Austin Kleon: Creativity Is Not the Lone Genius Myth—It Is Actually the Result of Connectedness …*

Right in time for the weekend, here is a little inspiration from Austin Kleon to spend time creating, sharing and enjoying art and ideas with members of your community.

“One of the reasons I wrote Show Your Work is because something I tried to emphasize in Steal Like an Artist is that we’re brought to creative work by other artists. We fall in love with art because we’re given a box of crayons or we see a movie that changes our lives and then we want to be filmmakers. The whole concept of Steal Like an Artist is to honor our influencers by taking what they have done and turning it into something else that we can then add to. If we think of culture as a big gumbo, then we take a little gumbo and add something to the mix. It goes further than just stealing. Creativity is not the lone genius myth—it is actually the result of connectedness.

I became interested in Brian Eno’s idea of “scenius” versus genius wherein scenius is a communal form of genius. Many great ideas in history weren’t the result of one person; they were the result of a whole scene of people. That was a mind-blowing concept to me, and I wanted to write a book about it by taking the ickiness of self-promotion and reframing it as sharing. Switching your notion of creativity from the genius model to the scenius model means that instead of thinking, “What do I have to give to the world?” you ask, “What does the world need from me?” Sometimes that’s an easier way to get started. Usually, when we talk about creativity, it’s about self-expression, which is great, but for work to be art or design, there has to be someone on the other end. The audience makes the work come alive. Margaret Atwood said something along the lines of, “A book is sheet music that a reader sits down to play.”

Austin Kleon in an interview with The Great Discontent

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