Creative Strategist – Jess Willemse


A collection of my wandering thoughts on design, brands, books, music and the like.​

Book Club: Steal Like an Artist – Austin Kleon


This book is so relevant. Let us begin there. 

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This is one of those books where you feel as though the author has reached in, grabbed your deepest, darkest fears, smothered them on paper and somehow in the process hopefully made a nice profit. Well, at least it was for me. 

In this book Austin presents some thought-provoking ideas that are very relevant to any creative person practising at pretty much any stage of their career. This collection of ideas, presented though hand-drawn type and adorable sketched characters, all boil down to the same concept. 

Nothing is new.

You are not new.
You are not original.
You are not unique.

Ouch. Harsh isn't it? Don't worry, the illustrations cushion the blow a little bit. However, when you consider it, it does make sense. Is there really anything these days that isn't derivative? And even if there isn’t, is that a bad thing? To be influenced and shaped by what surrounds us is what allows for progress. If we came up with something new everyday, would anything really develop to reach its full potential? Who knows. 

After reading this though, I do feel a sense of lightness in the acceptance that nothing we do is original. As a young creative, there is this intense pressure to be ‘unique’ and to ‘stand out.’ But by accepting that what we create is a product of our influences, it gives you the chance to be able to consciously choose what that influence is. 

By this I mean:

  • Choose a book over Netflix (as much as I love Gilmore Girls).
  • Go for a walk, a road trip, an adventure, instead of sitting on Facebook or Pinterest.
  • Take time for people you like. The computer is not your only friend. It won't cook you dinner (graphic designers I’m talking to you).
  • Take risks. Put yourself in a situation that you know is good for you, even if you feel uncomfortable. 

These are some pointers that I'll be trying to incorporate into my routine of life. 

I'll leave you with this image from the book. Pretty self explanatory. Everything is scary, life is hard and we sometimes make bad decisions, but in the words of Nike–just do it.

Oooh, I love a good brand cliché.