On Austin Keon’s “Show your Work”

After having read “Steal like an Artist” by Austin Keon I wanted to read the follow-up “Show your Work”. Overall I have been even more enthusiast about it then when I was reading “Steal like an Artist”. Indeed the first one was rather simple, there was not a lot of text and a good amount of pictures crafted by the author. Not a bad thing in itself but I preferred the second one because it had more content in my opinion.

Here is a few quotes. Some of them are simply interesting facts or ideas. Some of them are what I strongly believe is right. Some of them are what I actually do. Some of them are what would like to be able to do.

Or imagine something simpler and just as satisfying: spending the majority of your time, energy, and attention practicing a craft, learning a trade, or running a business, while also allowing for the possibility that your work might attract a group of people who share your interests.

Think process, not product.

By letting go of our egos and sharing our process, we allow for the possibility of people having an ongoing connection with us and our work

Don’t worry about everything you post being perfect. Science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon once said that 90 percent of everything is crap. The same is true of our own work. The trouble is, we don’t always know what’s good and what sucks. That’s why it’s important to get things in front of others and see how they react. “Sometimes you don’t always know what you’ve got,” says artist Wayne White. “It really does need a little social chemistry to make it show itself to you sometimes.

“The Internet is a copy machine,” writes author Kevin Kelly. “Once anything that can be copied is brought into contact with the Internet, it will be copied, and those copies never leave.”

If you’re unsure about whether to share something, let it sit for 24 hours. Put it in a drawer and walk out the door. The next day, take it out and look at it with fresh eyes. Ask yourself, “Is this helpful? Is it entertaining? Is it something I’d be comfortable with my boss or my mother seeing?” There’s nothing wrong with saving things for later. The save as draft button is like a prophylactic—it might not feel as good in the moment, but you’ll be glad you used it in the morning.

Don’t think of your website as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self-invention machine.

Words matter. Artists love to trot out the tired line, “My work speaks for itself,” but the truth is, our work doesn’t speak for itself. Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work effects how they value it.

If you want to be more effective when sharing yourself and your work, you need to become a better storyteller. You need to know what a good story is and how to tell one.

If you want fans, you have to be a fan first. If you want to be accepted by a 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. The writer Blake Butler calls this being an open node. 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. Be an open node.

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