I’m sure as a creative individual you are familiar with Austin Kleon, maybe you have read our book review of Austin’s first book “Steal Like an Artist. Let’s say you have never heard of the author Austin Kleon, you’re in the book shop and happen to glance over and see the title “Show Your Work!” What exactly does this mean to show your work? Find out in our book review of Show Your Work by Austin Kleon.
Show Your Work when it’s fully complete on your portfolio and social media? Show your work as a process while you’re doing it?
In my opinion the punchy title really hooks you and makes you want to read the book to find out what it means to show your work!
Show Your Work is a wonderfully easy to read book that is easily digestible, but despite being quick to read, I think one of Austin’s strong points is his ability to communicate, big Ideas in as few words as possible.
Show Your Work is packed full of sound bites and new ways of thinking.
This book will give you the encouragement and confidence to start sharing your work with others online, and leave that mark on you of the importance of sharing your work to improve.
US author Austin Kleon, describes himself as an author who draws. He published his redacted poetry collection titled newspaper blackout in 2010 and his first book Steal Like an Artist in 2012 and in 2014, he published this book, show your work.
Within the book introduction. Austin said he hates self-promotion Austin believes. If you focus on getting really good, people will come to you.
You don’t really have to find an audience for your work. They find you, but it’s not enough to be good enough in order to be found.
The idea of “You need to be findable” is very powerful, and something all creative people strive to achieve regardless of whether they like self-promotion or not, our work needs to be shared in order to be found.
You will find that just by doing simple things and talking to people is enough to start the ball rolling, and this book is just for that a book for people who hate the idea of self-promotion.
Let’s talk about some of Austin’s ideas to show your work. Within the book Austin describes 10 ideas, to share your creativity to get discovered.
In this book review I’ll share some of my favourites that resonated the most with me.
Table of Contents
Think Process, Not Product
If you’re familiar with my work, you will know that i love to share the process of what I did, but most importantly how I arrived at the solution, and why I did what I did.
The process is messy, but humans are interested in other humans and what other human beings do.
Audiences not only want to stumble across great work, but they also want to be involved and part of the creative process.
By not showing the process other humans only see the end result missing out on so much of the process of arriving at that end result.
If a person can become invested in the process of a creative project, they will more likely be invested in the final result.
Because they have learnt what happens in the process and understand the final result, more than they would just looking at the final visual design.
From a creative persons point of view this can seem very daunting, showing behind the scenes and process stages.
As Austin states:
“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.”
The biggest take away from this idea is to document your process.
Simply by sharing your work and process. You can build a loyal audience of people who are interested in how you work.
Share Something Small Every Day
Try to share something small every day, put your work out there and you’ll start meeting some awesome people.
This concept sounds simple, but it’s not easy to share something every day, it requires dedication and structure to your day.
Having a plan in place is vital, as it’s not just about sharing the work, it’s also about crafting the right words to convey an idea or message, and I have great admiration for people who do share something every day and bring us in on their process.
Watching this evolution is really satisfying seeing the end product as one thing, but knowing and understanding how much work and time has gone into it makes the end result even more valuable.
I personally find other creative people who share their work as a process are the ones I’m often more engaged with.
Don’t Turn into Human Spam
If you want fans, you have to be a fan first. If you want to be accepted by a community. You have to be a good citizen of that Community. If you’re only Point into your own stuff, you’re doing it wrong. You have to be a connector. If you want to get, you have to give. If you want to be noticed. You have to notice. Shut up. And listen, be thoughtful, be considerate.
I like this chapter and Austin’s idea that you want hearts not eyeballs, in other words don’t waste time worrying about getting more followers or likes, just focus on being someone worth following.
It’s also important to understand that sharing doesn’t equal spamming, and Austin has a great graphic in this book to show the difference.
One of the most frustrating things I personally find about social media is the long and bulky spiel people go through to persuade people to like, comment, and subscribe within every post or video.
Like any creative individual, if you’re worth following people will follow you, they will like your content and leave comments when they have something to say.
The key takeaway from this chapter is you’re not worth following unless there is something to follow.
Make stuff you love and talk about the stuff you love – and then you’ll find the people who love that kind of stuff.
“You can’t count on success. You can only leave open the possibility for it and be ready to jump on and take the ride when it comes for you.”
If you’re dedicated put in the work and be consistent with it, opportunities will present themselves down the line.
Basically you need to stick around and put in the work day in and day out.
The lesson here is just do what you love and keep doing it, learn things and share them. Look for something new to learn and when you find it, dedicate yourself to learning it out in the open.
Document your process and share it as you go so that others can learn along with you.
Show Your Work, when the right people show up and pay close attention to them, because they’ll have a lot to show you.
These are a few sections of the book that stood out to me, but I think all the 10 ideas Austin shares in this book are spot on.
Another thing I like about this book is that Austin values your time and treats you as an intelligent and respectable person.
He even says:
“Always keep your audience in mind. Speak to them directly in plain language. Value their time, Be brief, Learn to speak. Learn to write. Use spell check.”
I love this concept because it’s evident that he practices this too.
It’s not very often you read a nonfiction book over 200 pages and there’s a few sentences in the whole book that communicate the books central idea.
Another detail I like about this book is that Austin lists the 10 ideas on the back cover of the book, and then within the actual book explains and supports these 10 ideas. He is straight to the point and doesn’t need to make his point more than once.
Writing a book that is easy to read and straight to the point is not an easy task, but Austin really pulls it off with Show Your Work.
I salute Austin kleon for writing this book for inspiring people from all different fields to show their work, and explain the fundamental principles to do so in a simple and easy to digest way.
Put your work out there every day and you’ll start meeting some amazing people. This, I can fully vouch for!
Interviewing designers from all over the world has been such an amazing thing to do, I have become friends with new creative people, been able to engage with some of my idols in design.
Even doing these book reviews has given me the opportunity to collaborate with authors and publishers, enjoy new books and share them with the world.
Sharing my working process has allowed people to see how I work and what goes into my process, reaching people further afield and allowing me to work with people all over the world.
I highly recommend you read Show Your Work by Austin Kleon as these 10 transformative rules for being open, generous, brave, and reproductive will change how you think about creativity and learning.
You need to show your work in order for it to be found, it’s not self-promotion it’s self-discovery.
Let others into your process and then let them steal ideas from you. It’s not about getting famous. It’s about improving with accountability.
Now it’s up to you to show your work!
Check out our book review section that includes more creative books we love!