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This is #1 of the “Just Steal It” 3 part series. 

My clients seem to be overly concerned with being original and unique – one of a kind in their art and marketing. 

They all get a bit quiet when I tell them that there is nothing new or unique.
And it doesn’t really matter. 

Everything is derivative.

There is nothing new. 

There are no original ideas. 

And it’s okay – it doesn’t matter.

Marketing pundits spout about “going viral” and being “share worthy” and creating purple cows and being extraordinary. 

Honestly, the key is really just to get it done. 

I know that sounds flat – but that’s really it. 

“It” being whatever is necessary – doing the work, the marketing, the promo, the events. 

Just DO it – and stealing helps. 

Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon knows stealing.

He published “Steal Like an Artist” in 2012 and it’s become a best seller world wide.

It’s popular because Austin gives good, solid, practical advice that we all forget as artists when we’re striving to be life-changing and unforgettable. 

“Don’t quit your day job.”

This isn’t mean assholery – it’s good solid, practical advice for artists who want to create a career in the arts. 

No one is making great art when they can’t feed themselves. 

Low overhead + “do what you love” = a good life.

Again, just good advice.

As opposed to dream-killing – this kind of advice is more like “give your dream some roots” so it can actually grow and have a chance at a life.


Give your dream
some roots.


I would be a bad art biz educator if all I ever did was fan the flames of your hopes and dreams and never give you a foundation to actually build them. 

Stealing can help.

(I just love saying that – it makes me giggle.) 

The key is in the tweak. 

Austin Kleon is clear on good stealing vs. bad stealing.

In no way am I encouraging you to plagiarize or copy. 

But definitely, go ahead and steal. 

Nothing is created in a vacuum.  Nature abhores a vacuum. 

Nature, as example creates all the everything that exists by tweaking the CHON. 

Fractals replicate the appearance of nature with math and change design within the same formula by tweaking scale.

The key is in the tweaking.

Fractalized Flower of Life


The new morgue.


Surround yourself with images that you can steal and tweak.

This is where the magic starts.  

We used to keep reference in a “morgue” or “swipe file”; an actual physical file folder filled with ripped out images from books and magazines and photos. 

Now we use technology like Pinterest or Evernote to collect tonnes more images AND organize them in ways that are actually searchable and usable. 

Megan Manske recently followed some of my boards and I really liked her organization of steals.

Maybe you can steal some of her ideas and tweak them for yourselves. 

“Nothing new” needs new eyes.

There’s no original ideas and it doesn’t matter. 

There’s nothing that exists, “that’s been done” that can’t be seen in a new way, from  a new perspective – with fresh eyes.

 There’s no “old problem” that can’t find a solution by someone looking at it in a new way. 

Steal the old and worn and make it new and fresh. 

Steal and tweak and re-combine to make the useless workable again. 

Steal like an artist, but keep your day job.

For now. 

The next 2 “Just Steal It” letters will be about stealing from your competition and stealing in marketing and promotion. 

Ooooh… such a bad girl. 😛

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