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

Austin Kleon

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.

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.