I am embarrassed to admit I just finished Austin Kleon’s 2014 book Show Your Work! The book is only 215 pages long including appendices, and at 6”x6” it is hardly a Herculean effort like Tolstoy, Tolkien or even a later Harry Potter book. The embarrassing part is that I have had the book for four or five months now. Why did it take so long? Because every chapter gave me new ideas or new insights that I wanted to tryout or put into practice before moving on to the next chapter.
I first became aware of writer/artist Austin Kleon several years ago though a panel he was part of on Visual Note Taking 101 (Sketchnoting) at SXSW. Since that time I have followed his work with interest including 2012’s Steal Like an Artist.
Like SLaA Show Your Work! is broken into ten easy to digest chapters (subtitled: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered). In each chapter he shares insights from his path from struggling artist to becoming a New York Times bestselling author. In addition, each chapter includes quotes and stories from and about other successful creative types ranging from Dave Grohl to Pablo Picasso.
Also like in SLaA, Kleon writes with a voice that it is authoritative without being preachy or stuffy. Much of the book could easily be the transcript of a conversation between friends over a cup of coffee or a beer.
The words “creative”or “artist” may scare some campaign people off, but we are all creative or at least should be creative in our work. Speechwriter… You’re creative! Social Media Director… You’re creative! Those are easy mental jumps, but field coordinator, finance director, volunteer… YOU’RE CREATIVE! Or at least you should be and “Show Your Work!” can help you do it better, get more enjoyment out of it, and help you line up future work.
This book is less about creativity or art than the “art” of self-promotion, or as Fast Company put it, “ The subtitle could just as easily be, ‘How to Self-promote without Being a Jerkface.’”
Hope you enjoy and get as much out of “Show Your Work!” as I have!