Summary: Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon
Summary: Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

Summary: Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

You don’t have to be a genius.

“That’s all of us are – amateurs. We don’t live long enough to be anything else.” – Charlie Chaplin

Remembering we all will be dead soon is the most important tool you’ll encounter to help you make big choices in your life. 

“Remembering that you’re going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You’re already naked.” – Steve Jobs


Think process, not product.

Become a documentation of what you do. Start a work journal. Write your thoughts down or speak them into a recorder. Take lots of photographs of your work at different stages in your process. Shoot a video of yourself working. This isn’t about making art, it’s about simply keeping track of what’s going on around you.


Share something small everyday.

Put everything out there you think might be helpful or entertaining to someone somewhere on the other side of the screen. This is the art of sharing.


Open up your cabinet of curiosities.

Don’t be a hoarder.

“The problem with hoarding is you end up living off your reserves. Eventually, you’ll become stale. If you give away everything you have, you’re left with nothing. This forces you to look to be aware, to replenish… Somehow the more you give away, the more it comes back to you.” – Paul Arden


Tell good stories.

Work doesn’t speak for itself. You need to tell your story. Humans want to know where things come from, how they’re made and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge affect on how people feel and understand about your work.


Teach what you know.

The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to someone else. Share your reading list. Point to helpful reference materials. Create tutorials and post them online. Teaching never subtracts value from what you do, it actually adds to it.


Don’t turn into human spam.

When people realize they’re being listened to, they tell you things. You want hearts, not eyeballs. 


Learn to take a punch.

When you put your work out into the world, you better be ready for the good, the bad and the ugly. The more people come across your work, the more criticism you’re going to face. Never ever feed the trolls. Evaluate feedback based on who gives it and where it’s coming from.


Sell out.

We all have to get over ‘starving artist’ romanticism and the idea that touching money inherently corrupts creativity. Some of our most meaningful and most cherished cultural artifacts were made for money.

“We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.” – Walt Disney


Stick around.

Don’t quit your show easily. Every career is full of ups and downs. We’re in the middle of living out our lives and careers, and oftentimes we don’t know where life will take us next.

“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.” – Alain de Botton