Steal Like An Artist: My Notes

A book review — sort of.

Adedayo Adeyanju
3 min readJul 9, 2022


— From Dayo, as she experiences and learns. Welcome to The Mind Palace!

I read Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon, and boy is it good.

So here are some of my notes; things I found interesting and things I found highlight-worthy.

Book: Steal Like an Artist

Nothing is original

“All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original. It’s right there in the Bible: “There is nothing new under the sun.”

As you write or follow any creative pursuit, you do not have to bother if it has ever been made before or if it’s grandly unique. You’re human, I’m human; we largely have the same spectrum of cognitive abilities. What matters is that it’s your experience and you’re learning from it.

Garbage in, Garbage out

“You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with. … Your job is to collect good ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by.”

The better the quality of stuff you take in, the higher the quality of stuff you dish out. ‘Stuff’ refers to the whole spectrum: books, ideas, conversations, articles, podcasts, etc.

Make Art

“The manifesto is this: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to usedo the work you want to see done.”

There will always be room for you, there will always be room for me.

Live Life then Make Art

“We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we do know is that we do not get them from our laptops.”

— John Cleese

“…sitting in front of a laptop all day is killing you, and killing your work. We need to move, to feel like we’re making something with our bodies, not just our heads. Work that only comes from the head isn’t any good. Watch a great musician play a show. Watch a great leader give a speech. You’ll see what I mean… the motion kickstarts our brains into thinking.”

On Labels

“Don’t worry about unity — what unifies your work is the fact that you made it. One day, you’ll look back and it will all make sense.”

You really do not need to stress about a major theme, it’s unimportant right now and will only limit you. Just make art, dawg.

Stand Next to Talent

“The only mofos in my circle are people that I can learn from.” — Questlove

“Remember “garbage in, garbage out”?

You’re only going to be as good the people you surround yourself with. In the digital space, that means following the best people online — the people who are way samrter than you, the people who are doing the really interesting work. Pay attention to what they’re talking about, what they’re doing, what they’re linking to.”

Lastly, what brings doom?

“Inertia is the death of creativity.”

Just make art!

Stay well,


Photo by adrianna geo on Unsplash

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Adedayo Adeyanju

I live, I learn, then I write. Welcome to my mind palace! Now only on Substack: