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Book beneficial to young artists

This January I would like to start the column off with some book reviews.

Book reviews you might ask? I thought this was an arts column. Well it is, and I have been reading some great books written by artists for artists and anyone who is seeking to be more in touch with their creative sides.

With that said, it has been greatly inspiring, and I thought it would be a fun way to start off the new year since the galleries are still recouping from the holidays and will not get into high gear for another few weeks.

This week, I want to share with you an old favorite of mine, “Steal like an Artist — 10 Things Nobody told you about being Creative” by Austin Kleon.

This New York Times Bestseller was given to me by my mother some time ago, and I read it cover to cover in a few short evenings.

Despite its small size, it is big in personality, inspiration and even humor. Kleon gives advice he thinks he would have found useful at a younger age.

Though the title seems as if he might be condoning plagiarizing and copying art by others, it is not a how-to book on ripping off someone else. This is a book about getting inspiration, how nothing is original, and how to think in a more creative way.

He advocates taking a notebook with you and jotting things down, creating a swipe file to put great ideas you come upon and becoming a collector of everything you love.

This collection of ideas is what fuels creativity and keeps artist re-imagining everything from fashion, home décor, visual art, music and countless other forms of art.

Artists take the visual inspiration, churn it in their brains and then make it their own creating new works of art.

As a graduate student in New Orleans, my drawing tutor used to always tell me, “You are only as good as your research.”(Yes, I had a drawing tutor.)

He wasn’t advocating copying, but he was telling me to use research to make my drawings better, and it worked. Working from life, trying to copy work from the great masters, sketching in museums all helped train my hand and brain to work better than they did without something to fuel them.

Kleon also advises one to “steal” only from artists worth stealing from-those whom you admire and whose work seems worthy of tackling.

Aside from all the stealing, the author makes sure to mention how important it is to do good work, share it with others and to be nice.

Lots of tips are scattered through this very accessible and easy to read book. It is a pleasure to read, has great advice and contains quirky photos, illustrations and doodles.

Though stealing can be a tricky issue with artists, this book is not about taking, but about becoming inspired.

So whether you are an artist or not, pick up this book and get creative!

ANDI BEDSWORTH is owner of Art To Go, which brings free art opportunities to children in the community.