Arts & Culture
4:57 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Want to Be Discovered? 'Show Your Work,' Author Says

One of Austin Kleon's distinctive "newspaper blackout" poems.
Credit Austin Kleon
Austin Kleon speaks with Lake Effect's Bonnie North.

If you haven't seen the work of best-selling author Austin Kleon, you might at first mistake one of his poems for a redacted CIA document.

Kleon uses thick black lines over newspaper articles to highlight certain words - and discover the poetry within.

"I make boxes around words that pop up at me, and I usually try to arrange those words in a little funny phrase or a saying," he says. "And then I black out everything I don't need.  It sort of looks like if the CIA did haiku."

Kleon still does these “newspaper blackout poems” each day. But the self-proclaimed "writer who draws" has also expanded his reach with the best-selling books, “Steal Like An Artist,” and his newest, “Show Your Work: Ten Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered.” These not only include his famous newspaper black-out poems, but also feature tongue-in-cheek illustrations and infographics.

All of his works have a single goal : helping readers to push their own creativity out into the world - which is why he believes creative work should be a verb before it's a noun. He says the prescriptions he sets out are really quite simple. They include:

  • Share something small every day.
  • Think process, not product.
  • Tell good stories.
  • Don't turn into human spam.
  • Sell out.

Kleon was in Milwaukee recently for an event at Boswell Book Company.