling and relatable approach make the process of self-promotion exciting and accessible, making it a delightful read from start to finish.

    Who should read Show Your Work!?

    • Creatives who want to get noticed – but hate self-promotion
    • Artists who’d like to build an audience but don’t know where to start
    • Anyone trying to cultivate a like-minded creative community

    About the Author

    Austin Kleon, a writer and visual artist, is a best-selling author of four books, including Steal Like An Artist and Keep Going. He's also a newspaper blackout poet. Kleon has spoken about creativity in the digital age for organizations like Pixar, Google, SXSW, TEDx, and the Economist, and his work has been featured in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

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    Show Your Work! FAQs 

    What is the main message of Show Your Work!?

    The main message of Show Your Work! is the importance of sharing your creative process and being open to collaboration.

    How long does it take to read Show Your Work!?

    The reading time for Show Your Work! varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Show Your Work! a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Show Your Work! is definitely worth reading. It offers valuable insights on how to effectively share your creative work with the world.

    Who is the author of Show Your Work!?

    Austin Kleon is the author of Show Your Work!.

    What to read after Show Your Work!?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Show Your Work!, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
    • Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins
    • Keep Going by Austin Kleon
    • The Creative Act by Rick Rubin
    • 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do by Amy Morin
    • Super Human by Dave Asprey
    • The Body by Bill Bryson
    • Breath by James Nestor
    • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
    • The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki