In this book review we are going to look at Keep Going by Austin Kleon.
Keep Going is Austin Kleon’s third book. In this book review I will talk about the general concept of the book, my takeaways and all the things I have learnt from reading it, and finally my opinion of it.
The main aspect I also want to talk about now I have read all three books is where this book fits in to the larger philosophy that the author Austin Kleon is painting across all three of his books.
Some people will argue that Keep Going is Austin’s 4th book if you count his Guided Journal, but as these are a set that sort of bond together we’ll call it his 3rd book.
Essentially the book focuses on what it takes to be an artist and a creative individual in today’s world.
When we use the term “Artist” and “Creative” in this context, we don’t just mean the person that comes to mind, right?
We don’t mean the artist who draws really well, or the painter or musician, or whatever else falls into the category of artist or creative.
We also mean the teachers and the people in regular day to day life that have to be creative, unique, interesting, original, or have to do something of consequence.
It’s not just when you think of artists by name, such as Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci’s of the world.
It’s also the, every man and woman, the person who exists in this world. So the book is really for anyone who tries to live their life in a way that is intentional.
An individual who tries to own their purpose, own their existence on the things that they are working on. I would highly recommend this book to those types of people.
The Concept of Keep Going by Austin Kleon
The overall concept of Keep Going by Austin Kleon is fairly straightforward. It is about how to keep going mainly aimed at creative individuals.
If his first book was “Steal Like an Artist”, which is about the creative process, and how does creativity happen?
His second book, “Show Your Work”, was about how that creativity gets discovered and finally, it’s all about how you “Keep Going”.
He explains how creativity gets sustained, because ultimately it’s not about the end product.
We think of art and creativity and what comes to mind are colourful images of the product, the result, the painting that’s hanging in the gallery, the piece of music that you’re listening to, the poem that is being spoken.
The truth and fact is that art and creativity are in black and white and what people would call the boring segment.
It’s in the day-to-day grind, showing up, the ritual. One of the things this book really helps you wrap your head around is that art isn’t created in colour, it’s only seen in colour as the final product.
Art is created in black and white, art is created in boring moments. The thing that is completely opposite to what you probably imagined as art and creativity.
As a logo and brand identity designer I can honestly say this is correct as all my ideas start in my mind, they are then visually formed on paper in black and white and colour does not come into play until a concept has been formed in basic visual form.
This book is really about the day-to-day grind that you must go through in order to create colour in order to present something that may or may not have any value, but it has value to you.
Austin talks about things like daily routines, making lists, and organizing yourself, shutting down from social media and disconnecting.
He talks about so many of the things that allow us to function on a day-to-day basis and at its core, that’s really what the book helps with.
It’s about functioning as an artist, as a creative, as someone who is trying to take control of their life, how do you function in a world that is increasingly difficult to stay afloat in?
It’s not a long read and the length is great if you’re not a big reader of books.
If the book went on longer, it would probably feel like it’s too long, but because it doesn’t, I was left feeling like, I want more, I want to hear more of what Austin has to say, I want to tackle these problems deeper, I want to be able to explore more of the black and white, the boring parts of art and the book does leave you wanting more.
If you’re a big reader you could properly read it in one or two sittings, if you’re not it can be a great coffee table book you can read in small chunks and keep going back to.
For a small book the pages are packed with endless nuggets, you come away learning something, finding quotes that inspire you, helps you reframe the way you view something and that’s the excellence of the book.
It’s not just about the words on the page, it’s also the art within it.
It’s the creativity in how it’s put together, it’s the little doodles that he puts into it, it’s the quotes that he’s chosen, It’s the conversations that he highlights.
It’s all of those little pieces that come together to create something that is wholly unique and the length makes sense for what it is that he created.
Don’t be put off as it’s a short book as the length is perfect. It makes it feel achievable, makes it feel like something you can pick up and read or something you can flip to a random page and get value from. And there’s just, frankly, not enough books like that.
It does a really good job redefining what we think of as art and creativity.
I believe most people out there think, art is the colour, art is the painting, the music, the poem, but really art is as this book argues the boring moments.
Art and creativity is our routine, it’s our lifestyle, and it’s the lists we make. It’s the things that get you to create, get you to make and build it and that’s what actual art is.
What we see is just the end result of the presentation of that art and creativity. I highly recommend that you read this book, and if you’re not familiar with Austin Kleon, then I highly recommend you read all three books in order – Steal Like an Artist, Show Your Work and Keep Going to build the bigger picture.