Show your Work

Show your Work

Show Your Work By Austin Kleon.

A short synopsis. Actually its more an exploration of the book and its ideas.

Following the advice from the above book I am sharing my inspirations.

I recently purchased the book, Show Your Work which, is a really good short read.  Briefly, the reason, that I think it is a really good short read, is that it lays out 10 really simple ideas. That while some might be obvious, are actually worthwhile considering. Especially, for someone, who is trying to rejuvenate or refresh their career, or even for someone who is tired of working in the same old way, with too many distractions and other things happening, at all times.

To list the chapter titles will give you a tiny hint of what is inside:

  1. You don’t have to be a genius.
  2. Think process, not product.
  3. Share something small every day.
  4. Open up your cabinet of curiosities.
  5. Tell good stories.
  6. Teach what you know.
  7. Don’t turn into human spam.
  8. Learn to take a punch.
  9. Sell out.
  10. Stick around.

You can buy the book on for about £6.30.  They have the Look Inside feature, where you can see the above list, and more which, may give you a flavour of it.

For me the standout things were:

  • Read obituaries  page 25
  • “your influences all worth sharing because they clued people into who you are and what you do – sometimes even more than your own work.”  page 77
  • “Don’t think of your website is a self-promotion machine, think of this as a self-invention machine. Fill your website with your work and your ideas and the stuff you care about.” page 67
  • In quoting William Burroughs advice to Patti Smith: “build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises. Don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned with doing good work… and if you can build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency.” page 69
  • “The best way to get started on a path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning in front of others.” Page 19
  • ““scenius.” Under this model, great ideas are often birthed by a group of creative individuals-artists, curators, thinkers, theorists and other pacemakers – who make up and “ecology of talent.”” Page 11
  • “always be sure to run everything you share with others through the “so what?” Test. Don’t overthink it; just go with your gut. If you are unsure about whether to share something, let it sit for 24 hours…. Next day, take it out and look at it with fresh eyes. Page 59
  • on sharing “our pacemaker is what we are, but they can also cast a shadow over our own work. “All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste,” says public radio personality Ira Glass. “But there is a gap. The first couple of years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer.” Before we are ready to take a leap of sharing our own work with the world, we can share our tastes and the work of others.” Page 76
  • “Where do you get your inspiration? What sorts of things do you fill your head with? What do you read? Do you subscribe to anything? What sites you visit on the Internet? What music you listen to? What movies do you see? You look at art? What do you collect? What’s inside your scrapbook?… Who’s done work for you admire?… Who do you follow online? Who are the practitioners you look up to in your field? Your influences are always sharing because they clued people into who you are and what you do-sometimes even more than your own work page 77
  • always credit where you get your sources from.
  • Work out how to tell good stories ones that are engaging to your audience.
  • Learn how to explain and discuss what you do i.e. talk about yourself of parties.
  • “Share your trade secrets” page 113
  • “Teaching doesn’t mean instant competition. Just because you know the Masters technique doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to emulate it right away.” Page 116
  • “The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to others. Share your reading list. Point out for reference materials. Creates and tutorials and post them online. Page 117
  • “Teaching people doesn’t subtract value from what you do, it actually adds to it. When you teach someone how to do your work, you are, in effect, generating more interest in your work. People feel closer to your work because you’re letting them in on what you know.” Page 119
  • Human spam- I was guilty of this once myself and that I didn’t want to look at the work of other photographers because I was a bit too arrogant about my own work. Human Spam definition “they don’t want pay their dues, they want their piece right here, right now. They don’t want to listen to your ideas; they want to tell you theirs.” page 124
  • really good to for online presence – “If you want fans, you have to be a fan first. If you want to be accepted by community, you have to first be a good citizen of that community. If you’re only pointing to your own stuff online, you’re doing it wrong. You have to be a connector. …. If you want to get, you have to give. If you want to be noticed, you have to notice. Shut up and listen once in a while. Be thoughtful. Be considerate. Don’t turn into Human spam.” Page 127
  • interesting – Lawrence Weschler’s idea is “for him, to be “interest-ing” is to be curious and attentive, and to practice “the continual projection of interest.” To put it more simply: if you want to be interesting, you have to be interested.” Page 131
  • the vampire test “if, after hanging out with someone you feel worn out and depleted, that person is a vampire. If, after hanging out with someone you still feel full of energy, that person is not a vampire. ….  The vampire test works on many things in our lives, not just people—you can apply it to jobs, hobbies, places, etc.  Vampires cannot be cured. Should you find yourself in the presence of a vampire… banish it from your life forever.” Page 136
  • find a group of like-minded people to collaborate and think with, to share ideas and processes.
  • IRL = in real life  page 143 he suggested meeting like-minded people, creating meet ups, get-togethers, where you can discuss your common interest in subjects together.
  • Talks about not feeding trials and protecting your core inner self as an artist in point number eight – “at some point, you might consider turning off comments completely. Having a form for comments is the same as inviting comments.” Page 157
  • Funding – “Whether an artist makes money off his work or not, money has to come from somewhere, be it a day job, a wealthy spouse, a trust fund, an arts grant, or a wealthy patron.” Page 161
  • Funding – “don’t write off your friends because they had a little bit of success.” page 163
  • Funding – “don’t be jealous when the people you like do well—celebrate their victory as if it your own.” Page 163
  • “Keep a mailing list” – don’t abuse it page 169
  • idea for website – office hours “once a month, I make myself available so that anybody can ask me anything on my website, and I try to give thoughtful answers that I then post so anyone can see.”  “You have to be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done.” Page 177
  • On sticking around— “the people who get what thereafter are very often the ones who just stick around long enough. It’s very important not to quit prematurely.” Page 183

The reason, that I  have made so many notes from this book, is that I am planning on sharing the book. For some reason, I suspect, I will not get it back. As it will probably be shared on, to someone else. As it so richly deserves to be. So do yourself a favour, as a creative person and get yourself a copy of the book. To read yourself, as there is more inside it, than I have covered here.

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