Reading, Show Your Work!

Saurav Harsh
3 min readSep 15, 2023

“For artists, the great problem to solve is how to get oneself noticed” — Honore De Balzac. In order to be found, you have to be findable. All you have to do is show your work. — Excerpt from the book

Book Cover, Source: austinkleon.com

Published in 2014, Show Your Work! is a follow-up of Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. The book summarises the importance of showing your work out to the world and owning it like a boss, in 10 neat chapters. Aimed not just at Creatives, but at anyone who works.

Here are a few of my key takeaways from the book

1. Be an Amateur

There’s great freedom and relaxation in being an Amateur. I can learn anywhere, from anyone, fearlessly. As an Amateur, it’s easier to share my learning journey with others. Commit to my project, announce it to others and (very importantly) bring it online.

Putting the work online in this age is the cornerstone of making ourselves findable. The wonderful Internet is forcing us to stay connected with people and learn new things where people hang out and talk about things they care about. Use it to get out of the box and grow further.

Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.

2. Something is better than nothing

Do not wait to finish the project to present it. Share steps of the journey taken to complete it. What is the inspiration? How is it organized it? Share the methodology. But be wary of what you share. The Internet will consume everything and anything. Once it’s out, it’s for everyone to praise, copy, criticize, and report.

Overnight Success is a myth

3. What is it that inspires you?

Have you ever thought of your idols and their inspirations? I often think about who was Akira Toriyama’s inspiration (probably Tezuka). Similarly, when people are interested in you and your work, they genuinely want to know more about you and sharing your inspirations is another way to tell people about yourself.

Share your the music you’re listening to. Your nerd hobbies or your favourite shows/movies. Show and share whatever sparks your interest. It does not always need to be about your actual work.

Don’t feel guilty about the pleasure you take in the things you enjoy. Celebrate them.

4. Taking Criticism

Choose the right people to take criticism from. People you care about just as they care about you and your work. People outside that group you create would be a risky bunch to rely on. Some could be just trolls who want to satisfy themselves with your frustration.

The trick is not caring what EVERYBODY thinks of you and just caring about what the RIGHT people think of you — Brian Michael Bendis

5. Sell Out

Aim to get paid for what you have been doing for free until now. That was the whole point anyway. Ask for Commissions and donations, get Patrons, Self-Publish, and Sell your work. Your internal motivation can last only so long. Gotta pay the bills.

It will take time to get recognized. But the most crucial part is that we keep doing our best, focus on the journey and forget the end goal.

We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies — Walt Disney

But these few points just touch the surface of the tremendous insights that Kleon has carefully crafted put into his book. I’d recommend you pick a copy and get inspired ~

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Saurav Harsh

UX and Communication Designer. Sharing my thoughts and ideas on Design (UXR and UXD), Books (ones that I enjoy reading) and Art (all kinds)